Sunday, 22 May 2016

SHEBA: LIFE ON THE EDGE...

Reader Sheba came to settle in the UK when she was nine... read how CC books helped her to find her feet...

Sheba says:
I came to Britain from overseas when I was nine years old... my family settled in a quiet, country town which was not the most multi-ethnic of places. Primary school was increasingly difficult. It wasn't actually so bad when I didn't understand the language, but I quickly grasped English and realised there were a lot of racial slurs being aimed at me by the other kids. I was angry and the teachers had no sympathy when I verbally hit back... they just didn't understand. Around this time I came across Cathy Cassidy's books, and I especially connected with ANGEL CAKE about Anya, a Polish girl settling in the UK. I'm not Polish, but I loved the book and really related to Anya because she always retained her dignity. She didn't let the snide comments of other people drag her down and she built her own world within the environment she landed in.

The other book I connected very strongly to was GINGERSNAPS. Like Ginger, I would find myself eating too much, comfort eating really, as a way of blocking out the unhappiness and this coping mechanism stayed with me all the way through until high school. Sometimes I would gorge... trying to make myself happy with food, even though hunger was not the problem. It was only as I progressed through school and my academic achievements began to be recognised that I began to see I was actually worth much more than some of my classmates seemed to think. Like Ginger, I tried very hard to forget the past. Finally, this year, I began to see that even though it can be hard, it's important to think about the past as it is a part of you... and only by accepting this can you move forward.

Gradually, over time, I began to stop over-eating. I'd been worried about this habit for a while, but my friends seemed to gorge themselves on sweets and still stay thin, and I did not. Things had to change. Very slowly I began eating healthier portions and I always felt much happier and more alert when I hadn't gorged the day before. I wanted to work towards a strong, fit body and gradually that old coping mechanism faded away. Like Ginger, I moved forward and changed my life.

I have tears streaming down my face as I write this, but I wanted to share the experiences I have been through as a way to reach out to others in the same position, for whatever reason, who may be feeling right now that things will never get better. I still get comments at school because I am keen and bookish, but I am much stronger now and I don't let it get to me. Besides, believe me... books are a far better coping mechanism than over eating.

Awesome illustrations by reader Sarah... thank you so much! And many thanks to Sheba for writing such a brave and honest account of her experiences.

Cathy says:
Sheba's story shows just how deeply thoughtless words can cut. Spiteful comments can damage our self esteem hugely, but Sheba's determination to turn things around has given her back a bright and confident future. Has a CC book ever helped YOU to handle something tough? COMMENT BELOW to tell me how!

5 comments:

  1. I've managed to connect with every CC book in one way or another, not necessarily with every storyline, but there's a little bit in each book that fits..(If that makes sense). Which is why I probably rely on them for huge comfort even now. Last night after a stressful day I pulled out Driftwood. Dizzy is my favourite, because I think it just screams my personality, except I've always been the hippy, not my parents. My life was more like Indie's regards to storylines. I think food is an issue for a lot people, during stressful times I've always been the under eater. (even now.). I don't do it purposely I'm just so focused on other things that i'll only eat when my legs start feeling wobbly. Connecting with books is good. It gives you hope! <3 xxx

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  2. Dizzy helped me get through being in hospital because it was given to me as a present during one of my marathon stays! I'm not really like Dizzy, except I would be nervous at my first real festival, but Dizzy helped me escape!

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  3. Throughout my friendship and self-confidence struggles in year seven, I felt like Gingersnaps was my life story. My copy of the book is read and underlined and slightly wet after being dropped in the bath a few times, but it got me through so much. I've even got a ragtag group of misfits for a friendship group at the moment, just like Ginger, and the Shannon equivalent in my life has indeed moved on to someone else and forgotten about me completely. I spend a good while that year hoping for a Sam Taylor to come and help me, but I don't think I needed one.
    Books, in general, have helped me handle so much. Ginger Brown helped me break away from a toxic friendship, Joey Donovan gave me my first sort of "aesthetic", and Paul Slater helped me cope when my friend was struggling with depression. Outside of CC, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein has created half the inside references, from sappy couple's nicknames to the whole saying-each-other's-lines-back-to-each-other thing, that my partner and I have.

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  4. I think thats official ..cathy cassidy books are inspirational and adorable

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  5. I was bullied all the way through primary school and over the summer before I started Y7, I read Ginger Snaps and it totally changed everything. When I whent into school on my first day, I kept telling myself to to just keep my head high and don't sulk. I really felt as if I was reading Ginger's story. Now I've got some great new friends as well as improving the friendships I already had and getting rid of toxic ones. Ginger Snaps was life changing for me. Thank you Cathy for writing Ginger Snaps; I never could have moved on without it.

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