It was actually nearly a year ago when I first came up with the idea of creating a website/blog/service designed to reduce stress and overwhelm by personally helping people to fit in all the wonderful little things that they love and believe they haven’t got time for. The fact is you have got the time and it is important that you do these thing that mean so much to you.
Well I went about starting to set up my new business venture around the family commitments that come with having a 4 year old and a baby at home and running a house while my husband travelled around the world on business.
I didn’t realise there was anything wrong. I had no idea what was coming. I thought everything was as it should be. But then I couldn’t help but wonder-was I supposed to be so irritable and snappy with the children all the time? I was tired I knew that so I tried to get more sleep. But I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake flinging myself around the bed and the few hours sleep I did get wasn’t of any decent quality at all.
Then started the ‘concerns’ regarding my boys behaviour at preschool and boy, I didn’t not cope well with that. Every day I would pick him up and be told how he had been hurting the other children and he couldn’t control the impulse to lash out that most children grow out of by the time they are 3. It broke my heart on a daily basis and I cried so often in front of the preschool supervisor. I couldn’t bare to look at the other parents in case they were judging me and I was terrified about the effect all of this was having on the child I adored with all my heart. The child I had always wanted and that I believe was made for me.
My shoulders were so tense at this time that I was in 24 hour a day crippling pain. I thought that the only way this pain would go is whenever it would be that I died. So, of course, i was getting even less sleep then. I had begun fuelling myself on around 8 cups of coffee a day just to get myself through.
I got a massage for my shoulders from a friend who was studying sports psychology, she sat me up, stood behind me and said ‘right just put your shoulders down’ ‘down?’ I said, I tried but they literally would not move with all the tension!
So anyway my genius business blog idea was completely discarded at this point. I couldn’t imagine how I could help anybody in the state I was in and who would listen to somebody who couldn’t balance their own life anyway?
So i trotted off to the doctors thinking it was probably anaemia or b12 deficiency. Something that I could get a prescription to fix. After blood tests and several meetings the doctor diagnosed ‘anxiety and stress’. I left thinking she’s got that wrong I would know if I had anxiety but no. Apparently I wouldn’t. She put me on the waiting list for counselling and physiotherapy for my shoulders and sent me on my way.
Upon returning home I got straight on to google as many people would do in this situation. I spoke to my friend the mental health nurse who reassured me by saying ‘knowledge is power where this is concerned’ so I ordered a CBT workbook online and set about researching what I needed to do. One of the helpful hints I read was to try journaling. I found a notepad and wrote away not really knowing what I should write about. After a few minutes of getting into the flow I found myself pouring my heart out about how I felt like a big black cloud was following me around. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. Ok maybe I am stressed and anxious then. Maybe the way I was feeling wasn’t right and perhaps there was something wrong after all.
Not long after the diagnosis my dear old grandad died. Which was a hard knock and for a few weeks there. All I could do was get through the days and be there for my family who all seriously adored my grandad with good reason. My family all needed me and I needed to be there for them. Somehow that was my way of dealing with it.
It was a knock yes and a very strange time. Especially for someone who, like me, was fortunate not have had much experience of death. But I dealt with it and life went on.
One thing I really felt the need to do in the midst of everything that was happening was take a trip to see my wonderful, wise auntie Jay who lived 2 hours away in Lancashire. She always somehow had the exact words that I needed to hear and I knew I would come away from her feeling enlightened. And I did. We talked about the anxiety, what I went through with preschool, grandad, childhood even and I cried and her soft gentle voice soothed me so much and I will never forget how much she helped me that day. As I drove back down the motorway the rain poured and I felt my pain wash away with it.
One of the outcomes of that meeting was that I got back in touch with my estranged father who I hadn’t spoken to or seen in 15 years. I had seen that he was on facebook and had considered how it would benefit me to ask him all the questions I had always wondered about and had probably affected my life forever. He answered all my questions with as much honesty as he could and I am grateful for that. What else will come of the situation I don’t know. I guess time will tell but at the moment we are emailing regularly.
I eventually got a counselling place on a 6 week course of group sessions in the middle of the summer. By that point I had dealt with a lot of what had happened and was beginning to feel brighter, happier and like my old self. But wiser and older. I went to the counselling and got an immense amount of help from it. Techniques and information that I will remember for the rest of my life. When I started the counselling I thought I was cured already but my curiosity took me there anyway. I’m so glad. The main thing I got from it was that i knew I had to stop it coming back I could spot it from a distance and delve into my bag of tricks to make sure I don’t get back to that same dark place. And I have used the techniques I learnt at the counselling sessions countless times already over the last 6 months and will do for the rest of my life.
Ok so here I really need to point out that if you do have symptoms of stress or anxiety tell your GP. It won’t simply go away. I also used the information on the website for the metal health charity mind http://www.mind.org.uk
At the beginning of last year one of the few people I had got round to telling about my website ideas was my beautiful little auntie Jay. When I revisited her in the midst of everything I told her I couldn’t bring myself to do it now. I wasn’t who I thought I was to be able to help anybody. She said ‘sometimes you have to experience something like this to be able to help other people’. At the time I really didn’t think it could happen ever. But as those words roll over in my mind more frequently a light beams brighter in my mind. She was right, of course, I can help people with this idea and everything I went through happened for that exact reason!
So that is the story of what led me to create this website that I hope will help other people enjoy their lives and look after themselves.
One of my counsellors many metaphors was ‘when you’re on an aeroplane and the flight attendants are reading out the safety instructions what do they say about when the oxygen masks come down?’
You put yours on before helping anybody else fit theirs because you can’t help people around you if you don’t look after yourself first!