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Help, school phobia? Depression and high anxiety and advice on extra support with school avoidance!

(13 Posts)
Natalierussell6 Thu 05-Nov-15 22:57:05

Hi, I'm new to all of this so please be kind! Short version....!
I have a 14 year old daughter which for the past year has really struggled with school. She began self harming which I became aware of a year ago, after a great deal of piecing the puzzle together (as she wouldn't open up to me) I figured out that this was because she is so incredibly unhappy at school, her words were 'I'm scared of being stupid' something she most definently is not! She had been suffering from panic attacks in classrooms to the extent of actually vomiting on a few occasions, she then shut down and refused to go.
After finally getting her to visit her GP we were told that this was due to social anxiety and to keep going with school and the lessons she felt able to cope with as she will eventually learn to work through the anxiety and be back in a classroom full time. Almost a year on this is not the case! It's became clear that she has developed an actual fear of working in silence in classrooms (as she can easily draw attention to herself then) so working quietly and assembly's are to hard and becomes unwell. she simply refuses to go into school on these lessons, she avoids any tests as she received an F last year which knocked her for six so to speak so she now avoids any situation in which she can fail. (In my opinion She should never of been made to even sit that test it was a ridiculous for someone who is suffering low self esteem to sit a test for a subject she had hardly been in!)
She managed a few weeks in September and can cope with particular lessons but others she crumbles and I cannot get her into school on days when they are on. The school allowed us a part time timetable last summer but now we have been told she in full time or she has to go to a specialist unit which children who suffer from behaviour problems and those who have been excluded attend ( there are bars on the windows!) She refuses to go there and was told by other teachers they do not believe it would be beneficial to her so her barriers are well and truly up with that!
She began counselling 3 weeks ago AT LAST! and has now finally agreed to CAMHS so am waiting to hear from them.
I have been logging progress with her GP through out the year so there is an official log.
We are now being referred to an education welfare officer, I dont really know how beneficial this could be or is this purely for the schools benefit?

Basically, It's literally been a living nightmare!! as a mum I am completely helpless and no idea what to do any more as there is no magic medicine to take. Every day we would end up arguing (as much as I try not too!) I really don't know what to do for the best, keep trying to get her into school as she is in year 10 or to just leave her. I've started this tactic now and her words today were you've given up on me now, something I could never do, she's my world and she knows this!
Just curious to know if any one else out there has been through anything similar and what worked for them! Are there any home school schemes that people have used or tapped into through hospitals or through their GP? I'm just keen to know my options. I've attempted home school(ish!) to try and keep her up to speed to an extent but I'm not a qualified teacher and given her state of mind at the moment she has no interest in what I'm saying! Has anyone got any funding or been able to use tutors through a scheme? Sorry if this seems like a ramble, hope you can decode it! Thanks!

holeinmyheart Thu 05-Nov-15 23:39:50

First of all you have my utter sympathy because it is a living nightmare as we can bear anything ( if you are like me) except something being up with our children.
So is there anything you can do? First of all it might help YOU to go on a 'mindful course' , this will help you to cope with the stress of all this. Also if you need some sleep then get some mild sleeping tablets. Shouting and rowing with your DD is counter productive. You have figured that out anyway. You just both get so upset.
If your child won't go to school or can't go it is NOT actually the end of the world. I know it seems like it is but it is not. She can get a voluntary job. She needs something to get her out of the house and into a situation where she gets some praise and recovers her confidence. Is there anything she likes at all? Children? Old people, horses, dogs etc.
She can return to obtaining an education at a later date when she has recovered and is motivated. Many people are educated when they are adults and do well.
What is the point of forcing her so that she self harms and worse. You have tried the forcing, shouting route and it hasn't worked.

So please try and calm down ( I know it is harder said than done) Give yourself and her a break from trying to get her into school.

There is IXL Maths on the Internet and Khan Academy.com and UTube. ( the last two are free) There are videos on every GCSE subject on UTube, if that helps.

I went through this with a friend and her son. When he no longer had to go to school ( he hardly went anyway) he trained as a hairdresser and now has a thriving business.

Saracen Fri 06-Nov-15 01:10:40

I agree with holeinmyheart. My own kids have never been through this, but being home educated, they have friends with similar stories.

If school is the primary source of your daughter's anxiety, taking her out is the simplest, quickest, and most effective solution. The main priority now has to be her mental health. Education can wait. You may find that without the fear of school hanging over her head she is ready and willing to engage in traditional education from home soon.

It's very possible that won't happen, that she remains disengaged and unwilling to sit and study. But if you start by getting her back to the happy relaxed child she once was, she will make a success of her life one way or another. She's young. She has plenty of time to get an education. There are many possible good futures for her. Not all of them involve achieving exam passes by 16.

Post on the home ed board, or go meet some local home educating families. I think it will give you hope.

kjwh Fri 06-Nov-15 09:18:44

As for teaching her yourself, try to concentrate on the fundamental basics of maths and english. Plenty of free internet/online resources for maths, such as corbettmaths which has videos and worksheets of various grades so just concentrate on the foundation stage. For english, it can be as easy as making sure she reads lots of classics available free from the library.

If she's not going to get any GCSEs, which seems to be the case, then forget school as it's not going to achieve anything. Though she at least needs to be literate and numerate so that she can actually function in life and at a workplace (for voluntary experience etc at first). Maybe work towards getting her into college for 17-18 years old - it's a completely different environment to school. Plenty of courses will be open to her as long as she has basic literacy and numeracy - or many will also offer maths/english lessons too.

If you've no teaching skills and can't afford a tutor, forget about sciences, languages, humanities etc.

Loz1975 Fri 06-Nov-15 09:50:13

My son is only seven but I've been going through this since reception.
If you are on Facebook, look up School Phobia/School Refusal and Separation Anxiety. Ask to join and you will receive lots of support. There are hundreds of us on there (many your daughters age) going through it.
I have now being home educating my son for a month and it's the right thing for us for now. I suspect my son had Auditory Processing Disorder and sensory issues which has caused much anxiety in the classroom environment. Now that he's away from that anxiety he is so eager to learn and is doing great. I bet if the stress is removed she would listen to you and as said above there are so many re sources on line, I'm lucky that we have a huge home ed community, do you have anything like that? Maybe you could find classes going on that she could join to do GCSE's with other home ed children in your area, or on line peacefully at home away from pressure and she could join groups for other activities that are less stressful. The amount of teenagers self harming on the support group was one factor in us making our decision, it took so long to decide but once the decision was made the relief was enormous .
I know exactly how you are feeling and I totally sympathise. I have another DC in school and she couldn't love it anymore than she does, school isn't for everyone .

Schrodingersmum Fri 06-Nov-15 10:09:52

Come over to the special needs section and you will get more traffic from many with similar experiences

Our own story is fairly similar, self harming as a coping mechanism, suicide threats due to anxiety and a school that didnt want to help in the right way

Fast forward 6 months, been through CAMHS which may help you, took DD out of state school educated from home over the Internet by Interhigh which can be funded by your school/LEA or in our case PRU, child is much happier, no longer harming or suicidal and far less anxious

Some kids are not made for a standard education, sit down and think about what your dd really needs and where she will fit best then start shouting for help to get there and take control flowers

Natalierussell6 Fri 06-Nov-15 23:32:00

Wow, thanks for all the replies, it's a breath of fresh air to speak to people who have had similar experiences. I use to work in primary education but secondary is slightly out of my league! My predicament is that she is a very bright girl and she really want s to do well with her GCSEs which is why I'm reluctant to remove her. Her predicted grade which she received in September were all Bs and a few As. She was delighted to receive this although I was appriehensive as its another goal which failure to meet would seriously effect her self esteem. However Time has taken its toll, and as I explained she only makes it into school for about 2 days a week now.
After I became aware of suicidal thoughts about a month ago my initial instinct was pull her out now! The GP has insisted that we keep plodding along and see how counselling goes before I make these decisions. I explained in first message that the nagging tactic which turns into arguements have not helped either of us, and I made the decision to ask her in the morning if she feels able to go and if she refuses I will no longer persue her like I have been doing.
I'm concerned as to the educational welfare officer and how they will view my new parenting tactic for getting her to school! I'm sure if I say "I ask her" I will be deemed an irresponsible parent who is not fulfilling my legal duty to ensure she is in school! Part of me thinks tuff but I'd rather be clever with this and not give them any ammunition against us! She is my main priority at end of the day! Thanks again for all the advice, it's much appreciated!

Meloncoley2 Sat 07-Nov-15 00:30:07

Hi Op. Having had a similar experience, my DD benefitted from a few weeks out of school, and I would say it it is worth getting your Senco at school on board to help plan a programme she was happy with. In our case, through Camhs, medication was a help too.

mummytime Sat 07-Nov-15 16:06:47

In your circumstances I would strongly investigate HE or something like internet high.
Your GP to be honest is not an expert, should have referred her on far sooner, and will have very limited experience of cases like your DD. The EWO could be far more useful, at least they will have experience of children like your DD.

I know lots of HE children who get excellent GCSEs.
What does yourDD do with her time when she isn't in school?

My DD has her own issues, which have affected her attendance. My philosophy at present is that her reaching the age of 18 is far more important than any grades in exams she gets. Good luck.

Natalierussell6 Sat 07-Nov-15 22:13:25

Hi mummy time, thank you. I think your philosophy is absolutely spot on. She wasn't referred because she refused any help. She has taken a year to get to the place where she accepts she cannot cope alone and only 4 weeks ago gave me the ok to seek help. She is a strong willed young lady! It been a case of you can take a horse to water but can't make it drink! Got the CAMHs letter today so will make an appointment Monday. Please excuse my ignorance But what is HE? I've just looked at the Internet high page and it looks like a brilliant option.
She has little interest in anything to be honest. She hasn't really clicked with people at school and has found herself in a group that she doesn't fit with despite the fact that she use to be such a confident girl and had a close group of friend in primary school.
I think the counselling has given her some confidence to break away from the negativity and she has started a new friendship which I'm hopeful will increase her confidence! I was so incredibly proud of her as she went to creative film group session last week which has been running a few weeks so the group was already established and she managed to walk in as an outsider and offer suggestions etc which was a big deal! Her social anxiety had extended from school to family occasions etc so speaking to strangers, her age was a big step. I don't think it was as exciting as she had hoped for so I don't think she will return though ??. I do make sure she comes out with me to walk dog etc but apart from that she tends to shut herself away. She enjoys photography and she has a brilliant creative flare with that and she writes stories which are advanced for a 14 year old, her counceller has told her to send them to a publisher which gave her a boost! Since the counselling I have noticed a difference in her though, I get cuddles and kisses again now! it was my birthday yesterday and she came out to a restaurant and ate in public and was laughing and joking all day when family and friends, maybe I'm trying to find things which may give me false hope but hay il grab anything at the moment!!

Natalierussell6 Sat 07-Nov-15 22:14:46

HE, Home educated??!! Sorry it's been a long day!

Emochild Sat 07-Nov-15 22:26:01

I've been living with this for a year now and it does grind you down so make sure you look after yourself as well as your dd

I felt really threatened by the involvement of EWO and social services but they've been great and actually got school to back off from the constant nagging of 'she needs to be in school'

No, actually she needs to be emotionally stable -and then we will think about school

Natalierussell6 Sat 07-Nov-15 23:12:39

Yes completely agree, it is a scary decision to make to remove her which is why I'm persevereing until someone helps us with a plan, I'm terrified to making her even more happy by making the wrong decision ?? Removing her from the lessons she enjoys could make life seem even less unbearable. I don't want her to live a life where mum is her only way of socialising, I want to to feel like a teenager when ever she can and talk about silly things with people her own age!
Think I will be grateful for someone else's input, whether its the EWO or camhs telling us what or where or who can help her as it relieves some of the pressure off me! Blinking parenting is hard enough, when mental illness with a teenage girl is in the mix its an absolute minefield!!

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