What follows is perhaps the most difficult piece of communication I’ve ever written.
It’s difficult because of the hurt, guilt and shame I still feel despite my rational mind knowing these feelings are unwarranted and unhelpful.
It’s difficult because of the stigma attached to mental health issues; the automatic distance people put between themselves and someone they view as ‘unstable’; the sub-conscious caution with which somebody ‘prone to stress’ is handled, perhaps sidelined when “this deal’s really important – we’d better not use him. He might crack up.”
I’m generally perceived as the go-to guy. I’m the one the sales people would prefer to have on their team in any bid, the one they’d like to wheel out to present to customers on our various business solutions, because I know my stuff and I communicate well. Terms associated with me are ‘dependable’, ‘rock-solid’, ‘gets it done’, and ‘secret weapon’. I know this about myself, and I take pride in it. It’s a result of many years’ of putting others first, operating beyond the definition of my job role, and doing what needs to be done to win the deal, implement the solution, and keep everyone happy.
You may view this as arrogance, but this self-view is an essential part of my core self – self-belief, which feeds my willingness to take on new challenges even without knowing what I’m getting into, because I can always handle it.
Well it turns out, not so much…
Last week I was involved in a presentation skills course, which initially I was slightly annoyed (okay, really annoyed), about attending because I’ve had extensive training and experience in presenting, dating back to my Army days when during Officer training at Duntroon I received what I can only describe as first-class instruction on such things. Regardless it was mandatory, so I went along, thinking perhaps I might sneakily get some ‘real work’ done whilst being a wall-flower during the course.
Despite the obvious problem with the whole ‘wall-flower’ plan, for this is not a term with which I’m usually associated, I was quite rapidly drawn in to this course which was quite superb, and showed me that presenting to persuade is very different to presenting to instruct, which is what I learned at the Royal Military College.
During this course we did many ‘last minute’ presentations on inane (but often hilarious), topics, drawn randomly from ‘product’ and ‘audience’ suggestions written on cards by each of us, using the structure and approach we’d learnt to move our fictional audience to the next stage of the decision-making process. Two of my favourite combinations were ‘Automobiles to blind people’, and ‘Sex toys to Mormons’.
The final afternoon of this two-day course required us to re-present the first presentation we’d done right at the beginning of the course. I applied all the techniques we’d been shown, and felt I was ready to deliver a knock-out performance. Then I had a technical problem which prevented me from displaying my speaker notes on my screen, leaving me with very few, very sparse slides and throwing me completely.
Normally I’d not have struggled much. I’d have made some joke to show the audience I wasn’t bothered, and just ad-libbed my way through. This time I experienced a sudden rush of anxiety, my mind turned to fog, and I stammered my way through the next five minutes of hell, wanting to ‘vomit on my shoes’ (a term I’ve picked up from a wonderful person I’ll speak of shortly), until I sat down feeling crimson and humiliated.
I was furious with myself. I knew I was better than this, and I didn’t understand why I was so emotional. I’m usually great under pressure, focused in a crisis. I whinged about it for a while to my wife and a close friend, and moved on with life.
Or so I thought. Until yesterday. After a brief chat with my manager about my workload, which had breached ‘ridiculous’ to become ‘absurd’, mostly due to my own inability to say ‘no’, and desire to show my new team that in my new role I’ll be even MORE effective at helping them qualify, design and sell the solution, we set off in separate cars to a partnering meeting with a senior manager from another organisation.
Then I cracked. One moment I was driving along, thinking about the people I had to get back to, the proposals I had to write, the research I had to do, the templates I had to make; then I couldn’t breathe. My heart felt as though it wanted to explode out of my chest, I felt like vomiting, my ears began to ring and I gripped the steering wheel hard enough to leave impressions.
What the hell was happening? My rational mind was saying “Dude! Settle down! What have you got to be so upset about? You live in perhaps the best place and time in history, you have a beautiful family whom you can support. You have no right to feel like this!”
I turned my thoughts, whilst concentrating on breathing slow and deep, to my wife – and immediately started to cry. What the hell? I thought of my kids – more tears. Shit. SHIT. Thoughts of my family carried with them emotions which decimated my control. I was starting to panic. I thought of my friend, with whom I had discussed my presentation failure, and that calmed me a little. Okay, I’m okay, I just need to calm down. My mind flicked back to my family – and I started to hyperventilate. I felt as though I had a lump of cheese stuck in my throat. My heart continued to pound, and I could hear it in my head. My feet felt like they were burning. I started to sweat. This was not normal. I realised there was something seriously wrong.
I reached our destination, and my boss parked ahead of me. I was struggling to get myself under control, to be professional, to not be weak. He was walking towards me. I was trembling. My hands were visibly shaking, and I wasn’t sure I could talk because of that cheese stuck in my throat. I said “Man, I think there’s more to this than just my workload,” and my face contorted as I tried not to cry. I was walking into a meeting with senior management from a company we hoped to partner with, and I was about to become a blubbering mess.
My boss looked at me with concern, and his face changed. The look wasn’t horror – it was recognition. He said “Man, you’ll be okay. I’ve been there. Just relax.”
I pulled it together for the meeting – barely. Focussed on the task at hand I was okay, but on the way back to the car my mind flicked back to my to-do list and the breathing thing started again. I took a phone call from a colleague, and it wasn’t work related. It was about camping and my recommendations about camper trailers. This actually calmed me down significantly. My boss went on his way, and I headed to my next appointment – another one with a C-level manager whom I’d not met previously.
I arrived early. I sat in the car for forty minutes, wondering if I’d make it through the next meeting. I took another call, from a good friend who happens to represent one of our vendors, and I quickly fell apart. He saved me. He told me his story of struggling with a workload he willingly took on believing he could do it all, help everyone even when they wouldn’t help themselves. It landed him in hospital. He’d made changes. He suggested I’d better seriously consider doing the same, because this story doesn’t have a happy ending if you don’t.
I got through the next meeting. I survived, and nobody knew. But I was bearly hanging on. My heart was still racing, and I was in constant fight-or-flight mode, with adrenaline pumping through my body and unresolved tension. We’ve evolved this response as a defence mechanism, with helpful physiological effects such as evacuating our bowels and bladder so we can run away from predators faster, pumping additional blood to our arms and legs to assist in the physical exertion of fighting for our lives, or running away, focusing our attention and slowing our perception of time. These are very useful when your problem is a predator or enemy. They’re of no use whatsoever in modern society and your problem is workload. Unless you’re a lion tamer or bear handler, in which case maybe.
I had been speaking with another friend via Twitter throughout the week about other things, and she had coined the term ‘vomit on your shoes’ in describing how she’d felt during a failed presentation once. She DM’d me to ask if I was okay because she was worried about something I’d tweeted the day before, which evidentially she saw as a warning sign of stress. I didn’t want to burden her. I didn’t want her to think I was weak, unworthy, or a drama-queen. Regardless the dam broke, and she patiently listened, talked it through with me, and helped me understand that the feelings of guilt, shame and fear I was experiencing are understandable but undeserved, and that this can happen to anyone. None of us are immune, and those of us who take pride in our talents for enriching other people’s lives are perhaps even MORE in danger, because we find it so difficult to say “No,” when asked “I know you’re busy, but could you….?”
Without her help I don’t think I would have gone home. I don’t know what I would have done, but I felt so ashamed of my self-involvement, so unworthy of feeling stress when I’m so privileged compared to the rest of humanity, that I could barely function. I wanted to vomit on my shoes.
To my two friends who helped me, I could never adequately express my gratitude to you. I feel immensely lucky to have friends like you, who listened and advised and helped me understand I’m not a failure, this is more common than I would have thought, and we all need help sometimes. I will never forget what you did for me.
So too the other friends who responded to my comments on Twitter and Facebook – people who also recognised the warning signs and told me that I was not alone, they were there if I needed to talk, and they’ve been through it too – I thank you. Normalising this experience and helping me understand that so many of you have experienced the crushing effects of anxiety and severe stress, and that I should not try to deal with it alone, helped me enormously. It has been a humbling, amazing experience, reaffirming my faith in people and the importance of friends.
As for me, well I don’t have the answers yet. I know at least that I have a problem and I don’t have the necessary skills to deal with it myself. I have started the process of seeking assistance from a psychologist to help me find some coping mechanisms and learn how to recognise the warning signs of stress and anxiety. Stigma be damned – I can admit I need help, and a psychologist has the training to provide it.
I’ve spoken with my boss about it, and he has been supportive and understanding. He pointed out that the world will not end if I say “No.” He will work with me on redistributing some of my workload, especially the items which aren’t my job anyway. I know I’m in no danger professionally with him, as he’s without a doubt the most understanding and supporting manager I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He’s a friend too, and I value that highly.
If you’ve never had an anxiety attack, never felt like you were about to drown in sudden, unexpected emotional turmoil, please take this as a warning. I’m no Superman, and neither are you. Reach out to friends, family – even colleagues – whoever you have. Don’t try to struggle with this alone, because from the stories I’ve heard that leads down a road from which you can’t necessarily return.
Seek professional help. There’s no shame in it. Life doesn’t teach you all the skills you need to get by, and you wouldn’t give a second thought to seeking the assistance of a mechanic if your car broke, or a dentist if it were your tooth.
And if you’re an employer or manager, please consider this: Business planning considers the maintenance needs of production machines, IT systems and even building facilities, with planned, funded maintenance activities to keep them operating at efficiency, but assumes people will take care of their own maintenance with holidays or whatever. In many cases the sad reality is that workers either do not have the spare funds to take a real break, or put off leave until “things aren’t so busy”. Your people are the glue which holds your organisation together. They are your only appreciating asset, as your equipment rapidly depreciates and loses value from the moment of purchase, and your property value is of little operational benefit. Your people grow in value, and your business will benefit from a maintenance plan to keep them operating effectively.
The song “Superman” by Lazlo Bane really captures my feelings about this. Lyrics are included.
Have a listen, and feel free to comment about your anxiety or break-down experience to show others they aren’t alone, they haven’t failed, and they can get through it.
Follow-up post -> When your mind defects
33 thoughts on “I’m no Superman…”
I often suffer anxiety, especially when dealing with important high value clients. If I feel the tension rising I address it immediately. I’ve grown to have a keen perception of the starting symptoms. When it strikes, I take a moment and slow my breathing otherwise it becomes a bit of a rollercoaster. I have often become trapped in a spiral of increasing tension and stress which leads to sweating and heart palpatations. I also begin to stutter which can be extremely frustrating.
Not good if you need to appear calm, confident and well communicate in a professional manner.
As long as I worked with you I don’t think I ever heard the word ‘No’. That’s a compliment to your good nature and team spirit. At the end of the day you work for yourself and your family while doing your best by your employer. It’s a tricky formula.
Best for employer needs to be balanced with best for you as well otherwise you are expelling energy and working against what’s best for both.
I agree, us SNAG’s can’t be Superman, we’re doing the best we can in a complicated world.
Best of luck mate!
Jason, thank you so much.
I have been quite stunned at the response I’ve had from friends and colleagues, many of whom you know well, who have experienced similar things. I’m starting to wonder whether I’m just about the only person for whom this is new!
First – huge hugs. Second – I’ve been where you are – more than once. Third – don’t make the mistake I did by thinking you could just bulldoze on through it and it would somehow go away. There be dragons, Lucas!
After doing all the wrong things and repeatedly ending up in a blubbering puddle on the floor, a couple of things helped me put things into perspective. The first was learning to think about my inability to deal with too much stress as something akin to a diabetic’s inability to deal with sugar, or perhaps a coeliac’s inability to process gluten. Just as a diabetic has to monitor their blood sugar, I live with having to keep a close check on my stress levels. When that risiing “I’m about to explode” feeling starts up, you know you’ve ‘overdosed’ on stress and you immediately have to find ways of shedding the load a bit. That might be as simple as removing yourself temporarily from the scene of the stress to taking a short holiday to changing jobs and/or lifestyles. You really do have to learn that having anxiety or depression says no more about your worth as an individual than being glucose intolerant says about a diabetic.
Another thing that helped me was a very simple piece of perspective from my psychiatrist. Being an ‘A’ type personality and compulsive worker, I hated having to ‘stop’ when things got too much. I felt useless, lazy, worthless etc.When I complained, “I feel awful just lying around doing nothing all day.”
He replied, “But Chrys, you’re not lying around doing nothing, you’re working hard at getting better.” Fr people with depression and anxiety, sometimes the most productive thing you can do is to stop for a while. That was a bit of a revelation.
Something a mutual friend of ours shared with me might also help. When he felt he was constantly doing battle against irrational ideas and practices, his doctor said to him, “The world is not a rational place.” His point was, if you think you can single-handedly make the world the rational, well-ordered place you think it should be, you’re only going to drive yourself nuts. Literally. It doesn’t mean we can’t work to improve it, but it’s a task for generations – not one person! Our friend said that learning to accept that the world was not a rational place was an important insight for him.
So far, you’ve done all the right things and it’s great that you have such a supportive circle of family, friends and co-workers around you. Thank you for being brave enough to speak out, and believe me, there are far, far more people who have gone through this than you think. You’re not alone in any sense.
Chrys, you know I have huge affection for you, and it comes as no surprise to me at all that you would have taken on too much!
Thank you for your words, and the support you gave me the other day. You were among those who pounced upon the “warning sign” tweets, recognising my struggle for what it was.
I am SO GLAD I spoke with friends about this. Had I not, I may have ended up comatose in some basement car park somewhere, too raw to face the world.
Thank you so much for your courage and eloquence in sharing this.
Thank you Andrew. Sharing has actually turned out to be very cathartic and I’m glad I did. I hope others will do the same, because had I known so many friends and colleagues had experienced similar attacks, it would have removed much of the fear.
Yep, well said.
I am slightly different, as a person I usually deal with problems that are brick walls and impossible to solve by bashing my had against them repeatedly untill they fall down.
Needless to say while achieving my goals it also does damage.
We place a lot of pressure and stress on ourselves and then we cat all surprised when things like this happen.
we need to learn ( or be taught ) that we do have limits and we do need to learn to say NO and enough is enough.
Our workplaces have also become pretty toxic places with very unreasonable workloads and deadlines set and the bar being raised constantly.
hang in there, don;t be afraid to ask yourself what is really important, as a doctor said “No one ever dies saying ” I wish I had spent more time at work “
Thanks Doug. I agree that employers generally expect too much. Long hours are required to keep up with the demands upon our time, and yet we are required to waste an absurd amount of it (at least in the corporate environment), on internal and largely pointless meetings.
Many managers aren’t trained as managers, and certainly not ‘leaders’, so people “issues” are often put aside and considered “touchy-feely”.
Saying no will have a price for me, I’m sure of it. The only question though, is do I consider the price reasonable to maintain my sanity? Odds are I will.
Great post Lucas, and I admire your ability to honestly relay the account.
Glad you see it for what it is. Over 15 years ago I can remember – out of nowhere – having to get horizontal in vacant rooms at work before I passed out. Heart pounding, hyperventilating, sweating, shaking and struggling not to throw up I’d hang on until I could go back to work.
I kept alluding to vague physical origins or over training or something. Then planning patient case loads with my boss one day she said, “I’m really concerned about these panic attacks you’re having”. I had a lot of trouble taking it on board partly because I dealt with mental health issues in clients regularly and could recognise it in others. Partly because I couldn’t accept I could be vulnerable to such a thing. I was used to high risk, high stakes, high anxiety challenges in another area of life and thrived on it. So the idea that how I thought (or not) about far more benign aspects of life could literally flatten me was pretty alien and easy to resist. I think for a time I’d have preferred to hear I had some ghastly organic disease.
Nonetheless, you’re quite right – it’s important to accept we’re human, fallible and that some of us expect a lot of ourselves. That alone is very hard to gauge. Not wanting to sound like Gandalf leaning on his staff but over the years anxiety/panic can, for some, pop up unexpectedly and the only thing worse seems to be denial, ignorance about oneself or reluctance to deal with the surrounding issues.
And of course stigma. It’s a two way street. We can’t control how others think. Yet it’s quite silly to assume we can guess how others think and in doing so let that control us.
Thank you Paul, and I can totally relate to that. I’m usually very good under pressure, becoming quite calm and focussed on the problem at hand. My wife has often commented on her envy of my composure in an emergency. And this is what’s so different here – there was no emergency. Only layers of responsibility, percieved expectation and guilt.
Improved self-awareness and personal growth aside, I shall be very happy if this at least helps some people talk about their experience to normalise it for others.
Wonderful, heart-breaking, sensible response to an awful situation.
I’ve been there too, the nest pounding, the need to flee, the tears of misery when I knew I had a wonderful life.
If it is any help, I learned to say, “What would you like me to stop doing, to take on this extra work?” I’d then offer them a list of things requested by others, or requirements of the job and get them to choose and negotiate with the requestor.
Most take this exceptionally well.
I’ll keep this short and hug you next time I see you. It won’t last.
Yes, sound advice Steve. And thank you.
I typically do exactly what you said, asking would-be queue-jumpers to negotiate with those ahead of them to get my time, but taking on this new role, whilst not separating cleanly from my old one, mixed with my desire to make a good impression and make the sales team aware that they can count on me, all conspired against me.
There’s a high amount of cynicism in my workplace about access to resources such as myself, and I want to address that, but I realise it’s not MY problem specifically – it’s a resourcing issue plain and simple.
Thanks mate. And regardless of what your head tells you, there are always friends/family/skeptics who will understand and help.
Lucas my beautiful friend.
You are such a legend. We all love and admire you so much – you really are such a funny, caring, smart and passionate piece of work. I cried whilst I read this. After talking with you briefly yesterday I was so concerned about you… but to my detriment I didn’t call you to check in to see if you were still struggling on. I will be honest, I struggle to deal with others struggle with anything relating to mental illness as it is so close to my reality.
During my struggle to build my house my reality was having a panic attack on a daily basis. I went to bed crying, got up crying and broke out in sweats thinking about the most stupid of decisions such as paint colour. To others this was ridiculous – nobody really understood that I was at breaking point. I just kept on hearing “Don’t worry it will work out – its all so exciting ”. I couldn’t comprehend it in myself – a stong woman who has always been good at everything she has done was suddenly broken. I got through it by sitting in a bath with my ipod and listening to “Breakin’ at the Cracks” by Colbie Collett – it summed up how I felt through the whole period – a song suppose to be about a lover. I listened to it as if I was talking to my own self. It was more than stress – I had such bad anxiety at one point I was loading up on pain killers and sleeping pills just to get through the day.
I have a beautiful friend who I can now talk to about his – knowing that he also struggles with anxiety and mental illness – but during the time of building the house I refuse to reach out to him – thinking it was weak and you know me..I don’t like to be seen as weak. Luckily I talk to him often now after hearing his story. This helps. So does volunteering. Giving myself to someone else who spends every day in a horrible place gives me the ability to equalise my head space.
Anyone my friend. I love you. I think you are amazing. Keep saying No to work – its not worth it – and nobody but you will ever judge you for doing that – and if you ever need a coffee or a spew of words let me know xoxox
Hippo Dwarf xoox Katrina
Thank you so much Katrina, and now you’ve got me crying again
I.. I actually have no words to express how lovely that is, how much I want to hug you right now, and… well, just thank you.
Yet another one to go “OMG I have soooo been there.” Waking up not wanting to face the world. Able to get up in exhaustion because of a racing heart and a dry mouth. Trying to keep calm and rational and beat it by counting the number of times you get palpitations and reaching a dozen before you even get to work (admittedly rather a long commute). Falling apart on the phone with an angry client on one end and a furious boss yelling at you in your other ear. And before that, cutting your own skin, trying to use pain to distract yourself from the roaring in your mind. Nightmares about choking on horrific substances – relating to a few foods that I now find it difficult to eat as a consequence.
The worst thing was that when a doctor signed me off work for two weeks, my family (living 300 miles away at the time) didn’t accept that I needed to stop, but rather called me lazy and issued dire warnings about how I wouldn’t have anything to eat if I didn’t pull my socks up. Work couldn’t help me either; I’d only been there 3 months and they did need me to speak to about 100 people a day on the phone, so when I got back after the two weeks, they sacked me. Very sweetly and nicely, taking me out to a cafe, and giving me two weeks’ notice to get a little more money, but I was then jobless for the next 18 months. It was only when I moved back home that the state I was in became obvious. Amazingly enough, I got better by . . . getting two kittens. Yes, really! To look after two kittens is as simple as could be, no stress involved (except when they run into the road), and there is nothing more calming than a purring pussycat. But then I was bloody lucky I could be supported by my family. If I hadn’t been I don’t know what would have happened. I tried to apply for sickness benefit but when I had a 34 page form shoved at me I couldn’t fill it in – I just collapsed in a wreck every time I even looked at it. I worry about what happens to people who go through this alone.
Enough about me – thank you so much for writing this blogpost Lucas! I’ve been enjoying your tweets for a long time, and I’m sorry I didn’t know this was happening to you. I just wasn’t around at the right time I guess. For what it’s worth, I think the fact that you can articulate it all so clearly is a very promising sign for you. Big hugs.
Alice, thank you so much. I also love your tweets, love what you do, and am just blown away by your story!
I didn’t involve my family at all, I think because I didn’t want them to think I was failing them and didn’t want them to worry. It would have turned into a big deal. It would have turned into a “Right, what do we need to do to fix Lucas?” session, and I couldn’t have coped. I was so lucky that two special friends happened to contact me when they did. I was sitting in my car, panicing about being able to conduct a meeting and not looking like I’d been crying, and talking to them was just a lifesaver.
I know what you mean about pain, trying to diver your attention away from what’s happening. In my case I almost ripped the steering wheel off, and my hands are still sore. I’m glad I didn’t manage to do that though, since I was driving on a motorway at the time!
Haha, I’m not a good liar and I spoke to them every so often on the phone – there was no way I could have hidden getting signed off work for 2 weeks from them. Indeed I had the feeling I might have to move back as I just couldn’t cope any more. (This was 4 years ago when I had recently been thrown off the teaching course and was still mourning all the kids and my destroyed dream.) It is sometimes easier to avoid involving immediate family, but if it becomes a long term thing, as mine was, they’d probably better know. Admittedly I’m not a breadwinner for them. That would have made it even worse!!
Glad you didn’t actually rip the steering wheel off . . . I would have missed your tweets . . . 🙂
Lucas, thank you for sharing. This post must have taken great courage. I can only echo much of the previous sentiment. I will be sending links to friends who I think are in similar postions.. We are all more similar than we think.
Thank you Samir. I’m getting that message loud and clear, and I’m in a much better place than I was only a few days ago.
Thoughts of outstanding work still raises my pulse rapidly, and I’ve already found myself having to apologise for not being able to meet other people’s deadlines, when in reality I want to say “Bite me! You’re the one who left this to the last minute and overloaded me with too much information or me to even know what you wanted from me!”
Hopefully I’ll find a system which works, and educates my colleagues to have reasonable expectations. Hopefully I can influence my employer to address the chronic resourcing problem too.
Been there too. You’re definitely not a failure. This doesn’t happen to failures, only to the good guys as far as I can tell.
Still learning to say no to extra workload. I think it’s going to cost me a new job, but I’d rather stay happy.
You did right to blog about it. Thanks.
Like many of the people commenting on your excellent and well written post, I have suffered from similar symptoms, and know at least a little of how you feel. Unlike you, I did not have a good boss, and found myself being driven out of my job in the oil industry, when the cycle of stress and performance began to spiral downwards. Ultimately, I began to feel suicidal.
A lot of people find it difficult to admit that they need help. I didn’t, but sat in my car and cried, after I had seen the doctor. My family have been outstanding, and my good friends have helped pull me through too.
Your comments have struck more than one chord with me, and I wish you all the best, mate. You sound like a good man, and deserve better. You’re sooooo lucky having an exceptional boss!
Take care, and I hope that you continue to recover. You’re not alone, but judging by the comments above, I guess you know that by now.
All the best,
Thank you Dave, I’m glad you’ve had support from family and friends even though your boss wasn’t supportive. I’m still so blown away that so many people I know have dealt with these issues, and so many more I don’t know have reached out with words of support. I’m still finding my way, but I know I can’t do it alone.
Thanks Dave, and good luck to you too.
Thanks for today mate. I really miss you mate. Anything, anytime, anywhere
Likewise brother. But then you knew that already. I’ve got to find some excuse to get up there to see you all, sooner rather than later.
I recently spent 4 weeks in hospital and have only just returned from a visit to the doctor, something that is now a regular thing for me. I was someone who never took a sick day and always took on more and more work, always the over achiever, only to be treated with total disrespect in the work place but it eventually took it’s toll on my health. I’m now on sick leave indefinitely because I had a severe break down. My body collapsed and I was unable to function. I felt like I was in a comma for a week and my self esteem was completely destroyed. I’m currently working through a very long, slow recovery and up until now could not talk to people about any of this. I was ashamed of having mental health issues and was too embarrassed about my situation.
I am so glad you have found supportive friends who have helped you to help yourself through this because it is so important to get help before you end up very sick. As I spent my days in the mental health hospital I felt so empty and full of grief. I kept wondering how my life came to this and I don’t deserve this. I was a professional business woman and mother, totally capable of the workload of 5 people, but it all fell apart. For the first few days in hospital I was heavily medicated to reduce the anxiety because my condition was so severe that the stress was physically damaging my body. I still have a long recovery ahead of me and I’m still learning how to look after myself but I can see light at the end of the tunnel now which I could not see a few months ago.
Supportive friends and family are the most important thing in the world. Take their advice and their help because that is what will get you through the hard times. Remove yourself from destructive people and make sure you surround yourself with positive, caring people. As my doctor said to me this morning, “Stop being so hard on yourself. Find ways to spoil yourself.” And my final tip is…..chocolate, lots of chocolate!
B, I’m just crushed knowing what you’ve endured, and continue to endure.
You are one of the people who touched my life at a critical time, having a hand in the development of my character, work ethic and values, as your example inspired me in ways you can’t possibly imagine.
I shall ALWAYS be there for you in whatever capacity you need me. You’re no less exceptional to me now than you ever were – and believe me, you ARE exceptional.
When you’re ready, whenever that is, we’re going to have an all-nighter talking this stuff through. Until then, know you’re in my thoughts and my heart constantly.