So today marks the second anniversary of the start of my official mental health journey. As I’ve said before I can see now that I had been suffering for years but soldiering on through it all. Putting on that brave face. Smiling through it all while inside I was allowing everything to chip away at the little self confidence I had left.
There was a time I would say that I was bloody good at my job. As a people pleaser I knew who to get the best of out everyone and was a master of negotiating and influencing. I only wanted what was best for my customers but also what was best for the company I worked for. I was in my element on a customer visit to the factory, taking control of the situation and was so proud of everything that we achieved but secretly proud to be co-ordinating it all. My customers all knew me, I was considered the “expert” that they all needed to talk to. I was in my element for a while. People needed my advice and people listened. People came out of their way to come in to my office, shut the door and talk to me about their problems too.
Those that worked with me will have seen the growing instability for years. Gone was the golden girl who could do no wrong and was promoted without even an interview. Replaced by some defensive, angry but very sad, empty shell who couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.
I had started to mask my feelings by rewarding myself with a glass of wine in the evenings… nothing wrong with that but it became my crutch. Living next door to our lovely village pub meant that the weekend started on a Thursday night and rolled into a late Sunday night. Work had become a highly toxic environment for me as I realised I could not please everyone all of the time and gradually it felt like I couldn’t please anyone. I took every teeny, tiny piece of criticism to heart and it only endorsed my already shattered self confidence. I was not worthy.
On the morning of the 3rd September 2018 I drove into work a quivering wreck. Driving through tears, trying to shake them off and talk myself up in the car “you got this girl, you CAN do this”…. “it’s gonna be a good day”…… I got into the office and I don’t remember anything much other than quiet terror. Hiding away in my corner office hoping that no one would come near me, no one would speak to me or question me, just let me hide and get through the day.
Of course that could never happen and the tears just would not stop. My mind was flipping at the emails I was reading and I didn’t have the first clue where to start. There was nothing out of the ordinary in my inbox that day. It was my head that was no longer working.
My boss at that time was in Head Office for a meeting and I desperately waited for them to come back to talk… I needed to go home and get some sleep. By 10am I just couldn’t hold on and sometime late morning I made the bravest decision of my life and I picked up my stuff and walked out. I drove the hours drive through sobs and snot. With hindsight not the safest move I’ve ever made and I got my first appointment with a doctor to try to fix whatever was wrong with me.
I also signed up for counselling and Kinesiology which was a life saver but all at my own cost.
I have a lot of bad memories of those early days. I felt I was letting everyone down and I couldn’t explain what was wrong with me as I didn’t understand it myself. I had to plead with the doctor to give me some time off work. That did not come naturally to me at all as for years I’d been begging them not to sign me off. Now that I really needed it I actually had to ask for it. I had to fight to get appointments, fight to get sick lines, when I was at my lowest ebb and had to pull up my britches and fight for what I thought was right. The only time I could relax was when I was with the counsellor or Health Kinesiologist and they seemed to understand me.
It was just so so very hard.
My sick line said “anxiety”…. what did that even mean. That old saying “auch she’s awfy bad wi her nerves that one”….
I did got back to work for 5 months from Dec 2018 to early June 2019 but I was a shadow of my formal self…. ready to crack at any moment.
So back off sick again…
I honestly wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. I felt such a huge burden to everyone that I felt it would be better for them all if I wasn’t around. The smiley, happy, chatty, friendly girl had been buried alive. Under a pile of anxiety.
As I’ve said I had to source all my own counselling, my own support, the one referral that I did get wasn’t joined up with what I was told it would be. The guy actually kept looking at his watch while I told him my worst. “Don’t know why they thought we could help with blah, blah,blah as they know we don’t do that…….” magic, thanks for nothing.
All this money spent on mental health these days and I never saw any of it working for me. My work very kindly helped out with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for a good while towards the end of 2019 though which was a great help.
Finally after moving to a new doctor surgery I found a doctor who seemed to realise just how bad I was feeling in November of 2019. She changed my meds and gave me the first appointment on 27th December so that I had something to “look forward to” over Christmas. She could see how much I was dreading the “party” season and everyone being happy. She helped me start on the road to recovery.
The girl who worked those crazy hours and gave her all to everyone else just wasn’t who I needed to be. I needed to be me. I needed to care for me and I needed to love me.
And I do now. It’s taken me 2 years to be able to admit that to myself.
I still feel I have a bit to go on building my confidence back up but true healing comes from vulnerability and if this peeled onion Julie 🧅 isn’t vulnerable then I don’t know what is…. (that was just an excuse to use the onion emoji!)
I want to thank each and every one of you for helping support my journey. I’ve had the most amazing support and have had to rely on some people more than I ever thought possible.
I promise that I will pay this back.
I thanked my counsellors and I thank Shelagh, the lovely Kinesiologist, all the time but I have never written to thank that doctor and do you know what… I’m gonna do that right now. Tell her that she listened at a time when I needed it the most. Maybe she needs to know that she made a difference.
Onwards and upwards.
Stay safe everyone 🧡🧡🧡