Like so many others, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the news about Caroline Flack and the links to bullying.
Originally, this post tied in with National Bullying Prevention Month in October but in light of recent events, I feel it’s even more important to talk about different kinds of bullying all year round and give some insight into how hypnotherapy can help to treat the repercussions (and help to avoid tragic circumstances).
Kids are often bullied — stats say that 1 in 5 children are the victims of bullying and that a child is bullied every 7 seconds.
Children often won’t tell you if they’re affected. This can be due to fear or humiliation and it can make it hard to know if your child needs help to overcome the effects.
It’s not just kids though. Adults can be bullied too, and it can be just as difficult to admit to. The types of bullying involved are often a lot more subtle too and even victims may not realise they’re being bullied.
For children and adults alike, the effects of bullying can be devastating. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, and poor self-esteem can occur because of bullying and as we’ve seen recently, it can potentially result in suicide.
What is Bullying?
Bullying involves intentionally hurting or intimidating another person. Physical bullying is one of the most obvious types of bullying but it can take many different forms.
Hitting, punching, kicking, spitting, biting, pulling hair and shoving can all be forms of physical bullying.
Not all bullying is physical. Psychological bullying can be just as hurtful and damaging.
It can include name-calling, spreading lies and rumours, and chronic teasing. It can go hand-in-hand with physical bullying or it can exist by itself.
Emotional bullying is also common in the workplace. It can come in the form of sarcastic comments, gossiping about people behind their back, exclusion from social groups, belittling and put-downs. Office pranks are another example.
Gossiping about celebrities or people you know may seem harmless but it’s one of the factors linked to Caroline Flack’s suicide. In a post on Instagram, she wrote: “this kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own".
Gossip and speculation can have far-reaching consequences too, including job losses. “
“Cancel culture” is defined by Merriam Webster as a withdrawal of support for a public figure as the result of an action or situation.
Taylor Swift discussed “cancel culture” in a Vogue interview, saying “When you say someone is cancelled, it's not a TV show. It's a human being. I don't think there are that many people who can actually understand what it's like to have millions of people hate you very loudly”. She likened it to being publicly encouraged to commit suicide.
Having to step down from her presenting role on Love Island as a result of the public interest in her situation was thought to be one of the factors that compounded Caroline Flack’s state of mind.
Cyberbullying is becoming more and more common these days. It can take a similar form to emotional bullying — with the main difference being that it takes place online or through texting.
It can involve sending texts or emails that humiliate the victim, or posting images online that have the same effect.
Cyberbullies can also use the victim’s log-in details to do this — which makes it seem as though they’re the perpetrator.
They may also pose as the victim to encourage online attacks as a backlash.
Trolling is another form of emotional bullying. Celebrities such as Nicola Roberts, Dua Lipa and Jesy Nelson have spoken about the impact of negative online comments. In her documentary, Odd One Out, the latter also highlighted the effects of online trolls — which included a suicide attempt.
Racist and Sexual Bullying
Bullying can also be linked to race and gender. Victims can be humiliated because of their race or religion or harassed sexually.
Alienation As a Form of Bullying
Exclusion is one of the many forms that bullying can take. You may be deliberately excluded from social events, for example. Bullies may also gossip about you behind your back and spread rumours to isolate you from other people.
Collusion As a Form of Bullying
Encouraging others to become bullies is another form of bullying. This is quite common in the playground, with children joining in with teasing and humiliating others, for example. Children can feel coerced to gang up on victims.
“Social bullying” can also happen in the workplace. Exclusion from social events is a common example of this, along with being left out of important reminders and announcements. Colleagues may “forget” to tell you about a meeting, for example.
Bullying and High Functioning Anxiety
Many people who are being bullied continue to function to a very high level and feel they have to carry on as normal.
In an Instagram post published by her family after her death, Caroline Flack wrote:
"I've been pressing the snooze button on many stresses in my life - for my whole life. I've accepted shame and toxic opinions on my life for over 10 years and yet told myself it's all part of my job. No complaining. The problem with brushing things under the carpet is .... they are still there and one day someone is going to lift that carpet up and all you are going to feel is shame and embarrassment.” She also hinted that she’d been struggling with “some sort” of emotional breakdown for many years.
This type of high functioning anxiety is characterised by sufferers seeming ok on the outside but inside, they’re struggling with intense anxiety. You may appear confident, happy and successful to other people while holding down jobs, relationships and a social life.
Some of the typical characteristics of someone with High Functioning Anxiety include:
- A positive, upbeat personality (you’ll often across as someone who is smiley and “happy”)
- Punctuality (you’ll generally make sure that you’re ahead of schedule and early for everything)
- Proactive, detail-oriented and organised (you tend to plan ahead and have lists for everything)
- Drive and passion (you give 100% in everything)
How to Tell If Your Child Is Being Bullied
Because your child won’t always tell you if they’re being bullied, you may need to read the signs instead.
Some of the signs that can indicate bullying:
- They don’t want to go to school and are frequently “sick” — especially on Mondays
- They don’t want to talk about school
- They bunk off school (if they’re old enough)
- They experience a lot of headaches and tummy aches — which can be signs of stress and anxiety
- Sleep problems or looking very tired in the mornings
- Not being as chatty as normal or going straight to their room when they get home from school
- Picking fights with other people in the family
- Being overly attached to devices or shunning them completely
What Can We Learn From Caroline Flack’s Death?
The tragedy around Caroline Flack’s death has opened up discussions around bullying and the harmful effects of gossiping and trolling.
You might have engaged in speculation about people or even posted negative comments about them online — often without giving a second’s thought to the after-effects.
In December, Caroline Flack wrote on Instagram: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” and these words have taken on a lot more meaning for many people.
Thinking about how our words and actions can impact others is key.
And if you’re the victim of any form of bullying, please reach out and get help and support, especially if you’re also living with high functioning anxiety.
For more information on the amazing work of The Samaritans and for any support, please go to https://www.samaritans.org/ or call them directly on 116 123.
Bullying and Hypnotherapy
In my Aberdeen clinic, I see plenty of clients who are struggling with the effects of bullying — especially the lasting psychological effects of different forms of bullying.
This can include anxiety and depression that occur as a result of bullying. Children who have been bullied can be more prone to developing anxiety disorders — even well into adulthood — and may go on to have alcohol issues too, according to studies. Trust issues can also be a problem after chronic bullying.
Sleep is another area that can be affected. Many of my younger clients who have been bullied had insomnia — often because of fear and anxiety around bullying. These sleep issues have often persisted into adulthood if bullying effects haven’t been addressed before this.
All of these effects can be treated through hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy can also help to increase your confidence and self-esteem — both of which can be shattered by bullying.
Whether bullying started in childhood or as an adult, hypnotherapy can help overcome the damaging effects.
I’ve helped both adults and children to rebuild their lives after being the victim of bullies, and this has included supporting adults who have been living with the after-effects of bullying for decades.
Hypnotherapy for Bullying in Aberdeen
You can come and see me in my Aberdeen clinic at 5 Northcote Hill (AB15 7TW) or at the Kippie Lodge Sports and Country Club (AB13 0AB), where I’m the resident Hypnotherapist.