My name is Emma. I am a 27 year old living in London with my husband. I have a job that I love and wonderful friends and family. My life is pretty good.

Outwardly, I would appear very normal and happy. But my life didn’t always used to be this way.

For many years, I have lived with anxiety. The first time I can remember feeling this way, was when I was 4 years old. I had just started ballet classes. As I was a lover of all things pink and barbie, this felt like a pretty decent hobby. Mum got me the gear and off I went to class. Only a week in, my teacher told me off for running the wrong way during a warm up exercise. It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but my face burned up, I cried, and refused to go back ever again.

My anxiety evolved over the years. I became cripplingly aware of myself in social situations. To deal with this, I would avoid being sociable where possible, not wanting to feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. I continued this pattern throughout high school and into my adult years. When I entered the workplace for the first time, I was entirely unprepared. I couldn’t naturally fit in to the environment and it caused me many issues and distress.

Many things turned it around and it was a long journey to recovery. I am currently writing a book about my experiences. It has helped me to make sense of them, but I also hope that this might inspire somebody else to tell their story.

Loud Voices exists to create a forum for anyone wishing to share their barrier in the workplace. Whether that’s mental health, sexism, ageism, disability, racism or homophobia, we want to hear about your story.

So many talented and brilliant people are held back from reaching their full potential, and that’s why it’s so important to speak up and keep these conversations alive.

These days, I am working with young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities to support them to gain and maintain paid employment. They inspire me every single day. Their determination to get up and fight in a world that is determined to put obstacles in their path is pretty inspiring. They are not afraid to show the world why hiring them would greatly benefit the workplace in so many ways.

But there is still a lot of work to be done. The world does not create equal opportunities for all.

Loud voices is your platform. Use it to make your voice heard. Remember that your story makes you, YOU, and that’s something worth celebrating and sharing.

Speak up, be heard, feel good.