As a child I was acutely aware of being the odd one out. At around 9 years old my friendship group would cruelly either oust me or accept me on a daily basis which was unsettling and upsetting. I feared going to school, but what I feared even more was being left out and giving others the opportunity to talk about me behind my back. So, I would never have a day off sick. My mum would say how strong I was, and how high a pain threshold I had when I was unwell, but really, I just didn’t want to give others ammunition for their hateful words and actions.
Disordered eating in my teens ensued as I always stood in the shadow of others who were prettier, funnier, cleverer and more desirable to boys. I hid my light behind a boyish exterior and wondered why I felt like I wasn’t the ‘main character’ of my life. I tried altering my chubby exterior with dangerously restrictive diets of just 300 calories a day that left me exhausted and unfocused in school. When I returned home at the end of the day, I was often so powerless to the contents of the kitchen cupboards that I would hide myself away and binge eat cereal from the box until I felt impossibly sick. Needless to say, the scales always climbed up in numbers which made me feel utterly worthless.
It’s no wonder that I spent the adult years of my life fighting against the need to fit into a mould, by people pleasing and never speaking out about what I wanted and needed from my day, let alone my life. This became the debilitating and over-arching subconscious theme of my existence until I was given a breast cancer diagnosis in 2020, at the age of 40, whilst my twin boys were 6 months old. It was altering to the core, but ultimately a huge blessing. During the chemotherapy, radiotherapy and the daily medications that followed, I dug into my purpose that shone like a beacon of hope on the horizon and really got to grips with what I wanted but also what I needed to maintain healthy relationships with others, but also with myself. I created boundaries, spoke my truth, and pushed through my comfort zone to use my voice for good by writing my children’s book debut. ‘Rory Green, Secret Agent to the Queen’ is a fast-paced adventure story about a 9-year-old who cares about the planet, but from the comfort of his own bedroom. He is worried about getting outside his comfort zone, anxious about getting his hands dirty, but mostly he is petrified of making friends.
I feel truly purposeful when I’m visiting schools to read the book and talk to the children about being kind to ourselves and each other. We all have a purpose and should celebrate who we are, as we are, as well as the things we are good at and be authentically ourselves. For Place2Be's Children’s Mental Health Week and beyond, I have teamed up with Hannah Farrant @felt.things who created the stunning character models for the book cover. Focusing on the campaigns message ‘I Matter’ we have designed an interactive needle felting workshop for children where they can create a reflection of themselves as the main bee characters for their own lives! Hannah uses needle felting to allow self-expression and as a safe space to encourage discussion for those that struggle to be heard. It is vital that we provide our children with the tools that they need to celebrate themselves, feel confident to share ideas, show kindness to themselves and their communities, and on a wider scale humanity, nature, and the planet.
*Kerry McIntosh is writing the second book in the Rory Green series which introduces the characters who will star in the purpose led and dynamic animated series she is currently pitching to studios.
If you’d like Kerry to visit your child’s school, please contact Lauren.Barnes@cranthorpemillner.com who would be happy to provide information on making a booking.
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