Thursday 7 February 2019

Social Anxiety. #TimeToTalkDay

As a family we have always been open about what we talk about but Ellie my 11 year old is not a talker when it comes to her emotions. I try my best but it is like getting blood from a stone. Sometimes she will talk when she is in the mood but those times are few and far between. I have spent the last three or so years worrying about my girls mental health but lately things seem to be getting better and easier.

When Ellie was in primary school she really struggled with the social aspect of school life. I wrote about how she felt left out at school at the end of 2017.  She was bullied at school too. A lot! I have blogged several times about it in the past but the one post which sticks in my head is When bullies make you cry. For a short time the bullying stopped when the teacher gave the nasty kids a good telling off. From after Easter 2017 until she left the primary school in July 2018 she was bullied off and on. She just gave up trying to have friends. It was heartbreaking. We clung on to the fact that we were sure when she started secondary school she would meet new people and make lots of friends.

In the last 2 years of primary school she became more and more withdrawn. A lovely woman was brought into the school once a week to work with Ellie as they noticed she would not talk about how she was feeling. The woman got her talking and we found out a lot. Ellie was worried about what other people thought about her. She thought people were talking about her all the time and she was wetting herself in class because she was scared to put her hand up to ask to go to the toilet in case people looked at her. 

Ellie was diagnosed with Social Anxiety late last year and it suddenly all made sense. She had a mental health disorder. I didn't want her to have any disorder but what will be.

Since Ellie started secondary school in September things have changed so much for her. She still has her problems in social situations but there is a lunch club at school which is for children who need a little extra help with the social part of school to go and it is a safe place where there is always a couple of teachers to listen and offer support. It has been brilliant for her. She has a toilet pass which means she can just get up and go to the toilet without drawing attention to herself and she has a solid group of friends who have her back. She still stresses about meeting new people and little things that other children her age probably wouldn't worry about but she's getting there.

I would like to say the bullying has stopped but it hasn't. The same girl who was the ringleader at primary school has bullied her again, several times. Ellie skipped telling the class teacher, head of year and went straight to one of the head teachers to get things sorted and it has been.

We were at the school on Tuesday to see the SENCO woman. She keeps an eye on Ellie because of her deafness and has been a great support to her and us. She had nothing but good things to say. She said even the slight negative that class teachers would like her to speak up more in her classes can be turned into a positive because in the 5 months that she has been at the school she has came on leaps and bounds!

What we are working on at the moment is talking about feelings. If Ellie hasn't had a good day at school she will come in angry. I will ask her something and she will snap back with her answer, she is defensive and there is a lot of stamping about. We are trying to get her to talk through why she is angry which is easier said than done. She is still a closed book when it comes to how and why she is feeling why she is but we'll get there.

Too often, mental health problems are treated as a taboo subject, something not to be talked about. However, mental health affects us all and we should feel able to talk about it. 

There are lots of different ways to have a conversation about mental health. And you don’t have to be an expert to talk.

One in four of us will experience a mental health problem and 9 in 10 say they have faced negative treatment from others as a result. By choosing to be open about mental health, we are all part of a movement that’s changing the conversation around mental health and ensuring that no one is made to feel isolated or alone for having a mental health problem.


  1. I'm so glad that Ellie is doing better now. It's so hard when our kids are suffering but it is helpful to talk about it because you learn that you are never alone. xx

  2. So happy to hear that Ellie is getting there. I bet it is a huge comfort having more support too. Well done for raising awareness, the more we speak openly about mental health the better. x

  3. She sounds so much like my daughter. The last 2 years of primary she really went into herself and totally changed. But I held onto the fact that secondary school would be better and it was. She has a great group of friends and has really changed back into the girl I knew. I hope the bullying stop for Ellie now and she can relac and be the lovely girl she is in school x

  4. Sorry to hear that Ellie has been going through this. It is so hard to talk about how you feel, especially at an age when feelings are confusing. Bully are so awful. Hope she is alright. xx

  5. Primary school is - in my opinion - harder and harsher than high school. my daughter Violet had some really horrible times at her primary school, though I have to say that the school itself was pretty rubbish at sorting out any problems I flagged up with them. It's tough, and it is hard on kids when they are being bullied. High school has been so much better, it's not without problems by any means, but at least Violet has friends now. Girls can be such little so and sos.

    I hope Ellie's bully will leave her alone now. Good for her for going to someone to sort it out though. x