Stop Sending Internet Hate: It Is Not Good For Anyone’s Mental Health

Recently I’ve been receiving a lot of hate and bullying over the Internet…this has taken shape in many different forms including comments and private messages. A lot of the time I delete the hate and block the user but that doesn’t stop it having an impact on myself, my feelings and my day.

For starters sending Internet hate is not good for my mental health. It has the power to bringing me crashing back down to the lowest of the depths of depression even on a seemingly good day. For example on my birthday I received hate because I had a birthday cake I didn’t eat and was told I didn’t deserve it….it made me feel so incredibly guilty and the self hatred soared. Another day I woke to a private message telling me I was a dumb anorexic and should just eat. That wasn’t a nice way to start the day.

It’s not only me that the hate directed at me has an impact on. It spreads to the people around me who have to see me in turmoil but also it affects other people on the Internet who see the hate and it prevents people from being open and honest. It installs fear in people.

Internet hate must also have an impact on the sender themselves. I wouldn’t want to live with myself if I had spent the day saying horrible things to people. I can’t imagine the guilt and self hatred they must feel so please if it’s you sending the hate stop sending it and if you’re on the receiving end know that you are not alone.

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Bullying and Mental Health

There was a report in the news last week stating that children who were bullied suffer worse in the long term than those who have been maltreated by adults. I know from personal experience how much bullying can affect mental health. I was bullied and whilst my bullies did not solely cause my mental illness, they did contribute to it. I’m sure that they didn’t know how damaging their bullying was but I wonder if they were told about the consequences of bullying on another human being’s life and how it isn’t just ‘a laugh’ maybe it would’ve had some kind of impact on them. If I were the reason someone was lying in a hospital bed with scars on their arms then I would feel pretty damn horrible, I don’t think I could live with that guilt.

I was bullied by an handful of lads that would sing “What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a moustache?” to me. I would try to ignore it and I would focus so hard on not letting my facial expression react but when I was at home it would smack in the face. I would sit there in tears hating myself, staring at the reflection in the mirror and detesting what I saw. I would scrutinise everything about myself. I missed days of school because I felt I couldn’t face the world feeling so ugly. I didn’t tell anyone about it at the time, I let the weight of it crush my shoulders because I was embarrassed about what the bullies were saying and I felt deserving of it. I already had mental health problems, I already had horrible thoughts and voices in my head and the bullies just agreed with them. I thought they were right.

I remember my 13th Birthday, I woke up full of excitement because I loved my Birthday, I would plan it for months on end. I walked into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and saw the ‘moustache’ that the bullies taunted me about. It felt like my world crashed, I didn’t want to be in my body anymore, I didn’t want my face but no matter what you can’t get out of your skin, your face is your face. I opened my bedroom window and jumped out, I barely even got a bruise. I spent my entire birthday not wanting to be me, I wanted to die.

I can see how bullying can have such a negative affect on people’s mental health, self-esteem and confidence not just whilst it is happening but even decades after. School is the building block for life and if people are bullied during that time, how does that set them up for a positive, healthy future? If young people are coping with bullying through self-harming or self-destructive behaviours and they are shutting themselves away and suffering in silence then it’s going to have a lasting affect on that person’s health.

I think it is much worse to be bullied nowadays because of how much technology has advanced, I was lucky because when I was bullied I could go home and get away from it but now with mobile phones and social media the bullying doesn’t stop for most people. It must be absolutely exhausting and incredibly isolating to never be able to get away from the abuse. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to not have an escape.

The bullying still affects me, I still fear that people will notice this moustache, although it’s hardly there. I still feel ugly and manly because years of internalising what the bullies said did cause damage. I am starting to feel better about myself as I achieve things that the bullies probably never will and I am learning that life isn’t about looks at all. At the end of the day, when we are 90 years old we won’t be caring about our looks, we will be caring about our achievements and the mark we are leaving on the planet.

If you are being bullied and need help, please visit:

http://www.bullying.co.uk/

https://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/Bullying.aspx

www.samaritans.org

Stop Sending Hate

Okay let’s go back to basics, our first days of primary school we were told the school rules and the two I will probably always remember were, “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say then say nothing at all” and perhaps the latter should be a life rule, or at the very least an internet rule. I’m going to ignore “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” because I don’t think many of us are very kind to ourselves these days and I don’t think people who send hate over the internet have much self-respect or self-esteem and they probably don’t value themselves very highly.

I am not someone who has received a lot of hate, in fact it is pretty rare but that’s why I feel it is even more important to talk about it. I am not one of those extreme stories, I’m probably one of the ‘lucky’ ones because I can count the hate I’ve received this year on one hand, however this does not mean it didn’t hurt me. Hate is dangerous, any hate is dangerous. If you send someone one hateful comment online, that one comment has the power to cause harm to that person and it’s like throwing a grenade over a fence, you can’t see the damage, you don’t even know if it’s hit them but it has the potential to be deadly.

You do not know that person’s personality, life nor situation. The person you send hate to could already be having a really bad day, your one comment could be the comment that pushes them over the edge.

Online bullying and hate is very different to bullying and hateful comments in the actual world. You can often see from body language or facial expression that the other person isn’t going to be kind and whilst this is equally as horrible, at least you can kind of prepare yourself rather than clicking on an email and BOOM it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, this hateful comment is there and you can read over and over again, it isn’t just said once. You are under attack and your body reacts, your heart races and your eyes sting but you don’t know who or where the attacker is.

One of the first times I received hate, I was sat in a hospital waiting room waiting for a very difficult, upsetting and anxiety provoking appointment. I was on my own and already in a very vulnerable place. I was looking around the room finding objects beginning with each letter of the alphabet in a desperate bid to stop myself crying but I internalised the words and believed them and completely hated myself and it contributed towards me hurting myself that night.

A more recent example was when I was sent hate whilst I was an inpatient on a psychiatric ward. Things were difficult enough, I already had my own nasty voice shouting at me, I didn’t need another one.

The most memorable was when I received an anonymous message telling me I was fat but with many more words and I was sitting down for dinner at someone’s house and I was already full of anxiety but also a determination to not let my illness win. I read that message as the starter was served and I barely ate any of the meal and I hurt myself as I lay in my dark bedroom that night.

Hate has affected me and I am very fortunate that I don’t receive a lot, I would not consider myself to be cyber bullied at all. This is why my message is so important. It just takes one hateful comment. Sending me hate when I am suicidal is as dangerous as handing me gun.

I see hate everyday on Instagram, Twitter, Ask.fm and Facebook and it’s scary how normal it is becoming. I shouldn’t be scared every single time I get a notification that it is going to be hate, our society should not be turning into this. The internet is 24/7, it doesn’t close and our phones are with us constantly. Think about that for a second, it’s exhausting enough to keep up with replies, what each other are doing, trying to fit in and all the rest of it without receiving hate any time of the day or night.

Screens create a distance but that doesn’t mean that the consequences of your hateful messages aren’t happening. You are sending hate to a human being with feelings, memories, insecurities, problems and vulnerabilities.

Don’t be the reason someone cries tonight, don’t be a scar on someone’s arm and definitely do not be a tear in a mother’s eye as she buries her child. Stop sending hate!