Zara McLeod

Zara McCleod

Entrants were asked to explain why they feel they are ‘Unstoppable’ women. Read Zara’s story in her own words below:

My friend pushed me to enter this competition, so here goes! I believe I am unstoppable.

Throughout my entire life I have had and overcome many obstacles trying to break me down, weaken me and even push me to breaking point but I never let them. This has made me the strongminded independent woman I am today. Starting right back to when I was 15 I got into a relationship with someone much older than me. That relationship turned into what could only be described as hell on earth.

By the time I was 16 I was pregnant, completely isolated and had suffered a great deal already both physically and mentally. The person who was supposed to love me stood on my pregnant belly, tried to throw me down the stairs at 6 months pregnant and called me fat and ugly every single day. Like I said what could only be described as my hell on earth had become my daily life. I began cutting myself to stop the pain in my head and take some control back in my life. When my son came along things didn’t get better, the beatings didn’t stop. The day I knew I had to change my life was the day he set fire to the bed with me and Justin lay in it. I had to get away.

I did get away; the scars began to heal and my anxiety started to heal. I had been diagnosed with PTSD but that wasn’t going to stop me. I went back to college to study beauty therapy. Meanwhile Justin was now 3 and was displaying difficulties with his behaviour. When we were out people would stare, they would pass comments and look down on me and this was because of my age.

I knew Justin was different, so I went to the doctors and that’s when a whole new journey for us began. Justin was referred to a consultant and began having assessments. I did parenting courses to try and improve things for us both. Nothing seemed to work.

When Justin started school they noticed too, he was excluded in year 1. Justin had been diagnosed with ADHD at 5 and he now had a ‘statement’ in place. This allowed him a place at a ‘special’ school. Justin exceeded at Cribden House and went on to a main stream high school. Problems started again and Justin was now on medication, he had also been given a secondary diagnosis of Asperger’s.

Justin is now 14 and everything we have been through together has made us stronger. I am now a support worker helping young adults with learning disabilities. It’s such a rewarding position and I work with the most inspirational people who have overcome so much in their lives. I love helping others and they all teach me so much every single day.

My mantra in life has to be always forgive but never forget. Learn from your mistakes but never regret.

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