Ask Sam letter


To Sam


All the way through my life,I have been expected to be the top of my class and been known as the know it all. I'm now in high school and just took my options, but I feel so pressured in all my lessons and at home. All my teachers are constantly pushing me, and I know it is there job to help me achieve but they expect me to do well and be top at everything.
On top of this I have my mum who is always expecting me to be the best and doesn't react well if I don't achieve highly. Before this never used to be a problem as I used to be able to impress her but more recently she has been very displeased with my grades, an example is when I received my report and my English grade was not above my target, despite being the highest in my class she proceeded to call me dumb, worthless and put me down. Worry about things like this used to make me more determined but recently it has made me panic and stress. With this and also the constant jibes at school about being a 'perfect princess with a perfect life' and constantly be told I have everything, am spoilt and I am clever to show off, and the teachers constant pressure it's honestly driving me over the edge, I don't know how to cope with everyone's expectations and the stress is causing me to cry myself to sleep and even breakdown in lessons because no one seems to understand and see that I don't know what to do and am crying out for help, the teachers think I respond well to all the pressure and expect me to excell and seem disappointed if I don't and don't seem to realise its the pressure that's making me breakdown, and I don't know who to turn to. Please help and advise me.
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter. I'm really glad that you've felt able to write to me about this. A lot of young people feel pressure to do well but you never deserve to feel put down like this or feel so alone with it.

You said that it's been like this all of your life, but that the pressure which used to give you determination now leaves you feeling panicked and stressed. It's important to remember that even when people care about you, putting pressure on you doesn't always mean that they're doing something good.

You never, ever deserve to be called dumb or worthless or to be made to feel that low by your mum. In fact when you spoke about how she reacted to your English grade, it sounded emotionally abusive.

Whatever anyone's intentions are or what else is happening, you deserve to feel safe and cared for at home, and not stressed or panicked because of the pressure you're under. You might find it really helpful to read our page about Emotional abuse.

You said that the teachers think that you respond well to pressure, but it sounds like they've not been able to see the side of you that's been finding it very difficult. I'm wondering what it would be like if the teachers were able to see that it was the pressure which led to you breaking down in lessons or that you have been crying yourself to sleep because of how you've been feeling.

Sometimes it can feel like you'll be letting people down if you admit that things are getting hard, but you being as honest as you have been here shows more courage than anything. Being able to ask for help when you need it isn't a failure, it's a big part of life.

You could think about who would be the most understanding teacher if any of them could know that the pressure isn't a good thing for you right now. Sometimes it can be good to think about how you would like things to be at school.

There's no right or wrong way to ask for help, but some young people find it really helpful to practise what they'd like to say and even plan when and where it's best to have that conversation. There's loads of good advice as well on our page about asking an adult for help.

You have not done anything wrong here. You never deserve to be belittled or bullied by anyone, whether that's by your mum at home or by other people at school.

Think about talking to a ChildLine counsellor. Our counsellors are there to give you a space to talk without judgement and without pressure to do anything you're not ready to. You can contact them by calling for free on 0800 1111, by having a 1-2-1 chat or even by sending an email.

Take care,

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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