Now I am no expert in this field, I read lots of self-help books and I have had therapy myself but this blog is purely based on my experience and my opinion.
If you’d have asked me about mental health 5 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you much about it, in fact, I’d go as far as to say I was quite ignorant when it came to the subject, and when I think about it now, I feel awful that I never really took it seriously. Mental health, therapy and meditation wasn’t anything I paid any attention to, I was 24 and didn’t really have any experience with it.
Fast forward to 2018 and it was easily the hardest year of my life! I’ve been lucky to grow up with 3 grandparents but in 2018 I lost all of them in the space of 7 months, 2 Grandads and my Babcia (grandma). Now, I’m not saying I didn’t care about my grandads because I really, really did but nothing has ever hurt me like losing my Babcia. I had this bond with her that I have never been able to explain to anybody and all the words in the world wouldn’t do our relationship justice. For the first 6 months after losing her I carried on with my life as nothing had happened, my theory was if I block it out eventually the pain will go away and I also thought how dare I cry and be upset, my mum has lost both her parents 16 weeks apart to the exact day and she soldiered through so I don’t have the right to be upset. How wrong was I?
Come August 2019 I started feeling really dizzy and my heart would feel like it was skipping a beat. I convinced myself I was terminally ill and wasn’t going to live another day. I was scared to leave the house in case I would pass out and die and I wouldn’t drive because I convinced myself I would crash and die! Every worry I had I would be adamant that it was going to cause death. At this point, I decided I needed to see the doctor who told me I was experiencing catastrophic thinking disorder (I’d never heard of it) and it was caused by witnessing somebody I cared about so much take her last breathe – I was at my Babcia’s bedside holding her hand when she passed away and I think it made me realise how quickly it can happen and that it will happen to everybody. It had created a fear in my mind which meant every worry would cause me to resort back to this. Me and the doctor decided CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) was the best thing to try first and I had my first of 10 sessions in March 2020.
I remember walking into the first therapy session (a week before COVID lockdown) and thinking this isn’t going to work, surely it is going to take much more than this to make me feel normal again – WRONG. My therapist was a gift sent from God, the woman was a genius and I walked out of that first session thinking ‘wow, I wish I would’ve done this sooner’. She gave me all these different techniques to try at home, books to read and apps to download. This was not an overnight cure, it is something I will always deal with and still to this day I find I will have to look over and carry out some of the exercises she told me to.
One of the things she told me to try was meditation and she followed it with ‘it may not be for you so don’t worry’ there seems to be a new hype around meditation but I don’t think a lot of people understand it. People see meditation as sitting in a room listening to something on YouTube or Spotify and clearing your mind completely and becoming all ‘zen’. This type of meditation did not work for me, it is an impossible task because I just cannot clear my mind. I have tried it multiple times and nobody will be able to convince me that it is ‘for everybody’. I told my therapist this and she said ‘I agree, it isn’t for everybody however you can find different ways to get into that state of mind. It may be a walk, gym session, a bath, reading a book’ – so now I make a brew, sit in a quiet room and read which I feel is now my way of meditating.
The obstacles I have mentioned in this blog were a massive part of my life and looking back they did have a negative effect on my career, my head wasn’t in it, I think I cared about all the wrong aspects of a business but once I asked for that extra help and spoke to other people, that helped me to cope, especially during the pandemic. It also made a massive impact on my business and the way it runs. I now understand that mental health is more important than anything, especially when it comes to my team! As a company, we make an effort to check in on them and how they are doing personally, they all know (or I hope they do) that they can come to me with anything and I will try my best to help and support them.
Opening my eyes to mental health has made me understand that it is something everybody will most likely deal with at some point and it can be in a number of different ways, so if I ask a member of the team to do something, I will always have in mind that they may not feel as comfortable doing that job as I would, or they may have things going on in their private life which means they aren’t in the correct mental space and it is my responsibility to help them through their struggle and work on it together.
One thing I will always tell people and probably the main reason I talk about it so openly now is that mental health and well-being nothing to be embarrassed about and help is always available. Having support around me meant I could deal with it very quickly and easily which I understand some people don’t have that but there is always something, you just have to reach out.