Mental health has slowly gained some exposure in the press but I’ve never really related it to my day to day life. However certain recent events have made me think about things very differently, both through personal experiences as well as some recounts from my clients.
Whilst I enjoy my work immensely I have found myself drifting into an introverted state on more than one occasion. The seedlings of which started to sprout earlier this year when I lost my original mentor, life coach, counsellor, my mother.
She passed suddenly, which left me in a very empty place where it was difficult to communicate the intensity of my loss and subsequent feelings. Those who know me know I’m not afraid of talking, but this changed that.
I started to create tactics of avoiding talking about this major event, so when people asked me about how I was, I cunningly diverted the tone of the conversation (or so I thought!). The truth was I was hurting and unable to control the volcano of emotion within.
I have to say my clients have been amazing and supportive throughout this difficult time and this recount is as a thank you to them. They refused to leave me in my silo and kept me talking, what a life saver.
I enjoy social media and seeing the carrying ons that transpire on these platforms. However when one is in a fragile state of mind, enjoyment easily turns into anxiety, anger or even hate.
This was highlighted to me by my client Sarah (as she will be known to maintain confidentiality), she was in her early thirties and appeared a very self assured woman who had a professional role with responsibilities.
I had known her for at least three months before we came to this point, we had built up a good bond where I had seen her have highs and lows through her driving journey. I still always felt she was resilient and could move forward, little did I know what was going on within the manicured facade.
The point in time I refer to occurred on a winters day, just after the clocks had changed and the days had begun to get shorter. This in fact is was what prompted our conversation which I’m about to recount.
Sarah was talking a lot about winter and most of her adjectives were negatively charged. I asked her if she was affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, because the way she was talking I could identify with, as I hate the short days and long nights. It leaves me yearning for the heat of the sun and the warmth of the rays on my skin.
What Sarah disclosed after this really touched me.
She started to tell me that she’s affected more than just with S.A.D, she said the past year had been her darkest era. Where she didn’t even know how she had managed to get to this month as most days were a blur.
This in itself confused me because of her role as a team leader in a large conglomerate meant she had to be on top of her game. So I asked her how could these two statements both be truths.
Sarah told me that it must be testament to her medications working, she had suffered a breakdown late last year and it had rocked her world. I was totally dumbfounded and didn’t really know what to say.
She said that it had been sparked by an incident in her personal life, I didn’t want to ask anything I just stayed quiet and listened.
She said that she had been in a relationship and it had ended on bad terms and that the ex partner had started stalking her both physically and virtually. I was confused what virtually meant and then Sarah spotted my look and told me that he was harassing her on social media as well.
Sarah said that eventually she had to involve the police but that it only got worse, and that the social media world that she had previously enjoyed turned into a nightmare with trolls leaving messages and even those she considered friends being really nasty to her.
She said that she started to experience really negative thoughts she would see everyone else on social media with their perfect pictures talking about their perfect lives and she hated them for it and wished she was no longer here.
She was no longer going out, even getting out of bed was a struggle. Eventually her mother came down to stay with her and realised that Sarah needed help, ‘real’ professional help. After many months Sarah started to see the fog lift and some version of normality return.
I felt so bad for her this just sounded like a terrible time for her, I asked her what she felt about social media platforms now. She said she was ok with them but was not active on them anymore she felt more comfortable with real life conversations.
She said the lessons also helped with giving structure to her week and that our conversations also helped. Although she said over the past few weeks she had felt I too was distant.
I apologised to Sarah I did not really expect my clients to notice but clearly they did. I felt really bad and hoped that I hadn’t added to her burdens.
We as human beings need to connect and converse and no amount of virtual talk can replace face to face contact. Sometimes just small conversations are enough to jolt us back into the here and now.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog, please find support and advice via the following link https://www.mind.org.uk