My Journey & Why
If you are reading this, I believe you have started your journey, whether that be the thought process or taking some action. Therefore, I feel it is only right for you to know a little about me and my journey if we are going to work in partnership and share your life story and future desires.
So…. about me, I got to a time in my life, prior to my thirties (whilst having a mini melt down that I was reaching a big milestone) when I realised something had to change. I was stuck, lost and floating through life with no real purpose or fulfilment. My children were growing older and whilst I loved being a mum I felt I needed something more. I had left school with very little and had gone from job to job to make ends meet whilst raising my girls, I came to the realisation it wasn’t enough.
I decided to take a risk and quit my 9-5 office job and return to college.
The only thing I knew at that point was I loved helping others. My caring nature has always over spilled into every area of my life, family, friends, their family, colleagues, neighbours, anyone who needed help I would be there.
Social Work was my chosen career path.
For the next few years, I studied hard, worked hard, raised my girls and graduated in 2013. This was an amazing feeling, I had taken the risk and succeeded. I loved my career and equally I loved the fact that I had taught my girls a valuable life lesson that if you want something you go and get it, with hard work and determination you can succeed.
I began my career in mental health which was my area of choice and I was excited to get up for work every morning knowing I was making a difference. During the first few years of my career I began to work long hours, I loved my job so much.
(Hindsight is a wonderful thing!)
I started to lose myself, I lost my work-life balance and started to feel the guilt of not being at home enough for my girls, being a single mum, they needed me. However, I had gotten in too deep, taken on too much and needed to spend the hours at work to keep on top of the deadlines for my caseload. Deep down I knew something had to change, I just couldn’t keep it up. One last push, one more course so I have better prospects, then I will make the changes I need to. I studied hard again on top of my already bursting diary, working even later, not eating, not sleeping, surviving on caffeine and nicotine but still giving my all in my working hours with nothing left for home. I was exhausted after this last push. However, I stuck to the plan and I made the change and moved to another job still in the mental health arena.
Something has got to give………………. And it did, this something was my health!
In early 2016, I suffered ‘burnout’, as my body had been running on adrenaline and on empty for so long, it had taken its toll. Even though I had made that much needed change it was too late. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in February 2016 and spent the best part of that year recovering unable to work. My body had shut down, my brain was fried, and my emotions were all over the place.
The journey to recovery was the hardest to date but it was worth the fight. With acceptance, patience and many adjustments to my lifestyle and working conditions I was able to resume life and return to my much-loved career.
I felt at this time of my life I had really had a life changing moment....
A butterfly moment!
Although, what happened next was the worst experience of my life and I could never have imagined this happening, it is just something you do not bare to think about. My beautiful mum lost her battle to cancer at the age of 68.
How would I go on she was not only my mum, she was my best friend and my rock.
All the skills I had learnt to keep myself well and manage stress levels went out of the window, how can you be logical and practical when your world has been shattered. The emotional pain of grieving took its toll on my already fragile body and I found myself unable to work again and attempting to restore my health whilst processing the loss of my mum.
During this period of my life I noticed things began to change, my beliefs changed, my thoughts changed, my relationships changed. Looking back, I believe these changes initially began when I first became ill and developed further during this time. However....
This was the real butterfly moment!
Who am I?
What do I like?
What do I want?
What are MY dreams?
What is MY passion?
No one had ever asked me these specific questions before, more importantly I had never stopped to ask myself them either. Again I was lost and realised I had been for a long time.
Grief is very complex, it does things to you that you could never imagine. Grief changes you and there is no getting away from that. Not only was I grieving the loss of my mum, I realised I was still grieving for the life I had lost to chronic illness.
However, one thing I came to understand to be simple is ‘Life is Short’.
I had support from my friends and me and my girls supported each other. However, most of the time I tried to deal with it alone, this was a dark place, but I did my usual thing, I am ok! I am strong! I can deal with this!
This was a massive error on my part and I only prolonged the inevitable.
After a lot of thought I made the decision to see a counsellor, I didn’t like the thought of someone ‘getting inside my head’ at that point it was very messy in there.
Looking back this was the best decision I have ever made in my entire life, except having my children of course.
She was not only my counsellor to support me with my loss, she became my life coach in a sense although in the form of counselling.
She gave me a lot to think about during the sessions.
"It is ok to say NO"
I had no answers other than my passion, which has always remained the same……To help others, it gives me a great sense of fulfilment to see others happy, develop and achieve their goals especially through the hard times in life.
Over many months of counselling I began to look at myself very differently. I absolutely love my career in social work I have always known that, but I realised I couldn’t do it as hard and fast as I once had and meet the demands of this profession. I knew it was time to slow things down and re-evaluate my work-life balance. After a lot of self-reflection, I realised my passion does not have to cost me my health and unbalance my mind, body and soul.
I believe a part of me will always stay in the social work arena in one way or another. However, all the skills I have developed over the years can be used in various areas of life. I always practice from a person centred, strengths based and recovery focused model which I believe is very valuable for this vocation.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learnt was the understanding that it is ok to say NO and to learn the ability to say NO, more so in my personal life. I don’t think I would have got away with telling my manager NO on a regular basis. I discovered that I had become a people pleaser from quite a young age in my personal life and this continued throughout my life, well up to this point anyway. Although, changing the habits of a lifetime is a very difficult thing to get your head around and takes a lot of practice.
You may be wondering what I mean by the ‘butterfly moment’, So I will explain what this means to me and the significance of butterflies for me personally.
It will be different for every one of us.
Generally, butterflies signify life, growth and change of all living things (which includes us as humans) and death.
Butterflies signify the transformation of my mindset and my life and it just so happens they are the symbol for Fibromyalgia.
Butterflies were also my mum’s favourite and she had many items that were covered in them, her garden was full of beautiful flowers where they came to visit and during her last weeks in the Summer of 2016, we had never seen so many it was beautiful. I do not like to think they represent death as such just a change to a more positive place of being, whether that be here on earth or somewhere else. That will depend upon your own belief system, I am not here to preach.
The reason why I have chosen the symbol for my practice is to reflect a transformation, a growth, a more peaceful place to be for your mind, body and soul.
I am looking forward to discussing how I can support you on your journey during your FREE 30-minute consultation.
‘Self-Care is Not Selfish’ and as they say ‘You cannot pour from an empty cup’ which I learnt the hard way.
Even though my time had come to an end with my counsellor, this was only the beginning of my journey.
My Journey to self-discovery!
And here we are at this point in my life. The End!
Who am I kidding, how can this be the end. We all need to continue to grow and develop personally for us to choose the path that is true to us. We just need the right tools, support and motivation.
Let me clear this up too, I am a realist and know that I haven’t got everything in life sussed out. After all I am human and understand things change and sometimes life just gets in the way. You might have picked up on the fact I don’t talk about ‘my other half’, that’s because there isn’t one, that’s something I am still working on. That's a whole new story.
But there is one thing I do have sussed I now know ‘Who I am’.
© Copywrite on all photography taken of myself on this website.
Michael Hirst www.facebook.com/YorkshireFolk/