What Winning the MumpreneurUK Voice Award Means To Me
On Saturday I attended the MumpreneurUK Conference and Awards. I was a finalist in the Voice Category and although I had successfully been chosen out of thousands of entrants, I honestly did not think I could win the award.
When Caprice the Supermodel turned Mum, called my name out I was in shock! I looked left, then right, then left again. That was my name Angela Milnes and my blog Daysinbed on the big screen. I had won a National Award and could not believe it. I couldn’t even hear what was read out about me over all the clapping. What I did get was the words “Adrenal Insufficiency” and “Life threatening”.
Winning this award brought a lot of emotions to my mind and after having my photo taken I welled up and cried. I felt shocked and excited, happy and overwhelmed, however the strongest emotion I felt was pain and heart ache.
Why would I feel heartache? It’s because of the Journey I’ve been on. It’s not been an easy path my life. There is so much I plan to share in the future and I have plenty of time to blog about my experiences but in a nutshell, my whole life was turned upside down at 16 when I was sexually abused. I lost my confidence and kind of went off the rails. I felt confused and no one really understood what was going on. I blocked everything off and used my education and studies as an escape.
My traumatic experiences at 16 lead to me entering an abusive and controlling relationship. At the age of twenty I found myself married to a man who was both psychologically abusive and violent. I became miserable. I had done really well at school and won a scholarship to study Law at University. However due to the difficulties I was having I felt I couldn’t cope. I was continuously told I was rubbish and I began to believe this. I dropped out of Law School and tried another subject instead.
I eventually settled studying English and Education. I studied and worked and studied and worked. Focussing on my education again helped me to forget the abuse I was suffering in the home. I learnt how to write, studied literature, creative writing, I even studied how to write reviews. I majored in Education and specialised in teaching via the internet and teaching literacy to children.
I fought through two years of horrendous abuse and got through by telling myself, when I get my degree I will leave. I don’t know how or why it happened but the week before my final exams, I bought the husband a ticket to Australia. He took the ticket, I finished my exams and Disappeared.
I was a divorced University Graduate at 22 years old with an amazing education but no confidence and no self esteem. I began teaching English at a second language school when I met a wonderful man. This time he was different, he boosted my self esteem and made me feel wonderful and before I knew it I was married and living in the Pacific Island of Tonga.
Tonga was a beautiful place and life was great. However when we returned to New Zealand I found myself back in the cycle of abuse. It’s so wonder I returned to University. I studied Early Childhood Education and came out with my Teaching Qualifications. Although my self esteem was at an all time low and I was very confused, my knowledge and skills on the CV looked fabulous. I attended an interview and found myself working as a Head Teacher- the equivalent to a British Head of Nursery and boy was I in over my head!
I had always wanted to be a mother and now I was in work and providing the abuse had calmed down. My husband and I decided to have a child. I’d had issues my whole life and we were given assisted fertility treatment. I fell pregnant with my daughter Sylvia and went on Maternity leave.
After the birth of my daughter I became unwell physically. I had hoped to return to work and take my baby with me but I could not cope with the work load and the exhaustion I felt. When I decided to be a stay at home mum, the abuse returned but this time it was much worse. My Tongan Mother in Law had come to live in the family home and I was being abused by both my Mother in law and Husband. I was forced to work and my mother in law continuously took my baby from me.
When my baby was six months old, things got dangerous and I left with my baby. The family went to a Rugby game, I packed a suitcase and left. I travelled to Auckland city in New Zealand. I took out a protection order, spent six weeks in a women’s refuge house and applied for full custody of my daughter. Despite having a protection order, it was not working. The family followed me to Auckland, they continually broke the protection order and even went to my child’s daycare to try and take her out.
It was at this point, I decided enough was enough. I needed to keep my daughter safe. I needed a fresh start. I loved my parents and would miss them but I had to put my baby first. I booked a one way ticket to the UK and arrived in England, my birth country in February 2010. I stayed with my grandparents in the UK for two months and then found my own home.
My health however was continued to be poor. I was continuously exhausted and felt unwell. In December 2011, my whole life was turned upside down when Family Services took my little girl off me and put her into the foster care system. I had not done anything wrong. There had been a huge misunderstanding. I was falsely accused of being in a mental hospital in New Zealand and having my daughter removed from my care for 6 months. It was not true! I denied it and so I was taken to court in an attempt to have my child adopted out forever.
As unbelievable as it was, the social worker who would not believe me when I said I had never been in a psychiatric unit refused to believe me. Instead she wrote a report riddled with lies about me and painted a picture of a crazy, mentally unstable woman with special needs. I had no choice but to fight in the courts. What Judge would give a mother a child if the things recorded against me were true? The only thing is, the things I was accused of were not true. They were lies, exaggerations and twisted truths. I was labelled delusional for calling my child a princess.
A court case to have a child permanently removed generally takes 9 months. I spent every single day fighting. I got copies of records, got government letters and argued every single lie written against me. I found ways to prove these things were not true. I worked from morning to night, fighting my own case. I had a lawyer but I did everything myself. I wrote my own statements, found all the evidence and errors in family services records and underwent court ordered psychological and psychiatric assessments.
I missed my little girl. I was heartbroken. I cried myself to sleep. I cried through christmas, mothers day, my child’s birthday. I was under so much stress to prove the untruths put into court against me. When I finally gathered my evidence together and got a letter from New Zealand stating I had never been in psychiatric care everything changed. Family Services changed there position and the Judge ordered my child be returned home! I had finally won. I was given my daughter back but it was not the same.
Life had changed and there was a lot of emotional damage. I spent the next two years rebuilding and strengthening the bond between me and my child. I also started a crusade to get an apology from the council for the injustice we had faced. I worked night and day once more to build my complaint. The complaints process like the court process was very stressful and took two years.
During that time I met a man (non abusive) who I married in July 2013. He became my daughter’s step dad and supported me as I fought for Justice. Sadly due to all the stress I had suffered, my Adrenal glands which deal with the stress hormone failed me. One week after my wedding, I collapsed and was diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency.
I spent the next two years sick and unwell, in bed, fighting my case and doing my best as a mother. At the end of 2014, I finally completed the complaints process and got my apology. I got a letter stating we had indeed faced a grave injustice and over 58 individual complaints were upheld.
I could finally close the door on a horrific 10 years and move on with life with my beautiful daughter and supportive husband, but there was one problem- My adrenal failure. I could not get well. My good health was gone and I had spent one and half years in bed. I decided to do the one thing I could- try and get well.
I built an online blog called daysinbed. This blog! I blogged and blogged. I wrote about family and life, I began to get followers and built friendships online. Although I was very ill, I felt I had a life once more. Of course when I began my blog, my confidence was at an all time low. It still is very shaky but I have shared stories and experiences, raised awareness for my condition and fought hard with my voice to one day get the correct medication to make me well.
It has been a battle. It has been hard work. Anyone who blogs will know just how much work you have to put in to become a professional blogger. I put in the hours, I am still putting in the hours and I am now a professional blogger. I love it! My English degree has come in handy. I Love to write. I review children’s books along with many other products.
Blogging has brought many opportunities, like attending the ballet, reviewing hotels, books, toys, clothes, writing sponsored posts, taking part in blogger workshops, going to conferences and going to Buckingham Palace. It has all been wonderful but has been done with a purpose. My goal is to get well, so I can do all the things I want to do with my daughter. I also want to earn a full time living despite my life threatening illness and to inspire and help those around me.
A few weeks ago I was nominated a finalist for the VOICE category of the MumpreneurUK Awards. I was contacted by a journalist and was asked to share my story and so I have. i have shared my story of how I have overcome obstacles to get to this point in my life. I also shared my story in hope that it will in some way lead to the correct medical treatment.
Winning the VOICE Award at the MumpreneurUK was bitter sweet. I am so grateful and happy and although my confidence is still growing, I actually feel I deserve it!
I am an amazing Mother. I’m a Mumpreneur, I’m a Survivor. All I have been through has made me stronger, the injustices i’ve faced have cost me my health but I have a fighting spirit and will do all I can until I get the treatment I need to be well once more.
So what does winning the MumpreneurUK Voice Award me to me! It means everything.
I am Mother, Hear me Roar!