Hi I’m Claire, nice to meet you! I’m a mum of four, fiance to my own Prince Charming, have a great group of friends BUT for the past 26 years I have fought a mental health battle. On the surface it would seem like a great life, i have a home and a car, people that care about me and a social life, underneath I fight every single day to be “normal” (brackets very important here because I’m not sure the normal exists for anybody but you get the idea)
When I was thirteen, I was put on my first medication, being diagnosed with depression and also had my first encounter with counselling, the first of many lol. As i got older anxiety took hold, particularly social anxiety, crossing the street to avoid groups of people, paranoid about school everyday that I was being talked about or that I wasn’t wanted. When i got to sixteen I was able to buy alcohol (illegally) as I carried myself with such a confidence and looked older, yes me with severe anxiety had already perfected that don’t mess with me expression, alcohol gave me the confidence to be the outgoing bubbly person that everyone thought I already was, I avoided groups of girls at all costs, never feeling part of a group, only in the last few years have I overcome this.
i got married young, had my first child at 20 and got struck with post-natal depression so severe that I asked my husband (now ex) if we could have her adopted, I’m pleased to say that further therapy and medication allowed me to enjoy my child but it took till her first birthday to feel bonded. For seven years I stayed trapped in a loveless marriage, walking on eggshells around a man who I realized later on was mentally abusive, three children later, struggling to do it all on my own, feeling a failure as a wife and mother, unattractive, creating a wall down the bed, i finally told him to leave. I had lost myself, I hated myself actually, this positive step I had taken was the start of the unravelling. Out the window went any routine, I stayed in bed whenever I could, I hid from the world, I lost a lot of friends…I started to control the only thing i could which was my diet and lost a ton of weight, but in the worst way, compulsive calorie counting, forgoing food so i could save my intake for glasses of wine or mixers, spending hours on a treadmill, I hated putting food in my mouth and would feel dizzy before I would.
For the next two years I partied hard, not letting anybody close, cutting off family, not letting any man near my heart, enjoying the power I had over males by rejecting them or giving a cold stare, I had started to abuse myself I guess. Two years later, almost to the day, in walked Prince Charming. Who most definitely was not supposed to be the love of my life, this girl had made a deal with herself that she would never compromise her life again, would never share her bed or space, most definitely wasn’t having control of her heart.
For ten years this man has seen me at my very worst, crying in a ball, meltdowns so severe I screamed and cried till i couldn’t breathe, suicidal ideation again, systematically tearing myself apart from the inside, being unable to leave my house, being unable to cope in a job setting (my anxiety left me disabled to leave the house sometimes, or when I got to work unable to stop crying), hes watched me shut down for months at a time, but hes never given up on me. i pushed as hard as i could to make him leave at times, feeling unworthy of anybody, unable to love at the capacity I wanted to, he never gave up on me. and now I refuse to give up on me either.
I started to care a little less about my weight, I organically found friends that were genuine and kind, i integrated with those playground mums and started to find my way back bit by bit. Just over two years ago I got a part time job and for the first time ever I enjoyed going to work, I felt part of a team, valued, given more responsibility and promotion, each month, then six months was another milestone for me, I made it.! In fact i made it so far that in the last couple of months I found an inner voice that told me I was worth more and quit to take on a brand new role, full time wowee!
Now I’m not saying I’m cured, in this mental health rollercoaster we will go up as well as down, my anxiety right now has me believing that supermarkets are the scariest place on earth..yep really…kind of inconvenient this one ggrrr…. I will have panic attacks sometimes if I have to go out of my home town, if there’s too many people, new people, a new place, if well meaning people tidy up for me (please please don’t ever rearrange my stuff aarrggghh), i doubt myself as a mother continuously, i try not to look at my body in the mirror.
BUT what i do have is 4 great kids, a man that loves me unconditionally, a solid group of friends that have my back and will catch me anytime day or night and a new inner confidence to talk about my story, my journey. you could say I’ve found my voice. Over the last couple of years I have shared my journey through facebook live broadcasts, through my Youtube channel, and the feedback I’ve had has been so positive, that others suffering don’t feel alone any more, that they’ve had someone to come to who understands what they’re going through, people who don’t suffer themselves but are getting an insight into mental illness which is helping them to help their loved ones and to break the stigma and taboo that mental illness is something to be ashamed of, in fact I’m on a mission.
A mission to find ways for people to live a happier life, to explore new activities, to see the world (wanderlust is a big thing to me, my bucket list is huge), to eat better, to learn new skills, to organize and plan better so that the fog clears in our head, to not let mental health define who I am a, who you are, to stand up and say I GOT THIS, I’M FIGHTING BACK! I hope together, hand in hand, we can take this journey and find a better way, and do more than exist. If I can do it, I promise you can too. It might not be all rainbows and butterflies (lets go for 90%?) but I promise to always be real, to be honest, to not preach (who on earth wants that when you’re trying to just get out of your bed) and just to do the best I can fighting every day. I hope you’ll join me.
Lots of love, Claire xx