“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” ~ Tony Robbins
I mentioned in my first blog that 2019 will be a year of change and this quote by life coach guru Tony Robbins could not be more apt for my enormous plans next year.
2018 has not been particularly kind to me. I’ve struggled with anxiety for many years, longer perhaps than I am consciously aware of, but I have always managed to keep it at arm’s length. I’ve watched my Mom battle depression for a large portion of my life and it taught me, above all, to be open-minded and compassionate because we don’t know what another is going through. I always encourage others to speak out when they need love and support, no matter what they are going through, but I’m decidedly poor at taking my own advice. It’s where the Margetts in me kicks in.
The Knights are my maternal family and the Margettses are my paternal family. The Knights are a very open bunch, happy to discuss the ups and downs of their lives and ready to ask for help when it’s needed, whereas the Margettses are the strong, silent types; whatever goes wrong, chin up and soldier on, it’s the Margetts way. Unfortunately, contrary my own belief, the Margetts way isn’t right for me.
At the beginning of the year, I acknowledged that I wasn’t dealing with stressful environments and situations as adeptly as I always have (or at least thought I had!). My inherent need to be strong for everyone else and not let the cracks show, to control everything and take on everybody else’s problems was sapping the very essence of who I am. I no longer recognised the despondent creature staring back at me in the mirror. As an insurance broker for high value and specialist insurances, I am no stranger to stress, but the increasing sleepless nights, unpredictable appetite, and explosive emotional outbursts over the smallest inconvenience told me that I was not well. It affected everything; my marriage, my friendships, my passions. I lost the desire to do anything but sleep, eat, and cry.
When I finally accepted that I was ill, I looked up counsellors in my local area and eventually made contact with a wonderful lady called Carol Whitbourn who helped me work through some of my issues. I now think of my problems as a sort of demonic trifle and in hindsight I realise I was only working through the first of many layers, the conscious memory of my experiences. I will be forever grateful to Carol for the invaluable guidance she gave me through the 4 months I was seeing her, but it wasn’t the full extent of the help that I needed.
On the morning of 30th July 2018, I shuffled into the doctor’s surgery with a sore hip and the second I set foot in the nurse’s office, I broke down into uncontrollable, agonising tears. Snotty, wailing hysteria. I hurt. So. Much. Too much. And the worst part was that I didn’t even truly understand why I was crying, I just knew I had this bottomless pit of despair that I had been ignoring, even my sessions with Carol hadn’t touched on the inexplicable sorrow I felt in that moment. I remember the nurse saying to me, “This isn’t about your hip, is it?”. I just shook my head.
I opened up about lying in bed of a morning, paralysed with fear, unable to even lift my head from the pillow for fear of what the day might bring. I admitted to crying every single day over nothing, in the bathroom, the car, anywhere that I was alone so no one would see my weakness. I confessed my regular thoughts of driving my car off the road so those around me wouldn’t have to put up with me anymore.
Finally allowing myself to talk candidly about the misery I was living with was freeing in a way I could never have imagined. It didn’t fix anything, it didn’t make the pain go away, but it did make me feel just a little less shit.
I was signed off work for two months, referred to an incredible psychotherapist called Neil Drew who helped me understand how the brain works and we worked through my memories and experiences (I seriously cannot recommend this man highly enough!), and when I finally returned to work at the end of September, I felt like a new woman. Refreshed, revitalised, ready to turn the page on an utterly awful chapter of my life. But slowly, the sinister voice began to creep back into my day-to-day life. Niggling doubt weighed heavy on my heart and eventually I found myself painting on the same fake smile, telling people I was fine when really I was far from it.
In November I had a moment of realisation early one Monday morning in the form of a complete emotional breakdown. My manager asked me an innocent question about the desk I was sitting at, to which I shouted my reply before descending into gut-wrenching sobs. I wasn’t coping. I wasn’t better. I felt exactly as I had through the summer and despite already asking for help once and knowing the difference it made, I felt completely isolated and hopeless. That day saw me lose my composure another 3 times and by the time I made it home that evening I knew I had an important decision to make about the shape of my future.
I am so unbelievably lucky to have such an understanding and supportive wife in Kristy-Ellen, my MB. I got home to a salt bath with candles and incense, and after a very long soak and a lot of consideration, we had the conversation about me giving up my job. I’ve worked long and hard over the last 8.5 years as an insurance broker, starting as a trainee at my first brokers, working my way through multiple qualifications, winning a scholarship, winning an award from a regional institute, placing as a runner-up for a national award, promoted to Team Leader in 2017, so the decision to abandon my well-established career path was one of the most difficult I have ever made.
Accepting that I am no longer attuned to the stresses that my current profession is laden with was not an easy one, it felt like admitting failure, but something had to give. It was clear I couldn’t continue as I was, and so it was MB that suggested I pick up the threads of my hobbies to earn an income. I was already signed up with my publisher, I am a representative for a line of makeup and skincare, and I also sing in bands and as a soloist. As each of these side hustles are already established and have trundled along in the background for a number of years now, we agreed that I should put my full focus into the things that I love to do, so I wrote my letter of resignation and gave my notice to my manager a couple of days later. As of January, I will officially be a self-employed vocalist, author, and makeup artist!
2018 hasn’t been particularly kind, but 2019 is full of promise and possibility. My mental health is a work in progress, and whilst the foreseeable future will not be without its challenges, I’m excited to throw everything I have at the things I am passionate about. With the added support of the most wonderful wife I could wish for, and family and friends that have my back no matter what, there is no failure on my horizon. Only experience and growth and opportunity.
Massive, determined action? Check…
Merry Christmas, my lovelies. Love and light!