|Miss Wiltshire Curve, 2014|
Originally I entered simply because... why not! I forgot about it, and then at Christmas last year I received a letter saying I'd been chosen as a finalist! My first reaction was to laugh... then I was telling myself I couldn't do it - but after encouragement from friends and family, I decided I would do it! It's amazing to think the opportunities you could miss through self doubt, so I'm grateful for the encouragement I received to go ahead with it.
Dawn has a very interesting past, and has had a lot of experiences I'm sure we can all relate to.
Dawn is now engaged to a lovely man named Steve, but before that she was married to an abusive man who made her life hell. She had two children with him, and says the "PND" she suffered with both children "was a mixture of trying to get everything right so it didn't make him mad, generally trying to bring up children whilst walking on egg shells... It was really, really hard. I often had very dark thoughts, sometimes suicidal."
Dawn had a really hard time when both of her eldest children were very small. I asked her what helped her to get over the depression:
I couldn't stop crying all the time, and my ex husband was really losing it with me. I went to the doctor and they prescribed antidepressants. I know not everyone thinks they are the answer but for me, I'm sure they saved my life. I went from never leaving the house, just eating and crying all day, to walking every day and looking after myself a lot better, which in turn made me happier so my children were happier too.
Eventually Dawn's marriage broke down and her husband left. I asked her if she found it hard to become a single mother.
No, not really! It was a huge relief when the monster was out of the house; I could breathe for the first time in years! The hardest part for me was living in fear. He stalked me all the time, would kick my front door in and try to strangle me. He rammed my face into the fridge once as well. I lived in a block of flats at the time and my pushchair would be left in the shed downstairs. He was often hiding in there, waiting to attack me. He would climb onto the roof of the block and watch me through the window.
The "being a mother" part of it was lovely though; I was very protective of my kids, and suddenly we had light in our lives. We could watch what we wanted on TV, make a mess and not tidy it up immediately, do what we wanted when we wanted without asking permission.
Dawn now has a third child with Steve; Billy is now five and just as gorgeous as his older brother and sister.
Dawn's eldest son, Max, has high functioning autism. When he moved up to secondary school last September, Dawn took the decision to remove him from mainstream school and to home school him instead.
I knew Max would face difficulties at secondary school. The school had assured me that they would support him and make sure he was safe, but unfortunately that wasn' the case. The final straw came for me when Max was asked, unsupported, to paint music. He found that really challenging, and ended up having a meltdown which involved him hitting his head and face on a table, and then a wall. He was given a detention for disrupting the class! Without a second thought, I removed him from the school.
Then I was in a situation where, all of a sudden and without any preparation, I was home schooling my son. It was scary but definitely the best thing I have ever done for him. We have good days and bad days. We have lots of days out and do different projects.
I've been lucky to have a huge amount of support from friends and family; it's been a bit overwhelming!
Max is like a different boy now; he goes out and plays, he is confident and has even taken up running. He wants to go to college to become a mechanic. I'm concerned that I won't be able to teach him what he needs to get into college, so I'm in the middle of trying to get him a Statement, so that maybe then he could go to a special needs school part time.
My other children, Jess and Billy, won't be home schooled. They understand that Max needs extra help and support from me and that secondary school didn't work out for him. I have no worries about Jess and Billy in that respect at all.
Dawn also has a blog: Morning Glory
I have battled an eating disorder called Binge Eating Disorder for many years. For some reason, writing it all down and getting out there made me lose the victim skin I often felt I wore. Suddenly I was a survivor, and I had a lot to say about things! It's very raw and honest.
I don't write posts every day; I just do it as and when I want to. It's helping me overcome my BED, but I'm far from cured; it will be with me for life. It's under control now though. The blog is also there to show other women who have had a crappy past, that the future is in your hands. Nobody is going to come along with a magic wand and make you feel better; you have to do the work yourself.
Check me out; I'm in a frikkin beauty pageant! High five to me!
Click here to listen to Dawn's radio interview about her past, her relationship with food, and the pageant.