Belfast Telegraph

Linda Ervine lifts lid on teen pregnancy and being kicked out of school at 15

By Allan Preston

Linda Ervine has revealed how she was kicked out of school aged 15 while pregnant - but it didn't stop her from becoming a teacher.

In a candid interview for BBC Radio Ulster's Vinny Hurrell show, Mrs Ervine, the sister-in-law of the late PUP leader David Ervine, also opened up about overcoming crippling anxiety in her 20s.

"I became pregnant at 15, so that meant I couldn't get into another school," the east Belfast native recalled.

She had kept the pregnancy to herself, but a reputation for being "troublesome" stopped her finishing her education.

"I didn't go very often, I don't think I did anything terrible," she said.

Mrs Ervine said her parents divorced at seven, and never feeling settled in her home life had added an extra struggle to her teenage years.

"I had a lot of anger, a lot of confusion. I think the worst thing that happened to me when I became pregnant was that I started to take anxiety attacks," she said.

During her 20s, she said anxiety seemed impossible to shake.

"I became really housebound,"she said

"By 27 I took a breakdown. You basically stop functioning. I stopped eating, I was just over six stone and I lived on sips of water."

Along with two years of psychotherapy, she said education played a huge role in her recovery.

At the age of 33 she was stunned to become a grandmother, when her eldest daughter was 17.

"It was a bit of a shock but I loved her and I still love her, I have five grandchildren now and she's just graduated from university," she said.

After first studying English literature, Mrs Ervine went on to teach the Irish language in east Belfast, where she has faced unionist opposition to her aims.

She said the polarising debate around the language has been frustrating.

"I find it frustrating when people make very strong statements and they come from a position of ignorance," she said.

"It's a foolish thing to say this language is nothing to do with me. It's in our surnames, it's in our place names, the words in our everyday speech."

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