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My Past Experiences in School Continue to Haunt Me

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From the UK: I recently started a new school. The staff are supportive, the students are friendly, and their classes are very informational. However, I only see the evil in the school.

All of my life, I had attended a school that abused, manipulated, and humiliated me. They did this continuously for so many years that it’s stuck with me, even after transferring to a new facility. I see this new school as my old one and have issues trusting everyone, which is affecting my performance in class.

My body has moved on, but my mind is still trapped at that old school, causing me to have numerous flashbacks throughout the day. I’ve tried reaching out to my family for help but they think my issues are invalid despite it ruining my education. I want to help myself but I truly don’t know how.

My Past Experiences in School Continue to Haunt Me

Answered by on -

A.

What you are describing is not unusual for someone who has been traumatized by bullying. You need help — both from the outside and on the inside. On the “outside”: Changing schools was an important first step to healing as it took you out of a situation that was traumatizing. That was an important first step. Now you need help with what goes on “inside” your mind.

Here’s why. When someone has been repeatedly hurt, the person’s baseline of anxiety is elevated. It takes less and less to make it “spike” and to push the person into a self-protective mode. The usual reactions are fight, flight or freeze.

Unfortunately, once someone has been traumatized, he or she will go into self-protection whether it is needed or not. Something that reminds the person of the traumatic situation, like a smell, an environment, some careless words, etc., sets it off. In your case, the school environment is a reminder of all the times you felt threatened. Just being there is sending you into self-protect mode.

You need help untangling your present situation from your past experience. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is common to kids who have been bullied and abused.

Fortunately, there are well-researched and effective treatments for trauma. Please share this letter with your parents and ask them to help you find a therapist who can give you the support and treatment you deserve. It is highly unlikely that you can handle this on your own. A therapist can help you recover from past abuse and go forward in life with new confidence.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

My Past Experiences in School Continue to Haunt Me

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Past Experiences in School Continue to Haunt Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/05/23/my-past-experiences-in-school-continue-to-haunt-me/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.