Smiling laura clicking pen

My name is Laura, or “Cupcake” (borne of my side line: making cakes).

Like a lot of Moms to young children, I’ve started writing because it can be extremely challenging looking after babies by yourself for a couple of reasons, the loneliness and the boredom. It sounds wrong because you are never alone and you are always quite busy. The fact is, the baby isn’t the best company due to his extreme self-centeredness and there are times you can’t get out the house because babies get ill and you can’t take them out in the cold. Unfortunately, you can’t pop to the shops without them as it’s illegal.

I needed an outlet, I needed to be seen by someone, I wanted to be heard and to make a difference. Becoming a stay at home Mom for me was something I expected to fill me full of purpose but the harsh reality of it is that you can actually become enveloped in a feeling of complete invisibility. I also suffered from postnatal depression (quite a rational response to such a huge life change really) and so sharing my experience became my new remedy.

I strongly believe that creativity is a lifesaver for those with personal demons. Those who suffer from traumas or darkness they cannot express can be helped back from the brink with creative expression.

I love my son an indescribable amount and I adore being his Mom. But I am also Laura. I have a back story, one that I used to hide because I was ashamed of it. I’m not ashamed anymore. Sure, I still get THE FEAR when I share something particularly vulnerable but if sharing it can help someone come to terms with and embrace their own darkness, I don’t feel there is any point keeping it under lock and key. It only supports the stigma that our struggles should be unseen and unheard. So, I became The Candid Cupcake.

Among some of my awesome life experiences, I’ve struggled with mental illnesses, trauma, anxiety, depression, self-harm. I’ve overcome eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, toxic relationships, workaholism. Basically, if you can get addicted to it, I was on it. I’ve been to hell a few times and I’ve clawed my way back.

Becoming a wife and mother for me, was something I believed I would never be good enough for… So this is all kind of a big deal for me.

Creative projects were a lifesaver for me working through my personal demons and I believe someone who is suffering from traumas or darkness they cannot express can be helped back from the brink with creative expression. This could be writing, painting, sculpting, drama or for me, baking. I baked my first cupcake in a homeless hostel. I earned £62 per week on JSA and I decided one night to spend £2 of it on a cupcake making kit from ASDA.

I was experiencing inexplicable personal pain at this point; I was positively suicidal and I will always remember the sense of achievement I got from baking those four cupcakes and taking a photo of them.

I realised that this blog could provide an outlet and a voice, not just to me, but to others who have suffered in silence due to the stigma of talking frankly about their histories, emotional and mental struggles. 

The Real Stories ProjectA year on, after writing my own stories in this blog, such as my struggles with addiction and eating disorders. I started seeing the benefits of becoming vulnerable and honest for both me and the people who read the posts. I realised that this blog could provide an outlet and a voice, not just to me, but to others who have suffered in silence due to the stigma of talking frankly about their histories and the emotional and mental struggles that come with it.

I used to attend meetings and support groups in church halls and it was the only place that we felt we could be ourselves and speak without judgement. It was the only time I heard people share the same thoughts, feelings and experiences as me and I could finally let go of my shame and say ‘me too’.

Sometimes people can’t access these meetings. Maybe they do not identify as requiring a 12 step program or maybe they have a mental health issue and not an addiction issue. Maybe they are housebound. Maybe they don’t know what is wrong with them or why they feel like they do, but on this website, they find someone’s story that they can finally relate to.

So, I have reached out to some of the remarkable humans I have met along the way in my journey of recovery to ask if they would like to tell their stories too. Some people have enjoyed writing their own story, others have written the details so that I could format it for them into a story and some people I have ghostwritten for via interviews.

The Real Stories Project can now begin to serve as a source of help, identification and inspiration to anyone who reads it. The online nature of the project means that it is free, easily accessible to almost everyone around the world and it is completely non-profit and free from adverts. These are people’s personal experiences and they will always belong to them and not me.

It costs me £40 a year to keep the website running and if you wish to donate to help with that cost, I have set up a GoFundMe to keep it completely transparent exactly how much money I have received. You can donate here http://gf.me/u/x9gsj7

If you read a story, please, please show your support and leave them a comment. I know how scary it is to share this stuff even if names have been changed, the fear of judgement is real! Even the simplest of acknowledgements is a comfort. It say’s ‘I heard you’ and I don’t judge.

Here we can break the silence, kill the shame and tell our real truths as creatively or as openly as we want. I hope it keeps growing and that it comes to mean as much to you, as it does to me…