I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge where my head was at this time last year, because according to my three-year journal, it was a whopper of a day. And I owe it to myself to look back at where I was then and how far I’ve come since.
Because this time one year ago it felt like my head might explode. I’m not sure I’ve ridden such a wave of emotions in one day, since.
I started this day, one year ago, by nervously walking the 10 minutes to the doctors. I’d finally felt brave enough to make an appointment in a bid to discuss my overwhelming anxiety. I sobbed my way through my allotted 10 minutes, got diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and got the necessary referral for CBT. I should say that I was lucky and had private medical cover through my work at the time, which was why I needed a referral and also sped up the process for me.
I left the appointment feeling raw but proud that I’d asked for help and got it. I’d made big progress.
I remember not wanting to go into the office after my appointment as I knew my body would be flooded with emotions that I’d struggle to process, but that my boss was adamant I needed to be there for an important announcement.
It was on this day, one year ago, I found out I was at risk of redundancy. We knew change was coming but it still felt like a sucker punch. I remember standing looking out over London with my old boss, who I still regularly catch up with, crying into her hanky, not being able to process everything that had happened that morning. She hugged me and spoke about all of the opportunities that lay ahead. She had, and still has, a way of making me realise that there’s more to life, more out there that I want to see and explore and always pushes me to question what I want and need to do in order to feel happy.
After a good 30 minutes of crying, I left the office, unable to keep it together in front of my teammates and headed to the nearest park for some air. I called my husband and my mum, sobbing down the phone before getting on a train home.
That sucker punch feeling had started to ease.
As soon as I got home, I ran a bath and succumbed to my sanctuary in a bid to help calm myself. Because that evening, one year ago, I was sharing my IBS story on a panel at an event for IBS Awareness Month run by The Gut Stuff.
I wanted to represent myself as best as possible and I couldn’t do that if I was fixated on everything I’d experienced that day. I had to remind myself to breathe deep. Put my game face on and show up.
And I had the best evening. I stood alongside Emma of She Can’t Eat What?! as we shared our IBS stories with the crowd. Joined Dr Dawn Harper, Eve Kalinik, Laura Tilt and Chloe Brotheridge on the panel, answering any and all questions about IBS and speaking up about my anxiety and how I’d sought help for it that day.
Being surrounded by a room full of others in the same IBS boat – and what a boat that’d be – made me feel alive. As did the amount of people who came up to chat afterwards. Who could relate to what I was saying. Wanted to thank me for being so honest and open.
I was running on empty but flying high.
The best bit was having my mum there to watch.
I guess in some ways it was one of my lowest days but really, it’s one of my proudest. Because I proved to myself how much of a fighter I can be.
And a year on, I’m proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve completed 10 sessions of CBT and know myself better than ever. I’ve gone freelance and am wildly enjoying the freedom and variety it’s given me so far, in such a short period of time. And I’m doing more than ever to speak up around IBS.
What a day to reflect on. It’s days like today I’m super glad I fill out my journal, religiously, every night.