How the school system failed me

After being in some form of school system for the last 17 years, I’m finally leaving. In all honesty, there’s a small chance I may take my masters or go back to school in the next few years. So, in other words, I’m leaving the system for now. 

First day of kindergarten.

Let’s start my academic career at the beginning. Kindergarten, the two wonderful years where you get to do crafts for half the day, then go home for the remainder of the day. I enjoyed those days, until I found out that I had to go back to school after Christmas break. I thought I was finished school for the rest of my life after only three months of kindergarten. I’m still disappointed to this day.

I was a loud, kind of obnoxious kid who enjoyed talking to others. I was diagnosed with a learning disability around eight years old. The school system did very little to accommodate me other than putting me into special education for a few hours a week. In special ed, I had a program that would read to me. I could and still can read very well. I was the child who had their nose in a book, constantly. The system generalized me into a ‘special’ category where I received the same accommodations as a child with autism, bad behaviour, physical disabilities, etc. where each person had different needs.

I was redignanoised in high school with Aspergers. This was determined on factors that I struggled socially therefore I must have Aspergers. That was a misdiagnosis, I’m just ADD. My elementary school principal told my parents if I make it to college, that would be a miracle. I’m almost finished my university undergraduate degree so she was wrong.

Children are mean, spiteful organisms. They shove you into lockers, play mind games with you, throw food at you. I was even told to commit suicide by one of my peers. I’ve always been a bit different than the rest of my peers, my ADD didn’t help with that. Finding a group of friends as a child wasn’t easy, and still isn’t easy as an adult. I struggle to find a group of people who are able to tolerate my odd qualities. I have a dry sense of humour and I can be a bit of a know-it-all from time to time. Also, I have a low tolerance for bullshit resulting in many fights as a child.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) claims to be a leader in prevention and intervention when it comes to bullying. Teachers and other school staff would make the situation worse. You think talking to a kid about their bullying will make them stop? No, it just makes it worse for the kid who is being tormented. In high school, I was locked in a bathroom by my ‘friends’ while they told me my poor qualities. I decided to talk to the guidance counselor about my problem, which was recommended by the school. I ended up friendless, the guidance counselor told me I would get used to being alone eventually…

Thanks for the help.

Having anxieties is different than having actual anxiety. Being in journalism has helped my ability to talk to strangers. Funny thing is I still struggle to just casually talk to people instead of interviewing them for an article. One very common misconception I have found is people’s interpretation of my facial expressions. It’s a genetic trait where I show what I’m thinking with my prominent facial expressions. According to my roommate, it’s the best creepy man repellant at the club. I start to pull faces before I say something due to the fact that I’m trying to take a moment to determine a nice way of saying something. If I don’t take a moment to think of what I will say, then I’ll say something stupid or offensive. I don’t mean to, I just get all anxious and make things worse.

To this day, I remember my decision to not talk. If you don’t say anything then nobody can make fun of you, right? Well I was wrong. My anxiety became apparent when I was in middle school. Due to my anxiety, I now overthink everything. I send multiple texts in fear of being forgotten about, I think. If my plans don’t go how I planned them, it upsets me. I’m still working on that though.

When I have moments of anxiety, I start overthinking everything. It pretty much causes me to lose the ability to function. I worked in a big city as a lifeguard where we had excessive physical training (it’s actually testing). I had an anxiety attack during one training and was having a tough time completing a requirement. I was told by a trainer that I couldn’t be a lifeguard since I have anxiety. Really? I was a lifeguard for six years. Maybe I should just never work since I can’t function apparently.

My anxiety has also lead to some OCD tendencies. When I was about four years old, I would eat my hair. I moved to biting my nails lasting into my teen years. Within the last few years, I have started pulling my hair. I literally can’t stop any of these habits, if I stop one another one starts. The hair pulling is probably the worst since I am literally pulling my hair out due to stress.

I can go on about my pity stories, but I don’t want my past to reflect the rest of my life. It obviously does since I have anxiety that makes it so I can’t let shit go. I’ve tried therapy and it made me feel worse. I had a counsellor at Laurier tell me that I wasn’t helping my social situation. That made me feel like crap. I decided to help myself, it seems to be working the best right now. I avoid stupid shit and understand that I have to do things a certain way to help me function with my anxiety. Don’t let my resting bitch face intimidate you, I’m probably thinking or just really happy. Goodbye Laurier, goodbye WLUSP, hello unemployment.

Christina Manocchio

Christina Manocchio

I'm a fourth year journalism student at Laurier and the Editor-in-Chief of The Sputnik. I love cats, coffee, and anything slightly abnormal. I love photography and the adventures that go along with it!
Christina Manocchio