A few years ago, I suffered extreme workplace bullying while working in the human resources sector. I created my position within the company as the Culture Coordinator. Fighting hard for men and woman’s mental health, I was also referred to as ‘The face of the company’.
On the outside, I was successful and happy, and the passionate driving force for change in mental health stigma. However, behind the scenes was a very different story.
Toxic leadership and narcissist management subjected me to extensive workplace bullying for more than 2 years. I was bullied for two reasons–I was a woman, and I fought hard for equality and freedom of speech.
The easiest option would be to walk away, kiss goodbye to the toxic culture and run for the hills. At that time, this option was indeed so appealing.
But I stayed on. I could not deal with the guilt if one of the workforce I championed hard for lost their life to suicide due to the lack of support from Human Resources.
All I begged for was to have peace and to do my job without my bully intimidating me. Thirty-two (32) times I raised my case with upper management, 32 times I built up the courage to speak up. And 32 times I was let down.
I thought I was alone and locked myself into a lonely ‘victim’ state of mind. My happiness was in the hands of my bully. Why did he deserve that, right?
When emotional pain evolved into physical, it finally gave me the nudge that I needed to escape and leave the company that had brought me so much pain.
It took me four (4) days to recover from an anxiety attack that left me in a hospital bed dazed and confused. Working in a toxic environment 60 hours a week for a three and half year period had taken its toll. Continuously suppressing anxiety and living in fear had made me a nervous wreck. I was scared and lonely.
Alone in the hospital bed, I had nothing to do but to ask questions:
One day I woke up and decided I was sick of being a victim. As I lay in the hospital bed clenched over in pain alone on the other side of the world, away from friends and family, I knew it was my body screaming “enough is enough.” In that moment, great clarity came over me. No longer was I prepared to be a victim of my own happiness.
From that moment, I made a commitment to myself to break my fear and leave. It was time not only to merely survive the workplace bullying, but also use it to thrive.
The day came when a decision had to be made, and I decided I was not prepared to let the situation define my future.
It took me two years and a major anxiety attack that left me fearful for my life before I reached out to a psychologist. Seeking help from a psychologist, life coaches, spiritual teachers and audio books helped me heal the wounds. I went to work to create the life I deserve and went on a journey of self love and healing.
In addition, I found meditation, yoga and reiki energy healing during my recovery process that all helped me in their own way. Holistic healing in whatever form you choose allows you to connect back to yourself and remove energy blockages caused by burying emotions deep within.
Spending time in nature also significantly helped me. I would journal in the park and find peace in the natural surroundings–watching my words flow onto the page.
Now looking back reading those journals I am in an extremely different head space. Doing that allowed me to express myself and release and surrender my thoughts to clear the chatter that filled my head.
Being on a journey of healing has shown me the option to either dwell on the past or learn from it. Unable to change the bully or hostile environment, the only hope was to change myself.
During the period of changing myself, I found my saviour in the form of mindfulness. I needed to become the master of my own mind. To protect my energy and reflect any negativity without it affecting my self-worth, mindset and confidence.
Holding on to hate and hurt towards my bully was only going to make me continue being unhappy. Moreover, holding on to anger, being upset and feeling let down by my company was only going to set my expectations for future support at an all-time low.
I was not willing to walk away from the situation and abandon everything I achieved. I was also not prepared to have my judgement and expectations for future employment sabotaged. Most of all, I didn’t want to forget all the special people who helped me and shared fond memories with.
There was a need to forgive without forgetting, and forgiveness for the hurt, pain, and upset is indeed a gift.
Finally stepping into a space of being thankful for the life lessons learnt from my bullying experience has switched my mindset and demolished (almost) the fear that held me back for so long. Becoming present, mindful and accepting of the situation helped me to move from being a ‘survivor’ to my present state of a ‘thriver’.
Changing my mindset to move from survivor to thriver has been the best moment of my life.
Approaching each day with a positive mindset really helped, and still helps, me recover from bullying. It also allows me to enter a space of being able to understand that it happened for a reason.
I believe the reason I suffered the workplace bullying was for me to feel pain and suffering. This was something very foreign to me and in turn it allowed me to discover my life purpose, to help and empower others.
Now, I have nothing but confidence to speak the truth about my struggle with mental health during my dark time being bullied. Still, I am always reflecting on how far I have come. Here I am today – the master of my own mind. Not living in fear, but owning my own identity and happiness.
Workplace bullying is REAL, and it’s not a small ‘dark corner’ either. It’s going to take more than just one powerful female to break the silence, but empowering others will be worth every breath of air.
Whether a victim, CEO, leader or bully—it is time to wake up, face the issues and participate in prevention & change.
Today is another day to start something new and exciting. It’s time for a change. Break the Silence!
Bullyology® is passionate about raising awareness on the effects of bullying and helping people break the silence. If you would like to book us for a training course or speaking event, please get in touch.
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