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Middle School Angst- From school avoidance disorder to "Mom! I'm not sick!"

Updated: Aug 3

Remember the cute little kids I used to write about on my Adventures of a Broken Housewife blog? Yeah, well, they're still cute but not so little anymore. And they have their share of angst and teen/growing-up issues now. Maybe you could say more than their share.

So, this is a story about a girl who entered middle school and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety soon after. I won't use names or nicknames to protect her privacy. If she wants to come out that's her choice, not mine. But I'm hoping this will help others with similar issues, parents and kids alike.

Many people have never heard of school avoidance disorder. I was one of those people. And little did I know, I had already nursed one kid through it by the time my middle schooler showed symptoms. It started out as not feeling well but having no fever or vomiting. Well, I'm a stay-at-home mom so if I and a kid thought a fever or vomiting was coming, it was no big deal to let them stay home. But eventually, they learn what buttons to push and how to fake fevers and throwing up. When you have to call the school to find out how many more parent excused absences the child has that semester, you know something is wrong. But of course, the child denies everything.

And then in severe cases, missing school becomes a full-on production; things like going to the doctor when there is absolutely nothing wrong because they know they will get a doctor's note. That's not even the most extreme it can get though. Saying they are suicidal so you'll take them to the ER in the middle of the night and won't be rested enough to go to school - now, that's extreme.

We were lucky that our daughter's therapist figured out what was going on and we were able to intervene. It wasn't pretty and to an outsider, it looked downright cruel. But with threats of a school resource officer escorting her to school every day and a school counselor/parent watching her every move, we were able to successfully get her through to the end of eighth grade.

The most bizarre part of the whole ordeal came with the looming, dreaded, freshman year. Suddenly she was excited about starting new at a new school and she was excited about her classes, one of which two of her older siblings had already had and loved. Yet we still braced ourselves for the worst. Thank the Lord, it never came. She loved school now and made a great (to her) group of friends. She went from 30 absences in a year to 2.5. And they were mostly for true doctor/counseling appointments.

So, what cured her? How did she go from, "I refuse to go to school" to "Mom! I'm not sick!" even when she looked or acted like she was? Well, the fact is, we don't know. It could have been the discipline issues with resource officers and counselors or it could have been starting new at a new school. It could have been her therapist's dedication to getting her over it. Or it could even have been the new meds therapy she was on. I truly believe we will never know. I'm just glad it happened. And it can happen for you too. Never give up and use all the resources available to you. You are definitely not alone.

Until Next Time... *Copy from*

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