Reflections – The Girl Who Whispered… and kept fighting!

Hello, my little demons! 😈

I just want to say thank you.

Bare in with me as I explain why.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Today it hit me how far I have come. A few weeks ago I got verified on Google and bought my first domain thegirlwhowhispered.com. Six months ago I started my new career and moved to the highlands. Nearly a year ago I handed in my thesis for my master’s degree. Two years ago I graduated with a BSc and published my second book; “I Fell in Love with a Psychopath“. And, three years ago I published my first book; “It’s My Mistake“.

It had it’s ups and downs, not quite passing my master’s degree, break-ups, health scares, cancelling trips, blood, sweat and tears. A few times I questioned what I was doing, if I was on the right path, if I was wasting my time. But I somehow kept going.

It doesn’t stop there either, as you may know, I had selective mutism as a child (hence ‘The Girl Who Whispered‘) and I was diagnosed with depression after coming back from Australia. And I will admit, I was suicidal at one point.

(c) Penny Hooper

Now, I am waiting for my start date on my new contract, moving yet again! This time to a different country! I will be (finally) finishing my Master’s Degree in the next month or so. And my thesis is being published in a research journal! I am working on getting another book published (editing isn’t fun, guys!) I am planning on setting up a YouTube channel (this is a big deal, for someone who had selective mutism!) I am also planning a charity tour down Route 66 with a good friend of mine (I already have an invite to the Harley-Davidson Museum!) filming it for my new YouTube channel, and I have plans on setting up my own publishing business!

I’m damn proud of myself. Proud that I kept fighting on the bad days. Proud that I finished my BSc (which took me 5 years!). Proud that I fought to contest my master’s degree (and won!). Proud that I have two books published.

I’m also excited about my future!

From that little shy girl who whispered, and who only wished for happiness.

Not to be rich.
Not to be famous.
To just be happy.

I wish I could go back in time, to tell little Penny… keep fighting! One day, you will be proud of yourself!

Now, why do I say thank you?

Well, I say thank you to everyone who had my back. To my close friends who stuck around. Who had my back on the bad days. Who made me laugh. Who supported me when I felt no one ever would (Lee, Gabi, Dan, Dave, Mozz to name a few, and of course, my mother too!)

I also say thank you to those who didn’t have my back. As weird as that sounds. Those who said I was a nobody, those who didn’t believe in me, who bullied me and belittled me, who went out of their way to send me nasty messages. Thank you, for giving me something to prove you all wrong.

I also want to thank myself, for being so strong and badass… because my success means I can continue to help others!

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 😈

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I Fell in Love with a Psychopath – Prologue

Hello, my little demons!

This isn’t a new story, but I realised today that the published book has a prologue and I haven’t posted it on my website/blog. So, here it is… the first page ‘I Fell in Love with a Psychopath’.

Prologue

A knock at my door made me jump out of my skin. The cold tea I had been nursing spilled over the blanket that was wrapped around me. I stared at the door in a panic, refusing to move. My previous thoughts momentarily forgotten about. I had a feeling I knew who it was on the other side of that suddenly too thin piece of wood; someone I didn’t want to see again, someone who made me extremely nervous, someone who everyone should be scared of.

I had been sat on my sofa while staring into nothingness when it happened; the knock at the door. I had been hiding out in my small apartment for a few days now, since I found out. I refused to leave, refused to go to work, I had invented some story about being ill—although it was technically true, I was feeling a little ill. I even started to ignore calls and my buzzer to my apartment out of fear. I hadn’t even noticed the tea had gone cold, let alone had splashed me when I jumped, I had more important things on my mind, like who was knocking at my door.

He had come for me.

There was another knock, this time a little louder as if the unwanted visitor didn’t think I heard the first knock. I had heard it alright, I was just ignoring it. I stayed as still and silent as possible, worrying that the person behind the door had superhuman hearing or something and could hear even my erratic heartbeat. My hands clutching my mug like it was somehow tethering me to safety.

Suddenly my mobile began to ring, making me jump yet again. I cursed silently at it. My door was thin, I was sure he’d be able to hear the shrill sound of my boring ringtone. When I caught a glance at the caller ID I saw it was my friend and work colleague; Leah. I made a mental note to give her an earful the next time I saw her. If I ever saw her again. If I survived to see her again.

The knock on the door suddenly got louder and more aggressive. A rushed pounding on the door. Panic coursed through me. Had he heard? Would he break the door down? I was sure it wasn’t too difficult, he had done it before.

But it was short lived.

“I know you’re in there, Jo, answer the door!” said a female voice.

I let out a large sigh, not even realising I had been holding my breath and laughed out loud at my foolishness. It wasn’t who I thought it was. I scrambled down from my sofa, nearly tripping over the blanket as I did and absentmindedly took the cold tea with me as I rushed to answer the door.

“What the fuck?” my friend Leah asked me when the door finally opened to her, her strong New Zealand accent wafted through my door along with her beautiful perfume.

“Hi, sorry! I thought you were someone else!” I sighed and stepped aside for her. But Leah hesitated as she looked from the cold cup of tea I was nursing in my hand, to my old baggy clothes on my thin body and finally resting on my clearly blotchy yet pale face.

I was English; I was bound to have a pale face. But lately it had become even paler, even though the sun was still showing its beautiful yellow face mid-autumn—well, they call it fall here, not autumn. But even I had noticed I was whiter than usual.

“You look a mess,” Leah said, and thankfully waltzed into my small flat.

I scanned the exposed corridor quickly behind her before I closed the door. I didn’t even noticing Leah had insulted me.

“Who did you think I was?” she continued, as she surveyed my mess of empty Chinese takeaway pots and unwashed mugs on the coffee table. “A cleaner?” she snorted.

“Don’t start,” I huffed, as I walked back to my sofa and plopped myself down. The sofa almost groaned in protest underneath me. I wasn’t fat, I was stick thin, but the sofa was old.

“I’m surprised to see you alive, I’ve not seen you at work for a few days,” Leah said, crossing her arms as if trying to avoid accidentally touching something poisonous. “People at work were starting to take bets on what was wrong. Vi suggested you contracted that awful bug that has been going around. Ben suggested you got annoyed with old Mole Face and went back to England”—the thought had actually crossed my mind, but not because of that awful supervisor we had; Mr Garcia—”I suggested you’d been murdered and your body was decomposing in your flat as we speak. Naturally I was the one who had to go and check.”

“Not far off the truth,” I muttered under my breath as I nervously wrapped the blanket around me again.

Like the blanket will protect me! I thought to myself.

“What?” Leah asked, not hearing me properly. Not that I intended for her to hear.

“Nothing, I’m fine, I just… I need some time to myself,” I explained.

Leah’s lovely brown eyebrows rose. “You mean… you’ve been skipping work because you needed time to yourself?”

I hated Leah’s eyebrows. Well, I hated Leah’s beauty. Well, not hated her; envied her. She was beautiful without even trying. I was pale, thin, with boring limp brown hair. Leah had curves in all the right places, a lovely brown face that made you think she was constantly going on exotic holidays, and had full luscious dark brown hair. Her eyebrows even looked perfectly shaped. I envied her.

“No, I mean… I’m not feeling well and I was keeping to myself.”

“You don’t look ill,” Leah said. “I mean, yeah, you look a little… off, but not ill. What’s going on, Jo?”

I sighed. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to tell Leah my problem. It’s not like she could help me. Not that I was sure I should tell her. It was a delicate situation.

“Seriously, girl!” Leah said, when I didn’t speak.

She plopping herself on the sofa next to me. This time the sofa groaned. I wondered for a moment if it was going to break under the both of us. Not that I was really concerned about it. Normally I would have been concerned, I would have worried that my landlord would have murdered me, considering it was her sofa, not mine. But even joking about it in my head didn’t seem funny anymore. Not when I had someone after me that was actually capable of murdering me.

“What’s going on?”

I shook my head and felt my eyes well up with tears involuntary. I hated it when I did that. I didn’t like to seem like I was doing it deliberately, asking for attention. I wasn’t. I didn’t want to cry in front of Leah.

“Jo, talk to me!” Leah demanded, looking extremely nervous suddenly.

“He’s dangerous,” I muttered, not really thinking about what I was saying as I was concentrating desperately on trying to hold back a sob.

“What?”

“He’s dangerous. He’s—” I paused, wondering maybe I shouldn’t say what I was about to say? It might scare Leah.

“What? Who? Jo, you’re not making any sense,” her voice went flat in worry. Probably more worried for my own sanity than the prospect of a dangerous person after me.

“I know, I’m sorry, I don’t want to scare you.”

“Scare me?”

“It’s okay, forget it.”

“No, tell me, what’s going on?” Leah asked, touching my arm. Her face dropped suddenly before she said, “Is this about… a guy?”

I nodded. I could nod, that was easy enough.

“Who?”

“I can’t tell you,” I choked.

“Okay, why is a guy causing you to skip work?”

“Because I think he wants to kill me,” I said, feeling a little panicky. “If I step outside that door, he will find me and he’ll kill me.”

Leah’s face paled. “So, you’re telling me your life is in danger?”

I nodded ferociously. “Yes, I’m telling you; the guy is dangerous. He’s… he’s a psychopath and he has a weird obsession with me.”

“Who though, Jo?” Leah pressed.

“I can’t tell you that.”

“Why not? Do I know him?”

“Yes.”

I saw Leah’s face pale even more. “Jo,” she started to whisper, “how am I going to help you if you won’t tell me who it is?”

I opened my mouth to say something, say anything, I wasn’t sure if I was going to explain everything or not, but I was interrupted; another knock pounded at the door. Leah and I both jumped and looked round.

“I know you’re in there! Open the door!” said a very angry male voice.

I knew who it was. I recognised the voice. I panicked. I had just realised I had forgotten to lock the door behind Leah. He could get in.

~~~

Click here to read the next chapter!

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

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

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.

~~~

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

~~~

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!

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:
6098-1

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*