If I’m being completely honest, I had struggled with my mental health prior to 2012. It was connected to post natal depression that had gone undiagnosed for far too long (my fault, I just kept powering through and keeping quiet).
In 2010 I had quite a rough year, I won’t bore you with all the details but there was a burglary, my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, my daughter and I were seriously close to being made homeless and just generally struggling with all the things a single parent often does.
Towards the end of that year however things seemed to take a positive turn whenI landed what I thought was the perfect job. Working full-time, from home (so I could still be there for my daughter), for a business that appeared to be an amazing fit on so many levels. I did have to move down to London so I could go into the office every couple of weeks but having lived down there before I thought that was a good thing – a chance of a new start start and to reconnect with old friends.
For 12 months things were indeed great but sadly my ‘happy’ bubble didn’t last and the isolation (single parent – limited babysitting options), being away from my family, working what felt like 24/7, demanding, bullying, threatening bosses and money troubles all started to take their toll on my mental & physical health. IBS, migraines, mood swings, memory problems, brittle nails, fatigue, constant aching, brain fog, sleeping problems…. the list went on. By 2012/13 I was in a constant state of chronic stress and could not see a way out. Depression started to seep back in and anxiety (a new ‘friend’) rocked up to join the party! I finally realised I had to take action when, after visiting a friend, I collapsed and they had to take me to hospital! This was the wake up call I needed.
Within 3 months I had got myself a substantial bank loan then quit my job (not a path I would recommend for all but it was the only way I could see at the time)… and first focused on getting myself right. My personal choice was to avoid medication… so invested a lot of time and money into exploring other alternatives. Some worked, some didn’t… but I could see their value. There wasn’t a huge amount of help out there if I’m honest so this sparked an idea to set up on my own – to help people like me.
I spent a lot of time retraining and teaching myself about stress and the impact it has on our mental and physical health. I hadn’t realised that stress is often the ‘early’ warning sign which, if ignored, can then contribute towards developing anxiety and/or depression. As someone who wasn’t able to retrain at a clinical level it therefore made sense for me to focus predominantly on stress. An area we can all learn how to help ourselves with.
The Stress Specialist was founded and here we are, over 9 years on from my ‘breakdown’, helping people to understand that there is action we can all take (and often it’s surprisingly easy) if we just know what action that is. I now work directly with individuals, businesses and institutions – and collaborate with professionals from various specialisms – all with a view to having a positive impact on as many people as possible in relation to their mental health and wellbeing.
Our mental health is something to be cared for, nurtured and strengthened and developed… and I am living proof that it can be done.