Very lucky to have scriptwriter, novelist and all-round awesome human Lucy V. Hay providing a guest post for us today.
Lucy’s from the UK – so it’s especially interesting to compare sex ed and teen pregnancy attitudes between SA and the rest of the world. Truth is, we’re all just as bad as each other at dealing with it. Here’s what Lucy has to say
Sex Ed by Lucy V aka @Bang2write
Here’s what I remember of my sex education at school: a video about rape prevention that implored young girls never hitch hike; a nurse coming to talk to us about periods and pregnancy (the boys chucked her free samples all around the classroom); and a greying, middle-aged teacher gathering us all round the top table in the classroom whilst she struggled to pull a condom over a cucumber.
Happily, it was the 90s, not the Dark Ages, so I was able to get information elsewhere. Various NHS campaigns, especially posters and leaflets, caught my eye; there were also some good books on the market, both fiction and fact, which helped fill in any gaps. Also, as the eldest of five children, I had seen my mother’s belly grow big more than once, plus she was more than happy to answer my (many) questions.
In short, when it came to the biology of it all, I was good to go. Sex = babies. Got that. Use a condom. Yep, got that too.
But I still got pregnant.
It was not even a case of “It will never happen to me”: I had seen this with many of my peers, who reported with wide eyes they’d started having sex and then OMG A CONDOM BROKE NOW WHAT. But I never used condoms, generally. I didn’t want to. I was also allergic to them and didn’t have enough money to buy the non-latex ones. I made a few lacklustre enquiries about getting some from a family planning clinic only to be told, “They’re too expensive”. So I carried on being reckless and my boyfriend of the time participated (willingly, I might add).
So, why would a young woman, a grade A student no less, who knew all about the birds and the bees do such a thing?
Because I wanted to.
This took me a long time to understand. Back then, I didn’t realise my motive. When I actually was pregnant, I was shocked. But now I know what I was doing
You see, as a teenager, I had many self esteem issues. I was also depressed. It would take many years for this to be diagnosed, especially because on the outside I looked like a normal girl. You might even say I was the life and soul of the party, in fact. I did well in college, went out with friends, joked around – the usual.
But underneath, it was a different story. I wrote long diary entries, filled with self loathing; I was prone to outbursts of spontaneous crying and self harming in the privacy of my bedroom. Maybe if such a thing as the internet and Tumblr had been around back then, I would have been one of those so-called “pale girls”, but without an outlet and with no one able to read my mind, I felt as if I was about to explode.
So I kind of did … voila: a baby.
I recognise now my pregnancy for what it was: a cry for help. It was a call of, “Look at me, help me, I’m drowning”. The issue was with me on that; no one else. I know now that had I asked, help would have been given. But being a teenager, I was also proud. Because I felt I couldn’t ask for that help: I needed “a reason”. (Like being depressed was not reason enough!).
So, next time you see a young woman pushing a baby in a buggy, don’t assume you know her story. You don’t.
She’s one of the organisers of London Screenwriters’ Festival and associate producer of the Brit Thrillers DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2014), both starring Danny Dyer.
To keep up with LIZZIE’S DIARY, “Like” the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/TheDecisionBookSeries).