“Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones….But Words will Never Hurt Me”

I was 11 or 12 in high school and I remember the vice-head saying this aloud in assembly.

Sticks and stones may break my bones….but words will never hurt me.”

This message stuck in my head because, a couple of days earlier I had received a scrunched up note from someone in my class, with quite nasty remarks, and it was something that stuck in my head. (Up until today!!)

Being of such a naive and young age, it was exactly what I needed at that time, and I was impressed. Yes. That’s right. I was impressed. I wasn’t bullied physically in school. No. But at phases in high school I have had nasty words been said to me. And this quote actually grew on me…. I mean anything is better then physical pain and bruises?! Right?….Right?

But how true is this really?

Emotional pain is usually disregarded because it cannot be seen. If a person is suffering from a ‘broken heart’ for example, we advise a person to get over it, over a couple of days, we may even get fed up of the person dealing with it. Yet with a ‘broken leg’ we are likely to sympathise until the cast is off, and the person is walking again.

So the same can be said of Verbal abuse. We have a tendency to tell people to forget it, and ignore it without thinking of the consequence, the actual emotional and mental frustration the person could potentially be going through. I myself have been told on numerous occasion not to say anything back, because its not good to ‘stoop’ to the levels of others. But as I grow older i’m realising that it is not good to push this aside, especially when it comes to children.

With the younger generation being more cognitively, and emotionally sophisticated than was understood before. Warning signs have to be looked into earlier. Studies have shown that children who have been bullied in school are more likely to struggle later on in life, whether that be in relationships, in the workplace, or mentally within themselves.

The concept of Bullying has been around for years, its nothing new, and in all honesty unfortunately it will be around forever. However bullying for the younger generation is a completely different culture to that of my age. With the uprising of social media emotional bullying is more evident. It’s called ‘Cyber Bullying’. And the worst part of cyber bullying is… That it’s permanent and it has a wide reach. There is a scar that can be found on the internet, and usually accessed by loads of people.

With Social media it is so much more easier to spread a rumour, to share a embarrassing or humiliating picture or video, to ‘tag’, ‘share’ or even comment on a common page- for the WORLD to see. And the worse part is, it can all be done Anonymously. And a child or adult cannot get away from it, they cannot run away home or a safe place. The internet is something we have access to everywhere and is always with us.

Bullying can make a person feel lonely and worthless, they may develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, lack of appetite, or even go into substance abuse all of which has impact on the health of the individual.

So Sticks and Stones can break Bones, but Words can actually be detrimental to mental health. And both forms of bullying should be looked into.

Signs a person is being bullied include :

Random bruises, withdrawal symptoms (wanting to be alone or not talking much), loss of appetite, changes in behaviour (getting more angry at home for no reason), constant stomach aches or headaches. Loss of confidence, missing personal belongings, Mood swings.

A person who goes through bullying tends to shy away to talk to loved ones on most occasions. If you do notice signs that you may think a loved one is experiencing bullying here’s a few helplines that may be useful for yourself and the loved one:

Youngminds Crisis Messenger:

Text YM to 85258

A 24 hour text service for individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Text are free from most service providers.

Childline: http://www.childline.org.uk or 24 hour helpline 0800 1111

If you are 19 or under, then either call in or email the above helpline. Online chatting is also available on the website.

The Mix: http://www.themix.org.uk or 0808 808 4994

For 25 and under, once again can either call or email, or go online for online chat service with specialised staff

Always look out for signs in friends, family or children, if they become reserved, obtrusive, angry, irritable. Sometimes it’s a sign of mental health issues.

And more importantly #saynotobullying.

Love and regards

M11bna

Suicide and Stigma

I kept getting messages for a vigil for a 46 year old man in the community who had passed away. I don’t know who the man is, or why I was getting so many messages. (I will call him Mr.X- for privacy purposes)

The cause of death is not mentioned at any point. But Mr X was definately a very popular man considering the amount of messages I was receiving.

It soon became clear why the cause of death was not mentioned. Suicide.

In the UK in 2018 their have been 6507 suicidal deaths- and 3/4 of this is men (mental health.org.uk) usually between ,25-40.

This suicide made me think of another suicide 2 years ago by a 15 year old boy in a local school. Another death that took us by suprise. Apparently it was to do with bullying. This boy was beautiful, I was in shock at how beautiful he was, he was tall, slim, really nice hair- I couldn’t understand how such a good looking boy would Evan get bullied let alone want to take his life.

Mr X took responsibility of his elderly parents, had a divorced sister whom he loved dearly and a nephew he was besotted over. Apparently a smile and a hello to everyone he knew. His smile was his signature look. So what caused him to take his life?

Selfish

The first thing that comes into most people’s mind is- what about the people left behind. How are his parents going to cope? His nephew who he dotted over? His sister who he supported during her bad times. His friends, work colleagues? What about these people? How will they cope? How will they accept this?

It is said that suicide is a very selfish thing, because you could be leaving behind people who may end up blaming themselves, who may get mentally challenged themselves.

Or do we say it is a selfish act by the person as a means to counsel the ones left behind? To pass the blame on to someone so that the ones left behind do not feel guilt?

Is it really the person who took there life selfish? Or the people that are left behind? Thats the ultimate question in my mind, as we would rather a obviously unhappy person be with us, then having to go through the pain of them leaving us.??

Mental Health

There is a stigma when it comes to “mental health” in the Asian/ Indian community still to this day. It is looked down upon, misunderstood, and generally seen as a weakness of faith. Personally speaking Evan in the lowest point of my own life, I have been told to “pray more”. I’m in no way challenging this, for me prayer is my strength, it allows me to be stronger, and focused. But I appreciate it does not work in quite the same way for all.

With mental illness- the individual stigmatised can face alot of negative consequences, some of which include shame within family, isolation, seen as weak, relationship prospects can be damaged, and therefore the individual is told to ignore the feelings, bottle up and put away. I think this is more damaging for men- as men are told to “man up!” And usually for the above reasons mental health problems are kept within the four walls of the house. This in itself can cause more problems rather than dissapearing.

Mental health needs to be talked about more openly in minority communities if a change wants to be made. It’s time to stop hiding away and thinking of mental health as a problem. The problem is our own interpretation of mental health.

Depression leads to suicide, But how is depression perceived in the Indian community? It’s acknowledged for sure, but treatment is a different thing entirely . Getting treated means acknowledging you have a problem in the first place, and generally because of the stigma- people shy away from admitting there’s a problem in the first place.

Another issue is that depression cannot be seen, it is felt and usually this is why people don’t understand it. If a physical pain like a broken leg is seen- we don’t advise a person to get over it and start walking. So why is it that with depression- we tell people to get over it? Just because we can’t see it- does not mean it is not felt, if anything the wound may get bigger.

Selfless

How can a person who commits suicide be considered as selfish? How can someone be so low – that commiting suicide is the easiest option to get away from the pain of it all. Someone who has no value to there own life, that everyday is a struggle- yet they decide to live a day longer through all the hurt and pain. That to me is selfless.

This person no longer wants to exist. No longer wants to have thoughts or feelings, or demons In the head. This person thinks that if they dissapear others around them would be better off. They feel they are a burden on everyone around them. That’s selfless.

Let’s not get this wrong, I’m not encouraging suicide, I’m merely saying that we need to change our attitude. We need to see the signs, we need to listen, and we need to help.

Love and regards

M11bna