DEAR COUNSELLOR: French Vs ‘Sciance’

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD Counselling Psychologist

Dear Counsellor:
I am a 14-year-old female, and I have been having some health issues that seem too much for one person. Both my parents are overseas, and my grandmother is my main caregiver. I have intense cramps in my belly, and at times, I have bouts of sleepiness. My grandmother is an ardent churchgoer and is of the belief that someone has placed ‘sciance’ on me. She now wants to take me to a special prayer meeting and get ‘it’ off me. I have tried telling her that I do not believe that it is any ‘sciance’ and that something may be wrong with me physically.

Truth be told, when I have French classes, especially on a Tuesday morning, I am so filled with pain that sometimes I cannot even go to school. I think I may be allergic to something in that classroom. I do not believe that I am eating properly, either, as I dislike the way my grandmother cooks some meals. I do not want hurt her feelings, but I think she is part of my problem. How can I tell her that I may need to attend another school, seeing that the French room is a problem for me?

Dear F.F.,
In life, when we are stressed, we tend to develop symptoms as a form of defence. I read where you tend to develop these ‘cramps’, particularly when you have French classes. I highly doubt that there is anything in the classroom to which you are allergic. In counselling, there is a condition termed psychosomatic disorder – it is actually a physical illness caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress. You did not say; however, I think that French may not be your favourite subject. This is quite understandable; you may have challenges as French is not your native language and this causes you stress.

The way your body and mind interact tells how stressed you are. Might I suggest that you talk with your teacher about extra lessons? You may even watch French movies with English subtitles to assist with improving how you perceive French. If there is a French club at your school, you may want to become a member as the more you come into contact with French, the less stressful it will become. Watching French cartoons, reading books and even speaking French with your classmates will make the language less scary and more enjoyable. You may still need to visit your medical doctor to ensure that you are physically sound. Prayers are always good for all situations, so that should not harm you at all.

If you notice that the cramps last as long as the French sessions, then that is a great indicator that it is all in your mind. I hope that the suggestions offered will help you.

As it relates to the sleepiness, speak to the doctor about it. However, you mentioned that you dislike the way your grandmother cooks – that suggests that your diet may be contributing to that issue. You know how important it is to have a balanced meal,especially at your stage of development. Maybe you could assist grandma in the kitchen whenever you can. Sometimes, too, it may help to take vitamin supplements to bolster your health (seek your doctor’s advice).

I wish you all the best for the academic year!

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD Counselling Psychologist karelle_hylton@yahoo.com

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