My teachers saved me…
The first time I started experiencing severe mental health problems was when I was in year 10. I turned round to my teacher, A, and said “what is the point?”, and that’s when I first started opening up about my problems.
After I asked him that question he sat with me for two hours asking me why I asked that question, and then trying to make me feel better, by answering it in a way that wasn’t too miserable. Since then I began to build up trust with him, and spoke to him more and more about how I was feeling.
Another one of my teachers, C, was just as amazing, I started talking to her about things, about a month after I had been “outed”, the first thing I did was come out to her. I was worried about what she was going to say, she just smiled at me, said it was okay, and gave me a hug.
Both A and C were the first teachers I had properly opened up to, although they had a duty of care, meaning at times they did have to forward on what I said, I still felt like I could trust them.
I told A about my self-harm first, and although I knew he’d have to pass it on, he was still very nice about it and willing to talk to me about it. The key thing was that he was calm about it and not panicked.
I had a similar incident with C when I was in sixth form where one of my injuries was bleeding, and I went and told her, and she dealt with it calming and kindly, she didn’t blame me.
At home, I had a very rocky time trying to talk about my mental health, my mum would quite often have a go at me for self-harming, so to have someone who wasn’t judging me and was supporting me, it meant a lot.
A was the first person to suggest to me that I may have some mental health issues and he encouraged me to speak to the school counsellor about it. However, it was only after an attempt on my life two years later that I actually began to get help from mental health professionals.
But regardless of this, if I didn’t have A and C up to that point then I wouldn’t have made it that far to begin to get the support.
Even after I started to receive this support, they were still there, and I began to get more help from other teachers, during year 12 and 13 H began to help me and her firm attitude made sure I passed the subject that she taught me, which made me feel slightly less useless.
During my last year of sixth form my head of sixth form became very good at dealing with me, a lot of the time I’d just go into his office, have a cry, and then walk out fine. Even if he didn’t know what to say (which was quite often) he would just find something that he knew would make me laugh and then I’d feel better, even if just for a moment.
The last teacher I spoke about was my singing teacher S who was just so great at listening to me and finding the perfect song to reflect how I was feeling at the time.
The most important thing about all of them was the fact that they listened, they may not have always known what to say, but quite often that didn’t matter, just them being there to listen was all I needed. They also always made sure I was safe, and they never panicked, even when I was at my worse, they never did (well they never showed it).
I know that not all teachers are like this, but mine were brilliant, and definitely helped make up for a family who didn’t really know or accept what was/still is going on.
The best bit for me is that they are still there for me now!