How the bell ruled my high school life

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Joe90
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15 Mar 2021, 6:54 pm

I know I might have written about this before but I just wanted to share it in more depth.

I had a terrible phobia of the bells at school and spent my whole school life avoiding being near one when it was due to ring. At primary (elementary) school it was easier to avoid the bells but it was hard to avoid bells at the high school.

During the first two years of high school they didn't use bells, but then we got a new headmaster (principal) and he brought it back. So I had to suffer the remaining 4 years with bells, and it wasn't easy.
It often made me look like a social recluse because I'd often be standing about 20 feet down the hallway from the others if they were standing near a bell that was due to ring for the next class to begin. But I was too embarrassed to tell them that I was just afraid of the bell. Otherwise, I wanted to stand with the others.
Science classes were difficult because there was a bell in the labs (God knows why), and I spent every science class fretting about the fire alarm going off instead of learning anything (not that I liked science classes much anyway). I remember during one science class some kid dropped a pair of tongs on the floor and it made a clanging sound, and because I was edgy about the loud bell ringing I immediately jumped and put my fingers in my ears, and I broke out in a cold sweat and my face went white like I had seen a ghost. It was the anticipation that was making my nerves twitchy. No wonder people didn't want to my friends with me. :oops:
I did often sit with my elbows on the table and my head resting in my hands, with my knuckles blocking my ears, and hoped it just looked casual. But it didn't take long for the other kids sitting at the same table to ask why I sat with my hands there, and I just shrugged.
I wished I had a pair of earplugs that I could put in (my long hair would have covered them so nobody would have noticed), but I was too embarrassed to ask my mum to buy some for me, and being a child I wasn't sure where to buy earplugs from.

In my last year at school I actually made myself tell a friend about my bell phobia, but she got nasty about it. She said I was dumb for being afraid of bells, but to be honest I think that was better than distancing myself away from the other kids and looking more autistic than I really was.

Even to this day I quite frequently dream about bells. I think my fear and anxiety of bells contributed to my severe unpopularity. Can anyone relate? How did you get on with bells at school?


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IsabellaLinton
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15 Mar 2021, 7:08 pm

I have misophonia, sensitive hearing, and tinnitus. When the bells rang at school, I used to make loud involuntary sounds of displeasure and hold my hands over my ears. This often involved dropping my books. I could often hear the ringing continue for a long time afterward because it intensified my tinnitus. I actually made a formal complaint about the decibel level and tried to have the bells removed.



Joe90
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15 Mar 2021, 10:02 pm

I wish I thought of doing that. I didn't see the point in the bells, especially when most teachers yelled to the class "the bell isn't a signal to be dismissed, you be dismissed when I say!"

It wasn't that I had sensitive hearing as such. I just hated sudden loud noises that made me jump, and knowing when a bell was going to ring was worse than not knowing, because of the anticipation. If I was walking near a bell at a time it was due to ring, it was like torture. I was afraid to swallow in case I'd choke if the bell rang, and I would be all stiff and frightened. I just couldn't distract my mind away from it no matter what I did.


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IsabellaLinton
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16 Mar 2021, 2:08 pm

Joe90 wrote:
If I was walking near a bell at a time it was due to ring, it was like torture. I was afraid to swallow in case I'd choke if the bell rang, and I would be all stiff and frightened. I just couldn't distract my mind away from it no matter what I did.


Me too. I would grow angry in anticipation, knowing the insipid thing was going to happen. It seemed to catch me off guard even if I stared at the clock, waiting. Then I'd make a fool of myself involuntarily, and be in a fight / flight mood afterward because I was agitated and humiliated.

I don't understand how schools pretend to care about special needs, when they don't actually do anything to protect people who are vulnerable.



Joe90
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16 Mar 2021, 4:18 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
If I was walking near a bell at a time it was due to ring, it was like torture. I was afraid to swallow in case I'd choke if the bell rang, and I would be all stiff and frightened. I just couldn't distract my mind away from it no matter what I did.


Me too. I would grow angry in anticipation, knowing the insipid thing was going to happen. It seemed to catch me off guard even if I stared at the clock, waiting. Then I'd make a fool of myself involuntarily, and be in a fight / flight mood afterward because I was agitated and humiliated.

I don't understand how schools pretend to care about special needs, when they don't actually do anything to protect people who are vulnerable.


Well having bells actually made no difference to children's attendance to classes than what it was during the years we didn't use bells. I think bells are just an unnecessary school tradition. Clocks are a better way to tell the time and can actually teach older kids time-keeping skills.


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IsabellaLinton
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16 Mar 2021, 4:59 pm

My school in California had a chime. Just a soft, airy chime.

I liked that a lot.



Joe90
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16 Mar 2021, 8:36 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
My school in California had a chime. Just a soft, airy chime.

I liked that a lot.


I always wished the school would use something like that. Or a sound that is loud enough to distract you but not ear-piercing enough to make you jump or nervous.

I could never understand how the other children could have a conversation right under a bell when it rang and not be at all fazed by the sudden loud noise. Yet some kids put their hands over their ears when walking past a bell during fire drills. That was one thing I didn't feel the need to do. If I was in a classroom and the fire alarm sounded (there weren't bells in the classrooms except for the science labs), it didn't bother me to walk past a bell in the hallways that was already ringing, because it was a continuous noise and so wasn't going to startle me.


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IsabellaLinton
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16 Mar 2021, 8:38 pm

We had them in every classroom, in the corridor, and even outdoors. All in unison. My father was certain they were above a safe decibel level because he could hear the outdoor bell from home, and we lived blocks from the school.



Joe90
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17 Mar 2021, 12:57 pm

It was embarrassing when I was at primary school too. We had assembly every morning and there was a loud bell in the assembly hall (auditorium) that signalled playtime straight after, but we were usually filing out as it was due to ring. So I held my hands over my ears as we filed out. I think that contributed to my diagnosis. One day my teacher asked me if I was covering my ears because all the children were noisy, and I nodded. But that wasn't it at all. The only noise in my whole school life that I was scared of was the bell. But I was too embarrassed to say at the time.


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funeralxempire
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17 Mar 2021, 1:33 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
We had them in every classroom, in the corridor, and even outdoors. All in unison. My father was certain they were above a safe decibel level because he could hear the outdoor bell from home, and we lived blocks from the school.


I can hear the bells from the elementary school near my house when I'm outside. Near might be an overstatement, it would be a twenty minute walk to get there.