Me, My Mind & I - My Story
Updated: Feb 21
This is by far the hardest blog I will ever write. My story is so complex and there are so many parts that I am not sure I can cover it sufficiently in a blog but I hope this will give you a flavour of me and my story. Through future blogs, videos and events I am sure more of the details will come out. Until then, I hope this helps you understand me a little better.
I have always been an anxious person, I am clumsy perfectionist so I was always doomed really. The problem was that whilst I was growing up, it wasn’t something people looked for or acknowledged as an issue. I was just cast as shy, sensitive and nervous. Once you are put in that box and treated as such, it is really hard to get back out.
The depression side didn’t occur until a few years back. The diagnosis came in March 2014 but I think I had been struggling a little while before that. Sleep was the first thing to go. The stress of university and studying a challenging subject abroad in a foreign language – I did a year of study in Germany and I have no regrets regardless of this statement - was enough to push my anxiety over the edge and into a hole that felt too deep to climb out of.
During that time my Mum became progressively more and more ill. I have been very lucky with the family upbringing I have had. We are all quite close though at the time I would have probably told you otherwise as I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was. She was diagnosed the same day I found out I had been offered my dream job.
That day in March 2014 was when I “broke”.
She was given seven months to live as the cancer had spread over vital arteries. Try finishing out a masters in engineering with that on your brain. It felt impossible without that sort of heartache. With it, it was as if my emotions had been used up. That I had none left to feel anymore. So I just went completely numb.
My purpose had left me and I just wasn’t sure who I was, what I was doing or why I even existed. The way I was handling the situation was very different to other family members. It meant that there were a lot of clashes and I started to feel as if I just made everyone’s life worse. In which case, why was I around? Would it be better if I left and never came back? Would it be better if I had never existed in the first place? Was I the bad egg that had caused all these other awful things to happen?
I couldn’t focus on anything other than these sort of questions. Looking back now I would answer those questions very differently. At the time though, the decision to be gone seemed a better one. Luckily for me, my anxiety kicked in and I was too scared to follow through on actions I had planned. The brave part of me took myself to get help. A trait I am so glad I had, without it I don’t know where I would be now and quite frankly I don’t want to consider it.
I got diagnosed but I refused meds and went to therapy. It didn’t seem to help but I was learning to live with it. If you can call continuously blaming others for your issues living with it. I wasn’t in a place to accept responsibility for my emotions and illness at that time and so therapy didn’t work. However, I was moving again and that was enough of a small step for me. It meant I could finish out my degree, start my new job and be there for my Mum who needed me.
Work was a great hiding place. I got involved with as many initiatives as possible. If I was busy, I wouldn’t have time to think or feel. Five months into the new job my Mum passed. I had a few days off work, helped plan the funeral and looked after my family. I didn’t need to be sad. We knew it was coming so there was no need to be sad all over again. It was inefficient and my career could not be knocked by this. I was not going to let it.
Months which turned to years passed, I was starting to realise I wasn’t as efficient as I had been. I was struggling to focus, deadlines where being missed and sleeping was a distant memory. It was almost 2 years after the death of my Mum that I realised the true meaning of “broken”. I thought I was having a heart attack at work, the nausea, the chest pain, the dizziness, an ability to breathe – It felt like my time had come.
Work colleagues had to sit with me whilst it passed. I went back to the doctors and this time accepted the medical help needed. I was signed out of work for a couple of weeks which gave my time to find the right meds and get a therapist sorted again. This time, I took things more seriously and worked so hard and getting myself better.
I knew that the only person that could solve this was me.
Since Mum, my Grandad – her dad – had also passed. He couldn’t cope with her death and started trying to take his own life. When visiting him in hospital or at his home, I started to see similarities in our behaviour. I started to see myself from others perspectives which helped me fight the voices in my head, when they did come around, with the hopes of making me feel inferior and a burden. It helped keep me focused on my own recovery whilst also being able to be there for him and explain to others how he might be feeling.
I had a few different therapists over the years for different forms of support. I dipped in and out of sessions and on and off meds depending on what was happening in my life at the time. For instance, I came off my meds and stopped therapy in the summer of 2017 and was feeling really great and proud of myself. That was until a week before Christmas of that year. I was sexually assaulted by a guy who put his hands in inappropriate places after having my backed into a corner. You would think that was bad enough but it was in a public place whilst his friends – another 5 men - and various members of the general public. During the arrest and following process, I felt the dark cloud coming back and I knew meds and therapy were needed.
I never came back off my meds but I am now out of therapy again. I learnt so much and so many systems to help myself. I am doing well at my job, back to feeling focused and not afraid to give my opinion and put necessary boundaries in place. I am so proud of myself for all I have achieved and worked through. I have learnt so much about myself in the process and I am so grateful for the support I have received.
I know now I was never broken. I was just adapting and developing into the human I am now. Into the human that knows how to look after themselves and still care for others effectively, who knows when is too much and who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself when needed.
I am hoping through Engineer Your Mind I can pay it back to you all to allow everyone to survive those times that feel impossible. Thanks so much for reading my story, I feel privileged to be in a position to be able to share it and I hope some parts of it help you feel less alone. I am here for you and so are many others.