This blog shares my personal journey with Suzanne’s coaching approach and the positive impact that it has had on my wellbeing.
On a scale of 1 to 10, what number would you give yourself today?
It’s a common question that we are often asked to understand how well we are doing. If you were to ask me this question, I would normally score myself between a six and 10, no matter what had happened before that question. No matter how bad things were, I was able to convince myself that it could always be worse. It was almost like I was afraid of ever admitting that I was low, that I could be at 0.
I have been a Young Adult Carer for almost four years, during which time I have told my carer story dozens of times and talked about the emotions I felt - the shock, guilt, anger, anxiousness, relief and grief. I always ended each talk with a comment about how I transformed my journey from one of struggle to one of strength. This was my defence mechanism. It allowed me to talk about all of my emotions, in the past tense.
If I had been offered support of any kind, I would have politely declined. I never thought I needed it. I had tried counselling and carer coffee mornings earlier in my carer journey but they didn’t work for me. Instead, I turned my attention to volunteering and focused my energy on promoting the need for support for other carers.
A picture of me and my mentor after receiving the Riser Star Carer Award 2018. (My fourth award that year)
I joined the Mobilise Cuppas in March 2020, when they were first starting out. I have always been the smiley one and I love to make people laugh. It was so great to meet carers from all over the globe. It wasn’t something I’d done before but I really clicked with it. We are now nearly 200 Cuppas in and they are a big part of my week. Little did I know how big of a part they played in my wellbeing too.
The first time I really reflected on my wellbeing was during a Wellbeing Wednesday cuppa. I remember the moment so vividly. It was the first time Suzanne had ever asked us to take a moment to ground ourselves. I let my guard down. And as that defensive wall came down the emotions came flooding in. I closed my eyes and they filled with tears. I inhaled and I felt a lump in my throat. I exhaled and felt a pain in my chest. I focused on where I was sat in the chair and the room was spinning. I felt my muscles relax and tense at the same time.
This was the moment that I opened the bottle of about five years of feelings that I had buried deep. What I remember most, was that sense of relief I felt when I let it go. It felt like goosebumps across my whole body and the first deep breath I’d had in a long time. The conversation went on as planned and I cracked a joke as I usually do but something inside me changed.
Shortly after this, I had three coaching sessions with Suzanne. It turns out that I had a lot more to talk about than I thought! I knew roughly what I wanted to cover but the conversation evolved so naturally that many other topics came up too. I was excited. It was nice to have time to talk about me and my thoughts without judgement. I had three sessions in total, all focused on how I bring out the best of myself.
Talking to Suzanne was the first time that I ever felt like someone got it, she just completely accepted the place I was at emotionally. My guards were down, I shared a lot and I never felt like I needed fixing. This was so important because I was having a lot of realisations about myself and my caring role so my emotions were raw. Unpacking those in these coaching sessions felt safe.
I learned a lot about myself in these coaching sessions. Most importantly, I found a way to talk about my emotions in the present tense. It turns out that I am most comfortable talking about feelings when I use imagery. It helps me to take someone on that journey with me, share a moment and create a picture which allows them to understand the feelings, rather than saying them out loud.
I was so grateful to have had that time to stop, reflect and understand me a little better. As a Young Adult Carer it feels like there is a lot to figure out, and this was one piece of the puzzle.
Then in August, life came with just one thing after another. I hit a real low and it affected every aspect of my life; I lost my appetite, I was tired all the time and I cried sporadically, a lot. The funny part is, when Wellbeing Wednesday came back around, I still scored myself a 6. In reality, I was at 0. I’d cried 10 minutes before every cuppa and meeting. I cried in a cuppa once too. Everyone was just being too nice to me. They were saying everything I needed to hear and the tears just fell onto my cheeks.
During that, what I would call, crisis point, I realised something fundamental about my personal wellbeing.
I had all of the tools I needed to help myself up from this.
I started to acknowledge where I was really at. I wasn’t a 6. I knew I was in need of self-care. As well as using all of the tools gained during these coaching sessions, I looked back through the blogs and tried all of the self-care strategies carers recommended. The bubble bath, the painted nails, the walks, I even binge watched all 15 seasons of Greys Anatomy!
I nudged myself, little by little to where I needed to be. To be honest, it felt like a slow process, but a necessary one. Day by day, these methods started to help me address, manage and enhance my wellbeing. I was determined to feel better.