Liz has written us a blog about her journey with her mental health, the highs and lows of being diagnosed as bi-polar and how now, every day she is grateful for the situation she finds herself in.
Hi, I am Liz and I live with my partner and two lively dogs in a lovely picturesque village near Colchester. I love the outdoors and spend a lot of time walking the dogs or going to stay in log cabins around the UK with my partner.
I work for a Re-insurance company and my job is very varied which I love. I get involved in supporting the Senior leadership team, arranging events, Mental Health and wellbeing Training, booking travel and arranging meetings, organizing Lunch & Learns for staff and sports and social events. I love my job as I get involved in all sorts of duties and no day is ever the same. People call me the Oracle as for some reason I know everything there is to know or can point people in the right direction if not.
It is tough being a woman in our industry as it is predominately made up of men however this has changed more, over the last couple of years. We now have a Diversity and Inclusion group and gender pay and equality is often discussed and action plans set.
My passion however, is Mental Health and Wellbeing and I was diagnosed with bipolar back in 2003. I was sectioned in a Mental Hospital under the Mental Health Act, which saved my life.
If I think back it all stemmed from my childhood and growing up. I was bullied throughout all my school years and my parents divorced when I was 9 years old, which had a fundamental effect on me.
My first every relationship turned into a physically abusive one and I started drinking and smoking very early on in my teenage years. The trouble was I always put up a mask and never showed people how I really felt. I always had a smile on my face, pushed all the negative things to the back of my mind, and never spoke to anyone about my feelings. From the outside, it looked to everyone that I was a happy child but inside I was an emotional mess.
Lot of other traumas happened growing up, mental abuse and bullying at work in a different job.
In 2002, I went into a massive depression and ended up being put on Prozac. I could not stop crying and I think the entire trauma that had happened to me throughout my childhood/teenage years suddenly manifested in tears. It was as if hoover dam had flooded. I was a mess.
I remained like this for 3 months then eventually started getting better. However in 2003, I had a massive psychotic episode, this was a combination of a promotion at work, nose surgery, splitting up for a controlling relationship and a spiritual experience. I thought I was Jesus’s sister and could change the world. I was invincible and thought I could stop a train. If it were not for my manager at the time that spotted the signs and symptoms, I would not be here today. He called my parents who took me to a hospital specialising Mental Health care. I was sectioned under the Mental Health act and spent a month in hospital.
It took me 10 months to get better and then stupidly I went back on the alcohol and drugs and had several more episodes, which ended up in hospital each time.
It was tough but I decided to change my life completely as was fed up of being in hospital and being in and out of jobs. I could not hold a job down and this was proving stressful and difficult financially.
I stopped drinking, met an amazing guy and changed my party lifestyle completely. It was a challenge but I started to look after myself and make more of an effort in every day life.
I started practicing meditation and mindfulness, going out for walks in the fresh air and learning new skills. This really improved my mental wellbeing. I also did lots of research on my condition and put in place copying mechanisms to deal with any future episodes that might manifest again.
I started to talk about my experience, which I found helped other people so did more of this, I now talk in schools to educate people and volunteer for the NHS, Mind charity and other voluntary organizations. I also help the police with a training video and get involved now with giving them advice on how to handle people with Mental Health issues. I want to help people understand what it was like and not to make the same mistakes as me. I am so passionate about helping people and reducing the stigma and discrimination that I put a proposal together at my current job. I wanted to become a Mental Health First aid instructor in order to help and train other people up so that they could spot signs and symptoms and help signpost people.
I now train people in my workplace, which I love and I am getting the best of both worlds as, I get to do my passion at work so this encourages me to help people and gives me a sense of satisfaction too.
I think back and know that without the support of my family, friends and partner I would never have got through it; however, some of it is self-acceptance and addressing the issues yourself.
I think my biggest achievement is now remaining in my current job, where people accept me for who I am and me not being afraid to show my true self. I know I might get judgement which I have also received in the past but now I realize it is not me its’ the other person’s issue which they need to deal with.
I also am in the process of turning my Heads2minds website into a charity so this will also be a great achievement and give me the confidence to expand more and help others, especially the younger generation.
My sister helps me out with this too and she currently mentors young children with their Mental Health and offers them support through times of need.
I believe that you can achieve anything in this world if you put your mind to it and think positivity.
My daily mantra is ‘you can and will achieve anything’ and I wake up every morning and repeat ‘Peace, Love and Harmony’ as I would love this to happen to the world.
All I can say is;
- Speak your truth
- Be yourself 100%
- Step out of your comfort zone and believe you can do it and will
The best book I recommend is ‘The Secret’, which is all about the Law of attraction. It is so true if you think and breathe positivity, it will return tenfold.
I practice gratitude on a daily basis and say positive affirmations all the time, so it fills my mind.
In addition, what has helped me is a vision board, so I put on pictures of what I what to achieve and my goals. I visualize it actually happening and know it will happen at the right time and in the right order. Divine timing I think they call it …
I think women need to be given more credit and should be listened to, and they say behind every man is a strong woman and I totally believe this.
Women need a voice and we are getting there slowly but we need to encourage this more.
I have always wanted to write a book and I have been for about 6 years on and off. Last year I met a woman called Sam Houghton who helps people write books. She mentored me for 6 months, helped, and supported me. And in October 2019 I self-published my own book called ‘Life as a Rollercoaster’ which is available on Amazon. I was over the moon and thank Sam all the time. She gave me the encouragement and confidence to say that I can do it and will achieve my dreams. Which I have done.
Therefore, my strong message to everyone who is reading this, is do not be afraid of who you are, talk about your feelings and know that if you have dreams and aspirations you CAN and WILL achieve them. I am not saying you will not face challenges and negative thoughts but use this to help point you in the right direction and NEVER ever give up.
Wow – what an amazing story and so inspiring! Liz mentioned Sam Hougton, we are lucky to be able to feature Sam too, if you’d like to read her story, please click here!