The story by jo cameron

My Story with Stress

My journey with stress started around 15 years ago. I'd just taken a new job as a Senior Manager in the Motor industry and I was keen to impress. I'd been working ridiculous hours and taking on far too much work and then after a presentation one day my eyes started to go blurred, my heart started to race and I honestly thought I was going to die. Concerned, my colleague took me to the Occupational Health Department. They took one look at me and instantly told me what was wrong. They told me I'd had an anxiety attack and lay me on a bed with my feet in the air. I was stunned. Never for a minute did I consider that I was an anxious individual. It took me completely by surprise. I'd also recently just gone through a messy divorce which I suppose looking back was adding to the load.  My brain was in overload.


For years after that my panic attacks would come and go. I really didn't know what to do. I had several episodes at work and during long car journeys between meetings. If you've had them, you will know they can be debilitating. After eventually getting them under control, they drifted away from my life, although I can't remember exactly when.


Several months after that first episode I made a fatal mistake. I went for another promotion. And got it. It was a newly created role in Sales of an £85,000 super car.  Every day was one problem after an other. My phone never stopped. The challenges of introducing a new car into the UK market when the company's Board were being investigated by the Government, was a big hill to climb each day. The pressure was immense. My sleep was affected, my confidence was at an all time low and I started to dread work. With a completely unsupportive boss I was keeling over under the pressure. Nine months later I was out of a job. They gave me the option to leave and I took it.  


For a year after that I had a lovely time. I was freelancing as a Management Trainer. It was a great year. I was really enjoying myself until someone suggested that I should go on a TV show called The Apprentice. I was completely unprepared for the media circus around the show. My self esteem took a real bashing. It was hard to bear to think that millions of people in the the UK thought I was a complete nutcase.  That was tough on the ego.


Having said that, it was an incredible experience with some massive highs and some equally massive lows. The pressure of that show was on a different level which bought out another whole load of insecurities in me. After the show I didn't know what I was doing. I was running around like a headless chicken, lurching from one project to the next. I lost my way. However bad it got though, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next in my life.


Later that year (2006) my life collapsed completely. I became pregnant shortly after the show finished. My pregnancy went from bad to catastrophic when on August 31st 2006 my baby was born and died on the same day. It left me completed dilapidated. I wanted to die too. 


For most of the summer of that year I'd been in hospital on bed rest. My body was broken. When I left the hospital I had to learn to walk and talk again. I was crushed. Most days for a very long time I wanted to be dead.


After my daughter died, everything collapsed. Mentally, physically and financially I was on my knees. My relationship with my daughters dad broke down and I was left living in a friends bedroom with my life in black plastic bags. Not for a minute did I consider my own healing so I threw myself straight back into work. My eagerness to turn everything around, coupled with a deep seated preference for self destruction wasn't a good match. 


During those first few years after my baby died I made some really bad judgement calls. I went into business with the wrong people, I trusted people I should never have trusted. The resulting carnage took years to put right.


After meeting my new partner in mid 2007 and having our daughter in 2009 I thought all my prayers had been answered. Until the pressure that I'd put myself under to be the perfect mother started to show itself in an overwhelming sense of sadness for a very long time. I don't know whether I had post natal depression but I didn't smile for a long time. Basically I was trying to do too much and my stress levels were through the roof. My urge to prove myself manifested in me signing up for a half marathon when the baby was only 6 months old. When she was just 6 weeks old I was hosting a huge event as my breasts leaked. I also started a new business supporting other women in Business. We held events with hundreds of people including Cherie Blair as a guest plus a whole host of other fascinating people who were guests. I licensed my concept and on the surface everything looked OK. But on the inside I was dying. 


The business took me over five years to build and when I collapsed from a stress related illness in 2015 I knew I had to change. 


Since then I have been studying stress related illness, well-being strategies and why people get stressed in the first place. It's taken me years to recover from the psychical and mental fatigue from overdoing everything. I desperately don't want that to happen to you.  Now I am really disciplined in my self care routine (although I'm human and still feel tested sometimes) but most days it keeps me on a even keel. I swear by yoga and mediation, walking and fresh air. I also do some weird things like chew organic coconut oil and drink vinegar. These days in conjunction with my work as a consultant and coach, I run The 1st Tee Directors Club with my partner who is doing some really good stuff on YouTube for golfers Julian Mellor. Being out in the fresh air on the golf course suits me well.

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My talks have an element of my story to hopefully prevent you from going down the same potholes as I did but they also include easy to adopt techniques can help your reduce your stress and improve your well-being.

Life is not supposed to be a drudge. Life is for living. If you think I can help you please email me enquiries@jocameron.co.uk

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