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The day social media saved my sanity

How to survive and thrive in the online world

I’d turned into some kind of sub human thing. Not washing or even leaving my bedroom let alone the house. Okay so I have Lupus which I used as an excuse, but the kids and my husband weren’t buying it and I didn’t care.

Usually I’m a clean freak. Hair done, make up, tidy house, everything in order despite the Lupus, but it all suddenly seemed so utterly pointless. And that meant I was very scared.

You see 14 years ago I had a mental health illness that nearly killed me (twice just for good measures) and I knew that the way I was acting was not me, it was the “mental health lost me”.

That Mandie who hated herself and hated existing hadn’t been around for 14 years for a good reason.

I’d been lucky enough to work with a mental health charity that introduced me to talking therapies and within 3 years I had trained as a coach, met the Home Secretary, been in the paper for good reasons enough times to make a book of my achievements, won accolades as a business woman and coach and even been on national TV. To say the bad times had created the best, was an understatement.

And yet May this year I knew that feeling from all those years ago and I didn’t want to even acknowledge it.

“How could you let this happen?” I berated myself.

“You a coach, how can you post about this you idiot. No one will trust you to coach them to achieve more and override their negative emotions when you’re wallowing in self doubt and misery, you fool.”

I shut the curtains, turned on a box set and pretended I didn’t exist. Except even that created its own problems. As a coach and speaker, I’ve been online sharing ideas to help others in video’s on YouTube and Facebook for years. I get a real buzz out of getting a message that tells me your short video kicked my arse, or made me question what I was doing, or helped me change my life. How could you not? To know that the words you spoke changed someone’s life is not just my job it’s my passion and reason for existing. And now I was in this dark horrible place that meant I wasn’t do it.

Every time I tried to go live I found myself feeling like a fraud. What could I possibly say that would inspire someone when I felt like this?

I hid like that for about 2 weeks, I didn’t count the days, so I can’t be precise. And then I kicked my own arse. “Okay so you’ve got depression, could I point out you’ve fixed this before” My inner coach told me.

I started to let that voice be a separate entity. Mandie the coach wasn’t me. (I can’t tell you who I was because I didn’t know or probably care) but I did recognise that Mandie; bubbly, vivacious, confident, caring, hardworking, ready to motivate, inspire and empower anyone that asks for help and she knows that what she says works and makes a difference. So if she could do it for everyone else I thought “Why not sit back and let her do it for you too.”

I’ve always been someone that goes for big things and achieves them. Someone that likes to set goals and destroy comfort zones and I didn’t feel like that person at all. So I leaned on the pretend Mandie.

She gave me some advice and rules to follow and I knew she was right about the first thing I had to do, but I really didn’t know if I could do it or even if I should.

I knew deep in my heart that Coach Mandie was right, I had to go live and tell everyone that I was suffering and struggling. 

But…well…but…what would people think? 

What would people say?

In my head I thought people would think I was making it up to sell books, or I was looking for sympathy and someone to say “oh poor you Mandie” But I wasn’t. I’ve been a mental health ambassador since I set my business up and things took off. I realised back then that I could use my voice to help others, reduce the stigma and enable others that were suffering to get the help they needed without feeling like a failure or mad as a box of frogs. And it’s worked amazingly well. Everytime I’ve been on the radio or in the press I get messages saying things like “Thank you Mandie for your honesty. I’ve told my partner that I think I’ve got depression and we are going to the doctors.” Or “Mandie I was hiding who I was and how ill I was and I’m not now thanks to you.”

Mandie the coach said I had to, but it took me days of thinking, and probably over thinking and worrying before I could pluck up the courage to go live. I planned what I would say and practised it so many times. I didn’t want to look self important. I didn’t want to look pathetic. I didn’t want to look like I was trying to get attention or promote my wares. So what did I want?

I realised I wanted to get better. That this could help that. Honesty is the best policy in so many areas of our life and I realised that if I could find the right words and be honest I could still make a difference even in my darkest days. I started to piece together my tool kit. As a coach I’ve helped masses of people create tool kits;

– Tool kits to fight the fear of public speaking

– Tool kits to help build confidence.

– Tool kits to stand up for yourself.

– Tool kits to get rid of the negative voice in your head.

The list is endless. I said to myself “Mandie if you can create a tool kit that changes someone else’s life for what reason could it not work for you too?” So I did. And just like my clients I cursed Coach Mandie for having the perfect thing to say that kicked my butt into action.

So I went live. I would share that video here but it had to be done in two takes due to lousy wifi and I’ve only got the second part. You can see in the second video below where my mascara is sliding down my face and that is because I cried in the first part as I told people how ill I mentally felt.

I’m not ashamed of the tears or the mascara so here’s the video https://www.facebook.com/Mandieholgate/videos/10215235618659418/

Over the coming weeks I created the mental health tool kit I said about and I shared videos on days I had to leave the house and was suffering from anxiety and fear of the great out doors and those scary things called people. And little by little the fear lowered. 

I re – read my own book “Fight the fear – how to beat your negative mindset and win in life” and revisited the tools and strategies I’ve shared with thousands of people and it worked on 2 levels;

1 to help me get better 

2 to remind myself “actually Mandie, you wrote a book that is selling around the world, cool right?” 

I’m never very good at noticing what I’ve achieved, I just get on with it. I have always feared arrogance and looking big headed so I have always quietly thought “Mmm that was awesome, what’s next?”

I also did the following things and the catalyst, the changing moment, was going live. Not to sell, not to grandiose the situation, not to get likers, but to be honest and make a difference. I hope these strategies and ideas help you too. And never fear being honest with your online world, you could save someone else from their inner demons, and dark days too, cool right?

1. Snooze them. I snoozed anyone that shared a single post that didn’t make me feel good, positive or like I was seeing someone real. So the weight loss lovers with their before and afters, the gym crazed lycra clad juicers, the perfect beach Moms, the billionaires, were all gone. “A bit harsh Mandie?” You say. Not really because most of these fake people will post perfection and not share with you the snotty nosed child screaming just out of shot that it doesn’t want to be on the beach, it wants to go home. Or the billionaire is actually up to their eyes in dept and posing outside a swanky hotel they couldn’t afford in a million years. Please, give it up. No one is impressed by your fake life. Well the ones that matter aren’t. So I snoozed them all, on every social media platform I use.

2. Lose it. For at least a few hours every day I lose the phone. Let the battery die and steer clear of the social media. Good lives, bad lives, parties, smiles, holidays, meals, babies, puppies, the lot. Turn it off. Walk away. Sometimes I can struggle to do this (even as I’m feeling better!) so I enlist the help of my hubby and daughter and say “Take this phone off me and don’t give it back!”

3. Don’t stop. Doing the things you would normally love to do. I couldn’t feel any joy or happiness but I started to do the things that would normally make me feel so happy and have gratitude for my life. The sea is at the end of the avenue of trees I live in. I’ve never ever bored of that view or stopped feeling utter thankfulness for those grand strong trees. So I started walking down that avenue again to see the sea.

4. Hide. But know when to hide and when to get out. Sometimes when you are feeling emotionally tender or mentally unwell stepping away from the world is a good thing and other times you need to fight that urge and talk to people. Learn to recognise when you need what.

5. Create. I found that my creativity had taken a nose dive. So I didn’t fight it. I did what I fancied doing and created a visual reminder to help me get better. I even talked about it in my Facebook lives. I made an infographic of my mental health tool kit and made it my home screen. I really think this was the turning point. Treating myself like I was my own client and knowing how upset I’d be if I let my coach down! 

6. Dump it. Look out for guilt. It seeps into our heads and damages your chances of ever feeling positive or mentally well ever again. Guilt serves us very poorly. Listen out for it and chuck it out. Re-frame your thoughts. So instead of “Mandie you are selfish not going live” turned into “I’m creating space to process how I’m feeling and make myself well again. I can’t do that if I fill my head with everyone else’s thoughts and lives.”

7. Own it. As I said in this video. Own and respect your emotions. Negative emotions in themselves aren’t dangerous or wrong. They are to be processed and accepted and respected and owned. The issue arises when you stay in the negative state. Create your own tool kit so that you can learn to listen to your emotions, process them and move on to a more positive mindset. https://www.facebook.com/Mandieholgate/videos/10215241102716516/

And now?

I’m not quite there, but I’m very nearly am back to being a whole Mandie. And wherever I go, whether it’s on stage talking to hundreds, coaching or shopping someone will stop me and say “Thank you Mandie you changed my life.” I owed it to my life to get well again didn’t I? 

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