Mindfulness transformed my life
When I first got in touch with Gofal [now Platfform], two lovely women came to visit me. I thought they’d just want to hear about my employment history. But they didn’t, they were there to just listen to me
I came to Platfform after attending a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and 12 week mindfulness course recommended by her psychologist.
During a session, I picked up a leaflet explaining Platfform’s support and decided to get in touch to learn more about how the charity could help me to feel prepared for work, in a routine that would suit my new approach to life and my wellbeing.
My mental health has been a complete rollercoaster throughout my life.
I have been diagnosed with bi-polar but it took a long time to understand why I had such extreme highs and lows in my mood. It wasn’t until my husband suggested that I spoke to a professional that I recognised I was struggling and that there were a number of events in my life that led me to having such polarised feelings.
Growing up with abusive parents, I felt targeted and isolated, an experience which took until my late twenties to really process.
In later years, after being unable to conceive, I found out that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I went through surgery and medication to help me have children; however, going through the process and the impact of all the hormones brought about depressive episodes.
After struggling with a number of miscarriages, myself and my husband, Dave, now have two daughters. However, despite the joy of having children, I experienced challenges with post-natal depression, for which it took me seven years to receive a diagnosis and support.
Following this, another big upheaval came as I moved with my family from Australia to Wales when my eldest daughter was just three. It was a lonely and exhausting time as I raised the two young children, in a new country, whilst my partner worked away from home during the week.
I wanted to “empower myself to get better”
Following a deterioration in my mental health and a negative experience on a mental health ward, I was motivated to feel better for myself. I realised medication wasn’t doing enough to help me feel well and wanted to do something that would equip me with the tools to help myself day-to-day.
I started learning about mindfulness to help me pause and focus on the things that matter the most. Alongside taking the time to appreciate the small everyday things that make life enjoyable, such as the nature around me, I also adopted two dogs, Cookie and Teddy, which bring me so much happiness and companionship.
Creating a calmer lifestyle to support my mental wellbeing
I realised that I needed a lifestyle change. After running a $60 million turnover business in Australia as well a juggling personal struggles, I knew that I could no longer sustain that lifestyle and my own health.
Taking part in the DBT lite course helped me to accept that I’ll never be the person that I was before. I’m now focusing on doing things that I’ve always wanted to do, such as helping others to live a fulfilling life. I’ve done this by giving up on what I was, and embracing what I will be.
Through accessing Platfform’s support, I’ve started volunteering with citizenship‘s person to person programme in which I’m an advocate for people with learning difficulties. I’ve also become a mental health advocate for others, to make sure their voices are heard.
It has made such a difference to me. It give me so much joy. Just a smile from someone makes it all worth it.
By doing this work, I have found a new purpose in life and a confidence which helps me when I feel like I’m sinking into a depressive mood.
Nothing is better than peer teaching to help with my mental health.
I’m not scared anymore
I’ve embraced a shift in my life which helps me to feel better each day. Now I focus less on earning money and more on doing things I’m interested in and that help other people.
I’m setting up my own business which helps people to learn the tools to help themselves when they’re struggling with their mental health. This new approach to business supports my health and emotional needs as I can be flexible with my schedule whilst helping others too. This work and my volunteering roles give me purpose as well as the time to focus on myself, which is very important.
I recommend that others struggling with their mental health learn how a mindful approach to life can give them the tools to rely on when they are dealing with challenges.
I know that because of the changes I’m making in my life, I’m not scared anymore. I know the dark periods will end and that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Although life can still be hard, I feel that I am running to something, not away from it.
Focusing on being mindful every day when I can has helped me to live a fulfilling life. Learning how to help yourself, as well as helping other people, is so important during dark periods