When I was 30 I suffered a nervous breakdown. For two years I tried to hide my feelings, tried to cope as normal, all the time aware that I was losing my sense of self. I endured frequent panic attacks, as many as 10 per day until I could no longer leave my flat. So I do understand what it’s like to feel anxious and stressed – to try and hide it – until it gets so bad that it can’t be hidden – and then to finally admit it’s all too much.
I had no choice but to leave work and it took me 9 months to recover, before I felt strong enough to return to a traditional office role. In those days, my only options were anti-depressant pills and counselling. I knew I didn’t want the pills and chose counselling but that could only help me so much and after 6 months I ended the counselling after realising that it just kept me stuck in a distressing part of my life from which I needed to break free.
But you know, everything happens for a reason and I’m now grateful for that realisation because it took me on a journey. I knew I had to work for myself, I knew I had to pursue a career that fulfilled me and captivated me. I love learning and am always keen to improve upon my skills. I am especially fascinated by the mind and how it works and how it links to our behaviour and am endlessly inspired to help people get to the bottom of why they do what they do, particularly when they say they don’t want to! Or conversely, when they say they are desperate to achieve something, but do absolutely nothing about it. I learned that how I viewed my situation and all the things that had happened to me during my chequered career greatly influenced my emotional state and my reactions to my life. When I learned to change my thinking, I changed my life.
I love helping other people breakthrough the barriers that hold them back, particularly as I didn’t really begin to realise my potential until I turned 40 and became self-employed. Many factors held me back in my career but probably mostly it was me and my lack of confidence and self-belief. I didn’t know it at the time because the term was not really familiar but I now realise I suffered from what’s called The Imposter Syndrome, that dreadful feeling that I was not good enough to be promoted, or gain that qualification, or deserve that pay rise and whilst my fierce ambition drove me on for more and more, higher and higher, whenever I succeeded, I immediately began to doubt myself. With the benefit of hind-sight I can see how I caused my breakdown. I was overwrought emotionally, constantly raging about things I couldn’t control, outraged at the unfairness of other people towards me, so exhausted by my driving ambition to be somebody, that in the end, my body collapsed. I was shocked. I thought I was coping well but my counselling revealed that I had been “coping” with about 10 years of accumulated, work-related stress.
It may sound unusual to say, but I don’t regret any of these feelings or events because they set me on the path to where I am now, determined to find out why I had those feelings and running my own business, focusing on the topics I love the most.