An article for Mental Health Awareness Day 2020
My name is Lauren Lovejoy and I was invited to a radio show hosted by Aston Avery and Anna Kennedy aired on the 1st October on Gateway 97.8. Click here to listen to the interview. Click here to listen to “Storm” which is Lauren’s latest incredible song.
I am a young soul blues singer-songwriter and an Ambassador for The National Autistic society as I try to break the barriers and show that people with autism should still pursue their dreams as “everyone is good at something”.
I admit that the life with Autism is really challenging most of the times but it should not discourage us to pursue our dreams. We all know that with the right support we can achieve what we like in life regardless of disability. I really enjoyed my radio interview.
We spoke about my experiences of being bullied in the past and how I was targeted for being different. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 14 so I never knew why I was so unique.
Bullying in those days was not addressed as rigorously as it is now and I wish the teaching staff at my primary and secondary school had recognised that I had mental health issues and supported me accordingly.
Unfortunately, being autistic made me especially vulnerable to bullying and increased my insecurities which led to experiencing emotional difficulties later in my adolescent life. That was one of the reasons why I decided to make people aware of the potential long-term consequences of bullying on mental health and wellbeing.
I spoke about how Covid-19 impacted my life and how I struggle wearing a mask.
Most people seem to forget that autism is a hidden disability and I am frequently judged by my physical appearance and people accuse me of lying or breaking the rules as I look ‘normal’.
I have sensitivity issues and certain textures and sounds upset me and cause me to have a meltdown. Wearing a Sunflower Badge helped me a bit, however I still get the looks when I enter a public space without a mask.
We also spoke about two of Anna Kennedy’s events I took part in.
The first was Autism’s Got Talent where I performed a cover of Moonraker – a Bond hit originally sung by Shirley Bassey.
And I was so happy that Jake Wood (Max Branning from Eastenders) gave me a standing ovation and boosted my confidence and happiness.
I enjoyed this event very much as it was truly a wonderful experience.
At Anna’s other charity event, I was asked by Mitch Winehouse to perform with him on stage. We sang a duet of Summer Time which went down very well with the audience and we complimented each other’s voices.
This was a lovely experience and I was happy when he said he would love to perform with me again in the future and mentioned representing me to Island Records.
However at the time, I was not managed well therefore the offer was never taken. My naivety and trust were severely abused and I experienced another form of bullying from the management team this time.
It took a great toll on my mental health but with support of kind people around me, I managed to put it all in the past and I deeply believe that one day I will get another opportunity and someone will take me under their wing.
That led to another topic we were talking about on the radio. We explored the theme of autistic people being taken advantage of or undermined by neurotypical people in showbiz. Unfortunately, the world is often cruel and some music managers tend to take advantage of the kind nature of autistic people and end up trying to damage their future.
I believe it is important to have a thick skin and some experience in this industry. I will always be true to myself, kind and hardworking because I believe that with a bit of luck I will find genuine people in this industry who will take me for who I am, appreciate my talent and help me achieve my goals.
The key thing is to have the right support and honest people around you so I want to raise awareness on how people can trick you and at one click of a finger take everything from you.
Despite lots of setbacks in the past, I will still pursue my music, singing and song writing path as this is one thing I know I am good at. Stage is the only place where I forget about my disability and I feel fully in control. I know that there is a manager out there who will believe in me and support me with my career.
I will definitely write a book in the future!
I look forward to performing again in the near future at Autism’s Got Talent as I truly admire and respect Anna Kennedy for all she does and the opportunities she gives people like me.
Click here to listen to Lauren’s tracks on SoundCloud: