I thought the most logical first blog post would be an introduction to myself, to my plans for Well Minds and to talk about what has led me to starting this adventure. I apologies if I repeat anything you have already read on my web page but I’ll gloss over the boring bits as quick as I can.
Who am I?
Well, that’s a question I am still trying to answer myself at the age of 36! But in the more literal sense, I am Erica, I live in the UK, I’ve lived in the same city my whole life. I lived with my Mum and Dad growing up, it was just the three of us, I have no siblings. I lived in a small house rented from the local authority until I was 11 and during my younger days played with other children who lived on the same street and attended the same local school. There was a nice community spirit back then, neighbours all looked out for each other and would pop to each other’s houses for a coffee, it was warm and friendly – with a few acceptations. When I was 11, we moved to a different area as my Mum and Dad bought a house, the area was very different, it was very busy and multi-cultural, it had a very different feel. For me the big difference was not having friends nearby to pop round and play with.
There was one day at school, I must have been about 10 years old, I remember the other kids playing a game and giving me the worst part in the game because I was the quiet one who wouldn’t argue back. But this day I told them all, it wasn’t fair, they weren’t being good friends and I wasn’t playing with them anymore, and I didn’t. I sat through the next entire year of school on my own at break time and lunch times. I decided, at the time, that it was a matter of principle. I wasn’t going to play with other kids that weren’t nice to me. In reality, I think what was really happening was the beginnings of social anxiety. I didn’t want to play their games because I wasn’t confident enough and didn’t fit in. I tell that story because on reflection I can now see this was the beginning of a downward spiral.
My time at secondary school was a little better in certain ways. This was because I attended a mainstream school but the school also had a separate provision for visually impaired pupils. This meant I met other kids who had bad eyesight, or no eyesight, just like me (I do have some sight). To find other kids who were like me was great. We also attended a residential building where we got independence lessons, but mainly just got to hang out together. Obviously, like all teenagers, we had out ups and downs but it was the only time I felt like I really belonged somewhere. I made a few fully sighted friends but only ones that were brought into our group by someone else, I didn’t make the friends, they were found for me. Though my latter teenage years was spent with those new friends. At that time, I certainly was very shy and reserved and had some social anxiety but it was very manageable and didn’t stop me doing things. Unfortunately, as I had children pretty young and they didn’t we drifted apart as we went into our 20’s.
Since leaving school, I’ve flitted from one interest to another, I’ve never found anything that I’ve stuck at for long enough to be a success at it. Here are some examples:
I went to college to study Travel and Tourism, I left ¾ of the way though.
I worked at the factory where my Mum worked, I stayed 3 months.
I worked at Burger King, I stayed 3 months.
I worked for a large bank, I stayed about 14 months.
I worked in a call center, I stayed about 4 or 5 months. (That’s the last paid job I had in 2005)
I twice got places at the local college to study different thing (childcare and accounting) but never ended up going.
I trained to be a massage therapist; I did complete the course but didn’t do anything with it after.
In 2011, I embarked on a journey to become a primary school teacher, which is the thing I always legitimately wanted to do. It took four years and though I did come out of it with a degree, I was unable to complete the second-year teaching placement as I become so overwhelmed by anxiety, I did not end up as a qualified teacher but did graduate.
Last year I begin another degree, this time in Data Science, the reason was I can do the course and perhaps the job from home so I could stay at home all of the time and not go out into the scary world which fuels my anxiety. Its interesting but I know my hearts not really in it like it was with the teaching.
I would always have an excuse for leaving or not continuing but in reality it all came back down to anxiety, the fear which would build up to a point I could take it no more and I would feel too overwhelmed and just stop. Instead of facing the problem head on and finding a solution I would just run away. I have had 4 children during this time so I have hardly been sitting idly, as most will know that is a full-time job in itself!
It is over the last 2 or 3 years that my anxiety is now preventing me from doing pretty much anything that involves leaving the house. If one of my children gets a hospital appointment, I will take them, but it is an awful experience. Appointments are pretty much the only reason I leave my comfort zone of my house, the school run and the local shops. I did things for a long time feeling physically ill without telling anyone but it has become gradually less and less. This helps the physical symptoms certainly but it is like putting tape over a leak, the hole is still there under that tape. The anxiety is still there and will pop up at the least convenient time.
My plans for the future.
I’ve now reached a point where I’ve had enough, this needs to change. I cannot continue not living the life I want, not giving my children and husband the wife and mother they deserve. So, I’ve stared to make a few small changes, I’ve started to eat better, take a herbal supplement, started meditation and learning mindfulness techniques. I’m trying to be more active as I know physical activity is key to lifting mood but I’m still trying to fit that into my routine properly. I’m no longer feeling guilty for spending time on myself as I was before, I’m beginning to see that improving myself will benefit those around me too.
Starting this project seems like a natural progression in my journey to getting my life back. I know that there are so many people going through the same thing so I thought, if I could share my experiences and learn new things to benefit myself, I can then share with other people, like you, it could greatly benefit me but also many others too.
Though I’m beginning by talking to you about my own experiences I will work hard to bring you useful information verified by experts and content that I’ll create from what I learn. I will not share anything with you that I don’t personally believe in. Some of the resources will be available for free, such as blog posts, YouTube videos, written guides etc. But further down the line I hope to create items such as MP3 and PDF downloads for purchase. I’m even toying with the idea of training as a life coach and/or mindfulness and meditation teacher so I can bring even more benefit to people who are suffering from mental health difficulties.
Now, more than ever, we need to support people with mental health issues and help them return to the lives that they want and deserve. So, this is a call to action, please like and share my content to benefit others and join in discussions and comment on these posts and social media. Together we can create a supportive community where we can all benefit and support each other on our own unique journeys.
Thanks for reading.
Let me know in the comments any particular topics you would like to see information on, what would benefit you or someone you know?