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“Sleepless nights and coming home crying each day is no way to spend your life”.

The Devastating Impact of Bullying.

Bullying is devastating to experience and unfortunately can happen at anytime in life. TalkLifer Francis shares how workplace bullying caused her to question herself, her career and ultimately make some big challenging decisions. Bullying is never ok. It doesn’t matter who or where it takes place. If you are being bullied you can find some helpful resources at the end of this blog.

It was Friday afternoon and a sinking feeling of dread was going through me, my palms were clammy as I knew what was coming next. Every Friday afternoon the same happened. A call to the principle’s office and I was going to get yelled at guaranteed, and probably put on review. The funny thing was I’m not even a student. I’m an experienced teacher and sadly this was becoming all too frequent a routine that was turning me into someone I didn’t even recognise.

When I used to hear the word ‘bullying’ I always thought of children on the playground being mean to one another. They’d tell an adult who would help them and make them feel safe. I learnt the hard way that bullying is not just on the playground but in the workplace too; when we think we are all grown up there are still bullies who try their best to put us down and make us feel small. What’s even worse is when the adults you trust to help are just as guilty. I recently made the decision to take action and remove myself from the playground altogether.

Work has a very good way of dictating who is in charge and who isn’t. There is always a chain. I found myself going around in circles; going to the highest point in that chain, only to fall back down feeling even worse than before. There are only so many times you can ask for help before realising you are never going to get the support you need. I came from a place of work where everyone was kind and supportive, so it came as a massive shock being dropped into the lion’s den.

Sleepless nights and coming home crying each day is no way to spend your life. It is tempting to ‘hold out’ and try to last as long as you can, for your CV to look ‘good’, but a job should be something you enjoy — and if you don’t — you haven’t found the right one yet! Even the best jobs will have low points to them, but bullying is not just a low point. Bullying happens everyday, relentlessly. I knew something had to change when my thoughts turned to working out how much leave I could get if I was in an accident. At least then I’d get some guilt-free time off! I love the career path I have chosen and I am brilliant at it. I had to dig down deep to realise that and to realise I had to be in a place that appreciated and supported me and this wasn’t it and no matter how much I wanted it to be it wasn’t going to change.

It’s easy for friends and family to say ‘get out!’, but when you have a mortgage and bills to pay, just upping and leaving a job is not that simple. It felt like such a massive decision and I was worried it would ruin my career. You need a plan and people there to explore options with you. Ultimately, once you know what you want to do, you put a plan in action to make that happen. Think it through and seek advice from people you trust and even better, someone professionally trained to support. Life has so many twists and turns and even black holes but it is never ok for anyone to bully you.

So I made the decision to leave, to leap unsure of where I was going to fall afterwards but knowing that my wellbeing was more important and that I wasn’t going to go through life feeling this bad.

I got out of my playground, but I still don’t know where I am going to end up. I find that really hard at times. The unknown can be really exciting and I keep reminding myself that it’s important not to regret my time spent in that pit but to use it; use what you’ve learnt about yourself and realise you are stronger for it.

I am stronger for going through this. I’ve hit some real lows but I find comfort in the fact that I did something about it, for myself and I stood up to my bully. I think ultimately he probably was as unhappy as I was and for some reason I was the scapegoat for that anger, he had power over me and used it to try and make himself feel better. But that isn’t an excuse and there comes a point where we must take responsibility for our actions.

I wanted to share my story incase there is someone out there in a similar situation wondering whether the rest of their life is going to be dominated by the toxic actions of someone else. I guess my message to you is you don’t have to put up with this and you are not alone.

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