As a child I was scared of everything; the dark, joining in games, obstacle courses, swimming pools and even men (ironic seeing how my early 20’s panned out!). Every child is scared of something as they’re introduced to the world, but what is normal and what is not?
I still remember my first day of school; it was traumatic. Nothing actually happened, apart from the fact I was separated from my parents. I was scared of the outside world and had absolutely no confidence, to go out there alone. That’s when my IBS started – although this was the 80’s – so my actual diagnosis was ‘stomach migraines.’ Rarely a week would pass, when I wasn’t doubled over, in the medical room. I couldn’t sleep at night and would just scream and scream with frustration. At 12 I had ME. My personal belief, is many inflammations in the body, are caused by the over releasing of adrenaline, through anxiety; weakening the immune system. Then came the teenage years – Ergh! Crippled with anxiety, my self-confidence went from zero, to minus 100! Public situations terrified me. My stomach would lurch continuously, making the most horrific noises; making quiet school assemblies traumatic, with everyone around me sniggering at these bizarre sounds. I felt I was living in hell and I won’t lie, at the age of 14 I had thoughts I just wanted to end the torment. That’s when the migraines started.
I then entered my 20’s people pleasing. I didn’t really know who I was, which led to an eclectic mix of boyfriends and friends – mostly the wrong people. One relationship actually led to both emotional and physical abuse; resulting in depression, PTSD and losing most of my friends. I adapted to what was expected; which included the 9 – 5 office job. I would have moments of enthusiasm, make plans of what I really wanted to do, but then cancel. I lost count how many times I booked driving lessons, did a couple, then bailed. When I was 16 I forced myself to do work experience on a magazine in London. When I was there, I was like a different person – being myself! But I needed to do an English degree to be a journalist and of course, I dropped out of uni out of fear and a lack of self-belief. I would go out, get blind drunk to block it all out, then have high anxiety about what I had or hadn’t said to people. In the sober light of day, I would over analyse every interaction and assumed, deep down, no one really liked me or wanted to be my friend; they were just being polite.
I eventually sought help in my late 20’s and after what can only be described as a breakdown, I made changes. These alternative methods seemed so weird, but I didn’t know what else to try. Slowly and gradually (after much resistance) everything peeled away. My anxiety eased, my ME symptoms went, my migraines and IBS disappeared and I started to gain confidence. As I started living as I wanted to, I gained even more confidence. After 16 years I left the insurance industry, I passed my driving test and finished my English degree!
I was still in an office job though and knew I wanted to work for myself, but still couldn’t quite take the leap. Unfortunately at this time, we suffered a miscarriage. After a dark time, I decided good had to come of this and I needed to jump! I had been studying Reiki for a number of years and knew I wanted to work in mental health. So I set up my own business; making the day I launched, the same day as my due date. I went on to add more qualifications and more therapies.
People often comment that they can’t believe how much I’ve ‘changed’ and to some I’m unrecognisable (some probably think I’m a bit crackers!). The truth is I hadn’t changed at all; I had just never been me. All of this can be such a taboo to talk about, but I wanted to share my story, to help others. I know that sounds so cliche, but it’s true. I get it. I get the overwhelm, I get the crippling, lurchy feeling and I get the feeling of being so low and lost. It’s never too late and it’s never impossible. Not everyone will get the same results as me and I’m certainly no saint, nor do I live a virtuous life! But it worked for me and my aim is to normalise these therapies and to help people to get their lives back – after all, I think my story is my best qualification by far.