I’m meant to be strong, this is what I keep being told, you’re a strong independent woman, don’t fall apart, you can keep going, don’t cry in front of your daughter she can’t see you upset! But why?

Not that long ago I realised that everyday I prepared myself to be happy in front of people, I like to be organised and know when people are coming to visit so I could do my makeup, hide the bags under my eyes from the sleepless nights, make myself look good so people wouldn’t ask why I am sad.  After all I am Cheryl Jackson and she is happy and fun and strong, how could I be anything else when everyone is expecting me to be that person?

One day a friend arrived unexpectedly, this was the day I realised I had hit the bottom, for years I have been burying all kinds of issues that are still to be dealt with, I had hidden my unhappiness with a smile, but on this day that she arrived, I wasn’t expecting her, I didn’t have time to pretend, so when she asked if I was ok, I said no but couldn’t figure out why, I felt numb, so many things had piled up that it was too overwhelming to think about what the problem could be.  But she helped, she sat with me for hours asking questions and writing down everything I said, til I cried my eyes out, I finally showed emotion.

This was the day I chose to start being kind to myself, it was not quite as simple as that and I have broken down many times since, however on the occasions since then that I have broken down, I have not hidden it and not felt guilty to be unhappy, it’s just an emotion and one we are all free to feel, life gets hard sometimes and that’s ok.

My recovery started with making things simple, everyday for the next week I dropped my daughter at school and made the decision to spend each morning before work, walking to a different coffee shop, this was my time, my little treat that I allowed myself each morning, it sounds silly, but that one thing each morning got me back on track, allowed me time to think about the small things that mean something to me, the things I had forgotten because I spend most of my time rushing around, normally to try and forget some of the bigger things that are happening in my life, but in the process the smaller things were forgotten, the important things, at that moment my coffee was that small, important thing, all my worries went away and I focused on just how warm, smooth and milky my coffee was, that made me happy in that moment.  When we are thinking about something positive it is physically impossible to think about something negative at the same time.  Make the effort to slow down, simplify, be kind to yourself and think positive, it’s small but it’s a start.