This morning I sat and watched the sunrise. I reflected on this year… We have reached past the halfway mark and what a year it has been – possibly one of the toughest in quite some time.
I am reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, I had already read her book Dare to Lead, and I love the way she writes and shares her research on vulnerably. Most of us live in fear and shame terrified of truly exposing ourselves, in her terms on who is free from this is “living whole heartedly” I want to live “whole heartedly” It sounds so liberating. So I reflected over this year some more, and of the people, I feel live wholeheartedly. One friend came to mind. She is funny, kind and helps people in her community when she can. She is a wife and a mother and runs her own business. During one of my darkest hours this year, she posted on facebook that she was suffering anxiety and was going to a clinic for six weeks to deal with it. I was gobsmacked. In fact, overwhelmed and amazed. You see, at the time I was suffering depression and anxiety and had not left my house for weeks. I rarely took phone calls. I couldn’t work. I was paralysed in this abyss of vagueness, sadness and isolation. I would shudder at the thought of going anywhere, seeing anyone or speaking to people. Everything was an effort. So to see my friend be so brave and honest shook me. I was in Awe. I still am.
It has been months since I felt that way, and with the help and support of my husband, family and a few close friends I sought help and am on the road to recovery.
Anxiety hit me first late last year. The Royal Commission was now over. As a financial adviser, I knew I would need to study to keep up with changes – I had no issue with this. I wanted to see my industry improve and Financial Advisers seen as a Profession.
However, there were changes I knew I would have to make in my business and I begun to implement this. I also started to study late last year – doing my post-grad in financial planning as I want to do my Masters. Self-doubt crept in. It had been years since I had studied or sat an exam, what if I failed? What would that say about me as a financial adviser? My fears were overwhelming, and I began to spiral. My exam was in February. I passed -phew.
After my exam, my brother died. For two weeks, I was busy organising the funeral, speaking and coordinating family members from near and far. Once this was over, I fell deeper and deeper into the Abyss.
As hard as it felt at the time, getting help, speaking up and pushing myself to leave the house made the difference. When I was asked “how are you?” or “I hear you have had a hard time, are you ok?” I wanted the earth to swallow me up. I would smile and politely say I’m getting there. But it did get easier. My husband would encourage me to go out with him, some moments I would cry when we’re out, but each time it did get easier.
The “R U OK” campaign does work, but for one who is in the depths of depression, it will take time for them to be honest and say no. It will take coaxing. And it may make friends and family to notice they are not ok because it’s not like them to stay in all day in their pj’s, not leave the house, not work, not go to social events. They may flat out refuse to… give them time but don’t give up on them. It takes guts to say, no, I’m not ok. To talk openly about something you have no idea how to explain or in some cases don’t really know where to start without sounding like you are ungrateful for the amazing life you have – because that was part of the problem… Although I was sad, I lost my brother, I could not understand why this feeling lingered and kept me down. I had a beautiful family, an amazing husband, and a successful business. My life was fantastic. What was the problem? Why was I this way? Was I a spoilt brat? Was I ungrateful?
Meditation, gratitude, focusing on the positives, were helpful. But I needed all the help I could get.
Reflecting on this time, I am so grateful that my husband reached out to friends. He gently pushed me to be social. It was not easy. I also started medication and saw a counsellor and a kinesiologist.
My clients were incredibly patient with me. My assistant Divina stepped up and managed things while I was not working. Miraculously my business is going strong… And so am I.
Had I not had the income from my business, I would have had to make a claim from my income protection. I am sure many people in my situation at that time would find making a claim hard. Heck, my son starts high school next year, and I only managed to get his application in last week when they all needed to be in early in the year. So much just slips past you when you are in this state.
So going back to Daring Greatly, living wholeheartedly and my brave friend who was honest and shared her story (which at the time scared the hell out of me). It is in her nature to help people, her business was thriving, and she was present on social media daily. She had a duty, and she fulfilled it even though it was as hard for her as it would have been for me.
We live in a world were Kindness and love need to be the priority. Sorry to sound all mushy now but it’s true. We are all being damaged in some way or another in this world. So ask yourself, am I ok? If not, dare greatly, be as wholehearted as you can and ask for help.