Back to School: A difficult but rewarding transition

Tomorrow I start my first whole week of school. I have had a total of 7 days of school, which have included my first test (thank you AP biology), the first few days of rehearsal, a short “monologue” presentation, a quiz, and a narrative essay. In these last 7 days I have had more work and less time than I have had during the past couple of months. Going back to school has been incredibly difficult, to say the least.

 

It has been harder than I ever could have imagined and I imagined it being pretty near impossible. The schoolwork is difficult, the social setting is difficult, but the effect that it has had on my mental health has been more than difficult. It has not been the glamorous return to school, start of senior year that everyone paints in their minds. It has not been an “enjoyable” or “exciting” walk to classes or rush of people through the hallways trying to be the first in line at Fun Food Fridays. Instead, for me, it has been crying in my dad’s office (the main MVP), shaky hands as I rush to take notes in class after school, anxiety as I try to participate in group discussions, and hateful words of comparison and self-loathing running through my mind as I try to mind my own business. Do I want it to be this way? No. Do I want to struggle through my senior year (what is supposed to be the time of my life)? No. I want to enjoy laugh with my friends, focus on the classes that I care about rather than the eating disorder that I don’t give a damn about. How am I going to do this?

Well that’s a really good question that I wish I knew the answer to.

 

Any sort of transition is pretty difficult, something I assume (making an assumption, I know but we can make on quick exception) you all could relate to. Whether it be changing schools, or jobs, or moving to a new city, home, starting university, or even just starting a new year of high school – it is a scary time in anyone’s life. It is scary to need to meet new people (or in my case, re-meet people I thought I knew), go from a period of no work, to nights spent bent over an AP Biology textbook or in front of a computer typing up an analytical essay while combing through a 600 page book filled with annotations. I am transitioning back into a place where I have spent 13 of my 17 years on this earth (and probably even more than that considering my parents have worked there double the time I have been alive). I was born wearing orange and my first words were the color shout. I have been a Poly Panther since my birth on March 17, 1999 but the thing is, I have never felt like a “Poly Panther.” In fact that identification feels as like the most distant description I would ever use for myself. This is in no way anything against Polytechnic as an institution or a school it is merely just an expression of my struggles trying to re-integrate myself back into an environment that I never even felt apart of. I am fortunate to have people that support, love, and care for me everywhere I turn on Polytechnic’s campus. That is comforting to know and it is something that I can focus on. It is something that can help me through. It is something that will help me through this transition. This transition is an important and difficult one, but not an impossible one.

 

I also feel as if it might be even harder now that I don’t have my eating disorder. This statement might be confusing to some people because of how difficult my eating disorder was/is and the impact that it had in my life. I am so thankful that I don’t have my eating disorder anymore, senior year would be more difficult with it, but it also is harder without it too (if that makes any sense). A lot of the times eating disorders are not 100% surrounding body image or the need to be skinny but rather it is a disorder of control, it provides (artificial) control when there is a lack of it. Right now, I feel as if I don’t have any control, my academics, my happiness, my social life etc. I feel trapped, overworked, tired, and scared and in the midst of all that, the loudest voice in my head is that of my eating disorder. I have not given in yet, thanks to the amazing support of my friends and family and AP Biology because if I don’t have food my brain shuts down and I can’t focus on the one thing that I love. It is still incredibly hard though having to be in an environment plagued with triggers and advocates for my eating disorder. It just makes it that much harder to recover. I was thrown into an environment that I feel like I don’t belong in and with people I feel like I don’t belong with taking class that I feel like I am not smart enough for. I am trying everything I can to focus on why recovery is so important to me (my future, food tastes hella good, my friends, my happiness) and hold on to that list every second of every day.

 

Some people may read this post (in particular the people who see me everyday at school) and think is that really how she felt/feels? To be honest, yes this is how feel and I feel as if it is time for me to be completely honest about it. Going back to school, back to the environment that contributed so much to my struggles and where a lot of the pain started is a little bit like getting the wind knocked out of you. Right now I am trying to catch my breath and figure out how to start breathing (living) again. There are things that I love about school and I am focusing on those people, events (or “checkpoints” as I call them), vacations etc. to get me through this year. This MY senior year. This is MY time to enjoy what I am doing in my life. It is going to be a good year. Hard doesn’t mean bad (thank you Alec) it just means that I am learning something, and that’s what school is supposed to be, isn’t it?

5 thoughts on “Back to School: A difficult but rewarding transition

  1. Sushma

    Dearest Shae,

    It was so lovely to see you at the Navigating Senior Year night. While I don’t see you at school or socially you have been in my thoughts and prayers. It takes immense courage to vocalise one’s fears and frustrations, especially when one is at one’s vulnerable best. In my eyes you are stronger than most people I know and way ahead of your sheltered classmates at Poly.

    It is not my place to say why God gives us what he gives us. All I can say is he never gives us more than we can handle. Even when you are at your nadir and in those depressingly dark moments remember that. If it seems too much to bear on your own remember He gives you allies to help you carry that cross and get the respite you need. Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you. Sometimes it is easier to talk to acquaintances. Sometimes family and close friends. You know you have loads of both. Have faith and patience.

    Shakespeare has said (to paraphrase), that metal goes through the fire 7 times to come out strong like steel. This is your trial by fire and I know you will come out strong. Don’t think about the next day or on dark days, the next hours just live in the moment.

    Know that I am so darn proud of you and am there to offer any support you may need. In the interim I’m sending you 7 hugs to store and pull out each day of this week and I hope knowing there is a person like me that cares so much about you and sends hugs your way, makes it a tiny bit easier to get through each day at school.

    Reply
    1. scaragher17@students.polytechnic.org Post author

      Oh my goodness thank you so much for these words of encouragement, love, and support – it truly means more to me than you know! It was so fun to see you during the Senior Year and I hope to get coffee soon 🙂 Thank you for the hugs, I will keep them safe and hold onto them tightly! love always <3

      Reply
  2. Tina

    All I can say, precious, is that I love you, and that in my eyes, you are and have always been ‘perfect’. The mantras we recite in class are sometimes useful in other places….notice what you notice (doesn’t mean you have to do anything other than….well…notice!), forgive yourself immediately (and always….and MEAN it!), and solve the problem (well, that doesn’t mean anything more than put one foot in front of the other and improvise….you are a pro at this!). The rest of my response is PRIVATE – see you soon.

    Reply

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