If I had to choose the best way to describe where I am in my life right now... I would quote Audrey Hepburn as perfectly as she puts it "As you grow older, you realise you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others."
Anxiety isn't something you get over. Unfortunately, with its many paths and changeable routes, anxiety isn't fixed by a pill (as much as anyone would like to think). Living with anxiety will last a life time. However, the important thing being, during that life time, we learn to control it.
Everyone has a journey and a route through life they will follow to reach their destiny. At some points in life, that destiny can be overshadowed, road blocks appear or gates with padlocks and no sign of a key. All this twinned with anxiety can be detrimental to an individuals mental health. I, myself have been in that position. That dark place where no one, not even you can find the light. It's terrifying and crippling and often feels like there is no way out. Speaking as a survivor of severe mental health issues, I can promise you, that someone who knows where the light switch is, is out there. That someone is you.
To master your own recovery journey. To survive and be able to tell the tale and inspire others, all starts with you. As Audrey quite rightly said, one of your hands is for helping you. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself. In fact, we should all be doing it. There shouldn't be any form of guilt attached to it because what is more important that our own health? If you can only manage to change one thing in your life, make sure you choose allowing yourself that me time. Vasts amounts of research show that once we start looking after ourselves, we are much more capable of supporting others and giving back effectively.
There is always that one day where you wake up and something within you has clicked. That day will change your life for the better. For me, I seemed to have a few occasions where I thought I had achieved 'that day' but looking back, realistically that day only happened this year...2019. In the years before I had started to make changes and seek ways to better my mental health. I have been lucky enough to have close connections in the therapy world, so my journey of exploring new ways of thinking and techniques to recover have always been a part of my later life (mid to late 20's) however, I can honestly say I hadn't mastered how to use all of this new found knowledge.
Getting closer to the end of 2018, things were looking up. I had a new job, a new home shared with my wonderful partner Michael but I still had doubts about my abilities to support myself in times where my anxiety became heightened. Don't get me wrong, my many years of therapy have helped me dramatically. At that point in my life I was much more stable, I was able to cope and use things I had learned to support me. For me though, there was still something missing. I needed to find my purpose, my sense of direction.
January came and I started to explore paths I'd already started creating. Paths I knew were there, but for some reason decided not to go over the stile and explore the other side. So, I went back to therapy and delved deeper into the causes of my anxieties and decided my life was no longer about coping, it was about living! I threw myself into new learning, studying the therapies I have been a part of to understand more why and how they work. For me what was missing wasn't that the therapies I had experienced weren't working because hand on heart they are the methods which have saved me, it was my deeper knowledge of how they saved me. I feel so unbelievably grateful to all those who have been a part of my recovery that in fact I was beginning to learn what my purpose was.
Don't get me wrong, I love to see the light bulb moments when children grasp the new concept you've been teaching. Those moments when they get up on stage and all their hard work lights up the room. Teaching for me personally has been about much more. This is where finding the reason for your other hand comes into play. " The other hand is for helping others."
Within teaching I do this on a daily basis. With my journey and the routes I have taken, I strongly believe that if I had had the support, guidance, knowledge and understanding that I am lucky enough to have now, my recovery may not have taken quite as long as it has. I am proud of who I am. I believe my life has taken the path that was meant for me but now it is my turn to help others who's shoes I have been find their destiny.
Now as a qualified life coach and therapist, it is my time to use all that I know and have experienced to empower others to reach their full potential. To fight the stigma that mental health is detrimental. Mental health doesn't define us and it most certainly does not control us. Within each and everyone of us is the inner strength to change your mindset and alter your ways of thinking to take back that control and start living the way you want to live.
Through my many years of teaching I have seen the rise in mental health across youngsters, I can see children struggling with the same things I did as a child. Coupled with my teaching experience and therapeutic knowledge, I am now equipped with tools and techniques to support our young people. After all, they are the next generation. Let's make them the strongest one!
One of the main ways I have managed to allow time for myself is through my running. It's something I have been doing all my life (literally!). I have experienced the anxieties that come with being the best at your sport. I understand how important success is, whether it be on an individual, club or even world class level. With my love for sport still being a huge part of my life, again it is my turn to give back. To empower athletes to delve deep and uncover the greatest level of motivation. Teach strategies to help calm nerves on event days and use the power of visualisation to become the best you can be.
I have had a lot of guidance throughout my journey. Some of which I know will always be there along the rest of my path. Anxiety and other mental health issues, sadly, never fully let us go. But together we can work on allowing ourselves to have the control. I can give back to you the tools and techniques I have now mastered so you yourself can write your story about how you too have survived.
Let's do this together. You just need to take that first step.
"Step into the best version of you."
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