“From Fatigue to Fantastic” – Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

Tough years at school

The school system back in Japan is structured using the military system of hierarchy. When I was at school, teachers were the authorities, not role models. They yelled a lot and were extremely hard on their students. So we would work harder to better ourselves! They didn’t like to be questioned by the students in any form.

There were five short sessions at school. There was a textbook and notebook for each subject. Each morning students were expected to bring the correct books to school and transfer them to the individual desk. The school bags were then hung on the hooks at the back of the classroom until after school.

I’m in trouble!

One day when I was in Year 1, I couldn’t find my handwriting book inside my desk. “Oh no, I’m in big trouble!” The six-year-old me thought.

There were about five of us who forgot the handwriting book, which was more than usual. The teacher was furious. I didn’t understand why she got so mad, but I did as I was told.

“Stand up” she commanded.

She came over to us one by one and asked if we forgot to pack the handwriting book the previous night. She wanted us to admit our fault and apologise to her. Sensing her anger, I was so nervous! All other troubled students before me did as she wanted. She was happy enough. They were off the hook.

It was my turn. Lucky last. She asked me the question.

“No”. I answered. (Because I actually did pack ALL my books! I double-checked every night as I had seen how much trouble we would get if we forgot something).

Teacher: So where is it?
Me: I don’t know.

T: You are lying to me.
M: No, I’m not.

We repeated the same lines few more times.



Unable to get what she wanted, she turned to the rest of the class.

She announced that I was a liar and that everyone should call me so.

On the count of three, 30 other children in my class looked at me and called me a liar.

In unison.

With a satisfied look and snarl, she told me to sit down.

Understandably by then, I was very upset and crying. But I wasn’t going to back off. As she finally started the class I stumbled towards the back of the room where my school bag was. (The teacher yelled at me but I didn’t care)

At the bottom of my bag was THE handwriting book! – Yay I was right!

Hurriedly grabbing the book, I rushed to the teacher and said “I am not a liar”.

She just rolled her eyes, then acted as though I wasn’t there. I was burning with anger. My body was shaking and my face was bright red. I cried some more back at my desk. She told me to quit crying and to stop disrupting her class.

While this may not seem like a big deal in itself, this is the first case of many incidents that contributed to my stress load.

One angry child

After this incident, I never spoke to her again for the rest of the year. I could not forgive her. Anger ate away my little 6-year-old body. Not surprisingly she complained of my attitude often, and I was in trouble at home for it.

Bad, bad cycle.

This traumatising experience changed my outlook towards teachers and school. I chose not to speak to teachers unless I really needed to. I was bored, frustrated, angry, out of place and different.

Teachers didn’t know how to handle students like me. My school life was miserable, and because I believed that school was a horrible place, a lot of terrible things happened.

All these negative events stayed in my system. They happened so often I didn’t have time or know how to process them. I thought it was all my fault. My small body was under pressure and stress every single day.

Silver lining

Hating school so much, it’s ironic that later in my life decided to be a school teacher. But I wanted to become the teacher that I needed when I was young. I love being a special needs teacher and have been so for 10 years now.

I love discovering the students’ strengths; love working with the families; love seeing the progress, no matter how small.

Dealing with Adrenal Fatigue was challenging. But without it, I would not have had the chance to reflect on myself, my past and my beliefs. So for that, I am grateful.

I would like to say to myself- Thank you for working so hard for so long, and thank you for asking for help.

And then I learned to forgive.


Have you thanked yourself lately?


In the next blog I will talk about the first 2 steps towards healing.