Square pegs and round holes.
I often wonder where my mental health issues came from. What, I wonder, was the point where I crossed the line from 'normal' to 'nuts'. It is a line I try to understand in my own parenting; when I look at my confident, sassy and joyful toddler and wonder the first steps that will take her from here to 'there'.
As a mother that has been sectioned and suffered with mental ill health throughout my twenties, seeing my daughter mentally unwell is one of my greatest fear and perhaps the driver for much of my work.
I believe, possibly controversially, that a lot of what we recognise today stems from our need to force square pegs into round holes - and by that I don't just mean exams for the children that don't like exams or science for the kids that are naturally better at art. I mean, forcing face to face communication for children who would find it much easier to write. I mean, making working in silence the norm when so many children find silence distracting. It's the play times for children that find play time stressful and public recognition for the children that can't stand public attention.
The square peg/round hole analogy seems to have been grasped for the bigger picture issues but I think, really, that first step and the thin end of the wedge I often think about begins in the detail of the square peg/round hole analogy.
I know, as an adult, I work best at my laptop at a table, in a noisy environment, with headphones in, playing white noise. I always lay in - I am naturally more suited to functioning at night than I am in the morning so am totally comfortable about not starting my day until 10am. I only like 'small' coffees from coffee shops - sometimes i have two but one large mug makes me feel like I'm having way too much caffeine.
I am confident in crowds that have gathered to discuss something I am passionate about yet totally uncomfortable in social gatherings with no purpose or topic. I am hypersensitive to criticism, even the constructive variety and if I am upset, the best thing to do is leave me alone. I don't really like being affectionate (please don't ever hug me or touch me) but I do enjoy affection (thoughtful notes or gestures are super welcome).
As an adult, I have been given the opportunity to shape the world to one I thrive in. I am able to navigate my way through life with an understanding of what is generally good for my mental health and what is likely to have a negative impact on it and that, in turn, has improved my mental well being.
Yet, in my childhood, my teens and my twenties, it was less simple to know who I was, to clarify what I needed and have people around me accept that and I suspect to some degree that feeling the need to be something else, a live with the mild but very consistent stress of not being normal or right or good enough, is what caused the line that took me from normal to not.
The Individed platform is designed to help pupils understand who they are and what they need and usefully shares with with teachers and parents so that they can make minor and moderate adjustments to help children feel they can be themselves.
It may sound simple, 'you can be yourself, here' but actually it is the absence of that which is catastrophic to a child's emotional development. At Individed, we are committed to celebrating individuality whilst learning together and hope you will join us, too.