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Highest achievers?

 

The results of Ireland’s Leaving Certificate State Exam were released on the 13th of August.

This exam is the culmination of five years of study and it holds the key to the future of many students.

For months before the exams, which are held each year in June, two things happen.

1.  Some students don’t cast the upcoming exams a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves to the point of mental and physical distress over sitting these exams.

For weeks before the results are released in August, two things happen.

1.    Some students don’t cast the upcoming  results a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves out worrying about the outcome or points they will achieve.

And that is the story of life.

The students at 1. above, takes things in their stride, they do not struggle with their emotions or become anxious.

The students at 2. above, are predisposed to an anxious nature.  They struggle to handle their emotions and cope with stress.

And that is the human story or condition.  We are all different, in how we see the world and how we cope in the world.

The Leaving Certificate acknowledges the high achievers and rightly so!  It tabulates the results and rewards students accordingly.  It is a grading system.  It however, fails to grade students on how they function and cope emotionally or psychologically.

So please consider a few important things.

1.  Look past the A4 sheet of Academic Outcomes and see that each student, teenager, boy, girl, non-gender, behind the A4 grading system is individual, unique, different and consider how they truly feel. They may not be the highest achiever in maths or biology but they might be the highest achiever in resilience or mental health management.

2.  Don’t compare them to others.  It doesn’t matter what their friends or peers got.  Don’t expect them to get the same results. Do expect them to react or cope in very different ways and be there for them, if their world falls apart.  Be calm, be capable and let them see that by supporting each other this will all work out!

3.  If you are a teacher or parent and your student, son or daughter haven’t reached the exam stage yet, then make the most of it!  Tell them, right the way through school, how unique and different they are.  Watch out for and acknowledge their high achievements, whether it is academic or simply turning in for school.  Remind them that they have numerous talents, some of which will be uncovered academically and many, many more which will only surface when they study at the college of life!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Perpetuating Social Norms…

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

 

Today I would like to share T.S’s very emotive, true story from his blog “Crazywriterof6.” As I read T.S’s distressing reality, I felt my body became anxious.  I felt his apprehension and fear.  His sense of loneliness and isolation is palpable.  He says… “Maybe some of you can relate and see that even then, you weren’t alone”. No child should be in dread every day, isolated and living with the fear of bullying!

In my last post I wrote about the difficulty I had in supporting my children, both victims of bullying, because of the pressure on victims to remain silent.  You might like to read it… Big Boys…Don’t Cry!

We now hear in T.S’s own words, his deeply ingrained and debilitating belief as to why he was bullied… “The torture continued. Many moments before this event, many after. I have written some of them out, just to get them out. All this because I was different than the “normal people”, different from what society says I should be. Different because I was overweight”.  I believe he was not different… everybody is different and everybody has the right to be respected for who and how they are.

Please enhance your understanding by reading his story…

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/48424428/posts/20

At a funeral yesterday, one sentence struck me, that sentence was “We could all be better people,” meaning we could all do more to be there for others.

Let’s break down the silence and begin a cross cultural, worldwide conversation about bullying.  Let’s educate ourselves and our children about bullying and let’s tear down out-dated social norms.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Denial

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

 

When we deny who we are and how we really feel, either physically and/or mentally we silence our authentic self.  We reject ourselves. For years I didn’t admit that I have fibro/fatigue, except to a few family members and close friends. When we reject ourselves we are bullying ourselves. We think we are not good enough, we focus on our flaws and feel a sense of shame.

Similarly, when we are bullied we are also silenced. We are judged by someone and denied the opportunity to be our real selves. We think we are not good enough and we withdraw from society or family. When we withdraw emotionally we block off our true emotions, denying ourselves the right to acknowledge and feel our emotions.

When our daughter experienced bullying, it caused her to step into survivor mode. She put up a front whilst crying inside.  She couldn’t let the bullies see her crying. She knew if she broke down crying, it would fuel even more bullying.

After finishing secondary school she moved past bullying, building back her resilience. She participated in further education and in society. She set and achieved many new goals. She met new and inclusive peers, friends and educators. All these mature, self-aware people bolstered her confidence.

However, even if it’s been years since you were bullied, a simple, present day event may unexpectedly trigger the same feelings. This was the case for our daughter.  It only took one educator to criticise Emma and her work, in front of her peers, to bring our daughter right back to survival mode.

This time it was different. Emma found the courage to address the issue to her school counsellor. She sought advice. She spoke up to that educator. She stood up for herself. She didn’t need to call upon her parents. She was self-sufficient.

But despite speaking up for herself, the trauma of being disrespected and denied the right to be herself, triggered her survival mode. All the things she could do with ease soon became overwhelming. That was almost nine months ago.

Anxiety
Low mood
Mood swings
Isolation
Fear
Agoraphobia
Panic attacks
Loneliness

All symptoms of bullying.

Then Emma’s new puppy, Doris arrived.

 


More mental health support came on-board.  But there are still ups and downs.

She felt lonely a few nights ago but she didn’t deny her feelings. She didn’t hide it. She cried for the loneliness and for the years of denying her true self.  You can learn more about isolation here Bullying & Beyond…A victim’s abject loneliness.

She cried while we were away, only showing us a glimpse when we returned. But a glimpse is enough to show us that she has turned a corner because now she is beginning to listen to and acknowledge how she feels.  She is learning to externalise how she feels instead of internalising the pain. That is a big step and an important lesson!

We can also learn a lesson from her new, trainee Psychiatric Assistance Dog, Doris.

Doris saw Emma’s upset. Doris didn’t deny her. The opposite in fact, Dorris, a little puppy, stretched herself across our daughter’s lap and kissed and licked her. Dorris accepted Emma exactly as she was.

Have you been denied the right to be yourself?  Do you deny yourself? What supports can you access to build your resilience and be your true self?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…Big Boys…

 

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

 

Whenever our daughter was bullied she would invariably come home upset and tell us or sometimes her upset would become obvious to us after a while, when we took the time to Really Listen!

It was always upsetting to see her so distressed, usually she felt very lonely having been excluded or she was confused and frustrated as to why she was constantly called names and verbally abused. But either way we could comfort her and reassure her that the bullying was not about her but always about the bullies.

However, it was not so easy to offer support when our son experienced bullying simply because you can’t help a child who is being bullied, if you don’t know about it.

For a long time, our son kept the bullying to himself and kept the upset deep inside. I think our son did not want to add to our worries by sharing the difficulty he was having.  I also think another contributing factor to his silence, was social norms. These powerful messages or ways of behaving which are normalised within a society or culture are very powerful and from a young age, boys are conditioned to be tough, be manly, don’t be a cry-baby, a tell-tale, or “a grass,” running with the story to parents or teachers and above all, they are bombarded with the message that whatever you do… don’t cry!

If you’d like an excellent insight into bullying I highly recommend you visit Weeping Pines and read Parikhit’s post which shares his experience of bullying… Boys dont Cry

https://duttaparikhit.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/boys-dont-cry/

If you suspect your son is being bullied, discuss bullying in general while having dinner together.  Point out that asking for help means being strong not weak. An analogy might be helpful such as saying: When you play hurling you don’t do everything alone – so it’s important to have a team around you in life too! It might also help to compare asking for help to being similar to training: A good sportsman needs to practice the things he is not good at or things that are new for him, so asking for help also takes practice.

Have you or your child been bullied?  If so did cultural and social norms play a part in maintaining your distress?

Let’s get a conversation going about bullying! Let’s break down the silence around bullying and change some out-dated social and culturally accepted norms.

Le grà (with love),

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Inverted

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

Inverted means to turn (something) upside down
Or to change the position, order, or relationship of things so that they are the opposite of what they had been.

When you live with something challenging like bullying for long enough and see the destructive effect it has on you and your family, you need to realise that you have two choices, namely

1. stay trapped within the challenge, trying to escape, or
2. find the gift within the challenge and grow it!

When all else failed us as parents, and we could find no solution to the destructive effects bullying had on our children, we stopped trying to find the solutions we wanted to find.

We didn’t admit defeat but we accepted that this was where we were, nothing more, nothing less. We took our focus off all that had gone wrong. We shifted our lens to focus on building our resilience. We stepped back, paused and regrouped. Then we hit back with the most powerful weapon of all… love.

We opened ourselves up, to just love. We didn’t hold out expectations. We didn’t compare. We didn’t complain that life was unfair. We refocused instead on every positive we could find. We spoke from a place of positivity and within a short space of time we began to notice change!

And now, a mere 12 months later, our son has completed his first year in college and has spent his summer touring a number of European countries.  Our daughter is pushing forward with her campaign to have Psychiatric Service Dogs recognised in Ireland and is in the process of training Ireland’s first every Psychiatric Service Dog, Doris.  I’ve experienced, for myself, how cathartic (healing) writing and sharing is, especially when it is done within a safe and creative space, surrounded by a supportive community who identify with my posts and offer positive and affirming feedback.  Because of this support I’ve written over thirty posts on the topic of bullying.

I was recently nominated for an award by Terri at Reclaiming Hope.  https://reclaiminghope.blog/

However, living with fibromyalgia/CFS means I have to constantly prioritise my time and energy.  I don’t commit time to taking part in awards but I am always pleased to be nominated for an award and I am grateful to Terri for her thoughtful introduction which I’d like to share with you…

Marie from Create Space. 

Marie shares her family’s story of bullying, and the devastating effects it has on the mental health of those affected. Although the subject matter has the potential to be weighty and heartbreaking, Marie balances this by sharing how one can rise above the effects of bullying and make a difference in the world.

So, when you face your next challenge, what will you choose?
Will you choose to…
1. remain devastated, weighed down and heartbroken, or will you turn the challenge you face on its head, inverted and
2. rise above your challenge to make a difference in the world!

The choice is yours!

Thank you to all who continue to follow, read and share their feelings, thoughts and comments on my bullying posts.  I would not have reached this point without you!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Petition please support…Bullying & Beyond… Painting the Pain, Part II

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

 

It is now five months since I shared my Bullying & Beyond post, Painting the Pain, part one.  It is not an easy read and comes with a trigger warning.  You can access it here… Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

Those past five months have been very challenging for our daughter and for us as parents, as she tries bravely to cope with her anxiety.   She refuses to give in and her resilience is remarkable.  As well as accessing professional health support, she has also started a campaign, to try and set up a Psychiatric Assistance Dog charity in Ireland.  Sadly in Ireland while there are guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism, Psychiatric Assistance Dogs do not exist.

To understand the whole area of Psychiatric Assistance Dogs, Emma has been busy educating herself via books, blogs, Social Media and YouTube.  A year ago, she began her campaign, contacting political representatives and support organisations.

Emma’s campaign is driven by her goal to have legislation enabled in Ireland to give Psychiatric Assistance Dogs equal status to that available to users of guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism.  Having the company of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog to pre-empt the onset of panic attacks will enhance Emma’s life, allowing her to leave home for the first time in months feeling comfortable and safe as she goes about her daily life.

Emma has purchased a Golden Retriever puppy, which she has named Doris.

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Doris, just newly arrived…

 

It is hoped that in time and with the correct training Doris will be the first recognised Psychiatric Assistance Dog in Ireland.  Emma dreams of offering this service of trained Psychiatric Assistance Dogs to others.

To see this goal realised, Emma has also worked unceasingly to set up her website www.candocanineire.com and you can read more of her mission and goals here.

Emma has been in regular contact with the office of the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Mr. Finian McGrath and she has created a petition, which she hopes will receive lots of support and help her have Ireland enact and recognise equal status for Psychiatric Assistance Dogs.  I would be forever grateful if you would make Emma and Doris’ day by signing their petition and finding one other person to do likewise.

I hope I’ve attached the petition link correctly, for convenience, just as you’ll find it on Emma and Doris’ Instagram account…

https://linktr.ee/dorismakesmy.day

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Doris and Emma together making the best of their day

 

Emma and Doris have also started an Instagram account @dorismakesmyday where they would love you to keep them company as they both document and share their journey towards an Ireland that recognises Psychiatric Assistance Dogs and offers people like Emma who live with a mental health condition access to the love and support of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog.

And we can’t finish without recalling this trailblazer… Andy, Emma’s first dog.  Although it broke Emma’s heart (and ours) to let him go to a playfilled future, it had to be done.

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A shoutout to Andy…who still holds a special place in our hearts.

Do you struggle with mental health issues?  Do you have panic attacks?  What do you know about Psychiatric Service Dogs?  Do you know anybody who would benefit from reading this post, if so, please feel free to share.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…Improve your Listening Skills!

 

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

 

In my previous post…Bullying & Beyond…2.Really Listen!…I wrote about the importance of Listening.  When somebody, be it a child or an adult, is distressed as a result of bullying, just having somebody who is willing to listen to them can make a huge difference to how they feel.  Your first reaction may be to rush in and immediately solve everything but instead be patient and listen.

Here are some simple tips I found helpful,

1.Acknowledge your child’s emotional state -say that you can see how upset, angry etc., they are.

2.Remove or resist any distractions.

3.Make sure you can clearly hear what your child is saying.

4. Focus your attention and concentrate.

5. Be patient, listen to the whole story.

6. Make encouraging, agreeable sounds to show you are paying attention…’mmm,’ ‘I see,’ ‘oh right’.

7. Avoid making judgements – take time to consider before offering solutions.

8. Ask questions to clarify.

9. Keep an open mind.

10. Summarise or sum up what you heard, ‘so the main problem was’ or ‘if I understand properly you feel…’to let them know you understand exactly.

Remember to pay attention to their tone of voice and observe their body language, which can give you insights or hidden messages which they may not be able to voice.

If you agree on any particular course of action or efforts to address the issue, be sure and follow through.  Listening needs to be followed up with evidence of action, even if it’s only arranging follow-up conversations.  If you fail to follow-through, your child may get the impression that what they have confided just goes in one ear and out the other.

For any victim of bullying, building and maintaining trust is so important and this can’t happen unless you stick to your word.

I hope you find this helpful.  Please feel free to share any experience you have had which would have benefitted from active and effective listening.

Alternatively please share some effective approaches you have used. I would love to learn what worked for you.

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…Really Listen!

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

In my first post about bullying I wrote about the importance of not losing heart, Bullying & Beyond…1.Take Heart!

In this post I’d like to focus on the importance of listening

2. REALLY LISTEN!

Children come home from school and everyday we ask them the same questions… How was your day?  What did you do? Tell me something you learned.  Did you have fun? Often it’s the case that we get the same answers.  We fall into a habit… habitual behaviour, repeating what we always do and as a result we often miss out on subtle signs of bullying.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, I can’t stress enough, how important it is to REALLY LISTEN!

When your children arrive home or you collect them from school, put down your phone. Pause from your cleaning or cooking.  Turn off the TV and listen to what your children are saying.  Also try to hear what they might not be saying.  They may not have the words to say it or they might be too frightened to talk about what is happening but their body language or a change in their behaviour might reveal a whole lot more.

Some examples could include;

Your child might become argumentative, almost trying to pick a fight with you or their siblings.

They might become withdrawn and sullen or go silent.

They might damage some of their belongings or some household items.

They might restrict their food.

They might disengage from their favourite hobbies or interests.

They might also have trouble sleeping. And as a result become chronically sleep deprived, develop insomnia which affects their body clock, sleeping during the day, unable to sleep at night. All this affects behavior, mood and ability to function.

These changes will all be out of character.

Test yourself…can you fully recall their last conversation with you?  If not, ask yourself why not?  Did you pay full attention or were you thinking of other things you needed to do? Nothing is as important as being fully present with your child and really listening.  Practice being fully present and challenge yourself to recall your last communication with your child.

I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear from you.

Have you or your children experienced bullying?  How did it impact you or your child? Did it cause a change in behaviour? Did really listening improve your situation?

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

Bullying & Beyond… Yes, you were bullied too!

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

 

Did you know that every time your child is bullied, it leaves a mark, physical, emotional or psychological

And did you know that every time your child is bullied… so are you!

Every time you seek support and fail to get the support you need for your child, you and your family are being bullied again through neglect and broken, dysfunctional systems.

Don’t stand by and let that happen.  Trust your gut instinct.  If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right!

Don’t stop looking for and expecting solutions until you receive some.  If you failed to find answers in the past, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty, instead, keep in mind this quote “I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better” Maya Angelou.

Now, refocus you efforts and more determined than ever, continue your search for answers.

Have you ever felt bullied because your child was bullied?  How did it make you feel? Did you listen to your intuitive gut feeling and renew your efforts to find answers?

You may like to start your search to find some of those answers here on Create Space in my Bullying & Beyond series, here are two suggestions,

Bullying & Beyond…3.Improve your Listening Skills!

And when the challenge becomes overwhelming, remember

Bullying & Beyond…4.Self-care x 10!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

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