It’s not always what it seems

As this is mental health awareness week #MHAW17 I thought I would share a story with you.

Last July I had a small mental health crisis – a kind of a breakdown. I now see it as the breakthrough I needed to move forward but at the time it was scary and I wasn’t sure how my future looked.

To the outside world everything looked normal; I was functioning as a member of society, still attending meetings and going to the gym, but inside I was in turmoil. One of the biggest challenges of suffering from poor mental health is that you look perfectly normal.

Over the previous few months before this episode, I had felt like I was ready to break; having run my own business for five or so years the pressure and stress of it all was starting to get to me. This is mainly the pressure I put on myself rather than other people’s influence, but pressure nonetheless.

One of the main things was that I felt I was being dishonest and anyone who knows me knows I’m a very honest person. This basically boils down to the assumptions other people were making about me – these were all good things such as running a successful business, exuding self-confidence and belief and so on. However, I didn’t feel any of these things were true!

Ever since I can remember I’ve been very good at putting on my ‘mask’ or ‘game-face’ and portray a very positive and together image of myself and my business even when I haven’t been feeling it. What I do as a business means that it is expected for me to be positive – my strapline for my business is sparking business energy and you can’t do that if you glum!

This lead to be having some very dark thoughts, which is something I’ve never experienced before. Yes, there were times when I felt down but this was magnified by thousands; basically I didn’t want to be here anymore and I thought the world would be better without me.

Having never felt like this before I wasn’t sure what to do but I was brave enough to reach out a few people (who I will forever be indebted to) to help me get through this crisis before I did something stupid. Over the week it happened, I spent a lot of time at home in bed; it was the only place I felt safe and knew I couldn’t do myself any harm. During one of the chats I had it was suggested that I read the book The Dip by Seth Godin which is all about quitting. It’s a small, easy to read book even for someone with dyslexia like myself. By the time I finished it I knew I had to quit thinking the way I was thinking about my life and the business.

I am a very driven person – once I set my sights on something I go all out to get it, but this had lead me to become very blinkered to the world around me.

The business sector I work in is Workplace Health & Wellbeing; this is a real passion project for me as it fulfils all the things I like to do and fits very nicely with the skills I’ve amassed since leaving school. However, it’s an area of my business that had yet to deliver any kind of business return and this was getting to me.

I’d spent a lot of time presenting and educating people about what I do and when I’m in the room I’d get a very positive response from my audience. I’d follow up as best I could (something I know I’m not great at) and I’d get tumbleweed/deadly silence in return. People would say I was great at what I do yet I still couldn’t seem to make it work; I really was at my wits end. I kept asking myself “What am I doing so wrong!!”
Well the answer was nothing.

I’d just become so fixated on something that I was blind to all the other opportunities that were being thrown my way and because they didn’t fit into my narrow tunnel vision, I simply didn’t see them.

Once I realised this with a bit of outside help, the black cloud lifted enough to see that life is worth living, well not just living but celebrating.

Since my breakthrough as I like to call it (which happened to be my word for 2016), things have changed; mainly the thoughts in my head but this shift has lead me to several new business opportunities, meeting new people and a renewed zest for life.

No one knows what the futures holds; all I know is that when life challenges us it because we need to learn something and without challenge you don’t get change.

None of us know when we might suffer from a mental health issue so let’s keep talking about it. And to anyone who is going through a tough time right now, my door is always open for you to talk to me; I might not be able to fix your issues but I can certainly lend you my ear and time.

Much Love, Rachel xx

My food and nutrition philosophy

Food and nutrition are my life, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t read an article about the latest nutrition research or about a new ingredient/restaurant or food trend!! It what makes me tick (literally!!).

Over the years it’s been interesting to observe the way that food and nutrition has become such a massive talking point in the media, it probably always has been but recent it feels that we are now bombarded by it, cookery and food tv programmes pull in huge audiences week in, week out and nutrition & health stories fill our social media feeds too.

I’ve been a qualified nutritional therapist for over 9 years now and had the honour of studying at the world renowned Institute of Optimum Nutrition founded by Patrick Holford. (www.ion.ac.uk)

Our health is priceless and something most people take for granted until they lose it, we have one body which we need to see us through from birth to death but yet we abuse it until breakdown, get frustrated when it doesn’t work how we want it to or stops us from living the life we want.

So here’s my philosophy you about health, nutrition and food!!

ALL food can be GOOD for you and ALL food can be BAD for you!! Even the healthiest of foods can be bad for you if you eat them in excess!! So I aim to eat as many different foods as possible which means that I physically can’t eat too much of anything.

The old sayings “A little of what you fancy does you no harm” and “everything in moderation” are really true here.

I’m a realist when it comes to food and nutrition and there are times when I eat cake, chocolate and other foods which aren’t the best for you and guess what I NEVER feel guilty about this either, eliminating or restricting certain from your diet will only make you want them more!!

Food guilty quote

I believe food should be seen as the wonderful positive life giver that it is and enjoyed for that reason!! Food gives the energy we need to live our lives; certain foods will make you feel different so it’s about learning to listen to your body and recognise the foods that might not suit you.

On a physiological level we are all the same, the same organs and the way we process food but we are also unique in the way that the body responds to the food we eat. For example, I know that I’m quite sensitive to certain stimulants such as coffee and liquorice, I don’t avoid them completely as I like both of them but I do make sure that I don’t eat/drink either after a certain time of the day so that it doesn’t impact on my sleep patterns.

We are very lucky in this country (UK) to have such a vast selection to choose from and should use this choice to eat a variety of foods; this also helps to stop the boredom of eating the same foods all the time.

Nourish quote

I just try to eat food as close to nature as nature intended (Some call it eating clean) and to eat in season so that I can support local producers!!

Life is for living, food is for eating!! ENJOY