Often people that need help look a lot like people that don’t need help. That was me, I always wore the biggest smile and everything was always ‘fine’ or ‘great’ or ‘perfect’. But behind that positive facade I was unravelling. In 2018 my husband and I had just moved out to Dubai, and I gained a promotion at the Primary School I was working in. As my responsibilities increased so did my workload and to cope I applied my favourite success strategy – just work harder.
Asking for help never crossed my mind because it is something that I had never done.
Early starts, late nights and skipping lunch breaks became my new normal. I ignored the signs of anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia, determined to just finish one more project.
Until the day that I could not do it all on my own anymore. I hit complete burnout.
When my Mum arrived in Dubai to support me she could not believe how quickly I had deteriorated. A shell of my former self, I greeted her with the words ‘I am going to go to jail.’ I was hysterical, I lied across her knees in the taxi and cried all the way back from the airport. I was immediately referred to a psychiatrist, and got diagnosed with severe depression and psychosis.
Now I know that paranoia and psychosis are common effects of sleep deprivation, but at the time I thought I was crazy.
Over the 6 months that followed I visited numerous doctors and psychologists, in the Dubai and the UK, hoping to find answers but unwilling to be fully vulnerable. In many sessions I actually asked my husband to speak for me as I could not admit the suicidal thoughts that I was having.
Although my family and friends guided me to many different forms of support I had never asked for help myself. But that changed the day my husband had to fly back to Dubai for work. I arranged to meet an old friend, and as we walked around the park I finally let my walls come down. I opened my heart, and was met with empathy and kindness.
For the first time I asked “Please can you help me?” The words felt like they came from the bottom of my soul.
My friend offered up her spare room and I moved in the same day. When I stepped through the door to her house I felt lighter, I felt hope. After months of deferring all decisions to those around me, I began to find my voice. I chose to stop taking my antidepressants because I had not experienced any improvements with them and I never looked back. In the months that followed I rebuilt my mental and physical health through daily rituals such as movement, journalling and meditation. Curious to learn more, I read avidly and listened to podcasts to find new ways to improve my sleep and wellbeing.
Inspired to share these insights with others I retrained to be a yoga teacher and set up my company Charlotte Swire Wellness. My signature system is a combination of breath work, meditation and movement, underpinned by transformative habits to restore energy and elevate success.
I truly believe that if I had not reached out for help I would not be here today.
On my healing journey I have realised that being able to give and receive help in equal balance is not only the key to preventing burnout, but is also an integral part of a happy and fulfilled life.
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