Drink and Drugs News DDN October 2018 | Page 22

Real lives Lone journey The right support from her early years onwards could have made a vast difference to Sharon’s life. She shares her story W hen I was born, in 1958, I weighed just 1kg (2.2lb) and was 47.5cm (19ins) long. I was placed in an incubator for three months, because I was too small to survive on my own. While in the incubator I was given too much oxygen and developed a condition called retrolental fibroplasia, which damaged my eyes and left me with visual impairment. At 18 days old I developed pneumonia, after being handled by a nurse who had a cold, and was quickly christened as it was thought I would not survive. I was later christened a second time. When I was a year old my mum was approached by the authorities who wanted her to enrol me into a Sunshine Home for the blind. My mum refused, as she felt it was cruel and didn't agree that a visually impaired child should stay away from her parents and only come home at the end of term. They wouldn’t accept me at an ordinary school, so at the age of four, I went to a day nursery for visually impaired children. I had good days and bad days like any other child. I was mischievous and ran around playing with friends. When I was five years old I had to go to boarding school – firstly to one where I was only allowed to come home during holidays, and then to another where I could come home at weekends. Some of the kids were very mean and, because I had a weak bladder, I was bullied and beaten up quite a lot. I had a relatively normal childhood spending time playing with my brother. However, I can remember one evening wanting to watch Daktari – my brother was allowed to stay up for an extra half an hour, but not me. My parents grabbed hold of me, slapped me round the face and pulled my hair really hard until I screamed in pain. I got to my room, lay on my bed and cried my eyes out. My mum came in, grabbed me and banged my head on the wall. I screamed so loud and wanted to get out of the house. I also had cold water thrown over me that night. Every time I said something out of line, I was smacked by my parents. Like most teenagers, I rebelled and did not want to take my exams, but I came away with a handful of CSEs. At 13 I began dating a guy called Ron but my parents pulled us apart and I was forbidden to talk to boys. I joined the local youth club and made friends, however I was unable to go anywhere unless I was supervised. I began to play loud 22 | drinkanddrugsnews | October 2018 music to curb my anger. At 16 I enrolled at an ordinary school – a grammar school – and went on to take 'O' levels. I was a lot happier here, as I was treated as a normal person. I went out with the girls and was told off by the teachers. As I grew older I realised that my brother had it easier than me. He was allowed to stay on his own and be with his friends while I was looked after by my gran, like a child, which I hated. I didn’t feel I had my full freedom like a normal teenager an