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I'm an expert on bullies after school ordeal, says David

RTE star and well-known psychologist David Coleman has told of how he turned to therapy himself after he was bullied at school.

David, who is returning to the small screen soon with new series Bullyproof, spoke about how he suffered from low self-esteem.

"I was bullied at school," he told this week's RTE Guide. "So very early on I decided, for my own safety, to withdraw. I remember having quite an isolated childhood in primary school and I remember holding back.

"I wouldn't join in the games of tag because I was afraid of what would happen. I had quite low self-esteem up to the age of maybe 11 or 12. I did not like myself at all. In some ways I felt that I was weak or not as good as other kids," he said.

He also told of how he compared himself unfavourably to more athletic children.

"I would often compare myself negatively with others, children who played rugby or sports. There were lots of times that I felt that I didn't fit in. It was a sense of uselessness that I picked up. I felt vulnerable, I guess," he said.

His own self-esteem grew when he changed schools -- his parents moved to Dublin from Kildare and David began secondary school.

"At secondary school I got involved in debating and drama and things like that which proved to be a whole new experience for me and gave me a sense that here was something I wasn't bad at," David explained.

"I now give public talks and appear on TV and radio and that comes from the self-confidence I have. If I'm being truly honest my self-esteem now I attribute to the last 10 years that I have been in therapy.

"I had a good childhood and good parents and didn't experience any trauma but I continue to see somebody so that I can keep my head clear and straight and know what my own issues are. That has absolutely helped in terms of me liking me," he said.

The three-part Bullyproof -- which starts on RTE1 next Tuesday at 10.15pm -- is about the prevalence and impact of bullying in Irish schools, with David warning: "If you ignore bullying it doesn't go away."

He has seen the long-term effects bullying can have on people.

"Just this week in my own practice I had a young man who was feeling suicidal and he had been bullied," David added.

"So absolutely it can destroy lives."