How I wish I’d never used the ‘bully’ word


In my most recent post I attempted a small mea culpa about my bullying behaviour some 45 years previous. Not that it had been troubling me, as it was relatively minor, and was not something I ever did after my troubled teenage years. I wrote, as usual, to add some thoughts on Bipolar. And whooah – I wish I’d not bothered!

I expect replies, debate and alternative views and welcome that – it’s why I do it – but one or two people sought to dive in immediately with name calling and character assassination. It spoke perhaps more of their hang ups than it did of mine. I was told I was a bully and that I should ‘take responsibility’ for my bullying and not blame Bipolar. Astonishing really! Firstly, I was volunteering a mea culpa, and in doing so I sought to see/understand if some of it lay with emergent Bipolar. Of course one can never say for sure, and I used the word perhaps – but to me it made some sense. The two extremes of my Bipolar are feelings of monumental omnipotence, feeling I’m the smartest guy on earth, then without warning I can feel self loathing and depression to the point of suicide. In short, one minute you feel superior and the next utterly inadequate. Now if those are not emotional states that might to lead to bullying by perverse way of establishing (falsely of course) my fractured ego state at the expense of others I don’t know what are.

Stupidly, as most people have responded very positively to the article, I reacted and defended their distorted version of my words, and their unsolicited accusations. What a fool! It’s the golden rule in social media – avoid those who are really only seeking conflict, and, as is most likely, using you as a dumping off point for all their issues. I broke off communicating, as is wise, but one then decides to goad me by writing direct, having realised that one or two others in the group vehemently disagreed with him making it difficult for him to really press his view, given he seemed isolated. But he couldn’t quit and had to write to me privately, seeking to irritate even more.

As a very fragile ego that has had to work sooooo hard to survive over 45 years or so of chronic Bipolar, my base instincts are to withdraw into my shell, cease writing at all ( to avoid the grief ) and lick my damaged wounds. But one thing draws me back to the flame – the knowledge that courage is about acting counter intuitively and doing the opposite of what your innate psyche is trying to make you do. Otherwise the abuse and my condition would combine to bury me.

So I’m writing again! And as they say – the hell with it!

Now, more calmly, let’s look at the word bullying. Let me say in the loudest possible voice, at 130 decibels, that I abhor bullying. Ok?? Is that megaphone loud enough for those one or two who seek to misinterpret as a matter of course. Now back to calm analysis.

Bullying it seems to me in an overarching term. Whenever such issues come to the fore in the public imagination- as they should – it’s perhaps inevitable that the pendulum swings too far the other way at times. Take the smacking debate on rearing children. I make no statement of my beliefs here, but I do rail when a smack on the wrist gets converted into wicked child beating when recounted. It’s not sensible. I will leave that debate to others, but overreaction does occur and some do demonise others without any good reason.

When does natural competitive behaviour stray into bullying? We are born into a competitive world. Should we admonish the puppies who get to the teet first? Is it their fault? Or is the runt just unlucky? Of course we have developed somewhat from that state as human beings, but are we as far on as we imagine? Were my actions in responding to abuse that much removed from the fight or flight reactions of the cave man, who released adrenaline either to fight his corner, or to know when it made more sense to leg it? Probably not, but if I’d responded ‘sorry I’m Bipolar’ then that would have been akin to the Fox killing the lamb and saying ‘it’s in my nature’. But of course – it is!!

I was also accused of adding to the stigma of mental illness. That’s really stuck in my craw! How will we ever rid the stigma if people like me, who have big mental health issues, are clattered for being dumb enough to come out! There was no need for me to talk about my regrets on teenage bullying – and I sought no praise – but doesn’t God love the sinner who repents? I now know – to a very tiny degree I must add – how it must be to come out as homosexual, particularly all those years ago. You remove stigma by getting it out there and into the main stream, but how it must have hurt and rankled to come out and have people hiss ‘homo’ at you. I am so paranoid in writing all this that I feel compelled to add repeated caveats at every juncture, to avoid yet more grief.

But then common sense finally kicks in and I see the criticism for what it is – destructive and venal in nature and not worth crying over.
There have been many occasions over the last few years where I have despaired at my willingness to talk about my issues and share with others. Sometimes you do think ‘why give myself all this grief – for what?’ then I reflect and remember why. It helps me a lot to do so, and is way better for me than therapy and meds: and I have more than enough evidence to show that 99% of others gain from it too. So to those who would silence me – tough!

Have a great day everyone. I certainly will!

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2 Responses to “How I wish I’d never used the ‘bully’ word”

  1. On October 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm Lou Brew responded with... #

    Dear Kit
    Just got a free 5 mins and viewed your comments. My best friend was diagnosed with Bipolar last year after many years of ups and downs ( to say the least). This was complicated by the fact that she is a mental health nurse so managed somehow to stay aware when she was obviously experiencing what she call episodes.
    I could give chapter and verse but to get to the point we have discussed the past and she has come to the view that she experienced many symptoms from when she was about 12 yrs old, at times she can see that she was full of self importance and yes may have come across as a bit of a bully due to her brain racing and heightened ego state. She also feels this could have been during the emergent years.

    Its interesting the reaction from these people as that feels like bullying to me !!!
    I never fail to be amazed by what people will write , there is no doubt many would never say if the person was sitting in front of them.
    Best ignored as life is just to short

    • On October 24, 2013 at 4:09 pm admin responded with... #

      Hi Lou

      Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. Much appreciated.

      Since writing it I did a little research and as your friend and I experienced, yes bullying can be a manifestation of Bipolar symptoms. It seemed to make perfect sense to me given the extremes of the condition. As for seeking to blame my behaviour on Bipolar – I wasn’t – but was seeking to understand why it was that way. There is a reason for everything in life which doesn’t excuse things but better enables understanding and then a cure perhaps.

      But as you say, some people just want to act like emotional snipers, never really adding anything of their own, just attacking those who stick their head over the parapet. Life is too short Lou and I thank you for the timely reminder

      Many thanks

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