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Exhaustion

Life – more grass than flowers, on Monday’s Memory Lane.

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Welcome to Monday’s Memory Lane where I share a post from before we came to know each other.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Does life feel too busy?  Have we become addicted to being busy?  How do we shift our focus to a more positive one?  I hope you will read on…Life – More grass than flowers? Shift your focus!

Le gra,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the pain, part three.

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

As hard as I’ve tried, I can’t paint the pain of bullying experienced by our son because the canvas is blank and will remain blank as our son, kept almost all of the painful details to himself.

What I can paint is what we as parents noticed at home, which included, his frustration shown through nasty comments and angry outbursts. His loss of interest in his hobbies. His withdrawal into himself. His sleep pattern changed dramatically, unable to get to sleep resulting in him sleeping longer into the morning and soon he developed insomnia.   He was awake at night and asleep during the day.   We slowly noticed a real change in his pleasant and warm personality.    All these changes led to self-isolation and school refusal.

We stood by helplessly, watching our warm, outgoing, resilient child slowly disengage from all aspects of his normal functioning life.

This did not happen over-night. Being bullied was something that chipped away at his resilience and eventually over years, wore him down.

Every child, no matter their age, sex, nationality, colour or faith is entitled to attend school, to feel happy and included. They deserve to achieve, to the best of their ability, without the fear of bullying and its devastating effects.

The pain of his upset is still visceral as I recall and share these memories.  It hurts because I realise, yet again, that the sheer frustration and powerlessness we felt came from feeling unheard in a broken system.  This feeling of isolation compounded the impact bullying was having on our family.

Thankfully we have, as a family and individually, empowered ourselves to move forward whilst not diminishing the pain of the past. But instead wanting to put our learning to the service of others.  You might like to read our son’s attitude, Bullying…”I am grateful for it all”…

Have you or your children experienced bullying?  Did it wear down your child’s resilience? Did it render you silent and make you feel powerless?

I would love to hear your experience so that together we can let other families know that they are not alone.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Refuelled since Friday…

If you arrived home on Friday and felt like this…

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Andy after a tough day at the office!

 

I hope you’ve made time to do something you enjoyed, something just for you and that you are refuelled now and ready to face the week ahead!

How did you feel?  How do you feel now?Please share what worked for you?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

Trigger Warning – Bullying, upsetting read, almost 1.3k word count and only a synopsis.

I would really appreciate if you would consider sharing this…

If I could paint a picture of the pain of bullying I would because a picture can say much more than any amount of words. But I hope my words can help you instead, paint your own picture of young lives tainted, damaged and almost destroyed by bullying.

Begin by taking a nice relaxing breath and feel the peace and contentment of a happy life…Just breath.

Now add two children to the picture and see the eldest overcome some challenges, such as being shy and changing school after one year. See the youngest child beginning life weighing 2lb 9oz and being the best Christmas present we brought home that Christmas, three months after he was born. Now laugh and imagine the relief of a diagnosis of full health at the age of one. No heart murmur. No lung deficiency. No eye sight problems. See him run into school without a backward glance, loving all the new activity and company.

Take another relaxing breath and practice gratitude for two happy, healthy children aged five and seven. Follow your heart, values and beliefs and raise them to be loving and kind; to watch out for the welfare of others and to go out of your way to be inclusive and help others feel they belong.

Now picture a knot in your stomach as you notice things begin to change… upset going to school, lunch not eaten. Hear her tell stories of constant name calling, jibing and mocking. Feel her pain as they make fun of her prominent teeth and her love of galloping around the playground instead of running because of her infatuation with horses. Approach the teacher. Confront a young boy’s carer for his bullying of her on the school bus.

Notice the tears, bitter tears of being excluded by one or two girls. Soon more of her circle follow their lead and she’s left feeling frustrated and lonely. Watch as school anxiety develops, tears and tummy aches rack her body and people comment how thin she is. See her push her food around her plate…and then around some more. Observe family trips to cafes or restaurants become a nightmare.

Soon separation anxiety develops and you carry her into school and peel her off you as you try to reassure her that today will be better; the children will be lovely and friendly. Add in lots of GP visits, referrals to counsellors, psychotherapy and meetings with teachers. Watch homework suffering and educational milestones not being achieved. Listen as you are advised to have an educational assessment done but in the same breath advised that you’ll have to arrange it privately and pay about 400 euro as the government only fund two per year and more disadvantaged children need it. See some school supports come onboard, extra learning support, confidence building and be advised a follow-up 400 euro report is needed before she enters secondary school, needed they say to access extra support there. Watch her relatively happy during 1st year with no supports offered or thankfully needed.

Feel the kick in your gut as a happy 1st year turns into an upset 2nd year and more of the same, more tears, more anxiety, more loneliness and exclusion. Send her to pottery classes and see her flourish and then watch as even in the privacy of her own home she is a victim, as we laugh and enjoy the company of relatives over Christmas, she is hounded. Witness her stress as two girls send texts with nasty, abusive messages. Contact the Gardaì and find there’s not much you can do, change her phone sim.

Advise the school in case she should be targeted by these girls in person. Hear that the two girls are reprimanded. Listen in shock when you’re summoned to the school to collect your emotionally upset child having been physically attacked, dragged to the floor by her hair and kicked and punched by one of the girls. See the nasty black and blue bruise leave its mark on her skin, knowing full well the ongoing abuse is leaving its nasty tentacles entwined even deeper within. Read nasty lies posted about her on a social media site to slander and ridicule. Approach the parents. Be kind, ask for respect, say you won’t involve the law.

In the meantime watch her at home, refusing school for weeks and support her decision to change school.

Breath another reaxing breath as she flourishes, feeling accepted, part of the group. See her take on new experiences and even a school adventure trip for five days away from home.

Gag and dry-retch, choke and sufficate, imagining how she felt when they poured water down her throat while she slept; minding her own business, doing no harm to anyone! See her retreat into herself, go to school and get phone calls to bring her home sick, refuse school. More GP visits, psychological appointments and point blank school refusal. Mountains of paperwork to obtain home school hours and achieve her Leaving Certificate despite all the torment and abuse.

Years later get messages from the bully who physically asaulted her, telling of her regret, her distress, her depression, anxiety and attempted suicide because of what she did. Feel a horrific and tangible need to rip her apart but instead hear our amazing daughter say how she has forgiven her…breath deeply and learn a lesson in compassion and tell the girl it’s ok, don’t worry, access supports, do well in college.

And later still witness the distress, the panic attacks, the anxiety, the new courses; some completed some not. See her clothes become two sizes too big as the anxiety grips her throat and messes with her appetite. See her busy herself baking and sculpting, creating things of beauty and remind yourself that you don’t care about an unfinished course or a career or thoughtless people who don’t ask how she is doing but instead ask “what’s she doing with herself” and proceed to recount how their daughter, her peers, achieved their third level qualifications.  See her reach out and be told it’s five weeks to see a new counsellor – pathetic Irish healthcare.  Marvel as she learns Dutch with her phone app. Admire how she lobbies every politician for a service dog, unheard of in Ireland but which might just enable her complete her course by helping her ward off panic attacks on the train. Encourage her as she appeals to the welfare system for a companion pass so somebody could travel with her on the train. Practice and encourage patience as she waits patiently for a human being to pass her application. But most of all we just love her and admire her amazing resilience because any of those bullies would have crumbled under the strain years ago and that’s the politest sentence I can pen about them.

Oh and by the way, that’s just what was going on for our daughter. We have a son who was bullied too… but he hid it for a long time, to save us the pain.  I’ll try to paint that picture in part two.

If you think this could help anyone who was or is a victim know that they are not alone, please feel free to share. If you or anyone you know was a bully or you have been told by your school that your child is a bully, please consider the pain you or they have or are causing. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Exhaustion or isolation…which is the lesser evil?

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When you have an invisible illness you hide it from others maybe for the fear of being judged or that people won’t understand.

Thankfully I’m getting better at being open about my CFS/Fibro. I’ve often been told how well I look or that I must have a great exercise routine but the truth is I’m just lucky to have a slim frame and have a good understanding of the importance of a balanced diet. In reality I often have to choose between getting a 20 minute walk or cooking the dinner because if I do one I certainly have to forfeit the other.

I’ve felt unwell since Easter but kept pushing myself to the limit to remain in the classroom with my students up to the summer holidays hoping I could recoup my energy then. I also rose to the challenge of an exciting new experience because I wanted some adventure, some fun and some new learning in my life, by attending ICASSI BONN 2017

While Bonn was wonderful it’s now apparent that I drained down an already low battery and as a result I’ve exacerbated a heart complaint. Now I’ve hit the wall.  I’ve had no choice but to stop.  I’m unable to function at home let alone work.

But the hardest part is I’m really missing the social interaction.  I live in the countryside and I feel the isolation.  I miss my colleagues and the daily conversations we had.  I miss my students. I miss being a part of their lives because they helped me take the focus off my own struggle with chronic pain. Their eagerness to contribute to our classes encouraged me to overcome some of my fatigue.  They let me into their lives and being focused on their goals got me through many days where I thought I would surely crumble under the stress that bullying was having on both our teenage children.

I soaked up my students’ warmth and inclusion.  We were partners in a learning space.  On a daily basis I let my students see my difficulty with spellings…how crazy is that I hear you say, a literacy tutor who struggles with spellings? Initially my students thought I should be an expert in spellings but my struggle showed them that it’s ok to make spelling errors and that spellings are something you can continue to improve throughout your lifetime. Soon they relaxed and worried less about spellings.

I have learned that I am not responsible for my students’ learning but I am responsible for my own teaching.  However the fibro fog, pain and exhaustion prevents me giving the level of service I want to give.  It makes the endless bureaucracy involved in the preparation of class materials and assessment requirements insurmountable.

Now I have to listen to my body and practice self-care.  I have to accept the exhaustion and isolation and that takes strength.  I have to recharge my own battery first and my one fear is can I ever sufficiently recharge a battery that is chronically drained?

Much love,

Marie xx

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