Eyecatcher For adolescents

21-year-old young woman

How old are you?

I’m 21 years old; the first time I was in Datteln I was 17, the second time a half year later. I became ill with a somatoform pain condition at 16.

Where did you have pain?

In the lumbar region and the thoracic spine area.

What all did you try?

Before I came to Datteln I had several hospital stays behind me, a lot of physiotherapy, mud packs, my vertebrae was adjusted again, I received a TENS apparatus and massages for muscle relaxation, I went to a psychologist. While I was in the Children’s and Adolescents’ Clinic in Datteln I also learned, among other things, many possible ways/methods to distract myself. These helped me a lot during my stay and in my free time.

How did others react to your pain?

My disadvantage was that my pain and the cause of my pain wasn’t tangible. So not only did I not find any support or acceptance at school, many teachers also refused to lend support and help. People often spoke behind my back, and teachers who wanted to support me got evil looks from the others. Even talks with the whole group of teachers didn’t help. My family and I were seen as liars.

Many of my friends turned away from me, as they couldn’t understand it.

My relationship with my dad improved, he called me often if he was stuck in traffic somewhere and asked me how I was. On the other hand, my relationship with my mom worsened after Datteln. She witnessed how I was every day and tried to suppress and trivialize and ignore it which hurt me a lot, since I didn’t often talk about how I was. Since I’ve been better, we’ve gotten closer again.

How did you find the time in Datteln and the time after the pain therapy?

The time in Datteln was great. I learned a lot, also a lot that I was only later able to understand and use. Everyone on the ward gave me support and strength; I’m still in touch with some of the girls.

When I came home again everyone was really happy. And for some weeks everything worked well. But as the stark reality of school life returned after summer holidays and I could feel the reaction of others, everything got worse again. As already mentioned, I couldn’t hope for support or help from the people at school. Thanks to my good marks and in spite of an absence of half a year I was put into 12th year, which was the only consolation. There were seldom opportunities to practice my distraction methods or leave the classroom for a while; that made daily life at school more difficult and finally led to me being off sick again. So my bad feeling towards myself and school kept increasing. I often wished I could return to Datteln and missed the time there.

Have you got control of your pain, and if so, how?

Half a year after my first stay I was in Datteln again. But also off sick a long time after that again. At the same time I taught myself the school material, so to speak , and wrote the exams. Nevertheless I finally decided to repeat 12th year and not to go on to the 13th.

I only did half of the repeat year and spent the last part of it at home again in self-study. I went into 13th year and wrote all the exams for 12th year during summer holidays and at the start of 13th year.

But as unfortunately little had improved, I decided on the recommendation of the doctors to break off my 13th year and go to a health clinic. This was scheduled for a half year later, right in the middle of the Abitur exam period. So, for my health I broke off preparation for my Abitur and in November 2010 started a year-long practicum in order to attain college completion. Unfortunately, I couldn’t guess at this point that my stay at the clinic wouldn’t be approved and so I had broken off my Abitur for nothing.

The more I distanced myself from school, the more I was aware that I had my illness under control, that only my surroundings were making me fall behind and that others’ reactions, ignorance and misunderstanding  were making me sick.

What helped you?

Today I have the strength to say that dropping out of school was the best thing I could have done for myself and my health. In addition, regular physiotherapy and my psychologist supported me. I found new friends who accepted me with my illness, and finally left old friends who hadn’t stood by me during this hard time.

I have learned to pay more attention to myself and to leave everything that doesn’t do me good, to run after no one, to remain true to myself and to find myself wonderful. I have become a wonderful, strong woman and I am proud of myself. And I say this to myself on every hard day.

What’s happening in your life now? What have you achieved since the stay in Datteln?

After my one-year practicum for the special Abitur, I did further practica. I never knew if I would want to do something later that would interest me or something that I could already do?! So I applied all over, but nevertheless avoided careers where I might have to accept rejection, since I definitely wanted to avoid those.

Funnily enough it happened that I was accepted in a place where I had dreamed as a little girl of wanting to work – in my bank. And I started there in the summer of ’12, currently in first year of training and mighty proud – I’m becoming a banker.

After a lot of rejection and disappointment I have finally found my way again. I have become strong, have found myself, have put a lot behind me and found many new things.

A short time ago I moved in with my boyfriend; we now have a great, chic apartment, furnished totally to my taste. I feel well here and am very happy.

I really hope that things go as well for the others that I met in Datteln and that they can also be proud of themselves.


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