Why “The Girl Who Whispered”?

Hello, my little demons! 😈

I don’t get many questions about why the name “The Girl Who Whispered”, but I have had a few comments that have been made in poor taste, so I want to just explain where the name comes from, why I use it and why some of these jokes are in bad taste.

Short answer: I had selective mutism as a child.

Selective mutism is defined as “a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure and relaxed.” – Referenced from https://selectivemutismcenter.org/whatisselectivemutism/

I had no idea there was even a defined term for this until only a few years ago!

Long answer:

When I was a young child, I was bullied. I had red hair and freckles and I was quite reserved and quiet. There are a lot of other complex situations that made me the way I am, and I don’t personally have all the answers, nor do I feel completely comfortable explaining them.

But I will explain that I think it started after a particular issue in Primary School. I remember it quite well, considering I was probably only about 5 at the time. I remember being in a classroom with a load of other children, we were all playing, having a down time or something. There was a particular child, a boy, who decided to rearrange the tables and chairs, but he was deliberately trying to trap me in them, deliberately singling me out. It was at this time that the teacher called us all over, but this boy kept moving the tables and chairs so I couldn’t get out. I think I was the one who got told off for not listening to the teacher, but she failed to notice I wasn’t ignoring her, I was being trapped by this bully.

Somewhere in my little brain I decided enough was enough, after all the years of adults not listening to me, I went into remission.

I stopped talking.

I refused to talk to the teacher. My friends.

Even my parents.

I went home that day and my mum didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking to her. My dad got home from work and he didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking.

I had developed selective mutism.

My parents tried in a few ways to help me, one of which was to send me to a different Secondary School than the other kids. Most of the kids, after completing Primary School, went to one Secondary School. I went to a completely different one. It didn’t work though.

And by then, because the issue hadn’t be addressed properly, it evolved. As a pre-teen and eventually a teen in Secondary School, I had difficulty trying to express myself because of my selective mutism and in the end I found a new way to communicate; by whispering.

I had become The Girl Who Whispered.

Of course, this had it’s own issues. A lot of times people would assume I just had a bad throat and lost my voice – not that I corrected them. I had more children bullying me because I was now different. I had teachers trying to fix me. I had my parents and friends trick me into talking. I had issues with communicating still. Issues with grades. Social issues. And I developed a few bad habits from the social issues (avoidance for example).

My selective mutism didn’t really go away until I became a young adult, when I was about 17 years old when I left school and went to college. All the kids in the class were new, no one knew who I was (until I met one kid who was at my old Primary School, which I remember vividly, but I just hoped he didn’t remember me!)

But I finally had a voice. And some really bad social skills!

Meeting up with old friends, or bumping into those I went to school with was extremely awkward, but I eventually “grew out” of my selective mutism and started talking to them all properly.

A lot of my newer friends didn’t even know about my previous issues. It’s only until recently in the last few years that I started talking about it and opening up.

Also, my selective mutism not only gave me issues with social skills, but I also developed depression and anxiety. Most of my life has been difficult. Even now I get bad days. But the bad days are easier to deal with now, because I kept fighting. I learn to recognise when days got bad. Found healthier coping mechanisms. And grew emotionally.

The ironic thing is, when I was a child, if I got passionate about something you couldn’t shut me up about it (even as an adult). But when I had selective mutism, I lacked that basic need, to have a voice, to speak up for myself.

It still haunts me now, my past, what happened to me as a child. And I’m slowly getting over it, learning social skills, communicating properly, and finding ways to get over my weaknesses (social situations for example).

This is one of the reasons why I write. It’s a silent voice. Because when I was a child, not only did I love reading (as a form of escapism from the real-world I hated so much), but writing was my way of communicating easily. When computers became popular, I used to sit for hours on Instant Messenger, MySpace and Chat rooms, it was a way of being normal for a change – no one knew I didn’t talk properly. I would also write stories, build my own little universe to escape to.

I, one day, would also love to do something where I’m not sat behind a computer screen with written words. I actually love to sing and I have a huge interest in acting.

I remember the first time I actually got to “stand up” and sing to an audience, and although it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, as I just stood on a tour bus in Brooklyn. But, my goodness, I will never forget that. And I’m so glad my friend got that picture (see below).

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This is me singing on the tour bus. For more photos of me, scroll to the bottom of the post! 🙂

Acting is another thing I wouldn’t mind to do – although I’m realistic, I can’t see it really happening, everyone wants to be an actor! – because not only are you speaking out, saying your lines, but you’re also pretending to be someone else… something I wished a lot when I was a child. I wished so often to be anyone else but Penny. (Update: Since writing this blog post, however, I am planning a tour of America, for charity… and I will be filming it!)

Now, though, I embrace it. I embrace who I am and what I went through as a child. It made me who I am today. Okay, I still have a few quirks and flaws, but I hate to imagine who I would be now without it.

I may never have travelled to Australia. I may never have abseiled Forth Rail Bridge. I may never have walked across Sailsbury Plain. I may never have got my Bachelor’s Degree or my Master’s Degree. I may never have met all the interesting people over the years. I may never have flown a plane. I may never have fired that brown bess musket.

And, of course, I may never have become a writer and an author and I may never use my writing to help others.

I am Penny Hooper.

And I am The Girl Who Whispered.

I use this designation to hopefully inspire people.

Keep fighting, guys! ❤

P.s. If you think you know someone who has selective mutism, please try encourage them to get professional help. Do not try to “shock” them into talking. Do not simply assume it “will go” that “it’s a phase”. If it’s lasting more than a few weeks or months, then it could develop into something more serious. Unless you are a professional who understands selective mutism, do not attempt to fix it! I wished my parents or teachers did more, they didn’t, and it got worse and had a negative impact on my life.

P.P.s The song I sang on the tour bus was “Innocent Eyes” by Delta Goodrem.

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Here are a few other photos of me over the years:

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As always, if you liked this post, please do give it a like, and feel free to comment. I’m always happy to hear from people, old and new! 🙂

And do check out my other posts:

I’ve started blogging about my trip to Australia:

Living in Australia – Part 2: My first Christmas away from my parents (Christmas Special!)

My post about my 34km trek across Salisbury Plain tank training ground for charity:

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

A few posts to see my writing:

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

My website:

thegirlwhowhispered.com

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

A while ago I signed myself up for a charity walk with The HALO Trust, which involved a 34km walk along the Salisbury Plain Training area. The challenge (Safe Steps) was to help raise money (and awareness) to reduce landmines around the world.

https://www.halotrust.org/

On the 25th, myself and my partner completed it! (Pictures below)

…And were we regretting signing up for it at the end of the day! Sore from the waist down, blisters on our feets, sunburn because we both forgot suncream and weren’t expecting the sun to be that strong! And in much need of a cup of tea (or something stronger!)

But now that I have recovered (almost, still a bit of sunburn!), I am glad I completed it! It’s an amazing charity and we managed to raise ~£310 (also expecting another £30 soon!) in total.

I am a little disappointed we didn’t manage to raise the £500 total, but the £310-£340 is still a good chunk, and along with all the other walkers (505 in total), I am confident they managed to raise a decent amount on Saturday!

Now, here are some photos from the day! (Photos are my own, if you wish to use them, please get in touch!)

Fundraising to reduce landmines!

Update 12/08/2020: Please note this fundraiser has now ended, please don’t try send me funds. Thank you. 🙂

On the 25th of May, myself and a friend will be walking 35km through Salisbury Plain Training Area for the charity, The HALO Trust.

The HALO Trust support several projects, including landmine clearance, which will be the project we will be supporting.

As we both work/study on the UK’s Defence Academy, we are both invested in such a project, and are both excited to raise awareness and funds for such a great cause!

Our target is £500 for the two of us. However, we’d like to smash this target and raise as much as possible for all the good work The HALO Trust do around the world.

If you’re interested in helping this cause, please check out here:

https://www.gofundme.com/penny-and-liam039s-campaign-for-the-halo-trust

TheHALOTrustWalk

Happy 3 Year Anniversary – Sorry I’ve been quiet!

Hey guys,

So, I logged into my Word Press account today with the intention of writing a post, seeing as my last post was Halloween, I figured I ought to write another one!

But I logged in and realised it’s my 3 year anniversary on Word Press today! Yay!

I much apologise for the lack of posts, if you have been following me on Word Press and/or on my social media sites, you’ll know I am completing a Master’s Degree and it is extremely demanding. That, and I finally have a social life again… it’s difficult to keep up with anything writing related. Although I have promised myself to get Rose Garden Sanatorium finished this year! Might even do a bit of editing today.

So? What’s new? Other than the string of reports I have to write for this Master’s Degree, I have managed to sell a few copies of my currently published books (in e-book format on Smashwords). Both were ‘accidentally’ put up for free on Smashwords, it was supposed to be a New Year sale, but on Smashwords, they were free… although I think on the other sites Smashwords put them up for sale, they weren’t free, so I did get a bit of money from the sales. I let it run anyway, as it’s nice to get some more readers and hopefully some new reviews!

They’re both currently on sale (e-book). It’s My Mistake is currently at $0.99 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

I Fell in Love with a Psychopath (e-book) is: $1.50: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

If you’re more into paperbacks, then you can buy them both here:

It’s My Mistake: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I Fell in Love with a Psychopath: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1722710365/

I also got a new review for I Fell in Love with a Psychopath, my first one on Amazon, and it’s a 5 star. Although the reviewer said “A fantastic 1st novel”, which isn’t true, it’s my second. 😛

Oh, and I won another award! This time for my Short Story “My Normal”
https://www.wattpad.com/650286458-%E2%98%80%EF%B8%8Fsolstice-awards-winners-2018%E2%98%80%EF%B8%8F-%E2%98%80%EF%B8%8Fshort-story

Also, click here for a sneak peak of my book Rose Garden Sanatorium

And if you like videos, check this out!

Follow me on WattPad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/penny_bones16
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyRHooper/