Welcome to my Blog, Welcome to my Journey. 

I’ve been debating whether or not to start my own personal blog for a while now, I want to share my journey so far. 

Here is a chapter that I wrote last year and it introduces quite a lot about me…
Personal journey chapter 1: 

I was born the 1980s, in the days when mothers stayed in hospital for at least a week. I was a healthy 9lb 4oz at birth. I’m still unsure of the specific details, but I suffered a non-genetic ‘Facial Palsy,’ or ‘Facial Paralysis.’ My mother took me to a facial disfigurement clinic at a few months old, and there she was told that there was nothing that could be done at that time. On photos it was recognisable that one side of my face was uneven and I couldn’t really ‘smile’ as such without one side of my mouth drooping down. As my parents are such wonderful, down-to-earth people, all they saw was a happy and healthy baby. I’m so luckily to have parents like this, they never really made it an issue. 

My parents have described that even from 6 months old, that they can recall that I squirmed away from affection and would pull myself away if someone tried to cuddle me. I was described as an extremely ‘shy’ child, I was bored with hearing the words “aren’t you shy” and “you’re quiet.” I was very passive and extremely compliant, If a little too compliant. I believed everything that people told me and as the saying would go “you say jump,” and I say “how high?” At the age of 3 I started biting my nails, and I’m still doing it now 30 years later, not a habit that I’m happy with.  

I didn’t like giving people eye contact, it felt awkward to me and was always thinking: “Can they notice my mouth?” I received curious questions from other kids which you’d expect: “What’s wrong with your mouth?” My answer: “Its poorly.” I was a target for bullies, even from a young age but I loved my Primary School teacher, she made me want to do her job and made me feel safe. I literally went a shade of bright red if I had to speak up in class.  

I found it hard to made friends and would cling to the ones I had for safety, even though looking back these were not always the most appropriate choice of friendships! I had an imaginary friend called Tinkerbelle, who was often there when nobody else was.  

I could come out with some quite hurtful things, I remember being about 5 or 6 years old and hiding for a whole afternoon in a wardrobe. When my mum came looking for me I shouted: “Go away, you’re not my mummy,” It’s strange how I can remember events like this as clear as anything. And now I find that my own daughter is starting to say similar things to me! I was extremely sensitive and even just sitting next to a boy in class made me cry! I cried when films ended, not wanting them to finish and felt like I wanted to jump into the TV to find out what happened next. I clearly remember doing this with the 1988 film ‘Big.’ I was very much a child who would love to jump into a picture drawn in chalk like in ‘Mary Poppins.’ I was a child that craved company, I’d stare out of the window willing a visitor to come to the house, but I’d equally want time on my own, usually outside, visiting the fields behind my house and building dens in the hedgerows. I also spent a lot of time on the family farm that my Grandparents had once run, I collected eggs with my Nanny and played Hide-and-Seek amongst the hay bales. I think growing up in the countryside suited me. I collected ‘pets’ in special tubs, usually Snails and Ladybirds. 

I had a vivid imagination and I’ve always seen everything in pictures, from an early age I would take out a camera and take photos around the village where I lived. I wrote my own fictional stories and believed that fairies lived at the end of my garden. I developed a huge interest in fictional stories and I would find sanctuary in libraries throughout the whole of my school life, I wanted to be alone most of the time and while reading, I was happy and at peace. I can remember the smell of the libraries; I’ve had a habit of smelling books since I was very young! I read books such as C S Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia,’ and I found myself visualising people as animals, I would ask myself if a certain person was an animal, which one would he or she be, giraffes, monkeys, elephants, even badgers!  

I’ve always been a fact lover! I Google absolutely anything and everything, if I see an actor in a film and I recognise them from another film, I’ll check what else he or she has been in. But this isn’t always a good thing in terms of health issues, as I can overthink far too much! I love finding the answers to unanswered questions and I received an Encyclopaedia at the age of 8 years old, I used it so much that it fell apart!  

Obsessions started early, at first I collected ‘Troll’ figures that we’re very popular in the late 80s and early 90s, I would have hundreds in shoe boxes, later on I moved onto Porcelain dolls, which freaked out friends that would come for a sleep over! And then it was fairy figures, followed by pin badges that I kept on a special bag that I carried everywhere, I’d have to collect these from anywhere I visited. These ‘obsessions’ have carried on into adult-hood, I am an avid fan of any historical drama, and I’ve watched ‘Game of Thrones’ 10 times over from the start of the first season to the most current one! (Just in case I’ve missed something!) I am a big ‘Harry Potter’ fan I own the whole collection of both the books and the films,  

I spent lunchtimes attempting to join in with other children playing a game of ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Neverland,’ I’d always be character of ‘Tigerlilly,’ and hoped that I’d be welcome to join in again the next day. I loved reading Roald Dahl stories, and completed ‘Matilda’ in one day. My favourites were ‘The Twits,’ and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine,’ I got completely lost and consumed in these stories and read each one several times.  

I was big for my age, wearing age 12 clothes at the age of 7 or 8. I have a clear memory of being on holiday and getting stuck in-between 3 tyres (playground equipment,) I panicked and screamed for help as I hate confined spaces, I had to be forced out of the tyres with everyone staring and watching! I once rolled down about 100 steps at a historical house and split my Bermuda shorts on a Donkey ride at the beach. I was always being laughed about, but couldn’t embrace this through sheer embarrassment. In sports lessons at school, I could only describe myself as ‘Galumptious!’ Tall and clumsy! Attempting to do dance lessons in my bright green Lycra leggings! And coming last in the Cross Country! I wasn’t blessed with the physical education gene that my father has! I knocked the hurdles over, the high jump bar off and tripped over in the long jump pit! I was put in a defence position in a girl’s football team and hadn’t a clue what I was doing! And can remember getting my face scratched in netball! I certainly wasn’t a contact sport kind of child!  

I often am asked how do I remember such things from my childhood and how I have such a good memories and I do believe it’s because I’m such a visual and sensory learner, I see everything in pictures, smells and sounds can also trigger certain memories, such as the scent of someone’s perfume.  

One thing I do know is… this is me and I can’t change, so I’ve just had to learn to embrace the quirkiness!  

I will elaborate on more specific areas in other posts, I currently have 10 ideas for posts already lined up! 

Featured post

Use my experiences to inform change ~ a letter to NHS England


Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing in light of watching a Panorama programme on BBC 1, shown on Monday 25th September at 9pm. I am also writing in light of the NHS 10 year plan for Autism and Learning disability and also mental health.
I want to share my own journey and that of my own daughter. I want to help other families by sharing my own journey and how I was failed by the NHS mental health service, there is a lot of depth to my experiences, and therefore, I will try and keep some shorter timelines of events. What I’ve heard from the latest experiences other families, (I help to run a support group for the parents who have a child(ren) who have an Additional need. My view is that the child and adolescent mental health services actually haven’t improved from when I was a child in the 1980s and 1990s.
– I was born in 1982, with birth trauma where I suffered a facial palsy as a result of a face first presentation during my birth. At the age of 4 I started school where I spoke only at home, and not at school. (In today’s terms this would be referred to as ‘Selective Mutism.’  Other children noticed my differences and started to call me names from the age of 8. I didn’t give eye contact, only to very close family members who I trusted. I didn’t like physical contact and would pull away from my parents from the age of 6 months.
– I started middle school aged 9 in 1992 and was bullied every day, I found the whole experience traumatic, too many children, too loud, too noisy. Teachers told my parents that I’d “never amount to much” and that I was “painfully shy.”
– I started high school in 1995. I wanted nothing more than to stay at home, the smells of the building, the noise, crowds of children, other pupils soon picked up that I looked and acted differently and the bullying started every single day. Teachers also labelled me as “painfully shy.” At the age of 14 I stopped eating as other children called me “fat” I also had a school nurse weigh me and used the word “obese.” I then started self harming, I would hit my head against my bedroom wall, I slapped my nose and banged it with any items I could find, as there was one bully who focused on the shape of my nose. I then started using sewing needles and razor blades to cut my arms. I wanted to punish myself for not looking and being like the other pupils at school. I also started having violent meltdowns when I reached home and would frequently push my face against a cushion to stop myself breathing and held my hands around my throat, my parents and sister would have to run in to stop me going any further. My parents took me to the GP aged 14, he said I had Anxiety and Depression, I was given medication and 6 counselling sessions, however I never opened up about the self harming as I was too ashamed. In terms of me not eating and gagging on food, the GP told my mother that I needed to “admit to myself that I had a problem,” and would need to “ask for help myself,” at the age of 14, and not happy to talk to strangers, or give eye contact, this would never happen.
– At 17, my parents took me back to the GP, as the self harming and not eating carried on, I was obsessed with items in my bedroom being in a certain place and would get very distressed if they were moved. The GP diagnosed me with OCD, and we were sent away again. No mention of CAMHS or any mental health support for myself or my parents.
– At the age of 16, I had a nervous breakdown as a result of shutting myself away in my bedroom to constantly revise for my GCSEs, I was afraid of failure. I bit the skin on the palms of my hands, I rubbed my hands together constantly as I was so anxious, causing blisters on the palms of my hands that made them extremely red and sore.
– At the age of 21 I had yet another nervous breakdown as a result of revising for university exams, staying up past midnight to complete lesson plans and then up at 6am ready for teaching practice placement. I was told to “do a teaching degree” by a tutor at 6th form, even though they were aware that I’d struggled with the pressure of GCSEs.
– I moved to Norwich, Norfolk after I finished university and took up my first job as a teaching assistant as I was unable to complete the final teaching practice due to my breakdown, whilst I was at University. I got married in August 2007 and in November 2007 was prescribed Fluoxetine as I started to struggle again with Anxiety and Depression. I was living 3 hours away from my parents and friends, and struggled to connect with people in the area. I started getting intrusive thoughts for the whole day, this kept me up at night and I was getting around 30 minutes to 1 hours sleep a night. I was also prescribed Zoplicone to help me sleep, however this just made me feel worse. I then started to see and hear things that I now understand that were not there, at that time I 100% believed that they were, for example, that I was being watched constantly via CCTV cameras, that all connected together and were checking on what I was doing rather like from the film: ‘The Truman Show.’ Everything had a sign or a meaning, even if I saw a black and a white cat fighting, it had a meaning, I became increasingly paranoid and physically couldn’t leave my house as I became distressed. I had to take 6 months off sick leave from my job in a school. No one knew what to do with me, I just wanted the horrible thought to go away, I tried to throw myself down the stairs, I drank bleach, I took an entire blister of my fluoxetine tablets and was taken to A&E by my husband. What no professional managed to pick up was that I was having a Psychotic episode due to a reaction to fluoxetine. I was sent away with liquid fluoxetine after the A&E visit, even after this attempt on my life, was it not taken seriously. It was only when I started to write down the thoughts that I was having into a diary that I later handed to my GP was he then able to identify that I was indeed having a Psychotic episode and immediately changed my medication over to mirtazapine, and coupled with CBT, I then came out of this episode, but this didn’t stop a further attempt of cutting my neck and wrists with a knife, where no one fed back to my GP, I was just ‘left.’ Not once did any medical professional ask about my childhood or teenage years, if this would have been the case, the vital realisation that I was indeed on the Autistic Spectrum would have come to light. As a result I was sent to appointments to speak to a Psychiatrist at the Waveney mental health service in Norwich who came to the conclusion that I had Bi Polar and misdiagnosed me. This whole experience ended my marriage and I had to return to my parents in Worcestershire in January 2009.
– In 2013 I first recognised Autism in my own daughter at the age of 18 months. I was repeadly told it was “my parenting skills” and because I was “an anxious parent.” I was sent on 4 different parenting courses. In researching Autism, particularly how girls present, I recognised Autistic traits in myself and went to share this with my GP in September 2016. I was then referred to a Family Psychologist clinic. By March 2018 I received my diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) and finally by given the correct diagnosis, my life made sense. But all my previous mental health difficulties could have been avoided if medical professionals had picked up on this from when I was a child, teenager and when I had my psychotic episode in 2007-8. The attempts on my own life and long -lasting psychological damage could have been avoided.
– It took from the age of 18 months to the age of 5 in November 2017 to diagnosis my daughter with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) we had a referral to CAMHS made by our health visitor, but after speaking to an assistant psychologist for only a short time, our parenting skills were continually mentioned yet again and we were sent away and told to “do a parenting course.” I have heard from many families who have been told the very same thing. No one from CAMHS actually observed our daughter. We now have diagnosis but it is just this on a piece of paper, our daughter has yet to receive any support from any services. My daughter displays VCB (Violent & Challening Behaviour) towards myself and our youngest daughter (3,) our daughter is 6 but the height and weight of a 10/11 year old and can knock all 17 stone of me right off my feet. I’ve received kicks, punches and she spits in my face. She also verbally attacks me, saying that she’s “going to kill me with a knife.” I have to protect my youngest daughter from this behaviour everyday, yet we have been refused from the Fanily Support service 5 times now as there are “no safeguarding issues,” yet the fact that I have to protect my youngest child, I do view as a safeguarding issue.
– The way that parents who voice concerns about their child are treated needs to change. I have my own awful experiences where I’ve been told that I’m “over-exaggerating” regarding my daughter’s difficulties, and that I’m “over-sensitive,” this is by both educational and medical professionals. We, as parents are the experts on our children, we see them for most of their day, medical professionals only see 1 snippet of our child’s day and often our children act different in medical consultations.
In terms of assessing girls on the autistic spectrum there is still such a huge focus on eye contact, and ‘appearing more sociable,’ the diagnostic tools need to reflect, that often, girls on the autistic spectrum do give eye contact and appear more sociable than their male peers. This old fashioned view of Autism is very 1980s/1990s where everyone’s view of Autism was from the film ‘Rainman.’
– Why have I taken the time to write all of this down? I care very much about the mental health of children and young people on the Autistic Spectrum, I voluntarily run a support group for parents who have a child(ren) with additional needs. All of the parents are concerned about the mental health of their children as they reach adolescence and adulthood. I have shared my story in the hope to avoid this happening to other girls on the spectrum. Indicators that I was indeed Autistic were there from childhood, but not once picked up. All of the parents I speak to (a group of a total of 96 parents,) have had a negative experience with Worcestershire CAMHS, with the majority being told that their child “isn’t severe enough to qualify for support.” As the BBC Panorama programme on 24th September explained that it takes a child to self half before he/she is recognised as needing support.
Please learn from my experiences, please change things to give our children better chances in life. Lives and futures depend on it.
Thank you for your time,

The professional that broke me 

“You’re not firm enough with them” (referring to both of my children,) the last words an educational professional said to me before I pulled my child out of the setting. The last thing I said was: “I’m not looking for parenting advice thanks.” 
Let me explain from the beginning: 

I first noticed my eldest child’s sensory issues at around 18 months old, she was also hard to settle. Many people tried to reassure me saying “she’ll grow out of it,” and “it’s just the ‘Terrible Twos.” But it carried on and on until she reached the age of 4 and started a new early years setting. At first everything was ok, until I expressed the difficulties that we were having at home with our child’s behaviour.

Well she’s not like that here,” ‘The Professional’ said, when I explained about my child having up to 10 violent meltdowns per day: “We don’t see any of these behaviours.” 

There was a very strange incident when I attended a play session with my child and wanted to get a tissue for her so I proceeded to walk into a room (a classroom,) to be ushered out by a member of staff who firmly said “you must not go in that room, a member of staff is upset and needs privacy.” Was there a note on the door? No. Shocked at the manner to which I was “told off,” which I felt could have been put in a nicer and more professional way, I made a formal complaint to ‘TheProfessional,’ did she take it seriously? No! She told me that I was being “Over Sensitive.” 

Little did I know the term ‘masking,’ which I now know is why my child appears differently at home as she does in an educational setting. From this day onwards ‘The Professional’ was on my case. If my child refused to remove herself from under a table ‘The Professional’ would take it upon herself to come over and ‘take over’ and took great pleasure via a huge smile when my child would comply, as if to ‘twist the knife in,’ this kind of thing happened over and over again. And it wasn’t only what was said, my child was late being put forward for early years referrals to the services that would hopefully provide help and support for her transitioning into school. She was put forward so late to one forum that she couldn’t be discussed before she started school and I’d spoke to Health Professionals when she first started this setting, it was said that we needed to move quickly before my daughter started school. No other professionals turned up for team meetings regarding my child, making me think why, what was happening or being said when ‘The Professional’ was supposed to be contacting various services to come and discuss my child. Even my child’s feeder school was baffled as to why the relevant referrals hadn’t been made, paperwork that should have been sent to the feeder school hadn’t been passed over so I took it upon myself to ensure I photocopied and handed the necessary paperwork over. 

There was also a hold up when ‘The Professional’ hadn’t filled out a referral form for my daughter to receive Occupational Therapy which put us on a waiting list for almost a whole year. The appointment came through just when my child started school and the referral was originally made 9 months previously. 

Health professionals and other people involved in my child’s care would say “I can’t understand what the hold up is.” Well I can now say I know that the hold ups were all due to one person who couldn’t see past my parenting skills and was so focused on this, that in fact, it held my child’s referrals and support back.

This professional broke me… 

My anxiety and paranoia became more intense, I didn’t believe in myself as a parent and questioned my every action. I would say to family members and close friends “Do you believe me?” I was made to feel like I was failing hugely as a parent, ‘The Professional,’ made me believe that I was making my child’s difficulties up, offered no sympathy to how hard is when your child behaves in such a way at home that it has a knock on effect for your whole family dynamics. 

I didn’t want parenting advice at all, I just wanted my child to enjoy attending a setting, I don’t believe that any educational professional should just ‘give out’ parenting advice, unless the parent has specifically asked for the help or advice. 

This was unforgivable but after a break I decided to take my youngest child to play sessions and in a view to join her up. What I’d experienced previously was unforgivable but quite a few of my friends were sending their children to the setting and it is the closest to our house. I hoped that ‘The Professional may have mellowed slightly and would give me a break! 

How wrong I was 😦 

Cue – a complete repeat of history! 

“She’s a different kettle of fish, from her sister,” 

“It’s probably learned behaviour.” (From her sister.) 

So she’s already using Pre-conceptive ideas about my second child, based on what she remembers about the first, although refused to acknowledge any Additonal Needs with my first child. So confusing! 

My child wasn’t coping well in the very busy parent and child sessions, she didn’t cope very well when I left her there for 3 hours. So I decided to pull her out in her best interests. To be approached by ‘The Professional’ who wanted me at attend with my child for less than an hour per session. I wanted to meet some friends with their children for a play session but I was asked to leave (a public play session) to “end on a high,” after my child had only been there for 30 minutes, with my friends looking at me in a baffled way as they couldn’t understand this either! I left the room with tears in my eyes and a screaming child who couldn’t understand why we had not long arrived and now had to leave! 

I wanted to put my child in her pushchair and get out of the door, however ‘The Professional’ stood in the doorway blocking my pathway out of the door. She said “The trouble is you’re not firm enough with them.” My jaw hit the floor as I was attempting to stop myself from letting out a huge cry of sheer anger. To which I quietly said: 

“It’s history repeating itself,” 

“Pardon?” said ‘The Professional, to which I said: 

“You’ve been telling me this for years, not once have I asked for parenting advice, and if you really knew my child you would know that the ‘firm’ approach simply doesn’t work with her, as you’d be likely to get a smack in the face!” 

I finally walked out of the door and cried all the way home. 

I told myself the next day that I didn’t care how far I have to travel nothing is worth going through several years of this complete ridicule, I contacted my local SENDIASS and Early Years Inclusion Team, who obviously had to remain professional about a fellow professional, but their advice was “go and have a look at other settings.” 

So I did, and we start a-fresh this September, no Pre-conceptions, support and understanding from day 1. 

And I’ve learnt a huge lesson in all this: 

To stand up for myself! I will not allow myself to be spoken to in such a way ever again! I just don’t want any other parents to have to experience what I did either. 

Being a Teenager and my most awkward subject…School! 

Chapter 2 of my personal journey: Being a Teenager

I can now say, at the age of 34, that my teenage years were the most uncomfortable of stages in my life so far!  

I can only describe these years as ‘awkward’ I didn’t understand who I was, as I was desperately trying to find my identity, fit in and feel like I belonged. I think the reason why I can remember parts of my teenage years vividly is because things happened that made me feel uncomfortable, hopeless and lost and I can still remember 20 years on. I got lost on my first day of high school, I’d previously been at a small village school and I was overwhelmed by the size of the buildings, where I needed to be at the right time, I found it loud and claustrophobic when other pupils would walk towards me down the corridors. I clung onto the friends that I’d made in Primary school and would feel completely lost if I failed to find them at lunchtime, I felt like everyone was looking at me, I spent most of the hours I attended school wishing that a hole would open up in the ground and swallow me up.  

I found a safe haven in the school Choir and Orchestra, this would fill my lunchtimes and I didn’t feel judged in these activities. For some reason it became ‘uncool’ to be in the school choir or play an instrument in the orchestra, I had enjoyed learning the flute but once I’d made new friends I didn’t feel supported in doing activities like this anymore. I have always been a target for bullies – taller than all the other girls, with my lop-sided mouth and large nose. This started almost from day 1 of high school, “What’s wrong with your mouth.” “Crow nose,” were some comments that resonated in my head from that time, so I stuck by the friends that protected me from the bullies. I changed my whole image to ‘fit in with the crowd,’ I dyed my hair black, purple, cherry red – a different colour every month. I wore a thick layer of make up to act as a mask to hide behind, and pierced my ears 7 times in each ear. I had always stuck to the rules, I had always been on time and always done my homework, my new set of friends were the opposite, when they snuck out of the school grounds at lunch time, I’d cringe at the thought of breaking the rules in case I’d ever get into trouble, I hated getting told off and if I ever was, I’d immediately burst out crying. I would pretend that I was going along with the going out at lunch time and would then turn back and head myself straight to the library where I felt safe.  

In my teens the fact that I loathed being physically touched was even more highlighted, these girls I’d made friends with liked to link arms together at lunch time and I didn’t feel comfortable with this touch, I’d copy their activities such as smoking behind the sports hall and drinking cider at the park on the weekends. I hated keeping secrets like this from my family and I lost touch with the friends that I’d made at middle school, who in hindsight, are the kind of friends that I ‘should’ have kept company with. As my ‘friends’ started to partner off with boys, I couldn’t think of anything worse that actually touching a male of the population! Once I reached 14, my friends would have house parties and alcohol was introduced, I didn’t take to drinking very well but I felt freer and that I wasn’t being judged, I can still remember my first kiss to this day and I still get butterflies, it was only a kiss and nothing came of it in terms of a relationship, as I was far too shy to even talk about it again. Fast forward to 14 years after this and via the power of social media, I reconnected with my ‘first kiss,’ and we realised how much we actually had in common, but were both too shy to approach the other, back in the day! It’s ironic that we started a friendship when I was in such a dark place after my marriage had failed, but no matter how much we looked back, time had moved on and he completely disappeared from my life, the words he said to me will always resonate and I will never forget, “I loved your freckles and your cute smile,” even at the age of 27 this melted my heart, as thinking this about me, who had a facial palsy, meant the world to me, maybe we connected for a short time for a reason, it helped to give me the boost that I needed, but sadly the ship had sailed and times had moved on.  

I spent hours at home doing my homework, recording myself singing the latest Madonna song on tape recorder and had an unhealthy obsession with my nose, visualising what it would look like if I were to have plastic surgery to make it smaller and generally hated myself! I remember once being bullied that much, to the point that the perpetrator would search me out at school and call me the delightful “crow nose,” nickname every day, that I faked a sore throat that lasted 2 weeks so that I could avoid school, this insensitive person actually made me feel like I wasn’t worthy to be a part of this earth. I’d hold in my anger for this person every day at school, even though I wanted to punch him very hard in the face! Once I got home I’d take all this pent up anger out on my mum and sister, I’d have, what I can only describe as a ‘teenage tantrum,’ which was a lot like a panic attack where I couldn’t breathe. It must have been very difficult for both my mum and sister to witness, and no one outside the family knew that I could get this bad, I couldn’t talk to any of my friends at the time as I would be showing my weakness with the ‘hard girls’ as I named them. I stopped eating properly, I hardly ate anything and would feel guilty if I ate a full meal as I saw myself as overweight. I would gag on meals that my mum had made for me, in particular Stew made me gag and I still can’t deal with the texture of it to this day! But this worried my parents and it led to a visit to the doctors. This was the start of my first Counselling sessions, which I talked about how I felt like an outsider and didn’t really fit in with my friendship group.  

When I hit 16 I threw myself into studies, something suddenly clicked in my learning and I found that was finally getting something right, especially in my childcare lessons, via work experience I found that I could talk to children with ease and they didn’t judge the way I looked, I was accepted by them as someone who could teach them and interact, especially via role-play activities, where I wouldn’t have had the confidence in situations with other adults. I found that via work experience I found a love of ‘messy play’ as I disliked getting messy myself but I didn’t seem to care when in the company of children and I quite enjoyed getting covered in paint! I was becoming more distant from my friendship group as they didn’t share the same passion for studying as I did, I revised to the point where I completely shut myself away, in fear of failure as I’d never really failed at anything before. I was once taken out of my bedroom (study area) by my Godfather and taken over to the local pub to give myself a break. I’d never felt nerves like studying and actually taking my GCSE exams before, this is when I can first remember that I started ‘Stimming’ I was that nervous for taking my exams that I could only find comfort from this information ‘overload’ and extreme collection of anxiety via rubbing my palms together. By the time of my final exam, my palms were red and the skin almost broken. From this day onwards, if I have ever felt nervous or excited I have rubbed my hands together, even to this very day, I can control this in public but at home it tends to flare up at the most stressful of times, such as money worries, worrying about my daughter’s behaviours, etc.  

By the time of my Prom, my exam worries were almost over, I attended alone and from looking back at the photographs, was extremely thin. But I had Sixth form to look forward to, and was then happy to re-connect with some of the friends that I’d not really spoken to since the start of high school. Eye contact was still difficult for me but once the bullying experiences were well out of the way, I could concentrate on enjoying the subjects I thrived on and I was in the company of people who seemed to respect me for me. I was able to join in with events, such as going to bars and night clubs and I did have a couple of boyfriends, but I found that I would become quite possessive and a bit too ‘full-on’ I really had no idea what I was doing! I was encouraged by my sixth form tutor to apply for a degree in Primary Teaching, I’d never thought of setting the bar so high but I was delighted once I was accepted to University.  

I did never become a successful singer from recording all those tapes singing to Madonna and Alanis Morissette, I do still have a love of music though! 

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