Trauma had ripped through my very existence and was defining my quality of life. Having been someone who jumped at the chance of the next sporting challenge and lived for the thrill of an adrenaline fix it had got to the point I dreaded venturing outside – alone or with anyone. Going outside had become as feared as the flashbacks I was experiencing from the assault that had left me disabled. PTSD had crippled me; seizures were ruling me; and my memory wasn’t obtainable. The head injury and nerve damage to my brain ruled my existence for a long time to the point that stepping beyond the safety of my home and into social situations made me feel more isolated than actually being alone: how had my life escalated to this?
Several events through my life had mounted up without me realising and had become a contributing factor to my situation. Being trapped in a vicious cycle of fear, anxiety, flashbacks, memory loss and seizures was causing me distress beyond anything I could have imagined so the thought of coping with that in public was devastatingly catastrophic. Many factors in my life led up to the assault. At sixteen I had a horse-riding accident that changed my career and stopped me competing: my horse and I fell while jumping and he rolled over me. When he stood, he did so on my chest causing physical damage that is still visible today. Within three weeks I was dating the man I would marry six years later – we have four amazing children and were together for eighteen years in total. Deeply in love I embraced this relationship but something shifted and I certainly wasn’t happy for all of the marriage: when my children and I left it was in a hurry and we squatted for a while (although comfortably) and for the next few years I spent my time looking over my shoulder and avoiding my stalker. The only place he didn’t follow me was into London so that became my haven. I fell in love with our capital and spent as much time there as physically possible. For practical reasons it wasn’t possible to move. The negative cycle of victimisation continued to destroy my self-worth and that included my choice of partner.
These dark days sparked an interest in psychology and criminology alongside a need to understand why people change. Commencing a study on human behaviour I embarked on a journey that would result in many qualifications and ultimately taking the job that would place me at risk each day I turned up for work at a forensic unit specialising in changing the behaviour of adults with severe mental health challenges: I had lived a life that fuelled a need for risk and my addiction to adrenaline: something that had become ‘normal’ to me. The cycle continued, unbroken. Each time there was an incident at work the procedures were followed and I sought medical interventions but each time the injuries were more serious. I thought I was thriving. Being beaten around the head was my wake-up call to stop this cycle, although it took me some months to realise what needed to happen. Becoming single was my way of breaking the cycle and it’s given me time to heal, time to reconnect my mind and body and to enable me to find self-compassion, self-worth and one more all-important factor.
The pinnacle turning point for me was in admitting I was a victimiser – that I was responsible for having allowed myself to have been a victim, to have suffered and ultimately been in pain for so many years. Admitting that I was jointly responsible for my suffering was a huge breakthrough because I had never removed myself from the situation: ultimately you also have to remember that those that inflict pain and suffering onto you do so because its personal to them and not to you. It’s a complexity that is so very difficult to come to terms with but once you accept it you can begin to gain freedom.
Embracing all of this enabled me to begin the journey of forgiving myself and releasing the fear that had engulfed me for the majority of my adult life and to let go of the controls that had been placed upon me for so many years. Finding self-compassion, self-love and gratitude for myself was such an uplifting moment in my life. When my mind and heart were able to feel deeply connected, I gained clarity of my purpose in life and I knew I was becoming a better version of myself.
Having worked within the mental health sector, carried out studies for both psychology and criminology and had the need for therapy, I’ve experienced mental health from both perspectives: as the researcher/listener and the talker. With this in mind I can offer comprehensive insight. The content shared within Free Spirit complimented the treatment I received from my own medical team, it has given me clarity in my new life and has driven me in wanting to help others – to help you – and that is what Free Spirit: How To Break Beyond Limitations is specifically written for. Through this book I convey a deep understanding of stress, fear, emotion, compassion and many other factors that are relatable to many areas of life. I can show you how your way of thinking can lead to life-changing complications: moreover, how you have the potential to change how you think, feel and, ultimately perform in life.