So I’m going to tell all of you a story. It’s not really a story that’s going to help anyone, and there isn’t really a moral to it, but I’ve been holding on to it for a while and I just need to let it out so I can move on.
In my sophomore year of high school, I signed up for honors chemistry at my school. And I was pretty excited for it; after all, I was (and still sort of am) a science person, and I was excited to try chemistry for the first time.
When I signed up, I signed up for one of the worst teachers in school. She had a reputation of being a horrible teacher who wouldn’t teach and would choose favorites and a lot of other stuff like that. But thanks to a mistake by the counseling department, I was transferred out of that class and put into another.
And when that happened, I was really thankful. I thought I had dodged a bullet. After all, people were telling me how lucky I was not to be in the first class, and how good the new teacher I had was. So I was even more excited to get to class.
But then I started going to class. For one thing, I couldn’t concentrate in that class because the teacher left out these puzzles for us to solve. For someone just developing their ADHD symptoms, this was horrible, and I couldn’t pay attention in that class at all.
But I probably wouldn’t have suffered that much if it hadn’t been for the teacher.
The teacher took a nearly instant dislike to me, and spent the rest of the semester making my life miserable. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the way she treated me made me feel terrible about myself. Nearly every day, she would humiliate me.
It was especially bad because I didn’t fully understand the subject, so if I raised my hand to ask her a question, or went to her to ask for help, she would make me feel so dumb. She seemed intent on humiliating me in front of the entire class. The example I bring up most often (the one I told my parents and therapist) was of a time when we were learning about molecular structures. To help us illustrate the concept, we had these atom building blocks, and we were supposed to be making simple molecules. She passed out these building blocks, and started explaining what we were supposed to be doing. Now I mentioned that I have ADHD, so with building blocks in front of me it was hard to resist not doing something with them. So this kid and I started building a sugar molecule and we were nearly finished when the teacher came over to us, grabbed our sugar molecule from us, then dismantled it atom by atom. Then she threw the individual atoms at me and made me scramble on the ground to try to pick them up.
So how do you think that made a vulnerable teenager feel?
I didn’t do well in chemistry that semester, and by the time I was able to switch teachers, I didn’t have enough of a knowledge in chemistry to be able to succeed.
Furthermore, her incessant humiliation contributed to my low self-esteem and depression. And I’m obviously still hung up on it, and I’m finding it hard to get over it.
Not to mention that now I’m scared of taking another chemistry class, despite knowing that it won’t be as bad as that. But I can’t shake the memories of her humiliating me and making me feel dumb.
And it really just sucks that years after, I’m still at this point where I’m hung up on it and still have anxiety and low self-esteem and depression and panic attacks and you name it.