Training to heal
It was over 11 years ago that I decided that maybe my path to wellness involved training to be a counsellor. I thought that perhaps if I knew how to help others, I would be able to help myself more effectively. My episodes of anxiety were increasing in severity leaving me feeling vulnerable and out of control.
The first qualification I obtained was Counselling Skills meaning I could use these skills alongside a profession. I enjoyed this course and decided to go on to a full-blown diploma which would mean I was able to work as a therapist. The theoretical approach was Person-centred, a non-directive therapy that allows the client a safe environment to navigate their way through their issues.
It was about halfway through this course that my own issues began to get in the way. I was coming up against parts of the training that just didn't sit right with me. It felt too slow a process. Maybe it didn't help that I had been having my own therapy for years with it enabling me to survive rather than move forward. Eventually the anxiety grew out of control and I had to withdraw from the final part of the course. Aswell as gaining experience working in trios as therapist, client and observer I learned about the ethics and boundaries involved so I was able to take away a fair amount of knowledge should I ever wish to go back and complete the diploma.
Anxiety puts the breaks on.
Not only did anxiety put a stop to my training it also stopped me dead in my tracks. I was floored with the worse episode to date. I don't know what caused such a devasting attack at the time. (Looking back, it could well have been the beginning of perimenopause. I was around 40).
Unable to work, eat, sleep or hold a conversation, I hid myself away. Medication was changed when it was apparent that I was suicidal. Nothing eased the anxiety, but the meds meant I could sleep a wee bit and eat. In all honesty I probably needed HRT and not more antidepressants.
The journey to wellness was hard work. I had to fight to stay alive as my mind was telling me it was time to die. Nothing was curing me. Nothing was making me able to function like a normal person. Was this to be my life or the end of my life?
Well, Well, Wellness
I made it! Wellness was mine. I had fought the great fight and won! I wasn't going back to that pit of hell for love nor money! Big Life changes happened including relocating to a beautiful, quiet spot in the Scottish Highlands. It was during this time that this website was born. It was time to share. It was the good to come out of the bad. Writing about my experiences was a way for me to process all I had been through and hopefully help others.
For some being labelled or diagnosed with a mental health issue feels like a life sentence. Shame can make you feel that you have nothing to offer others or this world. Fear of rejection stops honest conversations and embarrassment causes isolation. It is so easy to find yourself stuck in your head, afraid of what others may say and yet desperate to talk. For some it's about sticking their head in the sand until it passes. This rarely happens, if ever.
Doubts and Discovery
Once well someone suggested I pick up the reins and finish my Counselling Diploma. It sounded like a good idea until my heart flipped and I felt my body tense. What was this about? What was going on? I sat quietly for a fair while and then as I felt my body relaxed, I realised what it was that I wanted to do.
Rather than counsel people, I wanted to empower people! If you are a therapist, please don't bite my head off. I am not saying therapy isn't empowering. I am saying that for me it wasn't. It was helping me cope. I want to help people take control: to take action. In certain situations, talking therapy is amazing and can support people through specific difficulties but for long term sufferers like myself it becomes like a crutch rather than taking me forward and able to move on.
Unsure as to how I was going to help people, I took a local job as a receptionist during which the signs slowly became apparent. The first big decision was to fund and complete Mental Health First Aid Training,which I successfully completed back in April. This gave me a piece of paper that backed up my years of lived experience. Next came the talks. When asked to share some of my story for the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and then again for a Suicide Awareness workshop I jumped straight in with both feet. Although the audiences were small it was a fabulous experience which hopefully helped start some much-needed conversations about mental health. Positive feedback was that final piece of the jigsaw.
You know that feeling you get when you just know something is right? You feel a smile come to your face and your heart leaps, taking your breath away? This is how I felt when I realised that it was time for another change. It was time to leave my current job and take the bull by the horns. First of all, I updated my website to show that I am available to give talks and share my mental health experiences both online and in person. Conversations are what save people and by 'eck can I start them!
Next on the to do list was to work out 'how' I wanted to help people. With my lived experience, mental health first aid knowledge what was it that I wanted to provide?
Unlike me, there are a lot of people who aren't comfortable with the thought of mental health issues let alone talking about them. Family members may think it's all rubbish and only made up to make weak people feel better. Perhaps they have had no dealings with such issues and don't know where to turn. Some may feel it's wasting their doctor's time or something that will go away if they ' just get on with it!'
Whatever the reasons, there are people out there with questions that aren't being answered. It could be that they don't want therapy or can't afford it. Often the waiting lists are months or years long. Maybe they just want to get something off their chests or air their grievances? These are the people that I am here for. This is why I have created Claire's Chair.
What I offer - Online, confidential sessions during which my aim is to give you the support you need to take control of your well-being. I provide information regarding available resources and support. Most importantly it is a safe space for you to share what's on your mind.
For questions email - moodsmedsandmiracles.com
To Book - click here Moods, Meds and Miracles | (moodsmedsandmiracles.com)
No one should have to go without the support and information needed to be well! Please get in touch.
For me it feels amazing that something good can come out of years of misery.