"from all of us at E-ACT team on the training today, thank you so much for coming and presenting to us. I can honestly say your talk was truly inspirational and the most informative hour on addiction I have ever had. Your honest, realistic and open account of your story and understanding the difficulties facing young people was amazing. I really feel we have a better understanding of how to support the young people we work with. I hope we can work together on something in the future"
mental health lead// E-ACT
Presentations are formatted as keynotes or personal life experience talks. Specialist subject matters include Addiction, Alcohol & Drug Misuse, LGBTQ+ & Gender Diversity, Self-Esteem, Eating Disorders, Body Image, Self-Harm, Peer Pressure and Bullying.
Never Too Young
Never Too Young is a real-life narrative about my chaotic childhood which led to a path of self-destruction and addiction. The early years of my life detail my parents’ separation, being bullied at school and discovering my sexuality, which caused corrosive feelings of anxiety, shame and the unravelling of my self-worth. By my early teens a pressure-cooker of emotions imploded and my life began to spiral out of control. By 18 I’d lost everything, I experienced homelessness, a life threatening skull fracture and went to rehab at just 20 years old. While tackling issues surrounding my gender identity throughout my twenties I developed an eating disorder to alleviate my gender dysphoria. I became a chameleon, so far detached from my sense of identity that I didn’t begin to question my gender until my late twenties. Going to rehab at just 20, I began a journey of emotional growth, self-esteem and discovery.
Drugs and alcohol have become an initiation for many young people trying to fit into social groups. When approaching the subject I often hear the phrase ‘It’s cool’ which is often the mind-set of some adolescents. Taking this outlook into consideration, my story does not romanticise addiction but focuses on the underlying issues and causes - why I started self-medicating with substances and the desperation for approval from my peers. With an approach of honesty and vulnerability, I have a unique and effective way of communicating and engaging with an audience. The aim is to provoke identification and self-awareness by bringing to light the origins of peer pressure and providing coping strategies with a realistic view that ‘it’s not as easy as just saying no when trying to cope and survive secondary school.
"At 18 years old I fractured my skull by jumping off a van, the fracture was so bad I suffered nerve damage"
The session is delivered in a structured and chronological manner focusing on: bullying, sexuality and shame, problems with self-esteem, origins of peer pressure, human nature and the need to belong, masks we wear, the false perception of strength, the permanent effects of marijuana on the young brain, alcohol and binge drinking, pinpointing where addiction starts and dispelling myths (you are never too young!) eating disorders, body image, self-harm, painful consequences and effects on education. An education of this type can set a young person up for life. Having knowledge and awareness can be the difference between making many dangerous, reckless and impulsive decisions and making thought through, informed and responsible ones.