Natalie gives an honest account of her early years and the challenges she had to overcome due to AT.
This is my experience of having A.T as a young child – from around 7 years old, I don’t remember much before then.
School was terrible I found my so called friends would bully me simply because they were jealous of the attention I got (speech therapist etc would come in to school to help me).
I loved high school from about the third year, which was when I was diagnosed. I don’t remember very much about it actually. In some ways things got better. I now had a diagnosis and realised that it wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t keep up with Jonathan (my brother) and school also knew I had a rare condition. I was still a bit of a loner 😞. But was still relatively happy, not really knowing what was to come.
My best friend was Mr Hatcher (the deputy head) anything I wanted or needed he would help me achieve it. If I had a problem he would sort it. I remember he lent me money to go to MacDonald’s 😆! I had the confidence to ask then.
The design technology department made me a handle attached to a ruler so I could use it. Mt Hatcher and the staff wanted to do something for me and my family, so he sent us to Florida! 😀
My work experience was different, Mr Hatcher had sorted out doing a different job every day, with rest days in between. My favourite day was being a model 😁
I was still walking then, but used a wheelchair to go to the shop and MacDonald’s in break and lunch times. I remember one time I refused to go in my wheelchair around town when we were out as a family, but I got so exhausted I couldn’t walk another step and my brother had to go back to the car for the wheelchair 😆
I stayed on for sixth form only because Mr Hatcher made a timetable for me which consisted of Spanish, computers, horse riding and quite a lot of free time to study, but I just spent it in the sixth form café 😃
I didn’t start using a wheelchair fully till I went to college Hereward in Coventry. We looked at six colleges in total up and down the country. I loved my college years – I was there for 4 years. I had friends, boyfriends nobody to judge me. A small number of people bullied me, but I think it was because they were jealous of my good looks and confidence 😆
Once me and my friend went a mile down the road both in electric wheelchairs to the supermarket on a booze run 😆 There was also a nightclub, pub and off-licence nearby we regular visited.
My life pre lockdown:
On the whole, Monday to Friday I have a busy and fulfilling life. I go to the gym and do aqua aerobics with my best friend Toni. We also go to the pub and out for meals, which means when it comes round to Saturday/Sunday I don’t mind resting and chilling out. Sometimes we do go out Saturdays and Sundays, but usually it is during the week.
I do have bad days when I reflect on how things might have been and get frustrated as I can’t do things that other 35 year olds do. If I didn’t have AT I would either have a high flying career or married with a couple of sprogs😃. These down days can go on for a couple of days, then I just give myself a shake, pick myself up and get on with it.
There are a lot of people a lot worse off than me and on the whole I have a good and busy life. I get to have lots of holidays and spend time with my family – we have lots of fun times and laugh a lot.
On the whole my mental health is good. I try to keep positive and set myself tasks to complete everyday, so that I am not getting into a rut and feeling sorry for myself.
The things I miss most are not seeing Toni, getting out and about and exercise. The first 4 weeks seemed to drag as it was my birthday in that period and we were all going out as a family, so that was hard. Since then it has gone pretty quickly. I am just looking forward to the better weather, holidays and seeing Toni again.
When I feel bad I just drink 🥤 Malibu and coke it’s my favourite drink, but I do like cherry vodka and lemonade which I have just discovered 😃
Natalie’s ‘Happy Book’ Story