Before you are alarmed, no, I am not planning on committing suicide. In recent months, there have been a lot of reports of suicides because of cyberbullying. This post is about cyberbullying and the impact that it has on people.
I am a member of a couple different diabetes message boards. In recent weeks, I have been attacked on more than one occasion by another member of one of those message boards. He has made fun of the fact that I use a walker and have difficulty walking. He has called me hobbly and wobbly, to name a few of the things that I have been called. He also goes after other members of that board and says nasty things to other members. People struggling with weight issues don’t need to be made fun of. It hurts. On this particular board, there are moderators that are taking steps to help stop attacks like that from happening, so that helps. But unfortunately, there is nothing they can do to stop an attack from happening in the first place.
Unfortunately for me, this is not my first encounter with a cyberbully. When I was dealing with my foot infection, I made the mistake of joining a non-diabetes message board and crossed paths with someone that I can only term as truly evil. I would prefer to keep what happened to me there personal because one thing that they did, I am not 100% healed from and when stuff like this happens, it opens that wound back up again. What they did to me happened when I was just beginning my road to recovery so I know I am more than capable of withstanding this current bully’s attacks. But that doesn’t mean that those nasty comments don’t hurt.
When I first got involved in the diabetic online community (DOC), I felt like I was a newbie with 20+ year’s experience. I have really learned a lot from my interaction online with fellow diabetics and caregivers of diabetics (don’t want to exclude the Mom’s here!). I had never heard of basal testing or even carb ratios. I didn’t know who John Walsh or Gary Scheiner were. I did not know that you could take Lantus twice a day or split your mealtime shots into several shots. I had never heard of Levemir or Apidra. I did not know what a CGMS was. Although I knew what a pump was, I would have been willing to bet money on the fact that I would never use one!
I now own John Walsh’s Using Insulin. I dumped Lantus and Humalog for Levemir and Apidra. I learned how to do basal testing and carb counting. I started splitting my mealtime insulin into multiple shots which made a huge difference in handling gastroparesis. I saw my A1cs go from 6s & 7s to the 5s. I have a Dexcom CGMS. And last but not least, I am one of those people that can say “I wish I had done it sooner” in regards to my pump and use Apidra insulin in my Animas Ping.
For me, the DOC has been a life saver. I know that I am not the only person that has said how much they have learned from their fellow diabetics (and Mom’s!). I get to talk to other people that have gastroparesis and neuropathy. They understand the frustrations. I have had other people help me along the way so it makes me feel better when I can pay it back and help someone else. The people there are all either diabetic or someone they are close to is and they are there trying to learn stuff also. It is a place that we can all go to and take comfort in the fact that the other people there all understand what we are going thru. It is not a place that you should get attacked because you have neuropathy and walk funny.
I am not the only person there that has difficulty walking, so when those knives are thrown at me, they also hurt other people that might be reading the board. There are several of us there that have difficulty walking, some because of neuropathy and some because of other reasons.
Besides health issues, people have other concerns going on in their lives that also impact how they feel on any given day. Diabetes is an expensive disease even with insurance. People have lost jobs and are concerned buying supplies or even losing their homes. People have lost love ones. People are watching loved ones going thru the dying process. People have stress at work. They have car problems. They have money problems. People have all kinds of things going on in their lives that they get stressed about. When people come to a diabetes message board, they are looking for support and not looking to get attacked and getting attacked by a cyberbully only compounds the other problems going on in their lives.
Before I filed for disability, I worked over 60 hours a week and tons of weekends. I had a responsible job and was a manager. I had a car and nice clothes. That was all taken away from me when I got sick. I am not able to drive anymore because of the neuropathy. I used to run and now I have to use a walker. I am not some miserable, un-happy person and I try to make the most out of what I do have, but that does not mean that it does not hurt when someone is making fun of me because I have trouble walking. It hurts and I should not have to put up with that crap.
I spoke up and Mr. Bully attacked even more. I am not going to keep my mouth shut when someone is spewing hateful comments and telling flat out lies about me or about someone else. What hurts even more is the way some people seem to condone what he is doing. That is like someone that keeps kicking someone when they are down. They are no better than the bully.
I am very fortunate that I have a close family and friends that I can turn to. Other people are not that fortunate. I have a friend that is dying from cancer and is concerned about his daughter because she is an only child and his wife also died from cancer. His daughter is not married and does not have any kids so once he dies, she will be all alone. There are a lot of people out there that have no one to turn to when they are hurting.
When a cyberbully starts picking on someone online, they have no idea what other stresses are going on in that person’s life. If that person is already stressed to the max, they don’t need some nasty person attacking them. Those people also don’t need to feel like no one cares that someone is attacking them. Please speak up about bullies. Your not speaking up about bullying makes the person that is being bullied feel even more alone. You might not be the one spewing hurtful comments, but you are making the person being attacked feel like no one cares that they are being attacked. When I was being attacked, I had a bunch of people speak up and that really helped make me feel like people cared about what was going on.
When someone is hurting and kills themselves because of being bullied, it is all over the news. Why should it take someone having to kill themselves before people finally speak up about the bully? It shouldn’t. People should not condone a bully’s actions. What bullies do hurt people – believe me, I know how much it hurts. Don’t wait until someone kills themselves because of one to put a stop to bullying.