Hayley Faulkner seems to have it all going for her. Young, well-travelled, good looking, a career as a Business Analyst job for a household name by day; and a portrait artist by night. But as is the case with so many of us, all is not as it would seem on the surface. And that’s where we continue to make the wrong assumptions with mental health. We only glance at the surface and don’t dig any deeper.
Hayley is now healing herself where it counts – beneath that surface, and is kindly sharing her story with us.
Part of that was her recently discovering that she likes running (and is good at it to her surprise) and so she finds relief in the sweat and reality of it. On the less physical side she uses writing to aid her in her management of depression and GAD. A year ago, Hayley decided to do things that scare the shit out of her. This blog telling us all about it is one of those scary things.
One step at a time…
After the tears, panic and dread of facing another day subsided, these are the words I repeated to myself when I woke up one morning and realised I had broken…because this morning, I wished I hadn’t woken up.
Step 1 – get out of bed, Step 2 – call the doctors, Step 3 – What is step three? I had no idea!
I needed to get a same day doctors appointment. Sitting in my flat making the call I hear the words “how can I help you?”. My body went cold, I was making this appointment to ask for help and now I canʼt find any words!
Made it to the surgery and it turns out I have a great doctor, his advice being; “Focus on the symptoms rather than the thoughts that might be causing them, that will come later” and boy did it!
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
I walked out of the doctors with a sick note, some tablets for my physical symptoms and a referral to the mental health team.
Even with the sick note, I still headed straight to work. I was being a bit mechanical. I text my mum and dad on the way into the office trying to calmly tell them what was wrong as if to say ‘oh itʼs ok because we have a label for it now. But really…what do I do with this information?
It felt like I was between worlds or something. Everyone around me was just cracking on like normal, all the while in my head I was just wondering what the f**k was going on.
I had lost my voice. And even if I had found it, I was too damn scared to use it. My grip on reality had well and truly gone, to the point I didn’t know who I was. I stopped doing everything.
I switched off. The next day I couldn’t move so I emailed my boss. It was official, I was signed off work. Then the guilt trickled in when I thought this process was supposed to make me feel better!?
Tell you what though, I would not have got through some of the darkest months of my life had it not been for the understanding and support I’ve had from my work colleagues.
Now I just had to work out how to get out of bed…one step at a time right?
Slowly, very slowly, I started to hear my own voice again.
Therapy. Supportive family. Incredible friends. Their patience (and at times forgiveness) has been everything.
I write morning pages (confession: not every morning!), theyʼre my way for me to brain dump my thoughts. I wonʼt show them to anyone and even I find the earlier pages hard to read. But Iʼll share his short snippet with you:
‘Didn’t quite get up
in the ‘morning’
again today but at
least I’ve got up
with some purpose.
I’ve showered. I’ve
done my hair. Put
some make up on.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll
manage a smile. A
Iʼm on this journey now though and donʼt think itʼll ever end, but the hardest part was embarking on it. I had to hit my lowest point to achieve my best. I’m not there yet by any means, but Iʼm starting to enjoy the lessons at every step.
Thanks to Hayley for opening up to us and letting us in on her journey of being kind to herself and her mental health. If you would like to feature here, anonymously or otherwise, then please get in touch with us.