I have been trying to think of the next open letter post to write. I have a few ideas running round my head but I think right now, this is the most apt. I feel that I have come a long way since I wrote my first open letter post and the fire in my belly to talk about mental health is just getting stronger and stronger. Therefore I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about me, and the journey I have been on over the years.
The High School Years
I am going to start here because whilst one half of my heart feels so positively about it, the other half aches with longing to be back there. School for me was amazing. Everything about it was just as I had planned it to be. But not just school, the things I was doing outside of school, the things I achieved were exactly what I set out to do.
The first thing was to be on our schools senior team. I went to an all girls school, we wore cherry red berets and had pleated skirts longer than the average midi dress. It was quite posh, well as much as a state school could be. But the one thing I set my heart on since the very first day I stepped inside the school was being on the senior team. Year 11 came around and I wore my uniform with the added extra of my deputy head girl badge. I wore that badge with pride. I did speeches, I helped to plan our prom among many other things. I was brave then. I often wonder what I would do if I had to make a speech as I did then.
The second memory I cherish closely in my heart is the English School Athletics Competition. All the way through my high school years I was a keen athlete, I trained seven days a week, it was my whole life. All of my bedroom walls were plastered with athletics numbers, medals and race tape. My goal? Being selected to represent my county at the National Schools Athletics Competition. In my final year of high school, the letter finally came. The elation was a bit like receiving a letter from Hogwarts. Off I went to Gateshead Stadium, planked [yes it was that time] on the top of the stands and had a taste for my first ‘proper’ competition. It was a dream. I really felt on top of the world.
Where It All Went Wrong
If you have got this far, you will have noticed I haven’t spoken much about mental health yet, which, for a mental health post is a bit odd. But I wanted to show the true effects of what grief, domestic violence and stress can have. Up until this point [2012 to be precise] I thought my life was normal. I thought the extensive alcohol consumption, violence and control was NORMAL. I thought I was one of the lucky ones because I was one of the only people in my class whose parents were still together! I thought everyone else lived like that. Call me naive at 16, being blissfully unaware of what I was in the middle of. But, the internet wasn’t really much of a thing, and athletics was pretty much the only thing I cared about. Everything else was pretty much a haze around me.
But, there was a moment, when it was all suddenly put in perspective. When I suddenly realise everything was SO wrong. This made me mad. How could I have been so oblivious? Was my whole childhood how I perceived it one big lie?
New Years Eve
I mean first of all, LOOK AT THOSE EYEBROWS! But more importantly, the day I took this picture, 31 December 2011. The end of the most incredible year, the end of my life as I knew it.
We were having a News Years Eve party at our house, my Dad loved to through extravagant dinner parties. I was so excited, I had spent ages getting ready, getting my fringe ‘just so’. Why? My Dad has invited his PA to the party [I know alarm bells should have been ringing already]. SO, there were sat all round the dinner table, me, my Mum, who was still ‘happily’ [I am using this word in the loosest term] married to my Dad at this point. My sister, a few family friends and Sophy… the PA. I am going to be careful what I say here because I do and did felt sorry for her, as much as I was, she was also stuck in the middle. My opinion of her, and what she did will remain private.
The Moment I Knew
The next morning I was woken by my Mum who was going off to work informing me that my Dad had spent the night in the office [it was at the end of our garden] with said PA. At that very moment I knew. That very moment was the day my heart broke.
I am going to stop this post there. I have SO much more to say but as it stands this post is currently almost a 1000 words long. I will carry on this post over the next few weeks.