What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?
It was very generic. We did a survey which told us what to be and I think mine was some kind of data clerk. In reality, that would bore me as I am much more people focused.
What did you want to be when you left education?
The pop star, Madonna – well, that’s what I wanted when I was about 6. Then a Nanny (in my teens). I ended up following a friend’s path into theatre because there were boys and because I didn’t know what else to do. Eventually I settled into my ideal theatre role.
Did your mother work?
Not at first. By the time I was about 9 she became a dinner lady in a neighbouring school, then a teaching assistant until she retired. I liked having her at home when I was young but valued her too as a worker later.
Love & Relationships:
Do you think getting married is important?
I was married and it was like having my own little family. I loved it. But we both had a lot of unresolved issues and it broke down. It’s odd, it was the right thing to split up but I still care for his welfare. Not sure if I’d get married again – I feel we’d have to both really want it. Never say never.
What did you dream your future partner would be like when you were a little girl?
A bit like the heroes on tv and my Dad.
Is your relationship with your partner the same as your parents’ relationship?
I am not currently in a relationship, but no. Mum is needy and Dad tries to be a carer. I prefer more independence and focus on a connection rather than a need.
How like your mother are you?
Quite a lot. And we share the same mood based mental illness, but deal with it differently. Our relationship is not easy as we have to put effort into not criticizing the flaws we see in both of us.
What are your hopes for any daughters or young women you know?
I am involved in the upbringing of three children but don’t have any of my own. As a babysitter for them I try to get them to think creatively, ignore stereotypes and be strong. One of the children is six and she has a large scar from an accident a couple of years ago. She is aware of how she is perceived (falling in mud – embarrassing), but not yet that she looks a bit different. She is proud of her scar story but as she is quite image focused I do worry about her as a teenager. I hope she will always see it as part of her story rather than a negative thing.
Do you bring your son up the same way as your daughter? Do you think boys and girls should be brought up differently?
I think each individual should be treated as themselves. But I have less contact with boys so don’t know if that’s a naïve statement.
If you don’t have children, what have you been able to do that having children would have prevented you doing? What has your focus been?
This question sounds a bit presumptious: I really really wanted children. I probably still do. But it doesn’t look likely to happen. I have always enjoyed the company of the young mind – they think so fascinatingly. Part of my marriage breakdown related to our failure to conceive. And then I got very ill with my mental health issues, so wouldn’t have been well enough and would have been too heavily medicated. Now I am well but close to the last years of conception for me. And single. And still not sure I could do it without a fairly equal sharing of the caregiving. Some of my closest friends know of my pain at not being a parent, hence the three children I am involved in helping raising. One family gave me a Godparent role, another asks me to family events and I provide free childcare.
Expectations and Dreams:
Who are your heroines and why?
People facing adversity and getting on with life. Like the lady who became disabled in the London bombings and became a Paralympian. Or my friend with chronic depression and a difficult life who is still the most charming and loving person.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Tried to kill myself, but then when I failed, didn’t tell anyone even though I was terrified. I did eventually tell someone. And I am scared of things I face regularly – food when I have feverish stomach bugs, travelling alone, aggressive people at my customer facing job. Face the fear!
What drives you?
I don’t know. Being nice, having fun, creativity, sensations – like the feeling of water as you swim, the comfort of a nap
What are your values?
There is no reason to be an arsehole. Love your loved ones. Live in the moment. Give your best.
What is your biggest achievement?
Staying alive, keeping going, keeping fighting for the best life. I lost my first boyfriend to the illness I was later diagnosed with (he committed suicide) and lost another ex from stressful industry I work in (brain haemorrhage) – both suddenly. I can identify the same risk factors in my life so every day is a win and I have a sense of the fragility of our existance.
How old are you?
What has been your favourite age to be and why?
I liked age 19 because the world was fun and only a little responsibility was in my life. But now is great too as I value each day and take more care – luxurious bath, delicious food.
Do you think it’s better to be young now than when you were young? (Or better now than when your parents were young?)
No. It’s a very isolated time in such a digital age; my friend’s 20 year old daughter struggles with this and I feel I would have. And a hundred years or so ago I’d have been institutionalized for life. Focusing on the now is fine by me, so I think I had it ok: playing on the streets rather than with computers and phones.
What are the pros and cons of being a woman?
I started out in a male dominated role and it wasn’t always easy. I remember being furious as I was told women can’t lift scenery. But then I worked with people who saw the individuals, not the sex. I have been a bit sexually harassed in the past but luckily never for long. There have been some incidents:
Twice in the same week I turned 15, I was sexually assaulted by one teen boy and attempted (rape I think – was dragged into a toilet) by an older one.
Myself and a male colleague were made redundant from our posts a few years ago. He assaulted me on our last working day. Upon discussion with other females from the same workplace, we discovered he had done something to each of us.
Last year a man I started dating tried to extort money from me as I wouldn’t sleep with him immediately.
The female world can be rather scary… Overall I don’t think of gender in anyone now
What have been the biggest challenges in your life?
Facing loss, chronic illness, getting enough sleep and staying positive.
Self-image – Body or Looks:
Why do you dress the way that you do?
I like colour and playing with clothes. I probably look a bit bonkers sometimes. I used to be more sexy with my outfits but I am now more curvy so it’s more about fun and themes (preppy, bright, hippy…) – not sure if I have less confidence or just developed my style beyond provocation.
What would be your musical soundtrack?
A combination of Zero 7 and the Prodigy (earlier stuff, largely).
Do you have a life’s motto?
A couple: Everything’s ok
Feel the fear and do it anyway
What happens when you lose everything? You just start again
It’s a long way down and it’s not very nice
Different don’t mean not ok
Life is just a dream… Lucky me.
Most are from songs
Anything else you’d like to add?
These questions are both inspiring and a little depressing (as you think of your life obstacles, etc!) But I have enjoyed submitting info.