You are Number 1

Hello, I’m Charli, Founder of Eventure, Ambassador for Leeds FHN and Mental Health First Aider. I may seem like I have it all together but let’s rewind to 2013 as I lay on the floor of my bedroom unsure of what to do with myself and screaming out for help. It’s been a long journey and a challenging one at that but I hope in sharing my story, you may be able to relate in one way or another and implement the strategies you need, to achieve what you desire.

Prior to 2013, I had always been sociable, very much into sports and keeping fit, loved adventure and generally had an excitement and passion for achieving big things in life.

I was a final year university student, I had a great support network and a comfortable home with my boyfriend, we were going on amazing holidays and regularly went out to restaurants - what more could I have wanted? Well, to be honest, despite having people around me, I felt alone, I felt incredibly low with no clear way of feeling better, I felt demotivated, I didn’t want to socialise, I worried about my future and how that would turn out and I doubted myself. These are just a few ways to describe how I was feeling at that particular time, certainly not the full extent but you get the gist. I have never felt suicidal however I did feel like I didn’t belong, that I didn’t deserve to achieve anything in life, that people didn’t like me and I was extremely negative about everything; it was quite a scary and upsetting place to be. Whilst all this was going on, it was a whole other level to try and explain to others how you’re feeling because I often heard “I’m sure it’ll pass” or “you’ll be fine”.

Prior to my screaming episode on the bedroom floor, I had spoken to a GP about feeling low and they had suggested antidepressants. I refused these instantly as I didn’t want to be seen to have a mental health ‘issue’ and instead took some sessions with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. At that particular time, this didn’t work for me and after much deliberation I rang the doctor and said I needed to try the medication because I was scared and couldn’t see a way out. Fast forward a couple of years and with a heck of a lot of hard work and support from professionals and loved ones, I started regaining my focus and was re-discovering my love for life. The antidepressants helped lift me out of the low period I was in and the best way to describe the transition is prior to taking them, I could only see through a tiny peep-hole with a small amount of light but they made this hole grow bigger and I began to see things clearly again.

Whilst I felt better than before, I didn’t feel fulfilled but the motivation I had lost was back and stronger than ever. I joined a local running club called Dragons in Yeadon, Leeds as I wanted to meet new people and I fought my challenging mind to reach the next lamp post before giving up, you know that feeling, right? It’s pretty damn hard, perhaps more mentally than physically! Now, I am proud to say I’ve recently run a full marathon at 26.2 miles – how did that happen? For me, the ‘runners high’ that I get when returning home from a run and challenging myself in training is better than any therapy or anti-depressant alone. Yes, I do still take antidepressants but I’m not ashamed of that anymore. When I used to struggle to accept it, my husband used to say, ‘you would take paracetamol if you had leg pain so what’s wrong with taking antidepressants to help with mental pain?’ – now, the combination of antidepressants and running are what I use as my go-to coping strategies!

Your coping strategies may be different to those around you but work to find out what is best for you. This applies to everyone, not just those suffering with mental health. Everyone has times where they struggle to cope or feel stressed, some are just better at coping with it than others because they have figured out what helps them to venture through. Think about what you really enjoy to give you time to yourself. Perhaps it’s reading? How about walking the dog? Or, what about a meditation session? Whatever it may be, this time is for you, not your children, not your other half, not your friends, but YOU.

I’m going to be completely honest with you that even with my strategies in place, 2020 was tough but actually I came out of it much happier and fulfilled than I went into it. I had my coping strategies and I stuck by these throughout. I set out to run a marathon and despite the live event not taking place, I still trained and I still ran the distance. Earlier on in the year I was made redundant, I had a few days feeling down but then I thought what is this going to achieve? How can I make this into something positive? So, I started my own business! Yes, me who lay screaming on the bedroom floor back in 2013 is now a female business owner and I don’t feel ashamed to say that I feel very proud of myself. With my personal experience of mental health and a strong desire to help others as well as having built up some great relationships over the years, I now run a staffing agency with a focus on caring for and rewarding our people.

Believe me, you can absolutely achieve anything you put your mind to, it’s not necessarily going to be easy but if you want something badly enough, it is within your reaching distance!

Now, go get it.

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