I was very depressed and couldn’t see a route out
I was 18 years old when I actually understood what anxiety and depression was, but it actually started in my childhood only in those times (I’m 37 now) I hadn’t heard of those words and we never discussed feelings as a family or with friends.
I moved cities when I was 7 years old and really missed my extended family in London, however when at school I focused purely on my studies as it was something I enjoyed. I struggled to fit in with friends in my primary school as I joined the school midway, I was known as the studious one, the quiet one, the shy one and found it hard to easily gel with others. I struggled even more at secondary school where I had to change schools after the first year.
I was constantly told I never smiled, I was moody, I wasn’t bubbly enough, I wasn’t confident enough, I didn’t mingle enough and this was by many people. I was compared to others all the time, how smiley or how outgoing that person was, try and be like them. I struggled at this point with many things from dreading getting on a bus, going to a public library, walking in assembly all through my fear of being judge and what people thought of me.
I felt incredibly low, insecure and lonely because there was no one to share these thoughts to, and being a teenager was hard enough as it was. The only thing that got me through was my love for studies, I passed my gscse’s and consciously chose a college that hardly any people from my school were going to.
I had my first boyfriend there and for the first time in what felt like forever I felt happy, I was happy with my friends, my life and my studies, until my boyfriend decided to break up with me just before doing our exams. We had actually chosen to go to the same university and do the same course. I got 3 AS in my A levels but my world fell apart, I was lost, heart broken, and couldn’t face anything or anyone.
I went to university and had the worst first year of my life. My ex boyfriend was there, I saw him daily and each time as he appeared to move on and enjoy uni life my heart was breaking. Because of this I didn’t make any attempt to make friends, hardly do any of the freshers things and really struggled. I struggled with the work too, where once I was a grade A student I was failing here. My ex was quite the narcissist too often used me giving me false hope then making me feel I was to blame.
I absolutely hated myself and who I was, I was very depressed and couldn’t see a route out, a few kind friends tried to help me but they could only do so much. One was my now husband, God to think what I put him through. He as my friend back then would sit outside my room door as I locked myself inside crying my eyes out. I didn’t want to exist and didn’t want to be me anymore, I didn’t want to carry on and saw no way out. I went to counselling, was diagnosed with depression and even given anti-depressants. My family who were so worried told me to take a gap year. I nearly quit my degree and my life, but through support I got through it day by day. My family came to stay with me at times, I told the tutors and my limited friends continued to help me, I got my degree, became an Optometrist and thought I would finally be happy.
This anxiety however still hung over me like a black cloud. It felt at this point no matter what phase of my life I was at I would never be happy.
I thought being married, having a good job, living a good life with holidays, a good home would make me happy but it didn’t. What was wrong with me?? I always felt I wasn’t good enough in anything, and that everyone around me had it together. I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, confident enough, happy enough, bubbly enough, funny enough etc. I was super critical of myself and wished I was anyone but me. My mood was always up and down, I’d be sobbing hysterically one day to be angry and annoyed the next. I tried every therapy from counselling, reiki, hypnosis to coaching.
Through the therapies I decided to train to be a life coach too. I was always interested in psychology even doing an A level in it, with my love of studying I thought this would bring me joy, and it did I really loved it. My anxiety stayed with me at varying levels, I struggled greatly with things like filling my petrol, going to shopping centres and going to people’s homes where social interaction was involved. I hid behind my husband a lot purely because I was afraid if what I said wasn’t the right thing, if it wasn’t interesting, cool or funny. People mistook my quietness for being shy or not making an effort but I was always filled with fear of not being liked and so just didn’t talk.
When I had children my anxiety took a big spiral, going to all these groups with my baby was too much. My social anxiety hit the roof, I even struggled just going to the coffee shop or going for a walk, were people looking at me? What were they thinking? I spent my days exhausted, crying and guilty for not being a good enough mum. I didnt seem to make mum friends easily, I felt super super alone, I wasn’t really on social media to seek out the support groups I see so much of now. Simple things gave me the biggest fear, what if I couldn’t unfold the pushchair, what if I got lost when I was driving, what if I didnt know what to do when my baby cried and everyone would stare at me? Imagined but to me very real fears.
When I would tell people they would make me feel guilty for feeling the way I was, I had a good life, financially secure, family etc what reason did I have to feel down, I should think about kids in Africa to feel better. This made me feel worse, did I have a right to feel this way? But these external ‘perfect factors’ weren’t making truly happy. I wanted to like me and be liked, I wanted to feel good enough and fit in.
I made a decision I had to do something, enough was enough, my girls needed me, I needed to be strong and inspiring not some emotional wreck. I stopped looking for friends and validation and turned to meditation and mindfulness. I changed my nutrition, I began to workout, I began to give myself some love and care, I stopped worrying about the outside world that I feared so much and started working on my inner world.
My life slowly began to transform. I then picked up my studies again and trained in Rapid Transformation Therapy, Mindfulness and Meditation. I felt alive for once in my life. I let go of people who I was desperate to be friends with but had no time for me, I realised how needy I had become. I wanted certain peoples love, validation and recognition. However I let them all go, a fear I had so wrongly held on to. I realised my habits and fear of change held me back. I was still chasing people for attention and time even though they gave no value or support in my life, yet I was scared by letting go I would be even lonelier. Letting go of my past that didn’t define me and letting go of people who no longer served me was the best thing I did.
The minute I chose to be free and worked on my inner self and continued my own therapy a whole new life became available to me. I didn’t require validation or the need to be liked, I began to fill that void by liking myself.
New people began to enter my life, some of my best friends are people I’ve only met in the last few years. I’m so thankful to my husband for his endless support and love.
I now not only am an Optometrist, but run two successful businesses one being my wellbeing company Inspiring Success. I have been able, through my own journey help hundreds of clients transform their mindset and life too and be free from anxiety. It took me years to get here but now I can help so many save incredible years and find their peace and happiness. Last year I even published my first book Perfectly Imperfect Mum, so I can support all mums who may be going through what I have.
It’s still a journey and of course I can get hit by anxiety at times but nowhere like I was and my recovery is a million times quicker and stronger. My mindset, health and heart is much stronger. Even as I write this and reflect, I realise what a journey it’s been and as it’s been about my mental health unless I chose to seek help or speak up it can so easily go unnoticed and then who knows where I would be right now.
I hope my journey resonates and helps you start believing and living again.