All about me...
(and you and the Journey!)
Hi, I'm Carolina and I'm really looking forward to being a part of your journey!
But first, let me tell you a little about mine....
I am happily married with two beautiful boys and although I currently live in Scotland, I was born in Mallorca and raised in both Nottingham then Perthshire. I also have two bouncing Spaniels and I have had Emetophobia and Anxiety for as long as I can remember!
Funnily enough, this isn't the way that I would normally introduce myself, however Mental Health has always been in the background of my life. Growing up with a phobia and anxiety when mental health and mental well-being was little known about and didn't have the same understanding as we do today, was extremely hard. Despite having a very loving and supportive family, due to our lack of awareness/knowledge, I had to cope with managing my symptoms myself.
Which for a child is confusing, scary and isolating - I genuinely thought that I was the only person to feel the way I did and so I did my best to hide it, feeling ashamed.
This phobia, which is a fear of vomit, has affected my life in so many different and debilitating ways - unfortunately, unlike an external phobia like spiders or heights, where you can walk (or run!) away from it.... you can't walk away from your own body!
I remember that there was a constant hum of anxiety in the background of everything I did. It was always present and could erupt anytime into a full anxiety/panic attack and always seemingly out of nowhere! It stopped me from enjoying my life fully.
Whenever I went anywhere I would always be looking for the exits and locating the toilets so that I had my 'escape' routes planned. I still avoid buses and can't stand to be around extremely drunk people and in the past I would always carry a plastic bag, mints and water with me, just in case I might be sick.
The worst experience for me so far, was when my eldest caught a tummy bug for the first time and my, then one year old, was holding his arms out for 'mummy' and I couldn't go near him to comfort him! My fear was like an invisible wall holding me back from my baby when he needed me and it was heart-wrenching!
[Kathryn Everett - Alice & Me]
The most severe experience with my mental health came when I was in my teens. My parents separated and we moved countries.... ok it was only from England to Scotland but to a 16 year old it might as well have been half way around the world! I knew that I'd miss my friends, however not one of us had anticipated the strength of my emotions. I was utterly overcome with such a strong sense of loss for my old friends, my old life and the life that I had planned.
Anxiety and Depression raised their heads and for 2 years I lived in a dark and all-consuming bubble of sadness and my self-esteem and self worth plummeted. I wasn't aware that you could grieve for anything other than the death of a person, so I had no idea that I was grieving over the loss of my previous life.
It was such a long, hard road to walk and it was made even harder due to my own reluctance to talk about it to anyone. I genuinely believed that no-one would listen, honestly thinking that I'd be told to just 'pull myself together' and 'get over myself'. I had a loving family and safe home and a group of new friends, what was there for me to feel so sad about? My mental health deteriorated dramatically and it began to affect my school work and my relationships with my friends and family. I suffered in silence and on my own for so long, not trusting that others would understand and fearing that I'd be mocked or brushed off and so I tried many ways to numb and escape from the turmoil inside.
Thankfully, I finally found the courage to begin to talk.
That is when the weight lifted, the blackness dispersed and I began my healing journey back to being myself again - and wondering why on earth hadn't I spoken up before!!!
So when my eldest son and I were both more recently diagnosed with adhd, I decided to be as open and honest as I could be about our journey. I wanted to encourage others to feel understood and comfortable enough to also speak up.
I created my own blog called "1 out of 3 - ad/hd" to share my journey and to raise awareness of a diagnosis that still carries a stigma.
My own diagnosis actually came as a surprise (to me anyway!) because I didn't behave like my hyperactive son. I soon learned that there are different types of adhd. There are three in fact! Hyperactive, Inattentive and Combined.
My son is 'Combined type' which is the stereotypical fidgety, cheeky, impatient, interrupting school boy that comes to most peoples' minds when they hear the word adhd. Where as I have 'Inattentive type', which is the the day-dreamy, forgetful, always late, full of good intentions, often more prevalent in girls and often missed for diagnosis at school because they don't stand out or get into trouble. To be honest, when I look back over my childhood and my mental health symptoms, my undiagnosed Inattentive adhd was probably the root cause, we just didn't know about it!
My son however, due to his distractable nature, was picked up fairly quickly and was referred to CAMHS to begin his diagnosis journey. Whilst we were attending assessments, discussing strategies with teachers and spending hours researching symptoms online, I was also watching my little boy retreat into himself. His self-esteem and confidence fell away and he convinced himself that he was 'stupid' because he couldn't do what his friends seemed to do with such ease. As a parent it can be heart-breaking to watch your child struggle and not know how to help them!
As you can see, I am clearly not a stranger to Mental Health. My life has been an interesting roller-coaster adventure of research, self discovery and finding ways to manage my anxiety, phobia and low self-esteem. On my quest, I have completed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, experienced NLP and ELT techniques, adopted daily mindfulness habits and explored many. many breathing exercises!
My own experiences have made me determined to help and support others through their journey.
The most debilitating aspect of my mental health journey was the isolating feeling that no-one would understand how I felt and the belief that because no-one understood, no-one could help me.
I want to be able to be that person that understands and helps
When I came across the "Mindful Monkeys® Better Together" Programme, I knew that I had found a way to offer others the help and support that I had needed, both as a struggling child and as a lost parent. Imagine if we gift our children the knowledge and understanding of how our brains work, along with the tools and techniques to confidently know that they are mentally strong enough to face anything!
My journey has also taught me the importance of nutrition and its' effects on our mental health. A lot of research is proving that a happy gut results in a happy brain.
However a nutritional change needs to be easy and sustainable to become beneficial and the best way to get results is through a lifestyle change.
The "30 days to Healthy" holds your hand through your nutritional journey, with recipes, support groups and direct 'anytime' support from myself. The aim is to teach you how to replace unhealthy choices with healthier alternatives to improve the overall health and function of your gut.
My more recent diagnosis coupled with my passion to help others has also led me towards looking for a way to support those with adhd. During my own search for help, I found little support outwith the medical realms and yet we know that therapy and practical help (as well as medication) is paramount! The more 'hands-on' approches like organisational help, routine planning and mindfulness techniques would make such a supportive difference and it just isn't easily available. In fact, I could not find a single adhd coach in Scotland!
So that is what I will be working towards, becoming an adhd coach. I am hoping to bridge the gap between medication and therapy, offering a life coaching experience which is tailored towards the struggles and super-powers that adhd brings. Watch this space!