Mine is a story of failure, anxiety, fatigue, collapse, implosion, reinvention and determination. My friends would describe me as brave and capable, someone who decides to do something and doesn’t give in to fear. That may have been true at one time, but failure is a powerful force that destroys souls and reshapes personalities.
I am sharing this story as I believe that only through honesty can we help each other realise that we are not alone in how we feel or have felt. If we share our stories of failure as eagerly as we share our stories of success we can begin to make an impact on others and grow with compassion.
I had a vision that involved starting my own business in the online world. This was embarked upon with a business partner and involved much research and planning. Both of us had a background in finance so we were not unaccustomed to cash flow forecasting and business planning. The business grew and expanded until we moved from a small ‘home’ business to one that owned commercial property with a number of staff. It was fast paced, fun and challenging. I loved it. It worked by each of us taking on very clear roles in the day to day running of the company. Mine involved marketing, relationship management and purchasing, with my business partner controlling the day to day management and accounting side. This targeted each of our strengths and allowed us to concentrate our energies without stepping on each other’s toes.
Then my partner had a nervous breakdown and the global financial crisis hit all around the same time. Much energy was spent trying to fix an unfixable situation as you can’t control the uncontrollable. In the end it resulted in me making a very difficult decision. I walked away, and I lost everything except my family and my true friends. If I hadn’t made that decision I have no doubt that I would have ended up in hospital. I wasn’t sleeping, I was drinking more than I was eating, my heart was pounding one minute and beating erratically the next. My anxiety levels were debilitating, the thought of having to go to work caused me to throw up. Years later I still experienced the same symptoms when I hung out the washing. Why? I would hang out the washing just before I would leave for work and my body attached my anxiety to that simple task.
It took me about three years to recover enough to gather the courage to go back to study. I was terrified I would fail. I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t young enough, not brave enough, not resilient enough. My first exam the anxiety hit. My pupils dilated, my pulse raced, how I manged not to throw up I have absolutely no idea. I got through it, and each one became a little less stressful until gradually my confidence started to return, and I graduated.
Where am I now? I’ve started my own business, again! Does that mean I am back to being brave and capable, making my decisions without fear? No, I’m still terrified but I refuse to give in to my anxiety. I am determined to take all of the information that I have learnt through my study to help people overcome this debilitation condition. There is no quick fix, it is a process that involves healing the mind and the body along with education and support. Not the kind of support that lasts five minutes but ongoing support with compassion and understanding.
After all this time I still find it difficult to talk about and I feel that I don’t want to burden others with my pain, which is why I haven’t shared in the past. I haven’t told this story to gain sympathy because that is not what I am after, I accept full responsibility for my actions. I have told this story to help others and I thank you for listening. If you would like to share your story I will understand and I am here to listen.