I grew up in a relatively normal household. Mum and dad were both working-class and owned a small business in Adelaide for 30 years. They were Christians and took me to church every Sunday. Once I turned 16, I decided that I knew everything, so I dropped out of high school before completing year 10, took on a job at the local supermarket, and moved out of home 6 months later with a man who was much older than me.
For the next 4 years, I found myself trapped in a domestic violence relationship, drugs, alcohol, and parties occurred regularly. He would regularly drink a full bottle of Jack Daniels in one night, smoke marijuana, and take out his hurt and anger on his friends and me. Drink driving, license disqualifications, drug convictions, and a stint in jail, were part of his life during this time.
After 4 years of this, I thought “There has got to be a better way to live!” I was depressed, broken, hurt, angry and fed up with this lifestyle. I had debts, loans, and fines totaling about $8000, and back in the 90s as a teenager, that was quite a lot of money! On my 20th birthday, my mum brought their van to the house while my boyfriend was out at work and helped to remove all my belongings. I had been planning this for some time and was so fearful of the repercussions and had replayed scenarios over and over in my head. But I just knew I had to change my life and get away from this person who was destroying me and controlling it.
After all, it’s my life and I’m the only one who can change it.
I packed up my car, and drove to Melbourne, living in a caravan park and working at a bakery for the next 6 months, paying off the debt, I escaped the people and poisonous lifestyle back in Adelaide.
Fast forward a few years, I met my first husband and we married in 1999 and had two beautiful daughters, they are both adults now but with no career prospects, no education, and little experience, I decided I needed to go back and study. At 23, I enrolled in TAFE and started my Advanced Diploma of Accounting. I finished my degree in Accounting over the next 6 years, whilst my children were still young, and I found an accountants position in a small Adelaide firm.
After about 8 years my 1st marriage started falling apart and the pressures of work, home life, and young children seemed to be so stressful, I thought my head would explode! I just wanted to run away from everyone to a deserted island. It seemed worse than before when I suffering the abuse in my teenage years. Because now there were 2 other little people in my life whom I loved so much and didn’t want them to be affected by my breakdown.
I knew my life needed to change AGAIN. So I went about seeking help and made some tough decisions. I attended counseling, changed my living arrangements, expelled negative influences and people in my life. This brought me some well-needed relief from the emotional weight I was carrying. I learned to say NO to the toxic thoughts and people in my life.
I often tell or ask myself, “I am the only person in the world that has these thoughts. These negative emotions are consuming me. They are overwhelming. I hate my life. When will this anxiety end? I can’t handle this anymore! GOD where are you and why have you forsaken me? My gut feels sick every day. I am just going through the motions. One day blends into the next. I have no purpose in my work or life. Am I going insane?! What is the point of being here? … I want to die!”
These are the thoughts, feelings, and dialogue I had going through my head for the best part of 3 years. In 2010 I had a nervous breakdown. I was never medically diagnosed and did not take medication to treat it, but I knew I had hit rock bottom. Crying most days and struggling through work and home duties with 2 young children. I thought I was the only person in the world that was plagued by these negative thoughts and emotions. So I pushed away friends and family that were close to me because I didn’t want them to know how I felt and what I was going through.
You know the old saying…. We all have bad days. Well, back then I used to wake up each morning wondering if I would have a good day. Good days were rare back then, and I even used to mark them on a calendar, so I could look back to see if I was improving. I’m sure we all have bad days. But when we think and feel these things on a daily basis for extended periods, it is usually a sign of depression or anxiety and perhaps some external help is needed. For 3 years, I suffered this deep dark depression. I had a good business and was earning good money, a nice car and a nice house. But none of that mattered, I just wanted to end my life and for the depression to leave me!
THE 5 F’s as I call it that helped me turn my life around;
1. FRIENDSHIPS – For years I kept to myself, pushing others away, so I made a deliberate effort to build relationships and confide in others.
2. FORGIVENESS – I realised that holding onto unforgiveness and bitterness of what others had done, only hurt me not them.
3. FAITH – Prayer and meditation and my belief that God only had good things for me. Knowing His love and reading His word, the Bible helped me change my mindset and thinking patterns to positive ones.
4. FITNESS – I started exercising and joined a running group. I completed some marathons and events. This helped me confront my demons, as there was plenty of time to think, on long runs.
5. FOOD – I went to a nutritionist to get help with the gut issues I was having, which evidently were linked to my anxiety and depression. This was a major wake up call for me, as I learned of the foods that I actually thought were healthy, were causing inflammation in my body. Eliminating processed foods and turning to the whole, fresh, and natural diet.
These 2 significant but very different circumstances and periods in my life, taught me that life is not only short but also our time, our health, and our resources are precious. And we should protect and look after them with deliberate intention.
As bad as these experiences were, they have enabled me to better help, understand, and show professional empathy to my business clients and colleagues, which I believe is crucial in a world where business can be a dog eat dog environment at times and people are only out for themselves.
A transformational story won’t happen overnight, that would be a miracle if we could change our lives from one circumstance straight into a better one, but it can be done, with time, patience and a good strategy. I hope my story may be the start of your transformational journey, and we hope to read your story on this site one day.