Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Trauma vs Mental illness

"Help! My child is being bullied and has an anxiety disorder, should I take them out of school?"

There is a real difference between the complicated and delicate time of childhood and mental and emotional well being, and being terrorised physically, emotionally and mentally.

While it is possible to have both a mental health condition and be being bullied, it's difficult to tell if this case while they are still enduring the violence towards them. Is it paranoia if they really are out to get you?


I read this sort of post a lot. There seems to be this tenancy in schools to treat the victim as a problem, not the bullies, or abusers. If the family follow suit and labels a child "ill" or "broken" by being the subject of abuse it will have its own deep and traumatic emotional scars. We have to come away from the idea that it is normal to hurt people. That being cruel and hurtful is wrong and bad, not some right of passage to endure. It makes victims internalise their abuse and continue to hurt themselves long after the trauma has ended.
War, is normal, after all. It makes it no less traumatic. Just because it is common doesn't make it any less damaging.
My daughter only spent three academic years in school and yet all these years later there are scars. She doesn't like to be the centre of attention, because if she was praised by a teacher at school the violence she received would be worse. She was only four years old. Yet the pattern changed her, maybe forever.
Being different is a punishable offence at school. 99 % of verbal slurs and attacks attacks are about being gay (according to Stonewall). 54% of gay kids never feel there is an adult who will support them about being gay. 6% had death threats of their sexual identity. Over 66% of LBGTQ had suffered bullying at school.

What this means is I have a feminine bi-sexual male friend who was segregated, medicated and further ostracised by the school and told repeatedly and in no uncertain terms, he was the problem. He is 31 now and up until recently any violence or abuse he suffered he truly felt he deserved.
This the problem with treating the victims rather than dealing with the problem.

I couldn't find the UK numbers but in America suicide due to bullying is the third leading cause of death in teens. For every child that dies 100 children attempt suicide.

Treating the child like they are the problem is damaging to the already hurting victim of abuse. There are no other situations like this we would allow. As adults if someone behaves like this at work it is the bully that is reprimanded (and rightly so) not the victim.

Mental illness.

Of course you can have a mental illness, be it an anxiety disorder, depression, or something else, and be bullied.
Mental illness has several triggers, from SAD (light levels) to past trauma, to chemical imbalance and the big one, stress. However mental illness is often the first diagnosis teens get and mental illness can often be misdiagnosed. From ADD, to epilepsy, to ME, to Lyme disease there can be biological and dangerous conditions very quickly labelled and leading to complications especially with dangerous medications come into play.

If the trauma is still on-going it makes are solid diagnosis difficult. Being sad because someone is punching you in the gut every day is not abnormal. It exceptionally normal. So is being anxious that you don't know when that gut punch is coming. That's not an anxiety disorder. That is fear of something very real and tangible.

Home education can't "fix" anyone. However if you take away the terror, the violence and stress a lot of problems resolve. That is not to say there will not always be scars. It will take time, and patience and a lot of support. Therapy and medication might help too. Whether it is learning to understand your triggers, and work through things, eat better and ask for help when you need it, to finding the medication that works for you, or simply being safe, home education gives the opportunity to find out.
 It might change the direction of your child's life forever. Yet if the statistics are to be believed you might just save their life.

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