Thursday, 20 July 2017

My Experience at Beauty School & How It Affected My Mental Health

Hey everyone! This is a long one today. It's kind of two stories in one, but they go hand in hand and one doesn't quite make sense without the other. I haven't really spoken about either of these topics, apart from the odd reply to beauty questions or people seeking advice from the Twitter community. So, grab yourself a cuppa and let's get into it.

When I was 16, I left school and went straight into college. This was in Spain, so it worked a little differently, but I went to "beauty school". I have to say, I received a few different reactions when I told people that was what I was doing, both good and bad. I got the stereotypical "beauty school is for idiots" remarks, but mostly those around me supported me and I was excited and motivated.

I worked incredibly hard. The first 4 months of each year were pretty much all theory, including science and biology. To put it into perspective for those who don't know, you can't just massage someones hand, foot, or back randomly and not know what you're doing. You need to know what muscles and bones are under the skin and what to do where, what affect certain movements will have on the skin and tissues below it. The same goes for cutting, dyeing, bleaching, etc. I know first hand the damage someone can do to your back if they don't know what they're doing (long story short I ended up needing muscle relaxants being injected into my back and still suffer from pain three years later).

Apart from getting varying degrees of condescending remarks from a few people, even people who I had previously considered friends, I loved it. To be honest going to college was the best thing for me, or at least my first two years were. It gave me a social life, it's where I met my best friend, and I loved experimenting with hair colours and styles. I was able to do whatever I wanted to my hair, makeup, nails, and it was all accepted and encouraged. This was about the time I had pink hair, which later turned to blues, greens, and purples.

I know this isn't always the case though, and I think I was blessed to do the majority of my course at a center in Mallorca.When I was 18, I moved to Menorca and intended to continue the course. Unfortunately only one center did the same course in Menorca, and having lived in Menorca 5 years prior this didn't sit well with me. I'd been bullied terribly at school when I lived there for all sorts of reasons. Knowing this center also doubled as the catch all for the school I had been to, I wasn't comfortable with going back to school with my childhood bullies. I didn't have much of a choice, and so the center in Mallorca had all my information transferred to the center in Menorca.

My first day should have been an indication as to what was waiting for me. I was constantly being "told off" for breaking the rules, the teachers ignored me, and the other students didn't help either. Every other school I have been to, we were given a pack the first day of the school year with the center rules, our class schedule, a map of the school for our different classes, and a list of any material we had to buy ourselves. I was given none of these when I arrived at this school.

The teachers quickly got tired of me asking for my schedule, asking for a list of the material I needed. I had much of what I needed from my previous years doing the course, but this center every Friday would go to the Care Home and cut peoples hair, meaning I needed to buy my own clippers and guards, something that I hadn't needed to at the other school as it was provided. I was told it had to be a certain make with certain guards, but no one would actually tell me which make or guards I needed.

By my second week I was dreading going to school. I was starting to have panic attacks before school on a regular basis. I tried to speak with my Head Tutor about how I was feeling, but I was told I was overreacting and that I should just get on with my work. After that I started to have panic attacks at school and need to leave to be able to calm down.

I was quite an anxious person before this happened and suffered from depression, but could manage it most days. This new situation had really knocked my confidence and I lost hold of any control over my anxiety and depression. I pushed myself to go to school as it was my last year, and I really wanted to get my full licenses and qualifications and open my own hair salon.

I was having various panic attacks a day, crying almost constantly, and felt so self-conscious I began to sincerely hate myself. It became a vicious cycle, and school life was getting worse. This went on for over a month before I decided to take my Grandma's advice and see a Doctor.

I was given antidepressants, and my doctor was so kind and understanding. One thing she said to me will always stick with me, and I have no idea why I had never thought of it before:

Never put school or work in front of your mental or physical health

It was only a week later that I'd had enough. I went into school that morning and waited outside my classroom. Eight o'clock came and went, and there was still no sign of the teacher. I saw a few of the other girls who were in my class, and I asked them where the class was, and they told me to wait there. I waited another 20 minutes, and still nothing. By this time first period had almost ended, and so I went to the front desk to ask if they knew where my class could be.

They guessed that my class would be in one of the computer rooms. There were computer rooms both on the first floor and on the third, but I started by searching for the first floor rooms. After disturbing three different classes, I finally found my class. The teacher wasn't there, and so I waited outside for her to explain what had happened. 

When the teacher arrived and saw me there, she demanded an explanation. I told her how I had been waiting at the other classroom, the one I had been told was the only one they used, and had waited and waited until going to the front desk to ask where the class could be. This was met with "Don't lie to me. I sent a message to the Whatsapp group last night informing everyone we would be using the computers this morning." This would have been great, had she added me to said Whatsapp group in the first place. I told her I hadn't been added, and so I didn't get the message. I was then called a liar again, and by this time her "speech" was so loud another teacher came out and asked her not to shout as she was disturbing the other classes. 

Once she had calmed down, she turned around and started to go into the class. I went to follow her, and as she was half way through the door, she span around and asked me what I thought I was doing, that I wasn't allowed into the class. She then slammed the door on me.

This confrontation caused me to start crying, while trying to hold back a panic attack long enough to call my grandma. I went back to the front desk and asked for them to buzz the door open. I'm not sure how the law works in England, but as this school had students of 16 and 15 years, no one was allowed to leave the premises without permission. I think the state I was in was enough for the receptionist not to ask any questions, and let me go without any fuss. 

I only returned to the school to sign paperwork after that. I officially dropped out, and the experience has made the school/work environment something that causes me major anxiety. This same teacher went on to try to convince my Grandma (who I was living with at the time) that I hadn't been going to class and that's why she had told me I couldn't go in the computer room. I know this isn't true, and so did my Grandma. She also tried to convince her of many other things and told a completely different story. After my Grandma went to see this teacher, the teacher then had the audacity to send me an email yet again explaining how if I had done what I was told I would have settled in and made friends. I didn't answer her email.

Please remember to take care of your mental health just as much as your physical health. By forcing myself to go to a place that made me so unhappy and fee so inferior, I've made my mental health worse. I can't help but wonder if things would have turned out differently if I hadn't transferred at all.


  1. This really struck a chord with me. Your experience reminds me so much of my end of high school/college days; the anxiety, the panic attacks, even the teachers we had were so similar. Whilst I was given support, it may not have been necessary if my teacher (or lecturer as we call them here) had been welcoming and understanding in the first place. She was willing to turn a blind eye to the fact that I was mentally struggling for the sake of being my superior and had it not been for another lecturer I would not have been given the support that I needed. It was like she wanted me to leave so that she wouldn't have to deal with my anxieties or the repercussions of not being supportive and being generally mean about it. Whilst my mental health wasn't her problem, she lacked empathy and was just so cold towards me. I ended up leaving my college as well because, like you, I was having panic attacks before classes and during them.
    Has the experience put you off wanting to finish the course (if you haven't done so yet) even with another school?

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment! It's horrible when teachers or lecturers don't take notice even when it's made blatantly obvious and they're asked for help.
      Unfortunately it's made having a set schedule really hard for me. I need to know that if I need to take a day for myself or be a little later than usual i can be, but obviously with school and work that doesn't quite work out, so I don't think I'll be going back to college any time soon. I now consider it my "job" to care for my chickens and grow fruit and veg for ourselves, and we sell a few bits as well.
      Thank you for dropping by, it means a lot!