We had just broken off our engagement and my brain was numb. I had found out some months before that he had been cheating, but we both thought we should try and work it out. I didn’t know who I would be without him and that terrified me.
Boxing Day, 2016: Worst. Day. Ever.
So on Boxing Day, a day when couples and families around the world were celebrating, we both realised that we couldn’t carry on and we made the decision to call it quits.
Quite frankly, I was heartbroken.
Looking back now, I realise that at the time, I wouldn’t let myself see the glaringly obvious fact that he didn’t want to marry me. To be brutally honest, I didn’t want to marry him either.
January 1st came and went in a blur and I somehow had to reply to all the excited New Year texts telling me “you’re getting married this year!!”.
Is posting about our mental health struggles on Instagram just making the problem worse for everyone?
I somehow had to figure out how to live in the flat we had made our home, without him. I showed up to work, put my “I’m fine” face on and tried not to think. This was what I had been doing for years: repress and carry on.
I couldn’t do it anymore.
The shock of breaking my heart cracked open something so deep inside me I had never properly faced it before: my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being sexually assaulted when I was younger. This enabled me to finally break the cycle of repression that had spiralled out of control and affected all areas of my life for years without me really realising. I cannot thank my ex enough for giving me the shock I needed to finally face the truth.
Within the first half of 2017, my ex moved out and I had to tell everyone there would be no wedding. My PTSD came down full force and then I got made redundant.
When everything seemed to be crashing down, I saw I had two paths in front of me:
1. Spiral, let the world crush me and have a full-on breakdown.
2. Seek help, deal with everything and try and build the best life I could.
I chose path two; I deserved to have a good life and I wanted to help others do the same.
These are the indispensable tools that help me cope with my anxiety and panic attacks
I took three months off work and during this time, I finally opened up to my father (one of my biggest cheerleaders), and, truth be told, to myself about the assault. He helped me find a great therapist who immediately diagnosed me with PTSD.
I redecorated my flat to make it ‘my’ home, I invested more time into my amazing friends and family I did activities that made *me* feel fulfilled. I was determined and I wasn’t going to let this, any of this, crush me. I was going to build myself back.
One little mantra that helped me get over the heartbreak was: “if it had been the right relationship, it would have worked out”. Even in the early days, when I would cry in bed, I kept saying this to myself.
The trick is, if you say something to yourself time and time again, it starts to sink in, even if at first you don’t believe it.
I am worth it. I am lovable. I am valued. I am kind. I am strong.
Heartbreak forced me to deal with my demons that I had been hiding from for years. Finally listening to myself has caused monumental changes in all areas of my life.
After a brief stint back in the corporate world, I realised that I needed to follow my passion, so I set up my own coaching business to help people like me build back their authentic confidence and find a fulfilling life.
By learning to love myself, I opened up my mended heart again to the possibility of my true forever love.
By understanding the pains and traumas of the past, I finally started treating my body right and am in the healthiest shape of my life.
By learning to value myself, I’m not dimming my light anymore. I’m going for opportunities that are challenging, like starting a masters.
All of this started on Boxing Day 2016, which I now actually view as the best day ever.
Simple and free acts of self-care to try if you’re feeling anxious