Christmas Day 2015, I couldn’t cope with cooking Christmas lunch….for 3 people. I couldn’t work out what time the potatoes needed to go on to roast in time for when the meat was ready. I felt overwhelmed and I was scared. Scared of what was happening to me, scared that I would never recover. After lunch, we played our usual game of Scrabble. I couldn’t add 8 + 5 (just as well I wasn’t on a triple word score!) and I was genuinely terrified. I remember looking at my Mum and saying, “I really think I’ve broken my brain Mum, it doesn’t work anymore!” and bursting into tears (my poor Mum.)
In January I’d started to tell friends that I’d been signed off work for a while, unable to cope. It’s hard trying to explain something you don’t even understand yourself and not wanting to be a burden. I felt weak and embarrassed, so embarrassed. All I wanted to do was stay in bed all day and hide. But most days, I had some amazing family and friends who would invite me out on walks and patiently listen, support, help. Slowly but surely, I felt less alone, less isolated, less terrified and was pushing myself to try and get out every day, even if it was only for half an hour. Some days it would take me til 2pm to talk myself into going outside, some days I only managed 15 minutes of yoga and some days I felt sort of ok.
I was terrified of going back to work, was having nightmares about it and panic attacks at the thought of it. The previous few months in that job had been brutal and I’d allowed the situation to get out of hand. I won’t go into the detail here (look out for another blog on that!) but I felt I was being bullied, singled out and it felt deeply personal. I had to leave and I had to do something else.
By April 2016 the panic attacks had started to ease and I was able to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time. I’d decided some time before that I wanted to re-train as a Coach and NLP Practitioner so I signed up for an NLP course, starting later that month. I was so scared and remember repeatedly saying to myself getting ready for day 1 of my NLP course “today is going to go well, I’m going to be ok, I can do this.” One of my biggest fears was that I was going to have to speak in front of lots of people. I’d never loved public speaking but had been ok with it until ‘that’ job. Unfortunately, a couple of bad experiences there had developed my fear to epic proportions and it had become something that I dreaded. As fate would have it NLP was exactly what I needed! I used the training to understand my anxiety and fear of public speaking as well as learn techniques to help manage them.
Fast forward to November 2016 and I was well on the road to recovery and quietly launched my own business. I hit the publish button on my website and put a few social media posts out and waited for the calls to come flooding in. And waited. And waited. I was so scared of failing, not being good enough and getting stressed out again that I was hiding behind my website and social media.
Throughout 2017 I continued to work on my confidence, my self-worth and self-belief and was lucky enough to find some extremely talented people to help me to do that. Biggest learning ever for me – ask for help when you need it! And it really did help and I started trusting in myself again and that actually I was pretty good at helping to empower other people feel great about themselves.
I knew I needed to drive my business and put myself out there if was going to make any kind of sustainable living from it, especially as I was still having the odd nightmare that I was back in ‘that’ job! And I'm really passionate about not wanting people to go through what I did. I tried many different things including recording myself on video, doing live Facebook videos, networking and joining my local Toastmasters speaking group.
I must thank the Universe for then delivering me the most amazing opportunity in August 2018 – probably the biggest one of my life – a TEDx Talk. What I love most about this opportunity was that my first thought was, ‘yes, I can do that, I should apply!’ Even 6 months ago I think I still would have been too scared to even try. 2 weeks later I received the best email I’d ever had – Congratulations, you’ve been selected to be a speaker at TEDx Telford on 29 September!
I’m British so I don’t like ‘selling’ myself as it feels uncomfortable and it feels like bragging. But you know what? I am so proud of all I’ve achieved in the last 3 years. Coming from the woman who couldn’t add 8 + 5 or boil some potatoes I am proud of myself for standing up on that TEDx stage and speaking my truth (and not falling flat on my face!). I was blown away by all those that came up to me afterwards saying how much they’d needed to hear my speech.
I hope sharing my story inspires you to do what you’re scared of. I’m right there with you and I believe in you! Maybe I’ll share a stage with you someday, I’d love to.