I always thought and was told that I was a good planner, super organised and focused. My nickname at uni was Miss Organisation and I’ve built a career in Operations a perfect fit right..?
Last year I went through a massive personal upheaval that resulted in me losing perspective and left me wondering what the hell was I doing with my life and whether I’d got it all wrong.
This period of feeling out of control and lost started in March. A stolen purse – six years living in London and the laws of averages meant it was bound to happen to me – there’s a first time for everything… right?
Then after this came the night I left another purse and all my newly replaced cards in an Uber… never to be found. Then it was a stolen rucksack and more personal and work possessions in someone else’s hands a month later. And finally leaving another purse on a train – which even the cleaners couldn’t find!
The icing on the cake was a lost train ticket, when I had no cash and cards – I was still waiting to get new cards after I lost my purse the last time – and nearly being stranded in the city.
Until this point I had NEVER lost anything in my 29 years on this planet. The universe was seriously telling me something – stop, slow down, relax!
The irony is I’d actually been doing that albeit not consciously. At times I had felt like I was nearly paralysed by the massive upheaval that had occurred in my life but I was still acting and carrying on as normal. I was out of tune with my mental wellbeing – I needed to get back in tune!
So here’s the brutal honesty that with time, my friends, family and my therapist helped me come to terms with. I was numb / out of touch with my emotions. I was grieving for a broken marriage and selling my home – losing the life I’d spent my adult years building. I was feeling totally ashamed of how things have turned out for me at the grand old age of 29 and hiding how I truly felt.
This was not how I thought my life would turn out – but had you asked me what I thought my life would be like I couldn’t have articulated it to you. I knew I wasn’t the first person to go through this – and I sure as hell knew I wasn’t going to be the last but honestly that didn’t help me at the time.
Where to begin…
It’s tough – bloody tough admitting when you’ve not got your shit together. I felt like I was losing face by admitting I had depression – I was ashamed. If I could have hibernated at this point I would have!
What I very gradually realised over time though was that the more I talked about my depression the more I normalised it for me. I felt like I was building my own understanding of what I was going through – the tears lessened as I gained courage.
My work, friends, family and therapist were all supportive. I’ve consciously chosen to write my support network in this order – from personally who I thought would be hardest to talk to, to easiest to talk to- as I am shocked by how even conversations I thought would be tough weren’t as bad as I envisaged.
If you don’t own your vulnerability in all sectors of your life then you won’t build your resilience and support network. I was, and am, blessed with an amazing support network. Having just started a new job when this all “went down” it could have resulted in a sudden ending but it didn’t! They listened, were accommodating and genuinely cared.
Stability with my work routine was important for me and gave me a weekly focus. My friends showed me bucket loads of compassion and were there for me even when I didn’t know how to articulate how I felt. My family were beyond amazing – they helped me focus on the joy of the now (beach trips and time with my nephews spring to mind in particular) as well as planning for fun times ahead.
I’m writing this post from Chile – a dream two week adventure by myself that during dark times I thought I might not have the courage to do. What a difference a year makes!
Small steps lead to big rewards. Honesty and open communications breeds positive changes and inspiration from sometimes the strangest of places and experiences!
2017 is my year of fun! A year for me to own to positively take steps to create the life I deserve. 2016 helped me understand the challenges and heartbreak that life can throw at you from time to time. The lessons from 2016 have helped me become more resillient they’ve made me stronger and aware of how important it is to look after my mental health just as much as I look after my physical health.
I truly believe that to experience life’s true highs sometimes you need to experience its lows. And to really get the learnings and build resilience from such experiences you need to own them and get used to being vulnerable – it’s tough but it can be done!
Writing and reflecting on my experience of depression briefly makes it seem a hell of a lot calmer than the turbulent time I went through. For me a combination of medical and therapeutic support has worked. Everyone is different and experiences are personal. The commonality in finding a path out is human connection – everything starts by talking and being vulnerable….