I was constantly stressed and didn’t even know it.
My life was gradually becoming less meaningful and fun. I didn’t know what was wrong. I had suffered bouts of anxiety and depression since I was a teenager, but they were getting more frequent and lasting longer.
At my darkest points life didn’t seem worth living. I couldn’t see the point. Happiness was fleeting or unachievable.
A doctor told me this was the way I am. She said I had to accept that the rest of my life would be like this. It was heart breaking, but in that consultation I decided there must be another way to live life.
I have felt I was constantly battling depression, anxiety and the desire to self-harm. I thought this was how it was and would be for the rest of my life. I had accepted that because of mental illness I was one of those people whose life wasn’t going to work out for. Even though I was always surrounded by people, I always felt alone.
You are not alone
Even if you are an introvert – like me – you need connections. You can find people out there who have challenges, but are striving for solutions that work for them. It helped me to turn ME to WE. We are not alone.
I had felt alone and abandoned and had always wanted someone else to fix me. I was prepared to work at it but it felt too much and I didn’t know where to start or what to do.
You can be responsible for your mental health and happiness
Realising I was responsible for my own happiness was a pivotal moment. I reassessed my career and business in wellbeing. I became my Number 1 client. I trained as a meditation and mindfulness coach to add to my qualifications as a massage therapist and reflexologist. I began to research – and put into practice – tools that are proven to increase happiness, relaxation and balance, therefore improving my mental health.
I felt empowered and hopeful. I didn’t have to stay trapped in my cycle. I was willing to believe I had a choice, a chance – if I did the work. I realised I had to exercise my mind the same way I take my body to the gym. I have to make my mind work out a priority and a part of my life every day.
I was always told I felt too much and was too sensitive. I needed to harden up and not react to others. I squashed my feelings down for a long time. But anyone who feels – and we all do – knows this isn’t a long-term solution. At times I felt my body couldn’t contain what I felt that it would hurt me or even kill me.
It is okay to be a sensitive, feelings person. It makes you empathetic, creative and a game changer.
I now love that I am a sensitive person. My feelings do not scare me anymore.
This journey has taught me the importance of safe spaces. You do not need to be physically close to people to be in a safe space with them. I myself found many of my connections online. Having “international” support helps, particularly when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night.
Safe places are essential communities, groups and networks
We need them to process how we feel and to be connected. There is great comfort in knowing you are doing the work with people who get you and have the same mind-set. People who have the motivation to live the way they want.
My mind can work for me
Through doing this work and prioritising my mental health recovery I began to observe my mind and discover how it works. What belief systems, thoughts, patterns were not working for me? How would I like my mind to work and how could I detach from it. To not be so affected by the way I feel. To own it and be curious and questioning about what arises day-to-day, hour-to-hour. My mind is a great source of power it’s better to have it on my side.
I have dipped in and out of this work for a long time. At times it seemed a bit New Age, “woo woo’ or “hippy dippy”. Don’t get me wrong. I love a retreat, a women’s circle, incense and visioning, but to really make this something I could live and transform my life by, I needed proof that it works.
Science shows me the evidence
We are starting to see results from the scientific community on the positive benefits of mindfulness, meditation, gratitude and positive thinking. It’s an exciting time for the mental health sector as these tools are been proven to work. As budgets are cut, more and more people are needing help. A fifth of the UK population suffer from anxiety and/or depression and that figure is rising. This work is needed now more than ever.
My clients work with me as they want the results I have seen in my life. They also want regular inspiration and motivation to keep to a daily mindfulness and meditation routine. I’m a personal trainer for the mind. People say they are too busy to look after their head space. I know I could have believed the doctor when he said I had to live in depression and anxiety for the rest of my life. I could have given up or said I didn’t have enough time as a business owner and single mum. But I believed I deserved more. I believed if I could find a way to balance the way I felt, I could give more to my friends, my family, my community and my society. Most importantly, I believed I could find peace.