THE UNTOLD STORY

At 11am this morning, I delivered a lecture to local students, sharing my journey, and also my untold story.

An untold story that I’ve kept to myself (only my exes know) for almost 12 years, and today, I felt I was ready.

I’ve shared parts of my childhood on John’s Road to Volunteering in the past, but not the part detailing my darkest moment.

Starting off the talk with a picture of me at 2 years old, I talked about how my nan was my hero. I’d go around her house every week, eat her pink wafer biscuits and have a glass of milk to help wash it down.

When I was sad, she would always turn my frown upside down and when she passed, I didn’t cope well. I didn’t cope because within a few years, my mum was battling breast cancer, my sister had a stroke and I was being severely bullied. I ended up being suicidal.

I was in a place, where I no longer wanted to be around and this was coming from a 13-year-old! I’d come home from school (well, when I decided to go in), jump straight onto my XBOX and I’d shut the world out.

I’d go into my own little bubble and blank everyone around me. I saw friendships being lost, a lack of willingness to open up to my parents, and I felt like a burden.

I couldn’t speak to my parents, as they had their own battles. I didn’t want to take the attention away from my mum, as she was battling just as much as I was.

I found myself going into a dark hole, keeping all my thoughts to myself, wanting to know when my parents wouldn’t be around, so I could end my life.

I had nothing going for me, with all of this happening, and yet here I am. When I delivered the lecture this morning, my emotions were running, tears were appearing in the eyes of the students, and this untold story is why I got into volunteering in the first place and why I write these kind of personal posts.

Someone out there is struggling and will relate to the story. After the lecture, a few students wanted my help to signpost them to local volunteering opportunities. The immediate impact saw an invite back next year, telling my story once more, and I learned from today, I have a lot more to give.

How often do we hear about child mental health? How many of us are openly speaking up about our childhood?

Being in such a dark place as 13-year-old John, I didn’t know what was around me. My teachers wanted me in school, but didn’t quite know what was really going on in my mind, yet one PE teacher made me feel welcome.

One PE teacher gave me the time of day to be myself and the 2 days I’d go into school each week, was down to PE being on. That one PE teacher gave me a reason to enjoy my childhood, and when he passed a year after I left, I felt I needed to take his legacy further. A legacy that I never felt I could have. As I grew up, I became more willing to speak up about my past.

When I was asked today how I transitioned from sports volunteering to more personal volunteering, it was because volunteering gave me the confidence to open up.

Without volunteering, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My journey has been much more than just the roles taken on, but more so the confidence building I needed to share my story.

The struggles as a child stay with me as a memory, but also as an influence. I want to keep using my past struggles to help others know they’re not on their own.

Ever wondered why I reach out to so many people? It’s because I want to listen. I want people to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s ok to speak up.

I kept things to myself as a child, and 12 years on, I’m sharing my childhood mental health battle with you all. Whether it’s a week, a few months or 12 years, mental health is never an easy topic to talk about, and I said today to the students, that we should open up, when we feel ready.

Today, I felt ready to open up about my dark times, and the immediate impact, is motivating me to do more for the mental health community.

I feel things happen in your life for a reason and when Flash, my best friend growing up, last year passed away, it reminded me of the impact animals can have.

I’ve talked so much about the people who was part of my confidence building, but Flash, who was a Springer Spaniel, brought a smile to my face when I was home, and he was the reason I didn’t put my thoughts into actions.

Flash, was there to let me know I was loved and even though he couldn’t speak, his cuddles and him being there for me, gave me a reason to stay alive.

Just sitting there, unknowing my deep thoughts, I was able to talk to myself about how I was feeling and gradually, my school attendance increased, resulting in 11 GCSES’s.

As I mentioned above, I feel I was meant to have this childhood. I was meant to go through the heartache, the deep thoughts and the isolation to build myself up to the person I am today.

I never anticipated to be in a position I’m in with John’s Road to Volunteering, but that’s how powerful someone’s story can be.

Writing posts like this are never easy, but I think about the outcome. I think about the outcome when I volunteer. I think about the outcome with everything I do, and if that means I help someone, I feel the emotions I go through are all worth it.