After spending years as a ‘successful’ business woman, hardly ever allowing herself to take time off, it took all of Bev’s strength from deep within to reach out for help at a time when she felt all was lost. Bev discovered that this was true strength. Like so many who have #Emerged Proud through a personal crisis, this has now become Bev’s mission; to help others to realise that mental health struggles are a normal reaction to difficult life circumstances, and that it’s not only okay to self- care, it’s absolutely vital.
Bev now tells her story within workplace settings, to give others strength to reach out. Here she recounts how she ended up doing this wonderful work…
Like a Phoenix from the ashes
This year (2019) marks a huge milestone for me as it was ten years ago that I went through what can only be described as my annus horribilis.
2009, the year that changed my life in so many ways; I started the year, what I thought was happy enough, although looking back the toxic relationship I was in along with the high-pressured job and bullying I was enduring in the workplace was not conducive to a happy, balanced life.
As the start of the year passed I went through it convincing myself it would all be Ok, that things would work out alright in the end if I just hung in there and hung in there I did. I hung on for the first five months of the year by a thread; it was like I was on the edge of a rock face gripping on by my fingertips. At the end of May 2009 my life fell apart when the situation at work became unbearable, so much so that all I did was spend all my time in tears, sobbing my way through the day and into my pillow at night.
Finally, I gave in and visited the doctor who diagnosed clinical depression and severe anxiety, I found this just to be the start of a road that led to a journey of darkness that went seemingly deeper with each day. I found myself walking through a fog, a fog of what I believed to be failure, a fog of sadness, a fog of paranoia, a fog of loneliness and a fog of isolation that turned into a fog of anger.
I became so angry. I was angry with me for being so useless, I was angry with those in work who had seemingly turned against me. I was angry with those closest to me who in my mind didn’t understand. I was angry with God, the Universe and basically anyone else I could blame for the situation I was now in.
Following my diagnosis, I was informed by the doctor that I had two weeks before hospitalisation, so my choice was to take a sick note and sign off from work, or to go to work where within two weeks they would be sending an ambulance to pick me up! I knew in my heart the choice was no choice, but it was hard, I always resisted the urge to be off sick but no more, I had to give in.
During the latter part of 2009 I lost my job, my home (temporarily to dry rot), and my relationship; my income lowered dramatically as I went from a senior manager salary to employment support allowance, and in my mind my world fell apart; little did I know this was actually the time when the foundations of my new life were starting to form.
I found myself self-harming, literally dragging my nails against my skin until I drew blood, this was my way of proving to myself I could hurt myself more than anyone else could hurt me. In the darkest of nights, I found suicide thoughts creeping into my mind. I had it all planned, I wrote the text I would send to family and friends then worked out exactly how I would do it. I was so close, and yet the thought of the sadness I would cause to others somehow kept me hanging on to life.
Christmas / New Year 2010 became a turning point in my life. As I celebrated with family and friends I vowed that I would do whatever it would take to ensure that I would never have another year like 2009. I would turn my life around and ensure that those that had helped drive me down that road would not win. They may well have won the battle that took me towards the darkness of life, but they were never going to win the war.
I started 2010 by signing up to a Life Coaching diploma course as I became determined to help others not go where I had been. I wanted to somehow to let others know it is Ok not to be Ok, and you can indeed start day by day to come out the other side. At the time I renovated my property by day, so it became habitable again, and studied for my diploma by night. I was on medication for the depression and I have to say I was very lucky to have such an understanding doctor who was always on hand when needed. I undertook counselling sessions through which I learnt to take baby steps along the road to recovery.
I was shown how to take each day at a time, how to explore my new world by taking baby steps towards a new goal every day, even if that goal was just taking a walk in the park rather than staying under my duvet. One of my counsellors suggested always writing in my diary the evening before a plan for the next day therefore giving me a reason to get up. I have to say this advice worked so well in that I started to find getting up in the morning was fun as I suddenly had a purpose; it meant at the end of the day I could reflect on my progress and give thanks for all I had achieved that day.
As time passed, in 2010 I spent more and more quality time with family and friends, this made me realise that those riches in life lie with people not materialistic objects of desire. These lovely people along with those I had met in my dark times started to build on the foundations I was building within myself. I read books and absorbed information around positive thinking, faith, belief and mindfulness. I learnt how self-care was something that had been missing from my life for a long time and how by re-introducing it would in turn support me during the next stage of my journey as I began to walk along the path of recovery.
Fast forward to 2019 and it is suffice to say that the last ten years have been a rollercoaster, during which there were times I had to find the strength to hold on a little tighter. I have endured heartache, debt, and the anxiety still lurks hidden in the shadows but today it is thankfully manageable.
I started a business in August 2010 through which I now indeed do help others in many ways, including workplace wellbeing. I am proud to say I actively share my story to normalise the importance of good mental health and what happens if self-care isn’t treated as an important part of everyday life.
I became a published author in 2012, an award-winning mentor, a radio show host, an avid volunteer, and met many new friends along the way. I renovated and sold my apartment to move back to my childhood village where I now live near my parents and share my life with my wonderful partner and his children. I know I am blessed, and I offer gratitude every day for the life I now have, the life I have built from the ashes, indeed the life that through experience turned an ordinary life to an extraordinary one.
I know from experience what it is like to feel like all is lost and I have seen members of my family broken by the suicide of my young cousin. The grief it leaves for others is immeasurable, and I am so relieved that from deep within I found a strength that saw me reach out for help at the time when I felt all was lost.
If I hadn’t done that I’d have missed out on all that the last ten years has brought me, and for that again I give thanks.
To contact Bev, you can find her website here: http://www.awakencoaching.co.uk
Do you resonate with Bev’s story? If you’d like to share yours in order to inspire others in Kelly’s KindaProud book: #EmergingProud through Suicide
Please contact Kelly at: firstname.lastname@example.org