The Aftermath of Bullying (A personal Story)

As I have discussed both on my website and book, there are certainly correlations between adult onset mental health issues and bullying, now known as CPTSD. Angela, an expert in the field, makes this clear in her story below ~ Alan Eisenberg


man depressed in chairFor so many years I did not make a direct correlation between what happened to me as a child and who I had become as an adult.  I buried the trauma of being severely bullied because the pain from remembering was unbearable.  What I had endured from the age of 10 to 14 years old had left deep emotional wounds that would not heal.  It was easier to numb the pain by suppressing it and seeking other unhealthy ways of coping.  The subconscious mind is a powerful thing.  It controls our thoughts, feelings, and resulting behaviours.  As much as we try to hide, ignore, or deny our pain, it is always there stored away in the subconscious part of our mind.  We can choose to acknowledge it and begin to heal or we can spend our lives just surviving each day and searching for happiness in all the wrong places.

As a young child I remember desperately wanting to be liked and accepted by my peers.  I was at an impressionable age trying to discover who I was and where I fit in.  The bullying I experienced was what many refer to as friendship bullying.  Every friend I thought I had, at some point turned on me in a very vicious way through verbal, physical, and social bullying.  They were the peer reference group for many of the other children.  They were the popular girls, and had a lot of social influence and power.  As a result, when the bullying started, I had no one.  When they turned on me, the entire school either participated in the bullying or stood by and did nothing.  During the 80’s bullying was not taken seriously and was not even recognized as an issue among children or adults.  It was considered a rite of passage and so, I had no support from the school or teachers.  I was alone and it was the single most painful experience of my life.  It left me feeling unworthy of love and acceptance

Talking about the specifics of what happened to me would take hours of writing and is no more or less painful than what many others have experienced or are going through at this very moment.  The message I want to convey here is the impact that bullying can have on an individual if they do not have the tools, resources, and support needed to avoid the long term emotional damage that can occur from suppressing a traumatic experience of bullying.  Many of us read the statistics of what can happen to targets of bullying.  We hear about the risk of depression and anxiety if help is not sought early on.  But there is so much more to it.  The residual effects from depression and anxiety can result in extreme rage, self-hatred, paranoia, eating disorders, cutting, drug and alcohol abuse, isolation, unhealthy relationships, insomnia, physical ailments, and in many cases ultimately suicide.  I know this not because I am a psychologist with a PH.D but because for thirty years I suffered from many of these disorders and symptoms.  It was only when I reached rock bottom at the age of 42 as I reached for my bottle of anti-anxiety medication with a bottle of water in hand that I realized it was up to me.  That I could no longer cope on my own.  I needed help and I was ready to face my demons.  I knew I would have to go back in time and re-live the experience.  It was the only way I was going to be able to live a normal life.  It was either that or leave those that loved and cared about me behind to mourn their loss.   Going back meant  the emotions would all come pouring out.  The emotions that I was too terrified to express as a child needed to be acknowledged and released.  I will not tell you that it is an easy process. What I can tell you is that if I had reached out for help sooner, I would have not suffered unnecessarily for so long.

Often once the bullying has ended, we believe that it’s over and we just want to move on.  We don’t want to remember so we lock it away.  We don’t want to talk about it because of the shame or the fear of what others will think.  So, we suffer in silence hoping it will get better or the pain will just go away.  Unfortunately that’s not how it works.  Of course every individual and situation is unique and there is no cookie cutter, one size fits all, remedy for everyone.  What I want people to understand is that there are people out there that understand.  People who have been there that are willing to listen and can empathize with your experience.  People that can give you guidance and healthy tools to cope.  But ultimately it is up to us to recognize that we deserve to be happy and to reach out for help.

If you or someone you know has or is suffering from the effects of bullying I can offer you this advice from my own recovery process.

  1. You must acknowledge the deep-rooted emotions you are feeling.  It is best to do this with a professional coach or counsellor.  Once you begin to acknowledge your anger, shame, fear, etc. the emotions will become very raw and you should be with someone who is qualified to guide you through this process and bring you back to a place of calmness.
  2. Feeling your emotions means you must be prepared to walk through the painful experiences of being bullied no matter how long ago it occurred.  Saying it aloud really helps but can feel awkward at first.  For example “You made me so angry when you pinned me to the ground and punched me repeatedly.  I was humiliated and did not deserve to be treated that way.”
  3. Learn to make the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.  This is CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy).  For example if we feel that someone doesn’t like us it may trigger feelings of fear or anger.  That fear or anger may lead us to behave in a certain way such as avoiding that person or lashing out at them.  Once you can begin to make this connection you will slowly begin to find the ability to change unhealthy behaviours and make better choices.
  4. Practice gratitude.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of expressing gratitude.  Being thankful for what and who we have in our lives gives us the ability to experience joy.  It alleviates feelings of resentment, bitterness, and envy of others.  It can be as simple as writing one thing down a day that you are grateful for.  Or you can say it aloud at the end of each day.  You will be amazed at how much you have to be grateful for.  It can be as simple as your morning cup of coffee.  Gratitude is not something you feel it is something you practice.
  5. When you are feeling depressed and alone, try to remind yourself that it will pass and look for what may have triggered your bought of depression.  Often it is our thoughts or distorted perceptions that lead us into a depression.  For example “No one cares about me.” “No one understands what I’m feeling.” These thoughts can send us into a downward spiral.
  6. Try to gradually face your fears one small step at a time.  For example, I used to be terrified to go to the local grocery store.  I was afraid that I’d run into someone who I thought didn’t like me.  I didn’t want to feel the rejection so I would avoid going.  As scared as I was, I started to go. Once I did it, it became easier and I began to realize that my fears were irrational.
  7. Most importantly, you must work hard to believe that you are a worthy person.  This comes from within and you will never find your worth through others.  Learn to be your authentic self and appreciate all your good qualities and what you have to offer.   I would highly recommend the work of Dr. Brene Brown.  You can google her books, quotes, and YouTube videos.

I strongly believe in the words “We can’t control what others do or say to us, but we can control how we react to it.”  Our youth today are up against an epidemic of bullying that has existed for decades.  They need help.  They need leaders, role models, and professionals that can help them if they are unable to help themselves.  I have accepted what happened to me and learned to take responsibility for the person I want to be.  My experience as painful as it was, was a gift.  It has led me to a place in life where I can help others.  I hope this article helps many, but even if my words reach just one, I am grateful to have done so.

~Angela Fryklund
Certified Professional Coach at Beyond Bullying Recovery Services


Alan Eisenberg’s new book about the long-term effects of bullying and his personal experiences, “A Ladder In The Dark”, is now available through Amazon and other fine book retail outlets.

Bully Incident #7: The Friend and The Counselor

aeisenbe:

A few years ago, when the movie “Bully” came out, I saw a scene almost exactly like this story. That certainly alarmed me, because now I knew that 30+ years later, little had changed. In the movie, the administrator thinks that just having the two boys shake hands would solve the issue. It was obvious that the bullying victim did not want to, but the administrator forced them to. It was a scary moment to me in the film and I still think about that as I share this story with you again. ~Alan Eisenberg

Originally posted on Bullying Stories:

If Bob was the first person to directly bully me, the next one I can remember is Luke. Luke was my friend for two years in school. I went to his house or he came to my house to play. Now, I know it is not untypical to have friends stop being friends for a period of time, but if memory serves me correctly, this happened on a dime.

Boy's FightingI’m not sure what I did or what triggered it, other than my belief that, when your friend realizes you are very unpopular, they can quickly think they can be popular by picking on you too. Luke. turned on me quickly and started the tripping in the halls, punching in the gut type bullying on me. I recall not seeing that one coming. I liked Luke and often questioned why this was happening.

At about this time, good ole’ Franklin Elementary…

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The Importance of Support (A Personal Story)

Daryl shares below what is yet another bullying story. The difference is that Daryl points out how important having a good support person, like a parent, friend, relative, or mentor, is to successfully getting through these difficult times. As he Daryl shares, no young person should be afraid of going to school, but as we know, there still are many. Thanks to Daryl for sharing. ~Alan Eisenberg


Bullying has been a major problem in America’s schools for many years and it has gotten worse as the years went by. This is an issue that I care so deeply about because I was bullied and teased constantly in school from Kindergarten to the twelve grade. It wasn’t easy to go through what I went through in regular school. Every year I was teased and bullied on a daily basis from Monday to Friday. I had to endure a lot in school from the name calling, physical abuse, and mental abuse. At times I felt like I was alone and that no one cared about me because of what I was going through.

What helped me to get through this ordeal was that I had my mother to talk to me and encourage me. I also had other people such as teachers and principals to help guide me and make me feel better. Despite of all what I went through in school I still manage to make it. I say this to make a point that a lot needs to be done to stop bullying and cyber bullying that is going on in our nation’s schools.  It’s not fair and it’s not right that any young person should have to go school and get teased and bullied. No young person should be afraid of going to school knowing that they are going to be bullied.

I don’t want any young person to go through what I had to endure when I went to regular school. Bullying needs to be addressed much more in our nation’s schools, churches, and communities. The issue of bullying has too long been overlooked in the news and media and that needs to stop. There is a lot that teachers, principals, school officials and other educators can do to address the issue of bullying and try to stop it from going on by any means necessary. There is so much that parents can do to address bullying. There is so much that we as a community can do to help address bullying. Everyone must stand up and try to put an end to all bullying and cyber bullying going on in America’s schools.
~Daryl Hill


Alan Eisenberg’s new book about the long-term effects of bullying and his personal experiences, “A Ladder In The Dark”, is now available through Amazon and other fine book retail outlets.

Voice (A Personal Story)

There are times, when it is very difficult for me to receive a post. Angelica wanted to share her pain of her brother’s death here with us and I truly cannot speak any better than she has. I wish I could tell her everything is OK, but in truth a life lost to bullying is a life unrealized. I hope that some comfort comes from her sharing her story here. Please also remember that my autobiography, “A Ladder in the Dark” is now available on Amazon and at online retailers. I hope you will want to read it and learn more about how we can all try to prevent this kind of pain that long-term bullying causes. ~Alan Eisenberg


Boy with backpack sadSome moments my life feels almost normal. I’ll listen to a song and think, oh, Jonny would love this one. But that moment is soon ruined with the painful realization that he won’t. It hurts to think of how much he wasn’t able to experience. He had his life mapped out, but the burden of what was going on currently completely overshadowed it, and he could not see any way of making it that far out into the future.

Home was his only safe zone. And it pains me to know that it wasn’t enough. Our love wasn’t enough to save him. To read comments on how we should be focusing on his family and home life as the issue is just a knife to the heart. Many days, my brother would come home a little worked up and irritated, but we thought it was just normal, 16-year-old stuff. He would go to his room for about 15 minutes, and come out his normal, happy self. There were no signs of suicidal thoughts and he was not depressed. He was happy when he was with us, and always loving and caring.

The bullying he endured occurred primarily on school grounds, mainly verbally. There was some cyber bullying, but it was minimal compared to what happened at school. How are we supposed to protect my brother, when he is being taunted at school? To a group of kids chanting derogatory terms at him on a regular basis, to purposefully tampering with his shop project, glasses, and other possessions.

I suppose you’re wondering how we didn’t know. My brother saw what bullying did to my sister and I. He knew that if he told our parents, they would march into school and persistently demand that the situation be fixed. He also knew, that if they did that, it would only paint a bigger target on his back. There are serious flaws with the reporting process of the bullying policy that he saw firsthand. How was he supposed to have faith in an adult, when so few had helped us when we were being bullied?

When I moved here in 7th grade, I came to hate Edgar. My parents thought it was because of moving from a bigger to smaller school, but for me, it was because I was being bullied. I was not accepted and it was extremely difficult to make friends. For me, it was the rumors. Girls talking about how I would sleep with anyone, was on drugs, never showered, smelled bad because I defecated myself, and there was a lot of body shaming. The list goes on, and it only got worse. I reached out to a teacher, told her what was going on, and you know what she told me? Since I was new, it was EXPECTED. That I should shower and take care of myself. Another girl in my class was a victim of the same thing. This same teacher had us write on a piece of paper what we would say to her if we could go up to her in a judgement free zone. That quickly turned into writing what people hated about her anonymously and the teacher gave all the slips to her to read. That teacher is still employed, in case you were wondering.

I think it was around 8th grade when I started cutting myself. It went on for a while because I always wore baggy clothes because I had grown to be ashamed of myself and my body. It wasn’t until my little sister, Allison, told my parents did it eventually come to a stop. I took the time to figure out who I was, accept my individuality, and accept that it was okay to be different. I worked hard, to make sure others felt welcome, even though I wasn’t accepted. New students from the Catholic School weren’t always given a warm welcome. I made sure to become friends with them. When a foreign exchange student came, I made sure to become friends with her, and we still are, to this day.

My little sister, Allison, faced bullying with the edge of technology. Her situation upsets me so much, and since it was only a year ago, I’m assuming it is what discouraged Jonathan from reaching out for help. Sometime in October her Junior year, she was chosen by a group of girls. It started with things being thrown at her car at lunchtime. Then, our house getting toilet papered with some very derogatory terms written in our grass. But that wasn’t enough for these girls. Allison worked hard to not sink down to their level. They started showing up at her workplace, McDonald’s, to taunt her. One girl took it so far as to LITERALLY THROW a shamrock shake in her face, because she “made it wrong”. They started a Twitter campaign against her, in an attempt to get her fired. Around that time my parents found out how far it had gotten because she had broken down. They took screenshots of the tweets before they all got deleted, and reached out to the guidance counselor. The guidance counselor did nothing. They reached out to the principal and they had a meeting. The outcome? Allison had to WRITE an APOLOGY to HER BULLIES. My parents watched Allison for a while because they feared she would make an attempt on her life.

The flaw is, there is no report at school of any of this happening. There is no system or chain of how events get reported and resolved. When Jonny’s peers were being dumped in a dumpster, purposefully tripped in PE, or peed on in the locker room, with minimal resolve, how was he supposed to have faith in the system?  Part of the problem is the growing nepotism at the school, and it slowly trickles down to the kids. I could go on and on about the problems within that school.

It pains me, that my brother will never meet my children. I hope that I have a son, so I can name him after Jonny. As much as I want to protect my future children, they will know what happened to their Uncle, and understand the hard struggle our family has faced. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but I will continue to be Jonny’s voice. Change NEEDS to happen.

~Angelica Wesener (read more of Angelica’s posts on her website.)

The Decision to Leave

I am proud to have guest blogger and author K.P. Gazelle share here writing here on the Bullying Stories site. It is always wonderful to have young adult authors share both their knowledge and wisdom through their words on this site. K.P Gazelle is the author of The Color of Happiness, a contemporary young adult novel. Gazelle has been connected with young adults in some way for as long as she can remember. She’s obsessed with coffee, books, and big dreams. Visit her online at www.kpgazelle.com. ~ Alan Eisenberg


The Decision to Leave
K.P Gazelle

Her puffy eyes and wrinkles stood out even more under the fluorescent lighting. She had to be older than my mom. How could I yell back? And what was she doing in the middle of my classroom shouting at me in front of my students, anyway?

At this workplace, not too long ago, life crept into an unbearable state of unhealthiness. Moments like these were not too uncommon, and I soon found it increasingly harder to get out of bed each morning. I would try motivating myself with pep talks and reminders of how I was touching the lives of young children. But even that can only take me so far.

Adult bullies are trained in their strategies and tactics because they most often have been bullies their entire lives. It’s a lot harder to pin point what an adult is saying or doing to qualify them as a bully, but they’re bullies just the same. And being targeted hurts.

The thing about being bullied, whether as a child or an adult, is that it makes you doubt your self-worth, plummets your self-esteem, and makes you question the reason for your existence. Sometimes, it breaks your soul.

But what’s important to remember is that the bully is the one with the problem, not you. And that your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

I suffered for two long years, during which I exhausted every resource I had to improve matters. My complaints fell on the deaf ears of our human resource department; my director turned a blind eye.

I was alone.

I knew I had to leave, but how could I just walk away? How could I leave after giving so much of myself to the students and school over the years? How would I continue to support my family? And my identity as a teacher—what would I do with my life?

It took months and months of intense contemplation, consultation, and prayer until I finally found the strength and courage to send in my resignation letter at the end of the school year. A decision for which I can never thank myself enough.

Sometimes, removing yourself from a toxic situation is the greatest service you can do. Because, let’s face it, you are worth much more than any paycheck and above anyone’s abuse.

My Mother’s Bullying Story (A Personal Story)

Writing an autobiography is very difficult, because not only do you need to know about yourself, but it forces you to confront the people in your life that know you best. A few months ago, I shared my father’s story, which was difficult. This week, I share my mother’s story, which is equally as difficult to read for me, but important about home abuse and early childhood trauma. My mother is a strong woman with great confidence. Asking her to recall her own situation was one of the harder things I had to do for my autobiography. The book, “A Ladder In The Dark: My Journey from Bullying to Self-acceptance”, should be released in the summer and I am looking for help. If you can help, even a little, go to my link at my new business website at: http://bullyingrecovery.org/fundraising/. I am in need of any help you can offer and I hope you get some lessons from my mother’s story below. I love you, Mom. ~Alan Eisenberg


Carol Eisenberg

My mother as a young girl in days long gone by

Lately I have been thinking about bullying.  It does not have to come from other peers.  I was bullied by my mother.  Don’t get me wrong I loved my mother, but I had the feeling that she didn’t love me.  Nothing I ever did was good enough for her.  I will give you the following example:

First some background, when I was 7 years old my father died at the young age of 35 from cancer.  This was very traumatic for both my mother and for me.  She had to go to work to support my brother (who was 3 at the time) and me.  I was forced to grow up quicker than the peers around me.  I developed a shield of confidence and carefreeness while inside I was insecure and angry.  OK, now the story.  I decided to help my mother by dusting the house for her so she would be able to enjoy her weekend.  I worked as hard as I knew how to clean and polish the tables that we had.  When she came home from work I proudly announced that I had dusted the house so that she wouldn’t have to.  She looked around and pointed to a “cobweb” in the upper corner of the room and said “You missed that”.

I never dusted for her again.

It hurt badly.

I swore that I would never do that to my children and worked hard not to.

I was also bullied by my father’s mother (my paternal grandmother).  She would wait for me after school and whisper to me (at age 7) that my mother killed my father by giving him cancer.  I, of course, would go home and accuse my mother.  This resulted in my having to go to a child psychiatrist for a time.  We eventually moved away and the problem resolved itself.

I guess I have been carrying this baggage around with me for quite some time and have just recently come to terms with it thanks to my son asking me to write some of my thoughts down.

A quick story about ESP and Alan or that family psyche connection we all have.

When I went back to work in Lexington, Alan and Robyn would call me when they got home so I knew that they were safe.  One day I had this overwhelming feeling that I had to go home, something was wrong!  I told my boss that I had to leave.  When I got home I found Alan outside the house crying.  He had lost his key.  No one called me, I just knew. (Yes, this really did happen and to this day I believe that we have a much greater energy connection due to these stories. For example, have you ever picked up the phone before it rang to call someone and they are on the other end, because they called you at the exact same moment. I’m sure statistically, that is very unlikely, but it happens all the time. ~Alan).

~Carol Eisenberg

Bullies are Satanists (A Personal Story)

The fear of death from bullying is very real when you are young. As hard as it is to believe when you are older, when a young bully threatens to kill their victim, in many cases, including my own, we believe they will. I always then think about what actions can a victim take. They could ignore the threat and not believe it. They could see it as credible and then a few actions can take place. If they have a strong school system, community, and/or family, they might talk to them. But in several cases, this can lead to either bullycide (the victim committing suicide to avoid any further torture) or worse, taking a weapon to school out of fear and possibly using it. It is a very thin line for the bully victim in these cases. Rob’s story below shows how this problem can and does escalate. ~Alan Eisenberg


Boy with fists upI have had many good and bad experiences in this life, but  (never thought I’d make it this far), but the absolute worst day of my life came in my freshman year in high school.

It was 1981, spring I think, and after school I was yet again waiting for the bus when my own custom designed personal tormentor decided to amuse himself with me.

But my elementary school friend decided to intervene. He told B to stop messing with me and as M was part of a very strong gang, B quickly agreed.

“Yes sir, I won’t touch R anymore.” I was amazed and thankful. I was also foolish. When a bully is committed to acts of terror, rage and hate, a warning won’t stop them. And my own stupidity also just about killed me … buoyed by my success at getting B to stop assaulting me, on the way home, behind B, I started gently calling him names (I thought he was listening to his Walkman).

I felt uplifted, strong … powerful as I quietly called B every curse word I could call to mind. Halfway through this, B turned in his seat and slugged my arm, promising that he heard me and he would deal with me when we got off the bus.

In front of our elementary school, we came off the bus and B waited until the bus pulled away and then, another old classmate – excuse me, asshole – came over and started assaulting me. At this time, I rolled into a very tight ball on the ground and was totally terrified.

Fortunately, not much happened. Except for the emotional abuse, the 2nd bully stepped away and as I was going home in tears again, B started joking and laughing loudly at the way I was walking.

I continued going home, but after I crossed the soccer field, I was jumping up and down , crying and cursing in rage … when I got home I remembered that my dad had a rifle or something and I tried to find it. If I had, even though I didn’t really understand the concept of bullets yet, I was going to race down to B’s house, and threaten him with the rifle.

Thank God none of that happened, but, after my experience with B, I transferred out of that school into a smaller setting, where bullies were not as tolerated.

And, since that day, I have been bullied many times, but never again did I fear that I was going to die.

And, God also moved in my life – now I have hope.

~Rob