I have held off and held off from writing this because I felt that it was so important to produce something that has given Chris’s work the justice it truly deserves and actually, what I have found is that all I really needed was to follow some of the key messages that has been valuable to me getting to where I am today!
Pushed out of a marriage at the age of 44 and made to believe I was lazy, grumpy, miserable and a number of other things. Working in a profession that I love but finding it incredibly difficult to carry out tasks that no one else would do in a million years, plus the realism that my 9 year old son would only be under my roof for a couple of nights a week, had left me empty, with little purpose and vulnerable. I kept smiling but inside was one of those messes that you would rather throw completely in the bin than pick up the pieces and then clean up.
One thing I realised that, yes I was suffering from depression and anxiety, which had actually made it easier for me to admit that I could not cope, and to cry out for help.
In the first period of this I sought counselling, which helped me release more emotion and to try and fight fire with fire. I took myself out of my comfort zone and spent Christmas alone in the Alps, which has always been my happy place.
9 months later and it was clear that not much had improved to the point I had suicidal visions. In fact the same vision haunted me and the more my work anxieties hit me or the more I was burdened with other domestic grief, this vision felt closer, clearer and possibly more realistic to the point I had frightened myself so much that I could actually go through with this! I don’t want to die, I have never wanted to die. So on the 25th February 2020, after a night close to the end and very scared, I came to work. My boss asked me if I was ok and I broke down inconsolably and admitted again that I was not ok and was sent home and did not return to school for 8 months.
Work were very supportive and offered support and I was like… throw whatever you can my way, I was not going to be defeated. I was introduced to Chris for my initial consultation and I knew immediately that he could help me get over many of the barriers I was still struggling to climb. Chris picked this up and was positive that he could help me and in actual fact, enthusiastic about it. He was straight to the point but in no way hard with it. However, Chris means business and I knew exactly where I was and that was exactly what I needed.
Through each meeting’s objective, it enabled me to talk openly and with a confidence to leave no stone unturned. It soon made me realise that actually, I have probably suffered with depression since my mid-teens, through my twenties and thirties before erupting. I would leave each session with key pointers to absorb, memorise and learn to use. Make no mistake some sessions were tough and mentally exhausting. ‘Why did I give so much of a shit?’ about others thoughts and perceptions was one that I found the hardest to crack and still do now. The difference is that I am now aware of it enough to manage and my awareness of self-care takes over.
Chris helped to remind me exactly what I have achieved so far in my life and I should (and do now) trust my abilities to tackle issues and trust my judgements to GET THINGS DONE! I am now constantly reminding myself which is having a huge effect on my teaching and coaching. I have recently refereed a junior rugby fixture without the anxiety what the green welly brigade might have to say. In fact, I took great pride in being confident in my decisions and judgements. Bring on more!!!!
I particularly benefitted from the flexibility of where we met and thanks to COVID (for once) it meant that we would meet in the fresh air on a ‘brisk’ walk, which in most cases for me beats sitting face to face. The meetings would start and end in the car park. The car radio would remain off for my journey home to reflect on the session and with a clear head, I felt so much fresher!
Whilst I would struggle to say the exact point the changes began to happen, I remember a distinct Friday afternoon, where on reflection, I suddenly realised that my professional relationships both with staff and students were buzzing. I had rediscovered me and kept thinking “I’m back!” I realised I was happy. I had regained some cheeky chappie banter and joined in with the departmental tomfoolery. I agreed to (at last) attend the end of year staff party. Not only was I happy at home but happy at work. Moreover, I have started to like myself again.
Am I out of the woods yet? Possibly not quite yet, but I can see the sunshine which is getting clearer and clearer. Thank you so much Chris and I hope many others like me will benefit from your work.