Thursday, 20 July 2017

My School Journey

3 weeks ago, on the 27th June 2017, I finished full time education forever. I've spent 15 years of my life in school and I lived in the grip of anxiety for 13 of those years. Even if there was the odd few months between the age of 4 and 16 when I might have considered myself happy at school, not a day went by without me finding something to feel utterly anxious about.

For the past 2 years of my life I have been happier than I can ever remember being in my entire life, but my journey to reach this point was harder than I even thought it could be.

This is my school journey.

My first experience of school was aged 3 at nursery in Denmark, where I lived until 2002. I don't have many clear memories of that time and most of my knowledge comes from my mum and the photos that perfectly sum- up me as a small child. I just didn't want to be there- like, at all. I kind of had a friend, but she was just a girl that lived near me. There were 2 girls in particular that were really nasty to me and I'm pretty sure they were sisters, so I didn't really want to talk to any of the other children. This was my first experience of school anxiety.

This is me in my nursery class picture. As you can see, I was just loving every second...

When I was 4, we moved to England and I started primary school. Right from the first day Mum or Dad would have to drag me in and then the teachers would have to drag me, crying, into school. One of my first memories of primary school is some of the other children making fun of me because I was wearing snow boots in the winter instead of wellies. I finally settled at primary school around year 4 and by then it was almost time to go to high school, which is when the real trouble began.

After a few uneventful years, I was starting high school. Even on the induction day I was so anxious I felt sick and hated every second. I'd gone from a primary school of 50 pupils to a high school of 900 and it was damn terrifying. Every morning when I woke up I had feelings of utter dread and worry and I tried to explain it to people, but they just saw me as refusing to go to school. They didn't seem to understand how much I wanted to be like everyone else; I wasn't being difficult, I was terrified.

I went through multiple doctors who told me I just had to get on with it and go to school until finally one doctor understood me and referred me to a child psychiatrist who gave me a lengthy diagnosis list. Separation anxiety, panic disorder, social phobia. Now that a doctor could give an explanation suddenly the school stopped hassling me and my parents and actually tried to help. It took pretty much the whole year for me to become sort of settled at school and things just kind of ticked on for a few years. Everything still made me anxious but I was going to school and making friends.

At the start of year 10, I had a massive falling out with my best friend. She said some awful things to me and I realised she had been manipulating me for years - using me as an extension of herself and making decisions for the both of us. I had trusted her with so much stuff about my anxiety that I hadn't told anyone else and I found out that they had been telling people behind my back. Its only recently that I realised it was emotional abuse. When I distanced myself from her, she started saying nasty things about me behind my back. She started ringing my home phone multiple times every day and I would go on Facebook to find they had liked 20+ old photos I had posted. I couldn't escape and the school did nothing about it because I was just the anxious girl who was over-reacting.

Year 11 had started and my anxiety was out of control and I was diagnosed with depression and put on medication. I wasn't going to school and was being bullied by someone I used to call my friend. I still had only told about 3 or 4 people that I was struggling with my mental health because at the time, it was something people frowned upon. This was the most miserable year of my life. I woke up every day not wanting to get out of bed or talk to anyone. Some days Mum would come in and wake me up because I had slept to 2pm.

I learned my GCSEs from the textbook but had to drop half my subjects because the teachers said I wouldn't pass if I wasn't there. I finished year 11 passing all 6 subjects I sat exams for, but with my attendance record, Sixth Form wouldn't accommodate my needs despite making me an unconditional offer just a few months before because they are funded based on attendance. They wouldn't help me because it wasn't in their best interests. I was alone again.

That year passed slowly and my depression got bad again. But that Christmas my parents set up a visit for a sixth form I could start in September. Someone that didn't just care about the numbers, that actually cared about what I wanted and what was best for me.

In September 2015 I started Year 12 at a small high school in Ipswich and had already met my best friends in the first lesson of my first day. My biggest class had 10 people in it and for the first time ever, I was putting my hand up to answer questions and I have even done presentations in front of the class. It might seem like a small thing for most people, but for me it was one of my greatest achievements. Fun fact: the first presentation I did was a Crystal Maze themed presentation on the Behaviourist Approach in my psychology class :)

One of my best friends asked me a couple of months ago,"do you like school?" For years I always said "No", but for the first time I said "Yeah, I do". I can say that for the last 2 years I genuinely wanted to be at school, not because everyone else goes to school, but because I liked being there.

Thanks for reading,

Bye x

Monday, 19 September 2016

So I Can Do Exams and Stuff!

I know its been ages since I've done a post, but I've just been mad busy over the last few months with exam season and holidays and school work. So sorry about that :/

Back in May/June time I sat my AS Level exams as well as school exams for the subjects that do the exam at the end of the A Level course. and to be honest it was a super stressful time for me because I had about 3 full lever arch folders worth of work to revise. For Philosophy and Ethics I had about 16 topics to learn, only 8 of which would come up and we didn't know which ones.

So I know people sit exams all the time but I hadn't sat proper exams that give you a qualification since I sat my GCSEs over 2 years ago. And for those of you who have anxiety, you know that sitting in a crowded exam hall for 2 hours is not fun at all. Luckily for the first time I've been given extra time for my exams (I'll explain why I get extra time in another post) so i didn't have quite the same amount of worry about running out of time as I usually would've had.

When I came out of my exams I thought they had gone fine, but I was pretty sure I had got a C or D (which is a pass at A-level) because I didn't know whether I'd written about the right things or named the right scholars in the essays. So anyway, 3 months later results day arrived and I was on holiday, so I had to wait for my results to get emailed through. I wasn't super hopeful of a fantastic grade and I'd been saying to my mum for the last week that I thought at best I would have a C. And well it turns out I got an A in Philosophy and Ethics! Which is the highest grade at AS- level! Now considering I spend my life not quite getting a good grade I was pretty shocked and super happy :) And to be honest, I think everyone was shocked too! the highest grade I'd got the entire year was a B so I wasn't expecting to top that ever again!

So i guess what I've learnt from last year is that if I just try really hard (which is my speciality) I can actually get good grades. And anyone reading who struggles with exams just know that if you're bad at exams you can actually do better than you think because I am notoriously bad at exams compared to class work and I managed a super good grade!

Thanks for Reading,

Bye x

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Stress Mountain!

Ok so its almost a term and a half into my first year of A-levels and I'm seriously starting to feel the burn of A-levels now! I mean it was my once in a fortnight day off yesterday and I was sitting around literally doing nothing and I was stressed out of my mind! I can't turn my brain off! I try to chill out and its just not happening.

It's like my brain is saying "no you may not stop thinking about random, totally unimportant stuff"
"No you can't stop, you must work. ALWAYS". I'm already stressed out by the time it gets to Monday afternoon and I'm so deep in stress mountain its unreal.

But it's not even as if I'm not enjoying my days. I have a laugh at school and we have great fun, but I'm just so stressed I think I get a little bit obsessive over stuff. The current thing is Star Wars. I can't stop. It won't leave my brain!

Someone stop this madness!!!!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Speaking In Front Of The Class!?

This time 2 years ago, or even 1 year ago simply the idea of speaking or reading in front of the class would strike fear into my heart. I would never even put my hand up in class and when I had to read something I would go bright red and stutter on the words even though I could obviously read very well, but for some reason I could not even get the words out quickly enough.

Today I had to read a paragraph from the textbook in Psychology and what I didn't realise until after I'd finished reading, was that I wasn't anxious or red in the face, or sweating or stuttering. I'd read the paragraph without having to stop to find the words. I'd just read it without even thinking about the fact that I was in a classroom with other people looking and listening.

Since starting sixth form I put my hand up to answer questions multiple times in a lesson and I get that satisfying feeling of getting the answer right. And for the first time I don't get embarrassed if I get the answer wrong, because it doesn't bother me anymore. Although my Psychology class only has 6 people in it and my R.S class only has 10 thats still more people than I've ever felt comfortable speaking in front of before.

I guess if I look back just 2 years to when I was in year 11, I'm almost a completely different person. I'm so much more confident in myself than I've ever been before. Actually I wouldn't say I'm a completely different person. I'm still the same person but all the stuff I wanted to do and say before but I couldn't because I was so anxious, I do and say now. I just wish I was able to find my confidence when I was going through high school because if I'm honest, I might have actually enjoyed it.

I'm not saying that anyone who doesn't like speaking in front of a class should just go and do it. I think it's up to you what you want to do and what you don't because there's nothing worse than having other people telling you what YOU should do. But if you feel like you can just do it once, I would go for it. Even though, in that situation I never did, I wish I had. But at the same time,if its something so scary then don't do it. But it is very satisfying when you answer a question and you're right :)

I hope reading this little story of mine has given you some hope that you won't always be stuck with anxiety and I'd love to know whether anyone has had any similar experiences. So please leave a comment below if you want to because that would make me super happy :)

Thanks for reading,

Bye x

Monday, 16 November 2015

Too Much Work!

I have now been going to school all day, every day for a good 3 or 4 weeks now. Which is 8:35 till 4:25. Now I am only doing 2 A-levels which is less than most people but that is still A LOT of work. I have about 3 free-periods every day on average and I am still working all through most of them. So that is constant essay writing and reading for almost 8 hours every day. Excluding break and lunch of course which mostly consists of eating cake and drinking coffee from the new fancy machine we have at school. But when I get home just before 5, I am mega super tired which gets hard when that is every day.

My tactics for dealing with all the work is trying to get all my school work and homework done actually at school if I can, which is usually doable. This means that when I get home I can just chill out an watch tv or play on the computer or eat crumpets. I also have a shower when I get in from school because its just really nice to have a warm shower (because I don't have a bath) and get into my pyjamas as soon as I get home. I also try to be in bed with the lights off by 10pm since I have to get up at 7am and I need my sleep! Sleep is your friend so the more sleep the better in my opinion :)

That was a brief little summary of how I deal with the amount of school work there is at A-level and general school. I hope you enjoyed it

Thanks for reading

Bye x

Saturday, 10 October 2015

All Day!

Soooooo I've been going to school everyday for about 5 weeks now, and on Thursday I had my first full day, doing all my lessons, staying right through till 3:30. I had 3 lessons and I also helped with the R.E conference taking people round. And I even told off some students from other schools for going out of bounds.

For me, going in for a full day so quickly is a HUGE achievement. I haven't had a whole day in school for about 2 years. And just 5 weeks into a new school I'm doing what I couldn't even do at a school I'd been at for 5 years!

The friends I've made have been so kind and understanding towards me which has helped SO MUCH. The school haven't been on my back about attendance either I've just been allowed to come and go as much or as little as I want. I've been staying for lunch as well pretty much everyday for the last couple of weeks.

I'm so happy and proud of myself :) This week coming up I think I'm aiming to do 2 or 3 full days. And to be honest the thing I'm finding the hardest now is having to get up early to get out the door at 8:00 every morning! But I can get coffee at break times so that keeps me from falling asleep mid way through a lesson xD

Thanks for reading x

Bye x

Monday, 31 August 2015

Managing Back To School Anxiety

There are just a few days until a new school year begins. This is pretty much the first year in my entire 12 year school career that I haven't been completely anxious all the time for the whole week before school. And even though there isn't that anxiety there for me this year, I know that for loads of people, that anxiety is there. So I wanted to share some tips for managing it.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the worst thing for me was that I kept it bottled up until literally the day before school. You think, at the time you just need to get on with it because it always happens and you don't really know any different. But if you just talk to someone, it will help. It's very likely that your school has a support centre kind of thing. And if you just tell your mum or dad they can talk to the school about it on the first day, maybe even before, if your school has a non-pupil day before term starts. Which is exactly what I did 2 years ago when I was going into year 11.

When I was about to start back in year 11, I'd just received my Physics GCSE result which was below my target grade and I was worried that I'd get in trouble for not getting the result the teachers said I should've got. I realise now, that the grade I got was still good but when you see that target grade on a piece of paper and then your actual grade next to it, it seems like a huge deal. 

If you're worrying about forgetting something you need for school, make a list. I don't know about you but making a list in a super nice notebook is quite satisfying. And even once you've made your list if you're still in doubt ask someone else if they they can see anything you've forgotten. And I've found that I remember everything thats actually really important (pencil case, bag, folder...).

I hope that those couple of tips I shared will help a bit. If anyone wants to ask me a question about going back to school feel free to leave a comment and I will try my best to get back to you.

Thanks for reading,

Bye x