What a wonderful phrase! It means no worries, for the rest of your days. A phrase that actually became quite important to me over the last few months. And a phrase that helped me to get through possibly one of the hardest parts of my life so far…
Some of my close friends know the whole story of what’s gone on, but initially I didn’t want the world to know so I kept things very quiet. But what I’ve realised is that by talking about it, and having the courage to open up to people about things has actually been the biggest relief I needed. I’m a ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve’ kinda girl anyway, so it probably became quite obvious to those around me that I wasn’t in the best place!
I suppose I should probably go right back to the beginning. So, at the end of July this year, I moved to London to start a new job and essentially change the direction of my life. I ‘retired’ from elite triathlon after the Commonwealth Games and wanted to focus on building myself a professional career in the big smoke. Things got off to a rocky start when I HATED my first job. With a passion. When you dislike your job, getting up in the morning gets harder and harder each day and I’d quite often find myself in tears on the phone to mum, dad, my sister, cousins, friends; anyone who’d listen to me and my worries. Now, I knew right away that I didn’t want things to continue like that. So, I moved into a new flat, was very lucky in getting myself another job straight away and things seemed fixed.
After about three weeks in the new job and the new place, things started rapidly snowballing downhill, to a point where I genuinely thought I was at the lowest of the low. Apparently not though, as my life seemed to have a few more bits and pieces in store for me to crash into! A weekend trip to visit some of my wonderful family on the Wirral turned into a bit of a disaster with a trip to A&E and a totally torn calf muscle. The one thing I could do in London that was keeping me sane; run; I could no longer do! Cheeeeeeeers for that one. A lot of hugs, family support and a bucket load of tears later, I had to go back to London and tackle the place on my lovely new crutches. But here’s the thing… I didn’t WANT to go back to London. I panicked at the thought of having to go back there. Felt ill thinking about me being back there. Now, that’s not the way you want things to be. But I put my big girl pants on and pushed my own boundaries and went back. Miserable as I was, I knew I had to do it. This is probably where the real problems started…
Just your average Tuesday morning, I woke up at 7am to start getting ready for work; shower, quick call to mum, breakfast omelette eaten. Bish bash bosh, the usual routine. I knew I was still very unhappy and something had to change. It was at this point where things went from bad to worse. I started getting anxiety sickness every time I had to leave the house. A genuine fear of leaving! Totally irrational, I realise that now. But at the time, I couldn’t stop it. Then the panic attacks started; hyperventilating, uncontrollable crying and this weird sensation of having the inability to even stand up. I have never ever experienced anything quite like these before and I would never wish it on anyone. One of these attacks occurred when my sister had been visiting and it was just as she was leaving the flat. Alex & John witnessed the emotional and mental state I’d got myself into and kindly took me back to their place in Reading for the weekend. I’ll never forget that, and I’ll always have them both to thank for picking me up off rock bottom that day. The next few weeks involved much of the same, and even though I could escape at weekends (I visited friends in Brighton, family in North Wales and took a short trip home too) it was always that return to London that terrified me and brought on panic attacks and anxiety sickness.
Looking back on it now, I can only assume I was heading towards a very dark place. And I mean, very dark. I should never have let myself get that miserable and that low and I hate myself for doing it now. I’ve always been so strong willed and determined, that I thought I’d be able to pull myself out of it. Almost a case of ‘man up and get on with it’! But the truth is, in the state I was in, I just couldn’t. The depression consumed every part of me, and nothing I told myself was helping my situation.
So, I took a risk. I left my job and made the decision to move out of London. It needed to happen but it was a big, big risk. I left a job that I know a lot of people would do anything to have. I left my flatmate. I left friends. And I left London, knowing I needed to fill my room in my flat as soon as possible to stop me having to fork out an absolute fortune for rent. Rooms in London are like the last Rolo. Everyone wants a room in London. The flat went within two days and another two days later I was back at home in Aberystwyth. Unemployed and exhausted but relieved, happy and ready for yet another chapter in my life.
Two weeks later and I have a full time job, working with a truly wonderful department at the University. I have my family around me. I have my mum and dad to wake up to in the mornings and say ‘Good morning!’ with a big old grin. I’m back at swimming club. I’m back riding with the cycling club (and my dad, yay!). I have my friends all around me. I have my sister to meet for lunch every day if we want! I have my boyfriend here. I have my smile back. I have my LIFE back. Nothing is ever a quick fix, and I understand that what I’ve put myself through has done some pretty substantial damage. But with the support system around me, I know that they will help to put me back together again. The long term plan is a little more complicated and will involve a return to studying at university. But that’s in the future, and why should I look so far in the future when I’ve got today to make the most out of?! Some people might see moving home as a step backwards. But I’m an optimist. I see that taking a step backwards after taking a step forwards is not a disaster; it’s more like a cha-cha. And who doesn’t LOVE a good cha-cha?! 🙂
In true eli_teee style, I do have a number of people I need to say a great big thank you to. It’s times like this when you realise who loves you, and who your genuine true friends are. Rene & Marion, thank you for everything you did for me whilst I was in London. My family, especially UJ, Cazza, Rachie, & the wonderful Dooley clan. Alex & John. My friends; Nina, Laura, Sophie, Ailbhe, Katie, Kirsty, Ben, Jack; thank you for being at the end of the phone whenever I needed you. My Glyn; thank you helping to pick me up when I thought everything had fallen apart. And most importantly, the glue to my mismatched life; mum & dad. I’m sorry for all the stress I’ve caused you, but know that by allowing me to do what was right for me, you have helped save me from the most miserable of places. Thank you for believing in me.
Much love, happiness and peace y’all