“Confined by my Cage of Confidence”
Karen, age 51
“The last eighteen months have certainly been memorable. Feeling dizzy, off my food, and increasingly anxious, I gained the courage to talk it all over with a doctor, it transpired that I was anaemic, my blood pressure was high and I was peri-menopausal. A trio of trouble that was doing its best to chip away at my physical health and mental well-being.
Tiredness had seeped into all aspects of my life, acting like a domino effect on mood, rational thought, patience and ability to function day-to-day. Whilst in the midst of fitful sleep the early hours became familiar beasts to be slain: the midnight attempt to switch off, the 2am worries for the next day ahead, the 4am mental checklist to tick off, the 5am visit to the bathroom, the 6am acceptance that its almost time to get up anyway! With all that going on, it didn’t occur to me that this tiredness was causing my low mood and crumbling of self-confidence.
I’ve always thought of myself as an organised person, in control, able to do many things and certainly more than capable of juggling work and home life and family commitments. All that came tumbling down, like the shifting walls of a sandcastle as the waves of daily demands washed over me. What was happening to me? With my former persona of being a strong woman came the unwritten rule that I didn’t stop to tell anyone how I really felt anyway. I was too busy – there was always a job to be completed, something that I needed to do to help the kids or to support other relatives, a meeting or a deadline to meet for work.
When the tiredness and dizzy spells were at their worst, I think I broke. I felt like a cage was constructing itself around me, putting up barriers to hinder me from functioning as before. To put it succinctly, somewhere along the way I lost my confidence. Confidence can disappear in the blink of an eye but it takes so long to claw it back again to its former glory. I found myself doubting my abilities and questioning decisions that I had to make.
I had to take control. I started to write a blog and the responses I got opened my eyes: I was not alone. I re-evaluated my life and considered what positive measures I could take. I quit my long teaching career and am now writing, putting myself first when I can and achieved a long-held dream, publishing a book which tells my story – stumbling through motherhood, midlife and menopause. Writing has proved to be my therapy and asking for help and accepting support from family and friends, essential. I have been asked by a London media company to talk about my story, something that I find exciting and nerve-racking in equal measure but a definite privilege.
I am still struggling to break out of my confidence cage but I feel that I have located the key.”