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3 Things I wish I had Known…

before I drove myself to a breakdown

Image created by Dale Simmonds, Giant Advertising and Media

Not that long ago, my life was complex and completely out of control. I had survived for over a decade on two hours of restless sleep a night. I was exhausted and running on fumes. I was on a guaranteed path to self-destruction, but I was blind to what I was doing and where I was going to end up.

Although each day provided different challenges – and to a certain extent, different themes – the underlying pattern was the same. The alarm would go off in the morning after I’d managed to steal around two hours of disrupted sleep. My first thought would be: ‘It can’t possibly be time for me to get up’. I’d follow this by forcing myself out of bed and into the shower (because surely after a shower I would feel better!). I’d then quickly shove some food into my body before rushing out the door to be at the office before everyone else.

I’d spend my day solving everyone else’s problems and chasing around putting out bushfires, before heading home, cooking dinner and then jumping back onto the computer to get my own work done for the day. Finally heading to bed, my head would hit the pillow and my mind would go into overdrive, worrying over the things that had happened during the day, whether everyone around me was all right and fast forwarding to the next day and worrying over what might happen next. Two restless hours of sleep later, the alarm would go off and the cycle would start again.

I pumped myself up and pushed myself forward on a range of mantras … like: ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’ or: ‘you have to work hard to get ahead’. Or one of my favourites: ‘toughen up because someone else is much worse off than you!’. All of which were designed to keep me stuck in a spiral of stress and exhaustion.

I lived in hope that there was another way to live. I was desperately tired and desperately unhappy … but just as determined that I would show the world that my life was perfect.

My breakdown, when it came, hit from out of the blue. One minute I was living a ‘normal’ life and the next I was on the floor, shattered into a million pieces and unable to exist in every day life. The worst aspect of my breakdown was not being able to understand what was happening to me. When you can’t cognitively process something, it is very difficult to communicate not only what is wrong, but what you need from people around you.

My life went back to basics in an instant. I moved from a space where I was engaged intellectually almost every second of every day to one where I was emotionally and cognitively challenged every second. Suddenly, I could only cope with having the very basics of life around me. Stimulation confused me, being around people upset me and I could only digest the very basics of food.

In a matter of minutes my world turned on its head, and it took me two years of intensive, invasive and highly confronting work to claw my way back to an existence in life. It was another twelve months of this work before I had a general heading in my life and I could start to move back towards some sort of future.

Without a doubt, this time was the most challenging and demanding of my life. It was also the most rewarding, because it allowed me the time and space I needed to understand things that are now changing the way that people live throughout the world.

I’m often asked what the biggest lesson was from my experience. This is such a tough question to answer, simply because there were so many important lessons that have significantly changed the way I think about, and indeed the way I now live, in the world.

  1. Narrowing these lessons down, I can say that there are three things that I wish I had known earlier – that might just have made me stop and consider doing things a little bit differently:. Being strong is a fabulous gift to have – but it is imperative that you learn to use your strength wisely. I used my strength to keep me powering through situations that were guaranteed to see me push myself too far, and for way too long.Learning to embrace your strength and use it to create a platform that supports you means that this strength can then be fully fuelled and used in service for the world. Using your strength against yourself will do nothing other than guarantee that you will collapse … and then there is nothing left to give to anyone.
  2. ALL of the excuses you make up as the reasons for why you can’t start to do things differently NOW are nothing more than a distraction you place in front of yourself so that you don’t have to deal with something you think is way too hard. Every single reason you make up – and they’re all made up – is simply a road block to you owning up to your need to stop and do something for yourself. Somehow, we’ve all been hoodwinked into believing that change is way too hard, when the reality is that it is relatively easy; you just need a simple process that supports you along the way.
  3. Perhaps most significantly, there is nothing I have in my life now that wasn’t freely, openly and easily available to me before I drove myself to collapse. I was too busy being everything to everyone else to see that there was an easy pathway I could take for me to have all of those things. I had no self-compassion and no ability to provide anything nourishing or kind for myself. Denying myself these things simply meant I lived a colourless life. They say everything you want is on the other side of fear … but actually, almost everything you want is only a step away. You just need someone to show you how easy taking that step is.

I know there’s a VERY different way to live – the experience I gained through my journey has granted me the wisdom to see this. Like a lot of things in life, sometimes you just have to have a little faith and a little trust that the world really is yours to grasp. Turn that little bit of faith and that little bit of trust your own way. Give yourself the same advice and love that you’d give to one of your friends. Find a way to take small simple steps every day that will turn you life in a different direction.

You can find more great ideas on thinking and living differently in my free email series that is full of articles and videos that will help you to begin your journey – simply click here to start you on your way. There are also loads of practical and simple tips and activities in my book ‘Keep It Super Simple’ (Reader’s Favourite gave it a 5 Star Review!)– you can buy a copy from my website.

Want to chat? Email me on [email protected] or call me on +61 438 624 868 and we’ll set up a time!

  1. Bronwen Sciortino is a Simplicity Expert, Professional Speaker and the internationally renowned author of ‘Keep It Super Simple – Tips from a Recovering Perfectionist. You can follow her at her website; Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn
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