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Emma Jaynes and I met around two years ago via a networking group.
From our initial encounter I felt an amazing sense of the warmth and love that Emma exudes as she walks in and lights up a room.
Emma posted something on social media that offered a tiny glimpse of what her life had been like. I was stunned and wanted to learn more about this woman who gave so much of herself to others and wrote so wittily on social media about her family but had experienced an incredible journey.
I asked Emma if she’d mind being interviewed for my series of ‘inspiring women’ blogs and was delighted when she agreed.
Writing this has been emotional for me. To see how far someone has come and how they have turned their life around. I hope that this 4 part blog (!) will give you an insight into this inspiring woman.
As well as a mother to 3 amazing boys Angus (13), Hamish (12) and Duncan (10), Emma works in Emotional and Mental Wellbeing.
Emma is passionate about supporting people with any aspect of their Emotional and Mental Wellbeing which is keeping them stuck and preventing them from doing what they want to do.
So let’s begin Emma’s story.
1. Your primary school Head Teacher spotted your high IQ
I’d learnt to read before I even started school and had an insatiable curiosity.
My head teacher at primary school spotted my potential and quickly moved me up to a class with children 3-4 years older than me.
She believed I’d benefit from a private education and kept giving me additional projects to keep me stimulated until I could take the common entrance exams. My parents who had no formal education questioned her sanity. We came from a working class background and money was tight.
I sat the entrance exams and was offered a place at two schools in Bedford and awarded a scholarship.
I was very excited and understood the opportunity I was being given. However, I was totally unprepared for the massive culture shock.
2. Senior school didn’t turn out to be the happiest time?
I’d come from a friendly village school and suddenly went to a big formal single sex school.
Ironically the bullying didn’t start because of my background, but because the girl who had befriended me on my first week noticed I was getting better marks.
The bullying was physical and psychological until I left at 18. I was a sensitive child and spent most of my time hiding in Matron’s room at lunchtimes. I became a loner.
By the time I got to the sixth form I understood more about what was going on and decided I didn’t want to be part of the elitist group. I lived so far from school that I had my own friends out of school in the local community.
3. You did have one friend at school though?
Yes, though we didn’t have much to do with each other in school and mainly socialised outside school. Her family were fond of me.
We spent one summer together that had quite an influence on my life, although I didn’t realise it at the time.
I was invited to go with her to stay with her grandma in Spain.
Wonderful weather, very relaxing and no barriers to what we wanted to do and enough money to do whatever we liked.
Her father was so generous and would top up the money I saved to match my friend’s without me realising!
I realised that there was an alternative. If I worked really hard I could create a life that was different from my current environment.
Home life became utterly unbearable on my return.
4. Home life wasn’t that great
There was a lot going on at home. I had three sisters, two of them very much younger than me.
My mum had not coped that well when they were born. There’d been challenges in the family before they were born but after they were born my mum was struggling with Post Natal Depression and drank very heavily.
There was a lot of stress and drama. Not helped by the fact six of us were cramped into a small house.
For me it meant there was no escape. School life and home life were both challenging environments and I was in a permanent state of hyper vigilance.
From the age of about 11 or 12 I started to develop panic attacks, migraines and suffered from anxiety.
5. How did you cope?
I was taught to suppress what I was experiencing.
No one at home had the capacity to deal with a child who was going into school chronically terrified every single day.
I held it together in survival mode developing OCD rituals to cope. Reciting strings of words and developing an obsession with numbers.
Throughout my teens I drank heavily.
There was always alcohol around me. At home I was offered a drink as far back as I can remember. When I went out with friends it was with a group of different ages and so there was no problem getting a drink.
I quickly found that severe anxiety and panic would be alleviated by alcohol, so it became a habit.
5. How did you end up serving the late Richard Harris Bloody Marys for Breakfast?
At 18 I was desperate to leave home. I’d been on a school trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon and loved it! So decided I’d go to Stratford and become a star!
I picked the most luxurious hotel in the Good Hotel Guide, on the basis I thought more actors would stay there, phoned them up and asked them for a job!
I used to serve Richard Harris with his triple Bloody Marys for breakfast whereupon he told me it wasn’t alcohol as it had tomato juice in it!!
It was a really fun period of time. Most of the bar staff drank really heavily. We would head to the clubs after a late shift and on return to the hotel we’d get the night porter to help us avoid the CCTV!
6. University made you feel like a chameleon!
I’d decided I was only going to go to University if it was in Cornwall, my Career’s Teacher found a course I liked in Falmouth affiliated to Exeter University, so it was off to Falmouth after a year in Stratford.
I studied Visual Culture at the Art College. We learned about cultural, social and visual theory. Fascinated by the way Society works I still remember being in a class learning about socio-economic groups.
It was the point I realised I didn’t fit! My birth put me in a category close to the bottom but my private education put me in another group near the top..
My grandparents were grass roots labourers and I was hanging around with philosophers and I struggled with ‘where do I fit’ for a long time.
Don’t miss Part 2 of Emma’s story!
In Part 2 we look at how a trip to Japan initiated Emma’s period of self-harm culminating in her first suicide attempt. Emma shares her experience of motherhood at a young age and how she ended up in a psychiatric unit dining out on pizza and cake!