Last year I had an emotional breakdown. It started with me feeling stressed at work and then a barrage of personal problems, relationship issues, and challenges I just did not want to face. I knew I had been pushing it all down and not listening to that inner voice begging me to stop. I was totally lost. I needed change to happen but I had no idea how to create anything specifically for myself as up until that time apart from climbing the corporate marketing and communications ladder, I had let life happen to me instead of me creating it on my terms. 

And now? I was checking emails and social media and email notifications from 6am until 10pm forever reacting and no time to think and respond. I was stuck on the roundabout of life. 9-5? more like a 6-10 rollercoaster of just about making it through until bedtime on a Friday that took me so far away from my true self that I didn’t know how to get back there. The weekend should have been my escape but then there were other responsibilities waiting on Saturdays and Sundays. Namely all the things I didn’t get time to do in the working week! I didn’t know how or when to be me anymore. Even my faith in something bigger than me was wavering. I was so caught up in it all I was forgetting what it was like to be human.

Who cares about being their true self anyway? Is anyone really their true selves these days? Why does it even matter? We are all going to die one day and so we might as well just keep striving and escaping reality until then? Surely one day I will wake up and I’ll be retired and I’ll feel great right? Somehow I knew deep down that was not my truth or my path.

We are consistently bombarded with streams of information and calls to action today. Taking it all in and churning it back out without really emotionally connecting with anything and we are suffering both mentally and physically as a result. With an NHS report revealing that nearly a third of fit notes issued by GPs now being issued for mental health problems, both employers and GP’s are being urged to find more ways to address this alarming trend.

The issue so often is that we are simply becoming overwhelmed, not ever slowing down, still taking the information in even until the moment we shut our eyes in front of our phone screens at bedtime. It’s all too much…

I knew this overwhelm for me was a symptom and it all began to feel wrong. Wrong to my very core. I became anxious about all the information and ‘doing too much’ overload. I felt totally lost but I was at home. So why did I feel so lost and anxious? I had my family around me, I had love in my life and a ‘good job’.  Surely all should be great or at least OK?

But one thing was missing. My capacity to feel Joy. I wanted to feel ALIVE with JOY. I had forgotten how to feel this basic emotion in the noise of all the appointments, schedules, and the constant stream of digital information. The joy I remembered as a child did not come from those things. 

The joy I remembered feeling was when my first child was born and I held him in my arms for the very first time and I just could not believe how grateful I was for the utter love I felt, the joy of creativity when I painted my first picture of a horse at 12 years old, overwhelmed at the beauty of the physique of these animals, the joy I used to feel when I was alone playing with butterflies in my parents back garden on a hot summers day trying to catch them with a fishing net, putting them into a jar, studying them for hours and watching them fly free when I released them. I wanted to feel alive again and connected with that joyous feeling but it was strangely missing.

Missing in the fog of busy career mum life, of me trying to be everything to everyone, trying to just get through another week, trying to juggle the stress at work and now some big personal obstacles in my path, and forever giving everyone a piece of me. I felt fragmented.

I needed to feel the connection again with the things that used to bring me this feeling of joy, those moments that make us human. Human connection and love. Connection back to the real me.

I began to crave it, to feel selfish for wanting it. I watched people walking around the town in my lunch hour wondering if they were feeling the same. Surely there was more to life than this roundabout ride? Eventually I reached a pivotal point. I was failing at all of the big things, work, home life, emotions, all came crashing down around me.

I took time away, was signed off work and then spent a lot of time reading and soul searching amongst the emotional outbursts. I eventually began to feel a little bit better by getting off the roundabout. I had found a little space and time to look after myself. I stopped being so worried about picking up all the notifications and the emails and started looking for quietness to think a little clearer. 

But the one thing that began to make me feel happier inside more than anything else was when I took time out of my day and I walked in nature. For some reason, in this simplicity I felt a little spark of ‘joy’ coming back to me and I could breathe again.

I spent time examining insects and flowers, looking for the little changes as winter became springtime, springtime became summer, summer became autumn. I looked forward to my quiet walk each day. I somehow felt connected again. I realised the value of listening to that calling and I answered it. As I craved this ‘quietness’ away from the noise of notifications and life, I started meditating and before long I was practicing daily. Becoming more and more connected with myself either outside in nature or as part of a morning routine to ‘check in’ with how I was feeling. 

I began to find a little space within these quiet times that felt like ‘me’. I couldn’t explain this change. I just knew that at certain times my body and thoughts took me to a place where I wanted to ‘connect’. It somehow made me feel ‘whole’ again. The more I allowed myself to answer that call, the more the feeling grew and grew. I could breathe and I started to feel alive once again. I knew that I had become connected to something that was much bigger than me. Something so powerful that could heal me and make me feel my joy. My faith in myself and the something bigger than me felt like it was reawakening. I began to trust myself again that I would make better choices, recreate my boundaries for my health and well-being and live my life on my terms.

I was connected again and it felt wonderful. Nowadays, I practice everyday without fail. Not because it’s some kind of fitness routine and I feel obliged. No. This is a routine that is so special to me now that it is part of me. It is me. My connection to myself and the world around me and of course my joy. My faith and trust in me is back and that is all I need for the rest of my life.

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