AS A TEENAGER Melissa Mcneil was constantly getting into trouble. The 25-year-old mother of two admits she appeared at Redditch Court many times over criminal damage, possessing cannabis, assault and carrying an offensive weapon – a snooker ball.

But despite being a rebel in those days, she has now calmed down, turned her life around and feels happy – living near the Clent Hills with her partner Nick and two young children son Cory, aged seven, and daughter Hope, aged three.

And she now wants to help other people to create the lives they want with a short self-help book, based on techniques that helped her, she has just published.

Drugs played a big part in Melissa’s troubles as she said she had a good family life with her parents and two brothers and two sisters, living together in Birmingham, until she was about nine.

“When I was growing up I had a good family until I was about nine. Then my parents got involved with drugs and became dependent on heroin,” she said.

Melissa was the eldest of the five children and by the time she was 12 was caring for her brothers and sisters.

“When I was 12 Dad went to prison because of the crimes he did to raise funds to supply his and Mum’s habit and look after five children. Mum had some sort of breakdown and left and I was looking after my four brothers and sisters.”

Melissa said she was cooking for them, bathing them, taking them to school and to the park to play. She enjoyed doing it, she said, but her aunty visited and saw what was happening and contacted the police and social services.

All the children went to stay with her aunty for a while but Melissa didn’t settle and ended up going into foster care.

Her rebellious attitude really kicked in as she refused to listen to or respect anyone apart from her Mum and Dad. She had also been smoking cannabis since the age of 11.

“Due to my behaviour I was carted off to about five different foster homes and then I went to a children’s home in Birmingham for a brief period but they had absolutely no control over me. I’d run away and stay out for days on end.

“So the final step was for me to go to a place called the Uplands, in Bromsgrove. I say the final step because when you go there you will either end up going back home to your family, you move out so you live independently when you get to the appropriate age or you go to a secure unit for your own well-being.

“It was not your average children’s home. It was a semi secure unit. When I first went there I was trying to run away so desperately but I couldn’t get away because I was in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t know where I was.

“In a children’s home it is everyone for themselves. There were fights with other children. I have always been very strong minded and I was very much a rebel. I was in Redditch Court a lot.”

But Melissa said the staff at Uplands, run by Birmingham City Council, were fantastic and when children did manage to get away from the home, the staff would search until they found them and take them back.

“The first time I got away, I went for three months and I didn’t want to go back. I was in the newspapers as a missing person and I was staying with a cousin Northfield in Birmingham. I finally had enough so I went back.

“I was there for three years and there were a lot of ups and downs but, looking back, there were more ups than downs.

“Going to the Uplands really changed my life. Going away from the city it opened me up to a more peaceful nice countryside life. You looked out the window in the morning and you saw fields with sheep, horses and cows and it was really nice. The staff were absolutely amazing.”

She said it was a huge house with massive grounds and there were lots of facilities. “It was huge and on site there was a bungalow for the managers and a school for the children who got kicked out of mainstream school – so there was no getting out of school work. There was a gym, an art room, a hard court and a skateboard ramp.”

It was while living in the Uplands at Blackwell, which closed as a children’s home in 2010, Melissa discovered and fell in love with the Malvern Hills. “We used to go to the Malvern Hills and other places on amazing walks and do rock climbing and amazing outdoor activities.”

She said that from the age of 15 teenagers living at the Uplands were encouraged to start becoming independent ready for moving out.

“They started training you to live independently and because I had demonstrated I was more than capable of looking after myself, I moved out after I was 16. They put me in a charity-run hostel and I rebelled against it. I got kicked out because I broke the fire escape.

“I was put in b&bs throughout Birmingham but I was kicked out. Then I got a private rented house through social services and from the day I moved there I never got into any more trouble with anyone.”

However that was not the end of her problems as she decided to stop smoking cannabis which she believes was responsible for the onset of panic attacks.

“When I had my first panic attack on the bus I think it was cannabis psychosis. I felt sick, my heart was racing and I was shaking and I thought I was going to die for no reason. I had to call an ambulance. It scared me. I experienced very physical symptoms but I really wanted to come off the drugs.

“I went back to Mum and she was my saviour for six months.” It was at that time she met her partner Nick and she also started looking into information about anxiety.

“I stopped drinking tea, stopped smoking, gave up sugar and anything that would bring my anxiety up. I went to a group with people who suffered anxiety their whole life and it really helped me because I learned about anxiety and how it works.”

Melissa also discovered mindful meditation, which helped her, and in 2013 she had a strong desire to move to Malvern because it is so beautiful but she had no money. However, within a few weeks a housing association home in Malvern became available and she moved in.

Melissa believes it was her deep desire to move to Malvern that made her move possible. “I started looking at the law of attraction really deeply. I always knew I can have the life I want and I have always had some spiritual belief. “

Having moved again to be nearer to her family, she has now written a book called Mindfulness Meditation & the Law of Attraction to help others.

“I have written the book to help other people who suffer from anxiety and depression who feel there’s no way out. There is a way out, there’s always a way out.

“If I can do it to be where I am now, anyone can do it. I don’t care where you’re from, what life you’ve had or how old you are, you can do it,” she stressed.

“This is a basic book. It is a recap for people who already know about it and a beginner’s book for those starting. You can change your life from it. It is a book for everybody. If you have a passion for something – just do it.”

The short guide gives information about techniques that helped Melissa and is available through Amazon.

“I am at an amazing point in my life and I now want to share what I know,” she concluded.