Bereavement, Bullying and Acceptance
The following post was written by a student at Red Balloon
When I was about six my life changed. In fact, I doubt I would be where I am if it hadn’t. I had been home schooled. My Mother, my brother and I would go to Tyrella Beach and learn all the things we would need to know – aside from social skills, that is. We didn’t really think about that much; we were good kids – polite, astute, and clever. But then our Father was diagnosed with tongue cancer and we were packed off to school and that was when everything took a turn.
Admittedly our first school was a bit of a mess – it was closed in 2011 which didn’t shock me much. Kids are cruel, we all know that. But for children who had never been to a school and were new to the idea of their father being in a hospital, every day turned into an ordeal. From the simplest jabs at our race (my brother and I were the only mixed race children in the whole school), to the worst jabs such as questioning whether our Dad was still alive. To be confronted with this cruelty whilst we were trying to figure out the four times table was difficult. It’s fair to say that we had hit a new wall. Getting to school was the worst of it all, though. Our parents were both in hospital. Mum was there to look after Dad for our first ten weeks at school meant that we were taken aback when a woman we didn’t know saying she was our Aunt took over the whole household. I’ve never felt so sorry for a person as I did for her. She would drag us to the Volvo, drive through the muddy back roads and then carry us into the classroom as we kicked and screamed.
Then the calm rebelliousness broke. Dad was coming home, we had to focus now. It wasn’t time for us to complain, bruises from other kids weren’t as important as scars from operations, and worrying ill people is never okay. So we zipped our lips and got into the rhythm of ‘good children are quiet children’. It wasn’t ideal but we moved again and that, we thought, would fix it. Not all schools are the same.
But then again all kids are the same if you have the same attitude towards them, so my grave was already dug before I even stepped my foot into the new classroom.
By the time we had moved for the sixth time, I was at my fourth primary school and Dad was being given a vague date. I was ten and I was so scared and sad that I couldn’t function any more. And then he was gone and it was just us. Two weeks off was all I had before I went back and put up with worse than anything I had ever heard. I still to this day have never understood why you would tease someone for the death of a parent. But I didn’t even notice. I was done with it all. I was over school, I was ready to get out of there the moment I could.
Secondary school was only six months after the funeral and that went about as well as one could expect. I never expected it to all be fine, but all I could see in the people there was bigger and scarier versions of the people who had made my life miserable.
That’s when my attendance dropped majorly. I had always had health issues with a bad immune system and anxiety disguising itself as flu. But by the time all the big changes had got to me I spent about two years in bed, in and out of school, trying to keep the grades up whilst trying to figure out how to get out of the miserable grey that surrounded everything.
It didn’t take long for the repressed emotion to catch up with me; it took form and took over until I was in hospital for the first time. It was another year until I ended up back in hospital, and was another year and a half until I actually got CBT because of the waiting list. By year ten I was a mess. I had been in and out of hospital three times and then, over the course of one week, I ended up in A and E four times after which I was admitted. That’s when things changed. Therapy became accessible and the idea of things getting better rather than just staying terrible was slowly leaving my mind.
But I couldn’t stay in the unit forever, I had to go back to school, I had to get my GCSE’s. I won’t lie, I’ve always been quite determined. Academia was one of the only parts of my life I could really achieve in and I needed those marks to be really happy in my recovery. I only survived half of the first day back at school. That’s when Red Balloon was suggested to us. Without sounding too cheesey, it’s changed my life.
There were days I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t feed myself or even bear to open my eyes. There were times when I hadn’t been to school for a month at a time. Now I feel ready to take on the world. I’m ready for college, I’m ready to be happy again and for that I will be ever grateful.