Sara’s story almost made me cry. I felt sad that she had been taken from her home at such a young age and then taken from the structured environment in which she was thriving to live with her father. I was a bit surprised to learn that she had been experiencing bouts of depressions since the age of seven.
Contributing Factors. Sara was taken from her mom at a young age because child protective services felt that her mother was unfit to care for a child. Sara lived with a foster family for four years and visited her mother on a weekly basis. Sara was about to be adopted by the foster family when her biological father was found. She was sent to live with him and her grandmother. Sara states that she missed her mother and had difficulties bonding with her father. He neglected both her and her half-sister and was put into her grandmother’s custody. Afterwards Sara was a victim of physical abuse. Sara is now living with another family (I am assuming it is a foster family), and she feels as if she is a burden on them.
What Is a Mood Disorder? Sara feels abandoned and alone. She isolates herself from people when she is down. Sara states that she often hides from people because she fears abuse. Sara had begun to cut herself because she feels like there is no way of getting out. She says that she keeps her emotions bottled up inside her; and when she cuts, she is able to calm down so she can sleep. Sara explains her mood disorder as feeling like knots inside her chest and stomach. Because of the mood disorder, Sara does not recall any pain from the cutting. She states that she had disassociated herself from the pain and the actual act of cutting. Sara stated that she did not remember cutting herself, but knew that she had done it. Though Sara no longer cuts, she says the thought of cutting is always in the back of her mind. Sara often feels as if she has no place or purpose in the world, she feels hopeless, she cannot trust people, and she has only been put on the earth to be hurt by people. After hospitalization, Sara is still unable to sleep and fights with her friends a lot. Sara often cries herself to sleep, does not eat, isolates herself, and argues with teachers. Sara gets depressed anytime she is reminded of her past or that she is alone in the world. Most holidays cause bouts of depression in Sara.
Affects of a Mood Disorder on Education. Sara has difficulty in school because she often feels the need to isolate herself in order to gain control over her moods. Because she does not have anywhere to go to regain control, Sara becomes easily frustrated and argues with and swears at teachers. When Sara is down, she silently refuses to do her work and falls to sleep in class. Sara admits that her depression causes frustration, which, in turn, causes irritability. Because of Sara’s trust issues, she has difficulty reaching out to people. Therefore, she may not approach faculty with any problems she may be having. Sara does feel that school is safe haven, and it is her favorite place to be. Sara is unsure about the future and scared about graduating from high school and going to college.
Application of the Essential Points
If Sara was one of my students, I would come to her if I noticed she was irritable. I would help her figure out a safe place that she could go so she could regain control. Because Sara has trust issues, I would try to reach out to her without causing more stress or making her feel I was being pushy. I would see what kind of transitional supports I could help Sara put into place so she is more prepared for her future. I would also reassure Sara about her future and let her know that the school she chooses to go to does have supports in place for students who have mood disorders. I would talk to the counselor to see what we could do for Sara before she leaves high school to ensure a smoother transition for her.