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Life Lessons My Bed Taught Me

Healing, Mental Health, Story Series

The core concepts we need throughout our journey is consistency, dedication, patience, self-compassion and self-love.

My first challenging life experience was 18 years ago when I was in high school and a rumour had been started that I said some not very nice things about a group of girls. As a result, this group of 6 + girls wanted to beat me up. Between classes, I managed to dodge them or run away. Over 3+ months, they began cyberbullying me, making threats they were watching me from outside of the house, they were going to enter where I lived, and even threats to kill the family cat. They followed me around town and would pace around the netball courts during games with all the parents present. This experience sent me into years of depression and anxiety, that has now been diagnosed as CPTSD.

Reflecting on the years that passed afterwards I was living in a survival state, in and out of dissociative episodes where I slept a lot of my life away, I was there but I wasn’t there also. I feared change, I feared to step out of my comfort zone, I feared to live a full life for what might happen if I did. I believe my body was listening to these thoughts and after 12 years of survival, my body started showing signs of pain and extreme fatigue, I became bedridden for close to a year. From half living to then feeling as though I was barely existing. I received a diagnosis of Syringomyelia, a rare spinal cord condition and Ehlers Danlos, a rare connective tissue condition.

One time I managed to drag myself out of bed to go to a support group for people with similar issues – all of them who had been living similarly for 20 + years, I felt gutted hearing from people who were in the same place I was but who had been in this space for years and years. I wanted to die. As I write this, I still recall those thoughts I had stuck in bed one afternoon. I wanted to die; I couldn’t think of “living” like this for the rest of my life. What was the point living day in day out stuck in bed, awake until 4 am every night, maybe if I was lucky, getting a couple of hours sleep in the day? My body not allowing me to live, and my mind slowly leaving me also. Trying to string thoughts together verbally, to think things through or memories were foggy and leaving me. I wanted to die. 

As I made my suicide plan, thinking through the details, I started visualising mentally of how it would go. That was when I realised, I couldn’t do it. I thought of what would happen when I had passed and my parents. That thought destroyed me, knowing the pain they would be in blaming themselves thinking they were at fault, thinking of all the things they would think they did wrong when it wasn’t them at all. I couldn’t bear to think of bringing that pain upon them. Knowing that pain would be compounded by them blaming themselves and knowing that it would be highly likely they would try to end their lives also as a result. They had tried for 5 long years to conceive, including through IVF only to end up being told it wouldn’t happen due to severe endometriosis. I was their baby who happened despite the medical field saying otherwise. I felt it would be unfair and selfish of me to take away a life they had fought so hard for. I decided I would live but that by choosing to live I would no longer accept living in a state of barely existing; I would make the effort to improve a little bit each day and work to make the rest of my life better than my life has ever been. 

I had gone to counselling and therapy previously but had never really found it helpful. To be fair I never fully committed and was not ready for ‘recovery’ at those times, but perhaps I never found the right therapist either. When I was a teenager (14), the counsellor asked me in a not so trauma-informed way, “Why don’t you think you are over it”, hence my self-exodus from those services. 

I had managed to get connected online with some people who were quite entrepreneurial and into personal development. I started listening and reading personal development books, podcasts, blogs and audiobooks. Changing from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset changed everything for me. it excited me so much feeling like the world had been opened to me again and full of options. Most importantly, it helped me realise I could CHOOSE my life and its direction rather than just letting life happen to me. I felt inspired, for once in my life allowing myself to dream about what I truly would like my life to look and feel like.

Personal development and helping others grow became something I am incredibly passionate about; I completed a diploma in counselling whilst working in the early stages of my recovery. The more I dove into personal development and mindset work I found myself learning about coaching, even attending a Tony Robbin’s seminar and doing a firewalk. Coaching to me has become what I view as a necessary and missing link in counselling. It gave me the “what now” after working through past experiences, traumas and emotions; it was the step in creating a new identity outside of the trauma identity I lived in for so many years. 

Alongside working on my mind, I started changing my diet and slowly integrating exercise. Starting with walking down and back up the driveway as that was as far as my energy would allow. Slowly I was able to walk further and even get myself to jogging, from there I did some swimming then to light floor exercises. I managed to build my strength – going from barely able to carry a shopping bag less than a kilo to heavier weights in the gym, even managing to do a Wim Hoff ice bath experience. My mindset now is; when I experience a challenge, I now see it as an opportunity for growth and to live a fuller life.

Currently, I am not yet where I want to be. Due to my health, my progress is a lot slower than I would like but it teaches me the continual life lesson of patience. Healthwise, I have managed to build 12 kg of muscle and can box squat 100kgs. A lot of my physical pain has reduced and is generally manageable as is my fatigue. 

I use my lived experience and training in my online counselling and coaching business is focused in mental health, emotional trauma and personal development through combined counselling and coaching. I am in the process of completing my bachelor’s in counselling (coaching) and plan to go on to complete a master’s degree soon. I am part of a local start-up casually providing peer support work and facilitating a wellness course Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). I love working in the area of mental health and helping people grow past the societal limits that are often pressed upon many of us; to live a life where they can thrive just like everyone else. 

I am passionate about authenticity and transparency, breaking down stigma and systemic injustices. I value deep conversation, learning, growing personally and professionally and I am always seeking to understand others. Part of me was always drawn to helping others and I have often found people have naturally gravitated to me for someone who will listen and be there. I feel the difference now is that I am a lot more open in sharing what I have learnt along my journey and active in looking to help people.

I not only understand what will help us in our journey, as I am practising it, so I know firsthand the benefits. Seeing other people grow is such an exciting thing to see and watch, seeing them realise they have the capability to do a lot more is what helps create an empowered individual who becomes excited about living again – I love seeing a person come alive again, it is inspiring to watch that in others. The core concepts we need throughout our journey is consistency, dedication, patience, self-compassion and self-love.

With these no matter what pace you are moving at, it helps you remember that it is your journey and no one else’s.

 
Melissa Holdway

Melissa Holdway

Online mental health and trauma counselling with a touch of coaching for women. Being your journey within. Official Website: www.wholenessofyou.com Apply to become a client: www.wholenessofyou.acuityscheduling.com Instagram: www.instagram.com/wholenessofyou Facebook: www.facebook.com/wholenessofyou

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