I started this blog because it hit me while lying in the bath one Sunday how much I love this day of the week. It really is my favourite day. But that wasn’t always the case.
Five years ago, a breakup catapulted me into a breakdown, which I later learned had been a long time coming. I now hold onto that hellish time as the period that saved me.
I had been heading to a new future in LA, with a man I was in love with and life in many ways couldn’t have been better. Just months before leaving, it was Christmas and having enjoyed a host of magic moments, there was a ‘We need to talk’ moment around the Christmas tree (him, not me) and within a day, the dream was over.
Feeling blindsided, with no job (I’d given it up to move away), nowhere to live, little money and a broken heart, I left London, that had been my home for 6 years, and moved into the safety of the spare room at my parents’ house in Manchester. FUN TIMES.
Getting through each day was the stuff of nightmares, as I struggled to accept what had happened and was simply ‘stuck’, battling with voices in my head that told me I was worthless, replaying events over and over, and trying to compute that strolling along sunny beaches with my love, the wind in our hair, would not be my reality, and that jobless, aged 34 in the spare room at my parents’ house was where life was now.
Every single thing I looked at in my life to that point seemed to act as evidence to prove that I was unlovable and worthless, and I simply became unable to function.
For many years before this moment, life had provided things I’d never really dealt with. I had lived through bullying, anorexia, violence and emotional abuse but I’d never addressed, or healed a lot of what was happening and found that I often suppressed and avoided my feelings when things felt difficult.
This moment of unseen, enforced isolation meant that now, all my demons – some locked away for years – came knocking on the door all at once. There was nowhere left to hide from them. The journey to rebuild myself began.
In the years that would follow, I would lose a parent and become estranged from members of my family. I would be diagnosed with depression, chronic fatigue and severe anxiety and would experience debilitating panic attacks, blinding migraines and night terrors that convinced me I was dying. I would also suffer a shingles breakout on my face and scalp and suffer one virus after another as my body struggled to support me.
Having laid in bed for hours on end with fatigue, from sunrise to sunset, not eating, not bathing and staring into the abyss for a day at a time, I know what it’s like to feel the depths of desperation, to see no way out and to have no faith that things will ever get better. I’ve also gone into work, managed a team, handled high-profile projects, given presentations and kept a grin on my face as the wheels were coming off inside. And I know what it is to find hope, new love and to have days that make me wonder where the dark clouds even come from.
Sunday was the day I used to struggle the most and feel the most alone. I dreaded it all week long, then hung on for dear life through the day itself, as my friends enjoyed time with their families and husbands, or even just went out there on their own, confident and being brilliant. Over time, I started to pick one thing I could do each Sunday and started to reconstruct my confidence and self-worth through what I now think of as acts of kindness to myself.
I’m pretty sure that if you see me, or maybe even if you know me and see me high-kicking my way through life on Instagram, you may not have known then or even realise now how I once felt. Today, I’m a single girl (we can swap dating horrors any time – I have some belters), approaching 40, in a world that seems to thrive on a culture of comparison and so I still have challenging moments, but I also now have tools.
So many people are suffering with loneliness, lack of confidence anxiety and depression, and because often you may have good physical health, a family, friends, or even material things, it can feel shameful to feel the way that you do, when others may be going through what appear to be worse things. Or perhaps you just feel embarrassed, or worried about losing friends or your job if you’re ‘less than’. So it becomes too hard to talk about, which, in turn becomes isolating.
Every time I read something that I connected with it helped me hang in there and so I wanted to pay it forward by sharing my experience, the things that have helped me and to hear the things that help others and try to see if there’s a community of people that can help each other.