My life was very different when I was a 13 year old teenager and into my early twenties.
I would often seek solace in a bottle of alcohol, use various other methods to steal me from the toxic home environment I found myself in or simply try and end my life.
My home life was chaotic, fractured, unstable, and at times no money for food, clothes or electric. It was a very dark time for myself and my little sisters. I struggled hugely with guilt at not being able to protect them or keep them safe - or even give them the basic needs to survive as a human.
We were so young, naive and helpless. We never told anyone we needed help for fear of being taken into care or shining a light on to our situation as we had no idea what might happen. Fear kept us silent.
At one point I took an overdose of aspirin - I was about 13 and did not know what to do. I called the Samaritans and they were amazing. The lady on the phone was so kind and caring and talked me though my thought process for clarity.
I also called a local orphanage begging to be taken in as I felt it would be safer for us all. However they laughed at me and hung up.
These destructive behaviours continued for some time until I was sectioned into an a psychiatric unit at 16 on death's door with extreme anorexia and various other issues that go hand in hand with this illness.
I vowed if I made it through to claim back my life I would share my story one day to show other children that no matter how bad your situation is you can make it and have a normal happy existence.
Much to my surprise I made it through with huge passion, vigour and determination to create change wherever I go.
Now in my 40's with a very happy family, successful career, pilot's licence, awards for top recruit and having my story screen written by the Oscar winner creator of Brave - Brenda Chapman I have to pinch myself to know if it's real. Each and every day I'm full of gratitude for everyone who saved my life as without their intervention I would not be here today... my four children would also not be here leaving their wonderful marks on the world.
Thankfully there are charities like Barnardo's helping so many young people in environments just like mine on varying scales. I'm so proud to be talking to them about how I can use my story to show those young people it can be done - you can get through it all and have a life with security, integrity and love. It takes time and will not be easy - but it won't be as difficult as what you have already been through.
I also know that there are some peoples whose lives may never change - but at least we can all try our best to do the best for them.
Javed Khan and his team have huge compassion and determination to try and reach out to everyone that needs help and I can't wait to do the same... It just takes one child at a time and no one will ever give up on their future and potential through charities like these. They are life savers and life changers...
So if your reading this and are going through any kind of difficult situation - please seek help and guidance. You owe it to yourself as your life is precious.
Don't let fear keep you silent as there is huge hope of recovery and happiness.
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