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I still hold a grudge against my daughter’s past bullies

The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a housewife in my 60s. My daughter was bullied viciously by her classmates in middle school. We both suffered from this immensely, and I still can’t overcome the fury and resentment toward those involved.

There were three of them in the beginning. Then, the rest of the girls in class joined them.

My daughter was nagged for “being ‘cheerless,’ ‘insensible’ and ‘unresponsive.’” That could have been the case; she became introverted after she lost her ailing father when she was in the sixth grade.

My daughter developed tics and started to have panic attacks when she was in high school. She suffered from severe depression after finishing high school.

For nine years, she barely stepped out of the house — she could hardly trust anybody. She would also inflict harm on herself. This was torture for me, too.

We finally met a good doctor four years ago and, fortunately, she is making gradual progress. Nevertheless, I can’t help remembering the unpleasant experiences.

I recently heard that the leader of the bullying pack got married and had a baby. This was unbearable news. I really want to regain my peace of mind.

Y, Miyagi Prefecture

Dear Ms. Y:

I could imagine you reliving the rage and resentment when you heard that the bully was leading a happy life. It’s only natural for you to feel that way.

But I wanted to inform you that such feelings consume so much energy that they will drain your heart out. I would rather have you direct your vitality to helping your daughter recover from her mental troubles.

You need to have people support you when you’re trying to heal psychological wounds. Since you’ve already met a good doctor, you should start gradually adding positive connections to this.

As a start, I would recommend that you ask your daughter to go out and experience nature, or interact with animals. Working out, cooking or decorating the home with flowers could be another idea. Please spend your energy in a way that allows her to have more enjoyable moments.

I hope your daughter will find activities that enable her to express her feelings and regain confidence in herself. It could happen through writing, playing music or drawing. I hope you won’t be too exhausted, either.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

(from July 13, 2016, issue)Speech

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