My Story for May – Mental Health Awareness Month
May is a mental health awareness month and I have a story to tell you…
The year was 2002 and I was at the height of my corporate career.
Alpha super driven young woman with big dreams, lofty ambitions and a huge ego to boot.
I was everywhere and unstoppable… Until I wasn’t!
Until a May bank holiday weekend in Paris that was supposed to be fun turned into a 3 day stay in a hotel room. Luxurious Parisian hotel room, mind you, but hotel room nevertheless.
Pre-panic attack signs that I’ve ignored in London came with me to Paris. And they had a lesson to teach me.
You see, a few months before, my sleep was off, I was exhausted all the time, and had a series of serious and debilitating panic attacks, that I managed to convince myself are nothing more than a temporary lack of energy and lack of proper nutrition. I was running on Marlboro lights 100s, coffees and RedBulls.
Hardly an alkaline diet that I predominantly follow these days…
I was running on empty.
I ignored the signs. Resting, taking time off, was in my mind in those days, reserved for losers, and I wasn’t one of them.
Where I come from – we don’t stop. We don’t give up. And we always can.
I was burning my corporate social fitness candle on both ends and something had to give.
Fast forward to now…’I am, as Yung Baby Tate says in her song ‘I am wealthy, I am healthy, I am…’. And I am grateful that I learnt the lesson. To stop. To retreat. To heal. In order to return in my full strength.
What has changed you may ask… A lot!
I have learnt that I can still pursue my passions, have lofty dreams and cultivate big ambitions, but in order to do that I had to swap mindless goals for mindful intentions.
I have a mission and legacy – to create a safe space for wealthy wise women to hustle gently, lead boldly and empower gracefully.
And to do that, I owe it to myself to show up in my full feminine power daily. Unapologetically, authentically and in full integrity.
My clients – women entrepreneurs, women in leadership positions, policy makers, movers and shakers in their 40s and 50s, struggle with the very same things or similar things I went through, and it is an absolute privilege to be able to hold a safe space and create a safe container for them to transform gently.
You see, we were taught to perform, to stay strong, to go hard or go home, to never give up, to hold it together, to be positive, to not show our emotions…
Being vulnerable, emotional, sensitive, delicate is perceived as weakness, unless it’s a trendy fake performative act that we can make reels/stories/ that can bring likes/followers/sponsorships…in which case it is glorified and encouraged…for all the wrong reasons…
Sadly the real, middle ground was lost amid the noise of numbers, comparisons, algorithms and the latest buzz…
All of those things collectively affect our mental health more than we know…
So how about we stop. Regroup.
We don’t have to go hard or go home. And on that note…Home is good. It’s where we can thrive. Coming home to ourselves is what we owe to ourselves.
Glorifying blood sweat tears and hard hustle as the only road to success is toxic, dangerous and is not a long term sustainable strategy.
There are different, more nurturing, intelligent, mindful
ways of inspiring, motivating and inviting people to grow themselves and their businesses.
No need to wave the scaremongering and bullying stick disguised as a well meaning motivation spiel.
Yuppy era has long gone. Pushing, forcing, manipulating outcomes is an old paradigm.
You see, mental health is not a joke and is not to be taken lightly!
So, if you are currently going through a phase and if that phase has been going on for longer than you had initially hoped for; or if you’ve learnt to mask it, put a filter on it, soften it, by brushing it off and blaming it on yet another cosmic shitshow or a bad day at work, maybe you should consider pressing the pause button and taking some time to re-think things.
You see, masking things off and pretending that EVERYONE is going through something, doesn’t really help, and even if that were true, let’s focus here on YOU!
You are not everyone! You are not most people. You are you. So if you are suffering in silence, pretending, if you are feeling a heavy dose of shame about your feelings pause and reach out. Speak to a friend, a professional… Open up.
There is great strength in showing your vulnerability.
Healing happens when we acknowledge our current reality, and not when we bury our head in the sand.
Every single emotion is here to be felt.
Don’t ignore it.
And remember to hustle gently!