I moved to London when I was 25 years old from my dinky Buckinghamshire village of Dinton and had got myself a job as a Gymboree teacher. For those of you who do not know what Gymboree is; it’s a chain of schools that help toddlers with their creative side and helps them to develop confidence from such an early age. (I often think Gymboree was something my Dad should have got me signed up for). The children are encouraged to sing and dance around to bubbles being blown and listen to stories that us teachers get to bring our performing skills to. All the teachers are in the acting profession, I actually got the job by responding to an advert in the Stage Newspaper.
I was still in my Gymboree training when my first anxiety attack had hit me. I say first attack – I did think this was my first at the time but it seems I had one a few months before. I will flashback to that later on though……….
The Gymboree training takes up to two weeks. It is pretty intense and I have always had this issue in not truly believing in myself. I do not know this of course (not during this time) and not while I am in my 20s and why would I? In your 20’s you believe you are free spirits with no hang-ups but what you don’t realise, well what I didn’t realise was that I did have this “hang up” I just didn’t realise it was so deep.
During the second week of my Gymboree training I was sitting with the children in a circle and there were two other trained teachers too. We were all singing nursery songs and the children were loving it, they were laughing and gurgling. I had taken lead of a particular song as this was part of my learning programme and to be honest I felt absolutely fine, so I thought!
While I was singing and using my hands to mime the actions to the children (I really have no memory of which classic nursery rhyme it was) I flopped to the floor, collapsed! I had been sitting down already but my body did not want to sit back up once I was in a heap on the carpet. I am not sure how long I was out for but I remember tears emerging in the corners of my eyes. I was very shaky and utterly confused to what had just happened. Those poor children who I had supposed to have been entertaining, they must have thought I was crazy or something. One minute I am a cutesy children’s presenter type girl who is singing her heart out and the next I am in a large ball on the floor. One of the other teachers asked me if I had epilepsy. Apparently my mouth had collapsed just before my body did. I told the teacher I was not aware of having epilepsy and was pretty sure I didn’t have it! The Doctors though, a few days later had diagnosed otherwise.
I got myself checked out at Charing Cross Hospital and they stated they were going to recommend I have some tests i.e. ECG, EEG and MRI which of course were not going to happen straight away as this is the NHS after all but I knew once I had these tests I would know what the outcome was and go from there. Epilepsy I believed was the last thing I was going to be diagnosed with.