Hi, a good friend of mine has recently experienced some quite traumatic events. In her final year of high school, she recently realised that she was pregnant to her former boyfriend, who she had recently broken up with after realising he had been cheating on her for the duration of their relationship.
She had an abortion, largely upon his insistence. Several days later, the two had a very public argument just outside her school grounds, which sparked a physical fight. Police became involved, however although my friend wished to press charges, she was told she did not have a sufficient case.
To add to her strain, a few days later she collapsed and began bleeding heavily. After being taken to hospital, it was revealed that the abortion had been botched and she required urgent surgery to correct the damage.
A week later, upon returning to school, she started to cry just outside school and told me she couldn’t go in. Following considerable coaxing, she was able to come to the student lounge. However, she showed great panic and looked about to cry when I suggested going to class. She attempted to bargain with me, and begged me not to make her go.
How best can I help her get back into school routine?
A. Understandably, it is difficult for your friend to return to school. It is the location of several traumatic incidents. The school has become associated with those events. It makes sense that she had the negative reaction you described.
Your friend may need more help than you can offer. She may need to see a mental health professional. She has endured several traumatic experiences. To help her go back to school, help from a counselor would be a great place to start. Perhaps there is a counselor at the school she can speak to.
If she’s not willing to see a counselor then perhaps you and several other friends could act as a support system for her. If she feels anxious about entering the school perhaps you could be by her side when and if her anxiety increases. You could do this by reassuring her that she is safe and that you are there if she needs emotional support.
As I mentioned above, because she is having panic and anxiety about entering the school, professional help may be necessary. Suggest that she seek counseling. Your friend is lucky to have such a caring and supportive friend. I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for your question.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Oct 2009
Randle, K. (2009). Peer Experiences Anxiety About School Attendance. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/10/01/peer-experiences-anxiety-about-school-attendance/