IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR SOME HELP, PLEASE READ MY ANSWER!
(Sorry for the exaggeration, I just don't want you to skim past my reply thinking it's another 'I'm in the same position' comment - I've actually got some useful stuff to say that I really hope might end up helping some of you.)
Kira_May, it's been four years since you posted the thread - I really hope you managed to find a solution and are in a better position by now.
I don't know if this response will be any good for you anymore but I'm answering in case someone else comes on here with the same problem, now or later. As much as I wish no one else would be in a similar rut, it looks like I'm not the only one who managed to get into a mess like this.
It's funny, I stumbled across this thread while google searching something slightly irrelevant but this has happened to me and I've managed to get back into school. I signed up to HealthCentral just so that I could reply (please bear with me if I make any mistakes - I'm new to this).
I'll explain my own situation - I'm 17 and I've always had problems with my attendance, ever since I can remember. I'm not formally diagonosed with depression but I'm seriously, honestly, definitely sure I do have it and possibly anxiety problems too.
My issue with school started up last year, when I was 16, around November-December time. I felt like I hadn't recovered over the summer holidays from the exam stress and the pressure from the new year was starting to get to me. I was in a daze when I was in school, barely paying attention and just wanting to be in bed all day. I couldn't focus on anything at all and it was making me even more frustrated.
I've always hated school because I don't feel comfortable with people (I'm socially awkward?) but I love studying/learning. Even with my attendance problems, I've always been a good student and -this will sound so lame- most people don't know me but respect me because I get good results, mostly A's and A+/A*'s. My teachers saw me as a top student and obviously, they had expectations, like my parent and society on a whole.
When I started failing tests/exams, my teachers started telling me that I was clearly not revising or working hard at all. They thought I was being lazy. No one seemed to believe that I was feeling "unwell".
A few days later, at the start of December, I got sick. It wasn't anything serious but I had surgery over the winter break which required me to make frequent visits to my medical centre to have the dressing changed. It was painful and I still felt drained from the sickness; I clearly wasn't ready for school. But my mind was ahead of my body and I overlooked everything and went back, expecting myself to be perfectly fine like all the other students. I wasn't though, I hadn't recovered. I was confused and I couldn't keep up in my classes, I was starting to stress out badly. I tried letting my teachers know and they told me to take it easy but I don't think any of them meant it/understood how serious the situation was. I couldn't cope with it. I was beating myself up inside about not being able to study like all the other kids, ignoring the fact that I had been ill and telling myself I was flawed and stupid.
Midway though January, I took about two weeks off school. I told the school about my surgery and they allowed me to stay off for a while. I was hoping that once I got back to school again, I'd be able to finally act like myself. It didn't happen. I remember my maths teacher picking on me and I got the answer wrong. The same lesson, I got picked on again and I didn't get the answer right a second time around. I wasn't used to that. I wasn't used to everyone looking at me like "wow, she's actually dumb". I crumbled under the pressure. I had maths the next day and I decided not to go to school because it was a Friday, I told myself I'd go on Monday. But then I skipped Monday too. Then Tuesday and before I knew it, it had been a whole week. Slowly that week transformed into a month.
My depression had gotten worse, I was blaming myself for being weak and useless. Telling myself that I had no future, that I had destroyed and ruined all those past years of hard work. I was too scared to go back to school, I'd sit in my room and cry all day or waste time on the internet doing nothing. I lost what little interests I had. I stopped writing even though it's the one thing I always loved. I didn't dare look at the messages I was getting from people who knew me at school, asking where I was. I refused to go outside, in case I'd meet someone from school. I'd starve myself as a punishment or try to self-harm.
My mum thought I was faking it so that I didn't have to go. She didn't believe I had depression (and still doesn't). She told me to suck it up and go to school or to call them up and tell them myself why I wasn't going. She was only worried about them kicking me out of school, not about what was wrong with me. My mum used to tell me to stop pretending that I was a 'mentally ill' person, as if I was acting. I couldn't believe it. I had no one to go to, no one to speak to. I was desperate to find someone to talk to, to find some sort of comfort because I was slowly dying. Suicidal thoughts had become regular and I almost went through with my plans, twice. I knew I had to get it out of my system before I actually ended up doing something stupid. I was too afraid of going to a medical centre for proper help so instead, I forced myself to go and meet up with an old friend who no longer went to my school. She made things worse by laughing it off and exaggerating that my attendance was always bad but this 'was too much' and I really just needed to go back to school already.
I hit my breaking point. I couldn't take it anymore. I sat down one day and I wrote a long letter on MS Word, explaining everything. Right from November time to that day. How depressed and scared I was, how my own family wasn't supportive at all and how I was at the end of my wits. It took a lot of guts and it was painfully difficult but I attached the document to an email and sent it to my head of year. I know, I can't believe I done that too. I instantly regretted sending it but a little part of me was relieved because now, I was attempting to fix the situation. He didn't reply until two days later and it was dreadfully hard to live through that time and when the reply finally came, I was afraid of what I'd find. Eventually I checked the email - he had asked me to come afterschool on Monday the following week.
It was nervewracking, walking to the building. My heart was beating a thousand miles per hour, I cried on my way (thankgod it was raining), I was anxious to the point where I was pale and numb but I made myself go through with it. When I got there, another teacher was waiting for me. Not a councilor or anything, we don't have one at my school, it was just a normal teacher who worked there. (I'm going to make up names for them because it's easier - Head of year = Mr N, Teacher = Miss H.)
Miss H told me that Mr N had made her read the letter and she was almost in tears. She wanted to know what was going on. So I tried my best to explain without crying my eyes out and she listened to it all and was really considerate. Mr N came in soon after and he was really worried too, he could recognise that I was depressed. They were both so nice to me, I wasn't expecting it at all. I thought they'd be mad and think I was being lazy like the teachers before. But they listened to me and were really comforting.
After having the discussion, Mr N made a timetable for me, to gradually get me back into school. I chose the subjects I wanted to attend the first week and I was only allowed a few lessons at first, then more for the second week. I was also told that they'd inform my subject teachers for me and that I could go to Miss H at any time if I felt uncomfortable/overwhelmed. Everything was really flexible and I felt at ease knowing I would slowly be able to come back. After I left the meeting, I felt a million times better.
I'm not going to lie, I was scared for the first day. I knew everyone would ask where I had been and they did. But it wasn't like I was imagining. They just asked and I told them that I didn't want to talk about it and they understood. No one made a big deal out of it. There were about one or two people that were really nosy but I firmly told them I didn't want to talk about it. When you act strong, people back off - and they did. It wasn't terrible at all. No teachers made a huge fuss and welcomed me back, it was like as if I'd never missed school.
Sadly, last year was just not a good year for me because shortly after, my mother got sick so I had to stay home to take care of her. I didn't attend school for months again but Miss H knew and she called regularly, to check up on me. Mr N allowed me to take only the exams I wanted to and only as practise, not anything serious or any pressure. I took two exams for fun, just to see what they were like. At the end, it was decided that I would re-take the year with the younger students.
I've started year 12 again and it has been hard. I've missed a few days already and I'm starting to feel stressed again. But this time, I've seen Mr N early and he's really understanding about it; he reassured me that they'll make sure I get through this year and that I've been coming in and that's more than enough at the moment. Also, tomorrow (hopefully) I'll be going to talk to Miss H so that I can get help.
The point it, you can find a way through. It's not the end of the world even though it seems like it. I know it's difficult to believe but don't give up! No matter how much time you've missed, it's not too late. Something can be arranged. Like me, you can write a letter and send it through. Your teachers are humans; they have emotions. They will care, they will worry about you, I promise. No one is going to hurt you or shout at you for not being able to attend school. Depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, PTSD, you name it - these are all real and valid reasons. They're illnesses and they can prevent you from functioning properly. Don't think you're somehow flawed or broken because you can't cope like other students; we all have different limits, sometimes we break and that's perfectly normal. Just reach out for help and someone will take your hand, you don't have to deal with this alone. If one person doesn't listen, try another. You will get through, please, I beg you, don't lose hope. It's never too late to get yourself back on track.
Good luck, I hope things get better for you all x