Sally Dennehy is Workingmums.co.uk's newest blogger. She talks to Mandy Garner about how she came to start her blog.
For Workingmums.co.uk's new blogger Sally Dennehy blogging began not just as a way of writing about her life as a single working mum of two teenagers, but as something to help her out of a terrible depression.
Sally began a blog, The New Cinders, a couple of months ago when she was in the middle of a nightmare period of her life. She had just come out of a short relationship. However, her former boyfriend did not take the separation well and started stalking her.
“It was the worse six months of my life,” she says. “I had to be signed off work with depression. I was reading a book by Paul McKenna about the importance of having regular daily activities so I started my blog in an effort to do something regularly. I got some really good feedback and I really enjoy doing it now. It's acquired a momentum of its own.”
Her depression, which was made worse by the medication she was prescribed, was due to a collection of events. She was frustrated in her job as a teacher, having been passed over for a promotion, and then there was her ex-boyfriend who she describes as a “sociopath”. She says: “My ex started stalking me and my family. He was making fake profiles on Facebook to stalk me, leaving messages suggesting he was watching me. He was threatening and aggressive, saying he wanted to ruin me and hurt my family. He even tried to approach my work colleagues. I had to explain what was going on. It was excruciatingly painful. Also I worked with young people and I did not want to jeopardise anyone's safety. He sent gifts to my children but at the same time was sending threatening texts to me.”
She tried to block him on all her social networking sites and the police arrested him a couple of times. Her and the police's persistence paid off, but it took a while. Sally says it was important to show him that she wasn't scared. The blog was one way of doing this and of sharing what was happening to her. “It showed I was not hiding away. It was very therapeutic,” she says.
Sally, who lives near Taunton in Somerset, teaches English at a local secondary school. In fact, it is the same secondary school her two children, aged 14 and 13, attend, although she does not usually teach them. It does mean she knows a lot more about them than most parents do. “They can't keep any secrets from me,” she says.
She switched careers a few years ago – she was working in events management and radio production - and is now in her fifth year teaching. She says the problem with her former job was that as she progressed in it she had to do more travelling away from home. “I loved the job,” she says, “but I would arrive home really irritable. Also education was becoming increasingly important to me.” Another factor was living in the countryside there was not a lot of after school care available and it all became very stressful.
Sally, who became a mum when she was 18, didn't do a straightforward PGCE though, instead opting to do an English degree. “I wanted to keep my options open,” she says, “and I knew that, although I love teaching, I am still passionate about writing and media.”
While she was at university, she freelanced and also joined the parent teachers association at her children's primary school. She says education is “a massive part of her life”. “I teach people in the way I would like people to teach my own children. For me teaching English is not about imparting a love of Shakespeare so much as about helping students realise their own ambitions and giving them confidence that they can be successful. It's not about the subject I'm teaching, but about helping people.”
Her blog is also about helping people. She says the response to it has surprised her. She adds: “The responses made me feel I was doing the right thing by sharing, even when it can be difficult to do so.”
*Look out for Sally's Workingmums.co.uk blog. Coming soon…