So I am sat here on a Monday evening thinking about everything I have in the diary for the next couple of weeks. A few months ago I would have been completely overwhelmed and then go into hiding, becoming too anxious to deal with it…. and just as I start writing this blog I receive a message asking if I can deliver a talk.
I feel so truly blessed to now be in a position were I’m able to take on work again. I have been struggling to find and settle into work since leaving the RAF and completely lost my focus. I tried working with the ambulance service but I started getting too worked up at the smallest of things. My tolerance levels are way too short and I was struggling with it. I started to dread going into work and I was snapping at some of those who called in. Actually to be fair, I think anyone would snap at some of the people who called in for an emergency ambulance when they very clearly didn’t need one!! I became angry with some who would call in and complain about minor ailments when in my mind I just kept wandering back to the casualties we picked up in Afghanistan. I decided for the good of my health to leave the role and hand in my registration. I then applied and was successful in a job working with RAFA but that again was short lived due to my stress and low tolerance. I left and then had no idea what I was going to do. I also noticed that my memory was pretty poor, as was my concentration levels. I was forgetting the most basis of things, I was getting wound up by the most ridiculous of things but some incidents warranted it. I couldn’t cope with things I didn’t agree with, knowing there was nothing I could say or do about it. I had passion for helping people who really needed it, not for statistics, policies and procedures which should have become extinct with the dinasours. So, where did that leave me?
I had completely lost all focus, my dream career was lost, I was not who I used to be were my capacity to juggle workload was always great! All that was gone and I was stressing and falling apart over having more than one thing to do in a day. Does anyone else feel that?
I really miss the RAF and did actually enquire about going back in but they wouldn’t have me because of my PTSD diagnosis. I am envious when I see my buddies in their uniform, and the tours, how can I miss the tours when it was those that broke me?? Please tell me someone else out there understands that. I guess it’s because although the situation was terrifying, the call-outs hell, the buddy’s your with made you feel you belonged somewhere again. There for each other during the boring hours, hanging around waiting for the dreaded alarm telling us we had a shout….. my heart is going just thinking about it.
So I had 2 choices, sink into a pit of misery thinking I will never work again, or take a leap of faith and start out on my own. I have never not worked and I hated it. I wasn’t claiming anything and had some savings which would only keep dwindling if I didn’t start earning money again. I was delivering mental health awareness workshops and delivering talks, mostly for free or for charitable donations. I came alive delivering these sessions and I had a lightbulb moment.
When I was at my worst I was in a living nightmare. I had no idea what was happening and it really frightened me. I also had no idea how I could explain to anyone else what I was going through when I had no idea myself. Equally, how the hell could my family, my close friends, work colleagues and others understand. Watching someone you love changing in front of you is so very scary, whatever the reason. Understanding a little bit about what’s happening could help. It could be the difference between walking away or persevering and living through it together. It could be the difference between wanting to end your life to end your nightmare, or feeling there’s hope because people around you understand, even just a little bit.
So the lightbulb moment came following a really great workshop. The guys were so receptive and someone took me to one side at the end and said I’d really helped them. I felt so warm inside afterwards and halfway through the drive back I decided this was were my heart was. This is what I’m meant to do and I decided to start planning on setting up my business. I trained as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and started running courses. I still continued with the workshops and talks but decided to also start running awareness seminars etc.
For me, it’s not about raising my bank balance but more about raising awareness. I want to educate others about mental health and mental illness in order to assist others when things really don’t go to plan. If I had understood, or my fiance who walked away understood, or my friends & family understood, the journey may have been easier somehow. If I can help others understand, following my own experiences then I will talk all day and night. I’m glad that I’m still also able to help others on a 1-1 basis who send me private messages. I will always help anyone because that’s what I would have welcomed.
For the first time in a very long time, I’m in the right place….
I didn’t get here on my own however and I have so many people to thank. It’s really not easy setting up and I’m not there yet, I haven’t finished my website, I’m still trying to market correctly, I’m juggling my social media sites, writing policy whilst also awaiting CPD accreditation, planning a seminar and running bespoke courses. Yet, clients are coming my way, courses are being booked and I’m delivering hard. Working all the hours I can but do you know what, thanks to some special people I’m smashing it!!