Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Teenage Years (before the move)

New monster truck model!
My mother chose to send me to a private school starting in grade 7 so I had to leave all the kids I knew.  I had to take entrance tests and do interviews.  I passed the entrance tests for two schools.  I was declined at the one school because I was not a “joiner”.  I was not a sports person and didn’t join clubs so I could not contribute to the school and was therefore not wanted.  The other school didn’t seem to care about the extracurricular things as much so that is where I went.  I liked to read and build models not do swim team or debate etc.

Me looking thrilled in
my red blazer and tunic!
It took a while but I did develop a few basic friendships like at my old school.  It was a big struggle adjusting to the new school although the uniform was a good thing since I like routine and got to wear the same thing every day.  I had to take the subway and buses to get there and of course I got lost the first time.  It was terrifying.  Many times, I had what I now know are panic attacks.  I thought I was going to die.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe and made clicking noises in the back of my mouth.  I thought people couldn’t hear them but they probably could.  The subways and buses were so crowded that I would have severe sensory overload in addition to my inability to know how to interact with others resulting in the panic attacks.

I sometimes misunderstood what the teachers were asking.  I once told my French teacher that I didn’t understand the work because it was all in French.  What French I had learned in public school was below the level that they learned in the private school.  She said that it was okay and we’d take it up the next day.  I thought that meant it was okay if I didn’t do it because we would  be taking it up in class but it actually meant that I had to fill in some sort of answer (even though I didn’t know what it said) and I would find out the correct one when it was taken up.  I got a detention for not doing my work.  I was not used to getting detentions.  I always did as I was told so the only detentions I got were whole class detentions where a few people ruined it for the whole class.
Being a university prep school, the course load was heavy and the work hard.   I really struggled to figure out what to do in many of my subjects.  There were many tears over homework especially English and essays in many classes.  If the learning disability and Asperger’s were known back then, things might have gone smoother with the school work.  Sometimes my stepfather was able to help with the math, but I generally had to figure things out on my own except I did get a bit of lunchtime help with my English one term.

Everybody happy to be at my party but me.
I got invited to a couple of friends’ birthdays but I was always uncomfortable because I didn’t know what to talk about or how to act.  There were also a couple of sleepovers that I went to but they were torture for me.  Sometimes I lied to the people who invited me and told them I wasn’t allowed even though I hadn’t asked my parents.  It was easier to stay home even though it was lonely.  I always got this bad feeling inside of me when I had to go to other people’s houses.  Girls at school talked about parties and boys but I wasn’t interested in boys until I was at least 14 or 15.  What I usually did with friends was talk about books we were reading, some similar music, and movies, nothing personal.  Sometimes we went to movies.  During class (especially History), while the teacher was droning on, we would have highlighter weddings below the top of our desks.  It’s a surprise we never got caught.  A lunchtime thing we did was picking up a couple of books in the library and taking turns reading words or sentences; each of us from our own book.  It made for interesting literature.  We were definitely not the popular girls!
The depression and anxiety got worse through my teens but I kept it hidden so people at school never knew.  My parents should have picked up on it since I had terrible mood swings, lots of crying for no reason, irritability etc., but they didn’t.

After work with my best friends.
I was told to get a job when I was 16 and did well at stocking shelves and putting prices on merchandise.  I didn’t do as well at the cash desk.  It was very stressful dealing with customers, money, merchandise, and any complications from them. 
More to come:  The Move…..