‘Your daughter’s mental health is more important than her grades.’
By Charlotte May
I saw this quote on social media recently and it really rang true with me. I’ve had personal experience with my daughter who has experienced mental illness in the form of an eating disorder.
I discovered she was suffering totally by accident and it made me realize how easily it could have gone on without me knowing for a lot longer.
It started with the lead up to year 10 formal (September) where she was feeling the pressure, I guess to look a certain way for the big event. She’s always loved her food so instead of not eating she ate normally but started to throw it up (she has her own bathroom so was easy). Once I went into her bathroom and she had forgotten to flush the chain. I knew she wasn’t sick so asked her about it which lead to me finding out the extent of the problem.
From September to the following April we went to regular counseling and there were times we thought we had it under control but we didn’t. To cut a long heartbreaking story short she ending up going into a facility for a month, living there full time at only 15. It was so hard for her but I can safely say we were lucky and it broke the cycle.
Fast-forward on to Year 12 formal and it was a completely different experience for her (and me), one of happiness. What scared me though was how she told me there was a group chat going on whereby the girls all posted their formal dresses so that 1. No one else bought the same dress and 2. To get approval on the dress. It was so sad these girls felt the need to do that and how does it make them feel when the response from others isn’t what they want. She never felt compelled to post hers which I was very proud of her for.
It made me wonder,
What were these girls feeling mentally getting ready for formal?
How did the experience of formal and the way they felt about their appearance impact their mental health?
If negative how did that impact their exams?
Did their parents know how they were feeling?
It’s immensely hard for a teenage girl to feel good about themselves these days; they are bombarded with social media and images of how to get the ‘perfect’ body/face/look. I feel that in a lot of cases it most definitely affects their mental health negatively, which can have a knock on effect to their grades.
Our kids going through HSC’s… obviously we want them to do well but at what cost?
I’ve always told my girls that whatever they want to do in life, they can and there are many routes to get there. Don’t get me wrong I encourage them to do their best in school and during exams and they do, but I don’t want them to think that it’s the only way.
What would that do their mental health?
What is more important?
Having experience with my daughter’s mental illness I know what’s more important for her (and me). I was lucky to find out she was struggling but how many are struggling alone?
I’m share this just to raise awareness through my experience.
On the upside, after A LOT of work on her part she has recovered and she finished her HSC’s and is going to UNI next year to become a nurse. Of course she could have a relapse but for now she’s happy and healthy, mentally and physically and that’s the most important thing.
Without those two things what good are great grades?