Figuring forward: the first steps

Figuring Forward: the first steps

Hello, friends. My name is Lucy Blair Pettersson. I’m a sufferer of anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues. I want to turn that into a positive, and start figuring forward in life.

We all have mental health

I can remember first suffering from anxiety when I was 10, and the thought of going to school made me literally physically sick on the tube every morning. Depression set in during my teenage years. I drifted, directionless, through my teens and twenties, pounded by waves of darkness, and driven by fear and self-loathing. It was always there, innate, visceral; insisting that I wasn’t good enough and that my needs didn’t matter. At times, I’ve felt so low that I literally couldn’t get off the floor.

When I landed my dream job in the music industry and met the love of my life, I thought my problems were solved. Right? Wrong. I was so desperate to prove myself that things only got worse. Fuelled by a complete lack of self-worth, I drove myself to the limits of what my body and mind could cope with. I started having panic attacks and meltdowns in public places. I suffered insomnia, crippling foot cramps, polycystic ovarian syndrome, adrenal fatigue. My relationship suffered. My friendships suffered. I held myself back, censored myself, beat myself up for not doing well enough, felt guilty for being depressed. I burned out several times.

Not waving, but drowning

On the outside, I looked like I had it all. On the inside, my body and mind were falling apart. With no sense of self or value as a human being, work became my validation, my identity, my life-raft to which I stubbornly clung. Even though it was, in fact, drowning me, not saving me. I’ve always been desperate to escape on that raft. But everywhere I go, there I am. What I’d really been trying to escape was myself.

Literally sick of feeling so bad all the time, I realised that I had to take responsibility for my own health and happiness, and start forming healthier habits. That was the start of what’s become a passionate interest in all areas of mental, physical and emotional health. Improving my nutrition and sleep, practising yoga, meditation and gratitude, and educating myself in many different areas of health and wellbeing have all brought me joy and relief these past few years.

But old habits die hard. In 2019, caught up in a perfect storm of work and personal stress, I pushed myself to burnout yet again. The darkness had become an all-consuming, raging hurricane in my mind. I needed everything to stop, but I kept telling myself that I could push on through. When I literally couldn’t carry on, I was signed off work by my doctor. 

Calmer waters

They say that after a breakdown comes a breakthrough, and my mental health crisis was definitely a catalyst for change. Since then, the addition of medication and cognitive behavioural therapy to healthy lifestyle practices has steered me into calmer waters. Sometimes the storm still hits; even writing this post triggered a tsunami of self-doubt and self-criticism. I’ve never been so open about my health issues before – and honestly, it’s terrifying to make myself so vulnerable. 

But I want to use my experiences to help others avoid ever feeling as low as I have. As I’m learning more about how to supercharge my health, happiness and personal growth, I want to share that knowledge with others, in the hope that it will help them to feel better, and to know that they’re not alone.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my darkest days, it’s that the only way through the tunnel and into the light is together. The love, support and encouragement of others is always what helps the most.

Figuring forward

And now, in a world which looks very different for all of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic, human connection is more vital than ever. So, I invite you to join me for the ride as I start figuring forward. My aim is to create a like-minded community platform where we can learn together, create conversations around health and happiness, and find inspiration and mutual support. 

I’ll be writing and curating weekly explorations in how to be healthier, happier and more fulfilled, and what’s helping me on my journey. My hope is that it will help you along yours, too. If you’d like to join me, you can sign up here

We really are stronger together.

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