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

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!

Chapter 5

Officer Jennifer Finley

Finley stared into the darkness of the van, trying to concentrate on the noises she could hear. She listened to the hum of the engine, the tires rolling along the tarmac, the occasional squeak from the van’s suspension, the traffic noise outside which she unfortunately couldn’t see and the sound of the pedestrian crossings after the van had come to a stop at a set of lights. It was an attempt to ground herself, to overcome her fears and to slow her beating heart, but it wasn’t really working. There might have been noises outside, even the occasional noise inside from one of her colleagues giving a cough, but they were unsettling her even more. The silence inside the van was eating away at the inside of her head, the world outside was going about its daily business not knowing the potential storm that may eventually hit them.

She had started to consider the option of bolting for the van door to her right, deciding that she wasn’t cut out for the job after all. But she had a feeling Director General Ryan wouldn’t even let her get that far. She wouldn’t put it past him shooting her right in the face to contain her.

“As you may already be aware by now,” started Captain Stroud, his accent a deep Scottish from within the dark confined space of the van. “This is not a drill.”

Finley could feel the ripple of silent panic within the metal cage. The van had come to a stop, possibly at a set of traffic lights, she wasn’t sure. She was glad for Captain Stroud to break the silence but was also dreading what would come.

“This is a Code 139,” he continued. Someone let out a small gasp somewhere in the van, she wasn’t sure who it was, and neither would Captain Stroud and the Director General, but she knew they wouldn’t be happy.

“This is indeed the real thing!” beamed a voice next to her; the Director General had started to take over, a hint of annoyance in his voice. “This is…” he paused as the van lurched forwards again, a rather unfortunate time to move. “This is what you are trained to do!” If it was even humanly possible for it get even more nervously silent in the van, it had. “We are headed to a site of a possible Code 139. We do not know how many we may face or what type. But this is why we have drills! Remember the Rules!”

There was silence in the van again, the silence that Finley now welcomed more than the Director General speaking.

“Is that clear!?” The Director General made Finley and the man sat next to her jump.

“Yes, sir!” everyone spoke in unison.

“Just like every Code 139 drill, the mission is to secure the site,” continued Director General Ryan. “The road has been cordoned off by police, both civilians and the police have been told it’s a gas leak. No one except us are allowed in or out. The shops and flats above have been evacuated. It is my responsibility and my responsibility alone to close it, you all will sweep the area. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir!” everyone said with a little more confidence.

Finley wasn’t sure what she was expecting after that little speech, words of encouragement maybe, but the sudden silence afterwards felt even worse than before. She resisted the urge to speak out or hum to fill the silence. She instead went over the Rules in her head and mentally recalling every item that was on her person.

***

A black unmarked van stopped outside an old building. A building that appeared to have been boarded up and unused for years. The sign that ran the length of the front door read ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’.

The group hidden inside filed out of the back of the van one by one. Director General Duncan Ryan was first out of the van, who looked up at the building while waiting for his team, followed by his Captain. Each of them dug into their utility pouches to dig out a small air-tight plastic box, took out a pair of two specially designed ear-plugs and put them in their ears.

The front of the Sanatorium sported a very Victorian style front; with its large front arched door and large arched windows boarded up, the exterior mainly a red mason brick, the window frames painted white, parts of them were falling apart due to the years of neglect, ivy climbed up the side of the building, right next to where there was a black mesh fence that hid the back garden from the street and snaked its way up until it hit the moss covered slate tiled roof.

Officer Finley had read about this Sanatorium in old secret government files. It was a typical Sanatorium really, but with a bit of a dark history. A dark history that resulted in its early demise. Most derelict buildings gave her the creeps, but this one in particular raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Standing in front of the Rose Garden Sanatorium now, seeing it in person, she felt an unusual disgust for the old abandoned building. It might just look like an ordinary building, with an unfortunate history, but it was the current situation that made her nervous.

She looked back at her superior and noticed he was just standing outside looking like he was composing and preparing himself for what may lie on the other side.

Or did he know something they didn’t?

Click here to read the next chapter!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Coming 29th September!

It’s true! I Fell in Love with a Psychopath is coming out on the 29th of September!

Coming 29th September!

If you’re an e-book fan, you can pre-order your e-copy here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

Otherwise, watch this space for the paperback version!

Don’t forget to check out my new Teaser Trailer for Rose Garden Sanatorium here!

Pushing Rose Garden Sanatorium!

For us (indie) writers – well, me at least – it’s really difficult to market your work. Yeah, you might be really good at writing, might even be writing the next ‘best seller’… but most of us are introverts. We write because we are that introverted person where we like to read and escape reality, but have gone that one step further and decided to write our own realities… but actually trying to push ourselves to get our work out there… isn’t easy!

It’s also a full-time job in itself! But doesn’t pay the bills! (At least not in the beginning!) So, finding the time to do it, let alone learning new skills… is also difficult!

So, I’ve been trying to learn a few ‘marketing’ tips to get my work out there, and although a few of my ideas have been ‘reasonably’ good but very slow progress (using Twitter, WattPad, for example) others I’m terrible with.

Alongside my lack of marketing skills, I also will be (and am in some points of my time in the past) very busy! I will be starting a Masters in October and will be moving! Alongside my Masters I will be looking at being a volunteer with the Student Association they have and will be finding part-time employment in order to survive! Eek!

So, my writing adventures (both real and written) will be put on the down-low over the next year!

On the up-side, I did create this quick aesthetic image for my book Rose Garden Sanatorium. It’s not my best, but I was in pain while doing it. But someone suggested I do something like this. I may also have a book trailer video coming…

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My apologies if this post seems scattered… currently possessing a headache!

I also have some news to share very soon! So watch this space! 🙂

~Penny.

Tired today, the rejection took it out of me…

…I think I need time to recoop and recover.

Yesterday, I got my first rejection letter. If you’ve not seen my previous blog post, read it here.

And although, at the time, it didn’t bother me, as I was expecting rejection, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise… I have however, had a few bad days with my writing now.

First, the fail with the Watty Awards 2018 knocking my confidence, then this rejection letter… and to make matters worse, I don’t have a lovely large support network. To keep it brief; a lot of my friends have drifted away from me since I have moved away (literally moved to the other side of the country!) and as such, I don’t have a large support network of friends and family picking me back up again. So, I have to pick myself up, just takes a bit longer.

Anyway, today, I am exceptionally tired. And, I think it’s because of the last few days of negativity.

Current mood:
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On the plus side, I read through a ‘favourite’ chapter of mine from my book; Rose Garden Sanatorium last night, before I went to bed, to cheer me up a little (as well as watching 2 Guns for a bit!) and I was surprised with myself at how well I had written it. Perked me up a little.

I’m also planning on looking into a few new ideas on marketing myself and my work a bit more. Using Instagram more (if it would work for me, currently not working on my mobile!), blogging more, might even look at submitting a short story.

Or… I might just take a break. When my Master’s Degree starts in October, I don’t think I’m going to have much time for anything other than university work and working part-time!

*Wishes on a miracle*