The HR Juggler

The 25% Club: The Little Princess

Posted on: February 13, 2013


This post is part of the 25% club series dealing with the topic of mental health, particularly as it relates to the workplace. Some of the posts, like today’s, will be accredited, others will be anonymous – all have a powerful impact and help to shine a light on a topic that we need to talk about so much more than we currently do. Today’s post is written by Hayley Brown, who you can find over on her blog or on Twitter @HaylsBrown.


When I first saw Alison’s 25% club, I knew that it was something I wanted to get involved with. I have battled with mental ill-health for over 10 years now and know a lot of people who are in the same position that have felt ashamed, worried or alone and not able to talk about it. But the first few times I put pen to paper, it was hard! So, I have decided to write my contribution like a story, because it’s easier that way for me.

I want to introduce myself, my name is Hayley and I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. If people want to make a negative judgement about me, that’s their choice. I have made mistakes in my life; I have achieved great things, I am sure I will experience many more of both. Mental ill-health has been a part of these experiences and sometimes it has driven them, but not all of them. I will not allow a negative opinion, or judgement, to shake my perception of who I am. It has taken me 10 years to get to this point.

So, onto the story.

Once upon a time, in a magical kingdom far away, there was a little princess. The little princess was a clever young girl, with lots of wonderful friends, she lived in a big white castle with sparkling turrets and vast gardens along with her parents the king and queen, who adored her. Every day, the princess would wake up and look out of her window across the vast and beautiful kingdom, after eating her breakfast she would meet her friends to start their schooling and play together until it was time for supper.

From the outside, her life was perfect and untroubled. She was well liked, excelled at her studies; she had plenty of interesting past-times and a family who loved her.

However, little did they know of the great storm, which had brought rise to her troubles.

It had happened a few months ago. One dark night there was a great thunderstorm, lightning flashed and struck the sparkling turrets, heavy droplets of rain fell and stained the castle grey, wind shook and battered the perfectly manicured gardens and, in the midst of all this, the little princess was visited by an evil wizard.

The wizard was well-known throughout the realm, but no one dared speak his name, he had no rhyme or reason to his vengeance; he was an angry and cruel man, specialising in torturous spells, which were difficult to shake.

He appeared in front of her as she was daydreaming and raised his arms in spiteful glee, wielding powerful magic.

And then he was gone.

Days, then weeks, then months passed and nothing happened. Slowly, the princess began to think of herself as lucky, she had survived and after a few months, the wizard’s visit was forgotten.

Until tonight.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

The little princess was woken from her sleep, in the dead of night.

Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap.

What was that?

She opened her eyes and leapt across the room screaming! A swarm of bees! A Smeagol! A shadowy figure! This was repeated many nights in the week, until she was scared to go to sleep.

The princess became exhausted as these ghouls visited her night after night. Each targeted to her deepest fears and worries.

Worse, she began to question her relationships: ‘they don’t really like me’ she mused, ‘they are only nice because they think I am a princess.’ She faced tests with a new sense of fear ‘I can’t do this’, she continued to visit her friends after school and try out her hobbies but when she got home, she locked herself away and cried inexplicably. She became worried about almost everything: ‘what if this carriage overturns?’, ‘what if the sun should explode’, ‘what if I am attacked’. Over time this became: ‘this carriage will overturn’, ‘this sun will explode’, ‘I will be attacked’.

She was determined to stay ahead and spent twice as long scrutinising and creating her work. So that no one could know. Apart from the people she lived with, from whom it was difficult to hide.

The king and queen became worried and encouraged the princess to visit the learned owl who knew about these things. 

 So, one bright, crisp morning she set out alone to see the owl. She did not tell her friends.

She arrived at his premises and entered through the front door. She saw an odd collection of creatures arranged in the owl’s old fashioned sitting room. An elephant sneezing vigorously, people with limbs bundled up in swathes of white, a cat with an eyepatch and a baby crying. The princess felt guilty.

‘Hello my dear’, said the owl ‘How may I help you’. ‘Well’, began the princess, going on to explain her troubles, talking as quickly as she could, for she knew the owl was busy.

The owl listened, and once he was satisfied that he had heard enough, reached into his drawer and pulled out a magic capsule.

‘Swallow one per day, it will give you temporary reprieve and also you should see the giraffe, she knows more about these things – but her time is short, you may wait for a number of weeks’ he said.

The princess took the capsule and placed it into her pocket, pleased that she would be allowed some relief from the evil spell, and started back to the castle.

When she returned the queen asked, ‘what advice did the wise owl give you’?

The princess explained her journey and showed the queen her magic capsule.

‘Pooh!’ said the queen, ‘that owl is clearly busy and foolish. You must not take the magic capsule; I have read it in the news, go and see the giraffe’.

Months passed and the princess battled to hide the effects of the spell and carry on, whilst the capsule sat untouched, inviting, on her dresser.

Until finally the morning came, she travelled to see the giraffe, who lived far, far away from the castle. No carriages went that way, and all of the castle’s horsemen were busy, so she walked.

When she got to the giraffe’s house, a bluebird met her ‘Hello’, it twittered, ‘are you here to see the giraffe?’

‘Yes’ she answered

‘I’m sorry, the giraffe is not well today, you will have to make another appointment, we can fit you in, in about 6 week’s time’.

The princess left, disheartened.

She found a place to sit, and mulled.

‘When will this torture end?’ she thought ‘and what is so bad about the magic capsule’?

She travelled home and consulted the magic mirror.

‘The capsule will provide you relief’ it said ‘but at this cost – ‘

The princess sighed:

‘Would not anyone in pain, accept some form of relief for these trade offs’

She could take no more, she walked into the chambers, up to the dresser and swallowed the capsule and waited……………………

 Nothing happened.

‘This was the way with the spell’ she thought.

So she kept taking the capsules. She did not tell the queen.

Slowly but surely, the ghouls did not visit, her worrying became less, and the appointment with the giraffe drew near. She stopped crying. She forgot about the wizard.

On the morning of the appointment the princess felt almost like her normal self.

‘I will go to see the giraffe’, she thought ‘as I have the appointment anyway’.

‘How are you?’ asked the giraffe

‘Well I feel fine now, but…’ she started.

They talked and talked for what felt like hours, until the little princess was exhausted.

The giraffe told her to keep taking the magic capsules and they made another appointment, and then another, and then another until the little princess felt that she could talk no more.

They kept diaries, monitored and developed strategies to beat the spell.

‘It’s a strong one’ the giraffe thought, ‘that might not ever go away’.

After a few visits, the giraffe and the princess decided they did not need to meet anymore.

Then, after some time, she revisited the owl, and asked for a smaller magic capsule. He agreed.

Then, after more time still, she began to look at others, in the same way she looked at herself and she found the courage to talk about that fateful night, when the evil wizard came.

She found that they too, had been visited, by the wizard.

And they talked and talked, and they understood and they vowed that they would talk to others and spread the word of the magic capsule and the giraffe, and their power when used together, in harmony so that no one would ever need to suffer in silence again.


If you care about mental health and want to make a difference there are lots of things you can do

  • visit Mind’s website and check out their excellent corporate resources
  • take the ‘time to change’ pledge
  • share your story and read those of others as part of this blog series. If you would like to contribute, please get in touch with me on Twitter (@AlisonChisnell) or through the comments section of this blog
  • we are forming an #HRforMentalHealth team to fundraise for Mind by running the Royal Parks half marathon in October. Register here if you’d like to join us – we’re a friendly bunch with some first-time half-marathon runners joining us :)

1 Response to "The 25% Club: The Little Princess"

Beautifully written

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