I know the title seems a little dramatic, but if I didn’t leave regular public school, I’m actually not sure if I would still be alive.
In saying that, let me tell you the story.
I was in private school up until I was in the second grade, I would have been about 7 or 8. I then moved to a public school in that town, we ended up moving towns about a year later and I continued with a public school in that small town until I progressed to high school.
I followed most of my peers and moved onto the closest public high school. I was in that particular high school until mid 9th grade. I didn’t have the best time in high school. It was the school where my ’emo’ phase was born. I changed, I wore black, I listened to heavy music, I self-harmed, I hated myself, I was a target. I couldn’t walk down the hall, go to a class or even get a fucking drink without a comment, an action, a fight, something! The more I was picked on, the more I hated myself. I began self-harming at school, I would take my blades with me, taping them to the underside of my bracelets, so if I needed a quick escape, it was one bathroom trip away.
I lost friends, the people who swore they were always there for me, who now didn’t want to associate with me because they got negative attention for being in my presence, I hated myself even more.
The little friends I had left would make snide comments to me all the time, I felt I couldn’t escape.
I have a few posts on some stories during my time at this school first boyfriend is one of them.
Mid 9th grade, my mum and I moved to another town, leaving my sister behind to finish her high schooling at that school.
I started at another school. This was where I had my first real clean slate. I could be whoever I wanted to be. I was an ’emo’ at my old school, but not at this one, not this time. I wanted to be someone new, someone else, the real me, so I did.
I was assigned a girl to help me around the school, to find my way, to get to know everything. She was cool, I’d meet her every day out the front, we’d go to my first class together and I would find her in lunchtimes, a familiar face. That was until I was walking up to her group of friends on our first meal break when they all looked up, seen me, grabbed all their things, and ran.
I remember feeling the same way I did at my other school. I took it as a very clear hint and just sat alone from then on.
I was so much happier being alone, then being around people that made me feel like that.
Being alone, being new at a school, attracts a kind of attention that isn’t necessarily wanted. Two girls came up to me to talk, it was fine, they seemed nice, they both had the same name, ironically. I continued sitting alone until I was invited to sit in a friend group. I didn’t want someone to feel like I was a burden on them, or have to escape me.
These girls became my closest pals at this school, I had a lot of classes with one of them, that was nice, I had someone to talk to.
I learned a little too late, that these girls weren’t nice. They had a reputation, they liked to uphold it. Now, I don’t mean it in the sense of having intimate relations with multiple people, even though now I kind of wished that was it.
These girls were hated, they were known to teachers and other students as people you don’t mess with.
At least once a week they would be in physical altercations because someone said something horrible to them, or behind their back, it was always something petty.
These girls were small; they were short and thin built. I’m quite tall, I’m 5’9 and solid build.
It wasn’t long before they were planning to ‘attack’ someone for something they said, instead of them taking care of their own problems, guess who was dealing with it? me.
I didn’t really know how to throw a punch, I had been in fights at my previous school, but nothing this serious. The whole school was there, watching me, surrounding me.
I tried to back out, I tried to run away, but there was a wall of people, every time I tried to make an exit, I was pushed back in. It became very clear, very quickly that there was only one way out of this, and that was to fight and win, or I would be dealing with those two girls.
I did it, I fought this girl for reasons unknown to me, I won, I guess? I didn’t want to but she came out bleeding and I was unharmed so I guess that’s a win for me. It’s not what I wanted. I felt horrible.
People I thought were my friends, weren’t. I was being used for my size, I wanted out. So I ran home, luckily I only lived down the street so I could do that.
I didn’t speak to them for a while. They both got suspended from school, even though I was the one in the fight. I’m thankful the principal knew it wasn’t me and I was being forced into it by these people.
Now I’d been in that fight, I wasn’t really friends with those girls, I would smile in the hallway, I would say hello but I didn’t go out of my way to be friendly with them.
But, there’s always a but, the girl I fought, she wasn’t super popular by any means, though word got around. Even though staff knew it wasn’t me, no one else did, they thought I was this horrible person that came from out of nowhere really, wanting to fight, I mean, who really knows what bull shit was spilt behind my back from those girls, so I looked like the bad person in this situation.
School life became hell, it’d been about 3 months I think since I started that school and I was ready to give up. But I tried to stick it out.
It had been a rough day, whispers in the hallway, snide comments, backstabbing friends and I couldn’t wait for the day to be over. The only thing in the way of me and the day being over was math class. I didn’t mind math class, honestly, so it was a refreshing end to the day, I hoped.
Being a fresh start at this school, I no longer hid my self-harm scars, I no longer felt the need to. I was sitting down in class when I heard laughing a whispering behind me, being always paranoid I thought it was about me, but id convinced myself that it is just my paranoia and they’re probably laughing at a joke, so I pushed it aside.
I was handed scissors, confused, I politely declined and went back to my work when I heard a comment about ‘maybe blades were my preference.’ My heart sunk. I just thought, not this shit again. I ignored them. I was handed a blade. Someone behind me had used their scissors to take off the screw on their sharpeners to remove the blade and give to me.
I was disgusted but I was trying so hard to not react and give them satisfaction. So I ignored their blade gesture. They became worse. They offered to cut my wrist for me, promising to make it quick. I was done.
I calmly packed up my things and got up out of my chair and walked to the door, I didn’t turn around, I didn’t say anything, I ignored the teacher I ignored the students and I left.
I didn’t even get halfway down the stairs when the bell rang for class to end, I was approaching the second flight of stairs when I heard my name being called, I looked up to see a wall of kids, soon I realise they were all holding blades from their sharpeners and some were holding scissors as well. Before I knew it, they were all being thrown at me, there I was, on the stairs with blades and scissors coming towards me, survival mode set it, luckily none of them knew how to aim, so by taking one step to the side, they all missed me.
I ran down the stairs and I ran home. I’ve never run so fast in my life. They were trying to follow me but I just bolted.
I got home and told my mum what had happened, I cried into her arms and I sobbed the story. I didn’t want to go back to tell the principal, I didn’t want to go back at all.
I wanted to end my life more than ever before that night.
I took around 2 weeks off straight after that, no ringing the school, no note, just didn’t go.
In that time, I was researching alternative options. I loved school. I wanted to continue learning but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t go back to that school, or any school for that matter.
This was when we found Oten, it’s not exactly homeschooling. My mum wasn’t sitting there teaching me, it was a program where I would be sent out learning resources and a list of books I need to be able to complete them and I do all my work at home.
If I ever had a question, teachers at Oten were only one call away. I was never alone in that.
After signing up for Oten, I returned my school computer, my uniforms, we had a small discussion with the principal on why we wouldn’t be returning but he didn’t seem to care.
I joined forums that were made by the Oten to help meet other kids for help or friendship purposes.
My mum was working two jobs to make ends meet, so, me being at home, wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I took over running the household. I did the housework, the washing, the cleaning, even the cooking a lot of the time.
I worked my schooling around anything I needed to. I could wake up when I wanted, sleep when I wanted, as long as I got my school work done and maintained my grades, I was pretty much free.
I am happy to say that ‘dropping out’ of ‘regular’ school, was the best decision I’ve ever made. I honestly don’t know if I would be alive today if I didn’t listen to the warning signs and do what was best for me and my mental health.
If you or anyone you know is struggling, there is always someone out there who cares and will listen!
Your health is important.
Lifeline AUS- 13 11 14
Samaritans UK- 11 61 23
Hopeline USA- 1-800-784-2433