Welcome to my blog!

I’m so excited to welcome you to my mental health blog, Saving Sarah. It’s been something I’ve been working (and procrastinating over!) on for a long time.

My story began, like many, when as a small child I was sexually abused by a family acquaintance, which I then sadly kept secret until I was 22.  Growing up I always  remember having a nervous feeling in my tummy and that anxiety has stayed with me ever since.

I had my first of many depressive episodes in my 20’s following the sudden and devastating death of my Dad, but it was my increasingly wild, uninhibited behaviour, often fuelled by drink and drugs, that went unrecognised by doctors until at last I was diagnosed many years later with bipolar affective disorder, social anxiety, ADHD, binge eating disorder and PTSD.  Over the years I have attempted suicide 3 times, spent time in hospital and seen countless therapists, psychiatrists, doctors and hypnotherapists all with varying results.

Ten years ago I was blessed to give birth to my beautiful son Alfie.  Without a doubt that little boy saved my life. As soon as I fell pregnant I felt like at last I had something to live for.  However I suffered severe depression both during the pregnancy and after his birth. I was so worried about proving myself as a good Mum that I kept my feelings to myself, terrified that Alfie would be taken off me.   I started to feel increasingly sorry for him that the way I felt was keeping me like a prisoner at home with him all the time.  I felt such a failure.  Why couldn’t I be like all the other Mums out enjoying their babies? When would I ever be ‘normal’ again?

Then my brother recommended the book The Secret to me.  It literally blew my mind! Just the thought that it was possible to feel in control of your mind was a revelation to me. I thought that because of my mental health issues I was just stuck with the way I felt, like I had no choice but to live my life by default.  Up to that point I felt as if I had been wading through mud, never quite sure where I was heading from one day to the next.  It was this book that started me off on the path of self-development.  It opened up a whole new way of thinking and possibilities for me.  I started feeling better and  mentally stronger than ever before.   That is until life threw me a couple of huge curveballs in the shape of a miscarriage and my Mum being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Since then I have literally let life kick the shit out of me.  My social anxiety escalated so badly it even resulted in me experiencing selective mutism in certain circumstances that would trigger painful memories from my past.   I have just existed day to day in my own little safety bubble, only feeling comfortable with a few close friends and family members.

As heartbreaking as it was to see my Mum suffer with Alzheimer’s, it did give us the chance to start over and I will always be thankful that our time together gave me the chance to show her just how much I loved her and thank her for nursing me back to health following a difficult breakdown.  Seeing her so vulnerable gave me the opportunity to realise that like me, she too had suffered in silence during her life. I realised that just like me she had been putting up a façade which explained why she couldn’t be emotionally available to me. Having felt like polar opposites most of my life, I suddenly realised that we had a lot in common. My Mum was definitely the epitome of that very English stiff upper lip, pull yourself together mentality, like so many of her generation.  I get it now that she must have felt like she couldn’t risk letting her mask slip for fear of what might happen if she did.   

About this time last year I was sat with my Mum, who by this time was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, unable to walk or talk.  I was telling her how proud I was of her for everything she had achieved in her life, including her career as a Pharmacist, how she cared about people and managed to raise 4 kids. I was overcome with emotion and I realised just how much I wanted my son to be proud of me too.  I didn’t want him think of his Mum as someone who sat at home on her own and missed out on life. So I looked at my Mum, whose head was down as usual with her eyes closed, and I told her for the first time of my plans to launch this blog.  She lifted up her head, opened her eyes and looked like she was trying to cry. Then she gave me the biggest, most beautiful smile I had ever seen which I felt radiate right through me and light me from within. Then I asked her if she liked the idea and with that she answered in a loud, clear voice ‘yes’!  It took my breath away as I hadn’t heard her voice for over a year.  It will always remain my most special moment with Mum which I will treasure forever.  It was the first time in my life I really felt loved and I knew then in my heart that she was proud of me.  It was at that point that I felt like I gave myself permission to begin to live the rest of my life. It was time to stop letting fear and my past get in the way of my dreams.  I knew to do this I had to step as far away as possible out of my comfort zone.

 My Mum passed away peacefully in September.  Just as she brought me into this world, I felt priviledged to be with her as she left it.  A couple of months later I happened to be watching Loose Women and Gloria Hunniford was talking about dealing with grief and what she said really resonated with me.  She said that somebody had given her some advice after sadly losing her daughter Caron to cancer.  It was to remember that the soul is bigger than death and that death is never the end.  She went on to say that you have to find a way to carry their spirit  forward and do something good in their memory.  I realised right then that launching this blog would do exactly that.  My Mum had such a big heart and I want this blog to be dedicated to her memory. I believe that by speaking out and sharing our stories we can help each other to end the stigma around mental health. By doing this hopefully our kids can look forward to a future where no one with mental health issues needs to fear judgement of shame .  I know that would be a very fitting legacy for my brave and lovely Mum, especially today as it would have been her 86th birthday!

Of all the different therapies I have had over the years, without a doubt it has been connecting with others who have been through the same things as you that has been of greatest benefit.  The bond that you instantly have together is so powerful and I feel really blessed to have met some amazing people, some of whom have become good friends.

So that’s my story.  I hope I can inspire you to be courageous and share yours too. 

Even though some of my blogs will be a difficult read, I really want the message to be about hope, positivity and healing.  Despite everything I have been through, it’s these experiences that have really shaped me as a person and made me who I am today.  I will be sharing with you the tools that have helped me progress up to now and I look forward to exploring new ones with you as I continue on this journey.  I really hope you will join me and find comfort from knowing that you are not alone. 

Lots of love

Sarah xx