you steel yourself inside as best you can; keep absolutely still and quiet where possible, let everything pass you in a blur, don't stop to absorb, think, interpret or analyse, just do what's required of you and respond mildly, emotionlessly, appropriately as and when necessary, as best as you can.
back then, there was a period of at least six months, i think, where i isolated myself to some extent. i went from home to school, and after that, mostly straight home from school. i'll never forget leaving my bag on a canteen bench for a while at about 1.25pm, and then having to walk into a crowd of people gathered around the bench at about 2pm to retrieve the bag - all the while being sure in my head that those people were watching me, judging me, and then discussing me after i left. many years later, i still dream of that scene once in a blue moon; sometimes, in my dream, i'm so dead and unthinking, i actually forget to bring the bag home with me.
back then, because studies weren't something i had an option of escaping, i think i turned to them as a means of coping. i worked on my maths, figured out all those complex problem sums i never had the patience for previously; made sense of chemical equations, allowed myself to be intrugued by history texts, memorised the stuff in those ridiculous chinese handbooks, and then poured everything else into english and lit (never quite managed to understand physics, unfortunately). in hindsight, i guess it was a good thing i was forced into such a situation.
though, many years later, i still wonder if i've actually ever recovered from those days. sometimes, i try not to revisit them; other times, i make myself do it, just to prove to myself in my own head that i've emerged stronger and better, even if all damaged and glued back. today is another one of those days i wonder if the glue is flaking off, or if i'm needing a new, more heavy-duty layer of it or something.
each time i decide to resort to such measures, one of the most painful things is to admit and accept that i don't really have anyone to blame for the situation i've somehow found myself in. i guess the next hardest part is to be dead to everything. more than ten years later, i still haven't discovered a better way to deal.