Friday, 19 May 2017

Blog 4.2: Treatment *Trigger warnings ahead*

Before I continue I just wanted to remind you that there is at least one trigger warning in this blog post. All trigger warnings will be in bold and underlined.
I mentioned before that I have been to see counsellors in the past and if I haven’t missed any of them out then that would total 4 to date in the nearly 15 years that I have been seeking help. Aside from them giving me a safe place to talk about my issues, I’m not sure if any of them were all that helpful in pinpointing what has made me turn out to be who I am today. Sure; I would talk about being bullied as it was happening at the same time but no one pushed for any details. It was basically a case of; “Oh; you’re being bullied? Just ignore them.” I remember my mum called the school when I was about 15 as by then I had stopped wanting to go in all together and would just call the school myself to tell them I was too ill to go in – which was true. Anxiety about even leaving the house left me physically ill to the point where I would be vomiting before I was supposed to leave (I wasn’t making myself be sick and I don’t condone it) and I was having panic attacks (although the term was unknown to me at the time) at night when I couldn’t sleep because I dreaded going in to yet more mental abuse. I was experiencing agoraphobia long before I even knew what it was. My mum was worried because her daughter was in her room crying all the time and was too scared to leave the house because not only had the bullying taken place at school (and even during classes where some teachers had turned a blind eye as these people were known troublemakers) but it was also being brought to the front door. Literally. Kids would come up to our letter box and shout abuse aimed at me, not caring if there was an adult home to hear it and they would even harass my parents in the street. My brother even once got jumped at the school gates because someone who he thought was a really good friend at the time had started saying insulting things about me to his face and he hadn’t wanted to fight the guy as my brother was a good foot taller than him and could’ve seriously done him some damage had even tried to defend himself. My brother came home with a bloody nose and bruises that day because he refused to fight back against this guy in the name of standing up for his older sister. We might not always have seen eye to eye but my brother has always been my protector from a very young age. *Trigger warning*. My mum was terrified that she was going to come home one day and find that I had committed suicide. I was then requested to have a meeting with one of the Deputy Head Teachers and the girl who was causing most of my in-school worries. He sat her down and told her my mother’s concerns and she actually seemed to listen and take on board what he was telling her; that her behaviour was making someone so miserable that they didn’t want to live anymore. *End of Trigger Warning*. That lasted all of 24 hours. 24 hours which I couldn’t relax or even attempt to enjoy because of other people still putting me through hell. “Counselling” continued at my request with my Head of Year before an outside counsellor started coming to my school and took over. I didn’t like her much or trust her so I barely requested time with her.

With every new counsellor brought the same old, tired phrases like the classics; “just put yourself out there” and “try to get up earlier” (when I was finding it difficult to get out of bed because of depression) without any real advice on how to do any of it and I think my parents at the time, as loving and supportive as they are, were just in denial that something so serious (mental illness) was happening to their child who had been an over-achiever since birth and was still managing to get As in most subjects. I didn’t want them to think they were at fault (which my mother has confirmed was a thought that had crossed her mind since) or to worry about me and end up missing work to make sure that I got an education. 
I soon got bored of going to counsellors and seeing no results. I wasn’t any happier and school wasn’t any safer despite teachers allowing me out of classes 5 minutes early to avoid other students and them allowing me to go home at least ten minutes early to avoid them at home time as well. One of my favourite (note the sarcasm) phrases was being told that it’s “all in your (my) head”. Of course it is, Barbara. It’s almost as if I’m dealing with mental illnesses. Not that anyone actually pointed that out to me or voiced that to my parents who thought I was just being rebellious or difficult because “all teenagers hate school” which is hilarious if you actually know me. I’m quiet and don’t have a rebellious bone in my body. *Trigger warning*: Sure; most teenagers may hate school but not all of them are terrified to go there because of what other students can and will do to them including telling them to “kill yourself” and throwing broken glass at you. *End of Trigger Warning*.

With mental illnesses our brains fall into patterns and it is very hard to undo all the bad ones unless you have continued support and advice from professionals who are taught how to help you do so. I think this is where counsellors failed me; they weren’t specifically trained to deal with panic attacks or the ins and outs of what goes on in your head when you can’t get out of bed in the morning, when you can’t sleep at night or spotting the signs of mental illnesses. Now that you’ve read all of the above (and hopefully the first post on this) I should mention that I can’t pinpoint exactly where bullying and depression overlap - if I was already predisposed to having depression because it’s a mental illness and bullying made it worse/more noticeable or if bullying made me depressed and it’s just been a way of life for me since. I really hope that made sense. I remember feeling depressed from as young as 9 years old and being bullied at the same time but I do not remember when my anxiety was first triggered as I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been fearful of everything every single second of the day – even when there’s nothing to be afraid of and overthink far too often for my liking. How can I help myself if I don’t know how to or feel like my issues are being ignored?  As knowledgeable as I am about the causes of my illnesses and what triggers them (from self-reflection over the last few years; I’m not being big-headed), I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist or even a doctor. I don’t know how to retrain my brain to not be fearful all of the time – even subconsciously; anxiety nightmares are the best. *Again; note the sarcasm*. Of course through all these methods of treatment that I have been through I have picked up some skills and tools along the way but when you are in a constant state of panic (no matter how calm I appear to be physically; I’ve learned to hide that extremely well for fear of drawing attention to myself in situations where the spotlight was already on me (when people would call me names or throw things at me or if I was called on to answer questions in class when I hadn’t even raised my hand)), the teachings go out the window and it leaves no room for me to even think about practicing these skills.
For now I can only keep doing all that I can to feel better but it’s difficult given that I can feel extremely different an hour later or not feel anything at all (disconnected from myself like people explain an “out-of-body” experience to be like). How do you simply “write over” or rearrange the bad thought patterns when it’s all that you know?

I may not know how to re-programme my brain but I do believe it is what is in there that needs to be explored and to be questioned; the painful memories of what my peers did to me during incidents at school and at home. It is easy enough to tell someone “they were probably just jealous of you” – it is something I’ve heard countless times over the year - but was that really the case? I don’t believe it was – maybe on some level they were because I did really well in school or because I didn’t follow the crowd nor wanted to conform to what they thought was “cool” in order to be accepted. I had my own mind and didn’t rely on what others thought to make my own decisions – but I guess that is something that I will probably never know the answer to. Some people are just jerks and some are just impressionable kids and teenagers who put you through what they have experienced (usually at home) because they think it’s normal to treat people that way. It’s not and these people need to be re-programmed to see that. After all; why should it just be the victims who are told that they have to retrain their brains just because other people told them day in and day out that they were “worthless” and “useless” and their internal wires have ended up frayed and scrambled up? Recovery is difficult and painful even when you are willing to get better and it shouldn’t only be left down to the victims. Bullies need re-wiring too as do those who tell sufferers that it’s “all in the head” and to “get over it”.
I’d better finish up here before this ends up as a novel. I left my next blog topic up to you guys over on Twitter ( so I best get writing!




  1. It's really interesting to read this. I've been experiencing really bad anxiety at the moment. I think it is difficult to find help for these things.

    1. Thank you for commenting - you're the first one on any of my posts. I really appreciate you taking the time out to read this. Sorry that I'm late in replying; I wasn't notified that there was a comment.

      I get what you mean with it being difficult. Whilst I don't now what your journey has been like, it took me years to be able to get doctors to understand just how bad it is and it's only been in the last year and a half that I've been offered actual treatment for it (meds, group sessions, one on one sessions) as counselling just wasn't working for me. In fact; I was at the doctor's on Wednesday and this one actually understood that it's not easy for me to even really have a life at this time.

      If you want me to write about a particular experience or my thoughts on something then please feel free to let me know :)


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