This is real, this is ME

This time 10 years ago I had just turned 30 and life was good. I had it all, a great house, a perfect husband, and 3 adorable children.

A year later started the worst time of my life so far. Within 9 months I had lost 3 grandparents and we were having marital problems. I held it together, with dignity (most of the time) for the sake of my children. We moved to a new house and started getting things back on track, 6 months later I lost my dad to suicide. My world was shattered, he was my hero. I don’t remember much about that time; the children are what got me up every morning and kept me going until bedtime.

We celebrate 17 years of marriage in December. We worked it out and are happier and stronger than we have ever been. It’s been a hard road but worth it, the easy thing would have been to walk away but I never have done things the easy way.

6 months after my dad died our landlord made us homeless because they wanted to sell up. We had a temporary house for a few months then we spent 9 months living with my mum, without her we would have been in a hostel as we had nowhere else to go. We finally got a house and settled for a little while. I got a job and things were good again until I fell ill and didn’t recover. I was diagnosed with M.E in 2014, not able to work or socialise like before I began to feel isolated and too close to bad memories, so we decided we needed a fresh start closer to town.

It’s been hard, I spent the first year battling anxiety and hardly leaving the house, but I finally plucked up the courage to work through my grief, with a lot of help from the people around me, including finding my safe space at Designs in mind.

Going to Designs in mind has helped to improve my confidence, being able to get involved with projects from the beginning and having my opinions heard without fear of being laughed at or ridiculed. Knowing I can go and be myself, even if I’m having a low-mood day. It’s like my second home and a huge extended family of support and nurturing.

I started the Sunshine Box to connect with other people and to give myself a sense of achievement. It has given me a purpose, other than being a mum or a wife, I’m now a (confident) businesswoman thanks to the help from BBO Shropshire and Fuse Enterprise – Igniting Business Ambition Project.

I have dreams and goals again, and I’m looking forward to the future, but also living for the moment, having a chronic illness makes you evaluate every part of your life and eliminate the things that waste your energy.

Find out more about the Sunshine Box here

Over the next few months, we are asking for more stories to explore what is a safe space. what does it mean to you? do you have this space in your life? what does it feel like? Is it important? How is it created?

Please get in touch to share your ideas- Catherine (@)

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