I left school when I was 17; I had finished my A-Levels and couldn’t get out of the place quick enough.
It is safe to say that I hated school, or maybe I should say my school; it was fine if you were one of the smart ones or really good at sports, but if you were somewhere in the middle you kind of went unnoticed.
The place was also a breeding ground for anxieties which I pretty much kept to myself.
The style of learning did nothing for me, and I found most of the subjects boring, nothing really stimulated my mind apart from Geology, which I studied at A-level, too late to really get into it and think about as a career.
Reading is one of my passions, but school almost sucked this out of me with the rubbish we had to study. Two title stand out for me ‘I’m the King of the Castle’ by Susan Hill (the story of a boy who is bullied and commits suicide….) and ‘Women In Love’ by D. H. Lawrence (the whole class almost boycotted that one because it was so heavy going and depressing).
I used to get frustrated when a teacher would ask me what I thought about a certain text and when I said something it was wrong, or not quite what the writer was thinking (as if the teacher knew!) to save embarrassment I used to keep quiet.
Much to my school’s disgust I didn’t go to University, I had no idea what I wanted to do and I would rather have visited hell than face another three years of studying. It also seemed a waste of time and money to do something just for the sake of it. I was also going through a particularly difficult time in my personal life, which didn’t really help matters.
Considering my aversion to school and studying (I love learning in my own time and pace) the decision to enrol in a counselling course was a huge surprise to me, and to Kim.
There are a couple of motivating factors:
A new direction – I can’t do the work I was doing so I have to try and find a new path. I am drawn to helping others and so I decided I need some skills and qualifications to be able to do this properly.
Expand my knowledge – Since having the anxiety and depression I have read a number of books on the subject, and have found it really fascinating, and I simply want to learn more….
Get out of my bubble – The whole studying thing targets some of my main anxiety triggers, namely; going somewhere, being in a group of people, talking to people (especially strangers), the learning environment, getting things wrong. My aim is to be able to reduce my anxious responses by doing things that scare me, and trust me this whole thing scars the shit out of me.
The course I am doing is the first step to possibly training to becoming a qualified counsellor. It is at North Hertfordshire College and is a ten week course; one evening a week for three hours. I thought it would be a great place to start and see how I get on.
The first session was last week, and it could not have started off worse…..
I decided to take the train to Stevenage; I arrived at the station only to see my train had been cancelled and the next train would leave 30 minutes later which would be cutting it fine for getting to the college on time. I arrived in Stevenage on a very slow train and had to run to the college (good job I have been in training!). I arrived late and had no idea which room I was meant to be in, I asked the guy at reception who told me where they should have been….. The problem was they were not there. I spent what seemed like an eternity searching three floors before finally finding my group. By this time I was not in a good state and had a panic attack.
The tutor came to see me and I told her I was ‘stupid’ and ‘could not do this’; she gave me some time to get myself sorted and then helped me to join the group, I felt like such an idiot!
That first session is a bit of a blur because it took me a while to calm down; I had to introduce myself to two members of the group and tell them what animal I was like; my mind was blank when it came to the animal, everything I thought of didn’t really feel appropriate to share because they were all angry, aggressive animals and I didn’t want to freak everyone out on the first day.
Anyway, I survived and decided I would go back the following week.
Yesterday was session 2, and I would have given anything not to go. I started to feel anxious in the morning and this gradually grew worse as the day went on. While I was getting ready to go I felt sick and my hands were shaking.
This time I took the car, which was so much easier than the train had been; having a sing-a-long to Paloma Faith did the trick and I arrived in good time and in a semi calm state (although I panicked because I lost my phone whilst sat in the car…. I was on my knees searching under the seats and finally found it; it was under my bag all the time….).
In the build up to arriving I kept telling myself that it would be alright once I got there, and it was; the group are lovely and I find talking to them ok. It helps me to see that some of the others have anxieties about being back in a learning environment, but because we are all there for pretty much the same reason there is an air of reassurance that we are all in it together, which I have not experienced before.
Needless to say, last night’s session felt good and I am feeling more relaxed about the whole experience. I know I will feel the same anxieties each week but it is something I am determined to keep pushing through and am excited to see where the journey takes me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.