'Beyond My Wildest Dreams!'
Everyone has a mental health and anyone can benefit from some help along the way. Here Michelle shares her transformation story...
(click on each question to reveal her answers)
+ What were the relationship challenges you faced?
Oh god where do I start with this one!… Well I tried online dating but that was a nightmare, it became addictive, time consuming and I always seemed to attract people that weren’t good for me. When I was in relationships the main things I had to contend with were jealousy, insecurity, possessiveness, codependency, commitment issues and communication problems. There were often differences - for example, each wanting different things, age gaps and the challenges that brought in terms of lifestyle differences. There were times I was so consumed with the other person that I lost my own identity, as well as lost touch with my support team, which made me feel isolated. I had huge fears and feelings of losing control, constantly running through worst case scenarios and bringing past relationship issues into new relationships.
+ What impact did this have on your quality of life?
Whilst I was single my life seemed to run fairly well. However, once I entered into a relationship I would become inconsistent and erratic. I would often struggle with the change and being able to manage life. The emotional side was the hardest to handle, as I would react to every button that was pressed, unable to gain control over my emotions and carry on with my day to day tasks and responsibilities. Relationships would consume me (as I mentioned before) all my healthy habits, routines and stability would suffer - my work, going to the gym, spending time with friends, holding conversations, household duties and managing finances. All that was on my mind was the other person, and this unhealthy obsession only ever had negative outcomes as it would tear through everything.
+ What was your lowest point?
After several failed relationships my lowest point was when I tried to take my own life. I had got the point where I couldn’t cope, everything I had tried to help me cope had become more and more destructive and damaging. Eventually I lost my job and really hit rock bottom. I believed that I would never find happiness again. It seemed like the only way out was to end the pain.
+ How did you turn it around?
When you hit rock bottom the only way is up. With the shock of reality, came a realisation that I had to make a conscious decision to get ‘me’ back, and that if I wanted more out of life, I had to fight for it. I was willing to go to any lengths to get it. Working through the pain of the past was really the only way out for me.
+ How did coaching with Sabrina help you?
It just helped me at first to start talking. I'd held everything in for so long, having previously believed that talking wouldn’t solve anything. I instantly felt lighter - you know that feeling when you're carrying really heavy shopping bags and somebody says “here you go, I will hold those bags for you”. I felt for the first time that somebody really listened and understood me, and she didn’t judge me or tell me what to do.
We did a lot of work looking at my values and what values I would like in a partner. We also created a ‘non-negotiables list’ which really helped me to stop settling for anyone that would have me and start thinking about what I wanted from somebody. This really helped me on first dates, as after the date I could make the choice to walk away and there was no second date. Before, after feeling guilty for trying to say ‘no’ I would’ve been straight onto a second date.
I learnt how to date, which was new for me, as I was never any good at letting somebody put some work in for me, and I never felt worth working for. I realise now that I have a lot to offer and that my respect, trust and time is something that needs to be earned, not given so freely and then get angry when it's abused.
In all of my relationships I have learnt to communicate in healthier and more effective ways - that it’s ok to say ‘no’ or even change you mind.
+ What did you learn about yourself?
I've learnt a lot! I’ve learnt that it is possible to change unhealthy behaviours and replace them with positive strategies, it takes time to change habits of a lifetime but I can do it. Most importantly I’ve learnt that I have control and that the victim mentality I had before kept me trapped. I’ve learnt that I can handle life on life’s terms, and that I can work with what I have - take the good, bad and ugly - I can change me.
I’ve learnt to like myself and respect myself, and start to love myself. My whole journey has been about focusing on progress and not perfection, and there has been so much progress.
I have learnt how to take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs. And a real lifesaver for me has been learning to trust my gut, it doesn’t lie but I never used to listen to it.
+ What is life like today?
It’s not the dark place it was and there is hope for the future. Life isn’t full of the instant drama anymore, it has a calmness and peace about it that I never knew before, or thought I could ever find.
I am now happy in myself and in a stable relationship, which involves a healthy love and understanding towards each other. We communicate our feelings and support each other to achieve our goals, whilst at the same time maintaining our own identities and healthy interests. I have a career I love, and I’m able to maintain contact with my friends and family.
I would now describe my life as 'beyond my wildest dreams!'
+ What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation?
There is hope and help out there, don’t ever give up. You are worth fighting for. Seek help from wherever you can, you never know where it will lead you. Be willing to listen to others - for me my way wasn’t working, so being humble enough to accept another way was tough, but like I said at the start, I was willing to go to any lengths.
Work on yourself. It starts with you and ends with you. Take the reins back and take control. Recognise when you need to stop doing the things you’ve always done, as it will only ever get you the same results you’ve always got.
Be brave, be fearless and be thorough.
I wish you all the best on your journeys, and I wish for you what I have worked for today. The toughest thing you will do is work on self but it’s by far the most rewarding, I promise you! x