Coach Real Talk with Nez
I honestly feel like I bang on and on about my story and that everyone is sick to death of hearing it… haha. But the truth is, I have a very public story, about my journey into fitness, losing 20kgs and starting Lissome. But I also have another very raw, sad and scary story too. And that’s about suicide.
I asked all the coaches to write an honest, vulnerable piece about themselves so we can better connect with our community. I then have seen and heard of a few good friends of mine being affected by the suicide of a very close friend and it prompted me to think- that I haven’t ever really shared with you all my life long battle with depression and how I pushed myself to the brink of attempting to take my own life 3 years ago.
Growing up, I never truly felt that I “belonged” or was worthy. I have deaf parents so that gave kids at school an easy target to bully and belittle me. Jibes about them being “deaf and dumb” and imitating the way that they speak without proper annunciation. I would watch adults stare at my parents in disgust when we were out and my parents were communicating in their sign language.
I grew up with a very strong sense that I was different and that I did not fit in.
My home life was challenging for me also. My father and I have a testing relationship. He was the sole bread winner for the family and having a disability meant that his capacity to earn money was limited. He was supporting 3 children and our Mum which would have been tough. I later found out that he was not my biological father and I believe he resented me for having to support me when I was not his own as he treated me very different to my younger brother and sister. He drank a lot to suppress his own trauma so all this contributed to a tumultuous upbringing for me.
Growing up, I am really saddened to admit I honestly thought about committing suicide regularly. I remember from the very young age of 16, thinking that I was unworthy, ugly, not intelligent and that I had nothing to offer anyone. I had zero self respect heading into my late teens and twenties.
What ensued was a decade of binge drinking, promiscuous sex and just doing whatever I could to “fit in”, be liked and be accepted.
From the age of 30, I really began to start formalising this plan and took great steps towards taking action on what I believed I really wanted- to end my life. I cleaned out my apartment. I wrote letters to my family. I wrote a will. I wrote an action plan of how Lissome was to continue in my absence. I wrote a letter to the girls of Lissome apologising for my decision.
I spent one long month really, really planning to leave this life. I had my mind set on the end being near. I felt relieved. I felt a calm heaviness at the idea that my sadness, my confusion and my exhaustion was soon coming to an end.
So. I. Thought.
I will never forget the day my life changed.
It began with a walk down to to swim at my favourite beach. Me saying hello to the locals, thinking to myself that this would in fact be the very last time I would see them and engage in our regular chit chat and banter. I wondered what they would say once they found out I was gone. I wondered if they would ever find out at all.
I remember the water feeling so lovely. I remember thinking I would miss that. The feel of the ocean and just how wonderful it was. I always felt so at peace in the ocean. It was a cold day but the sun was shining.
I made phone calls to both my brother and my sister and remember holding back the tears, at the knowing this would be the last time I would speak to them. I remember my brother especially picking up on it and asking me what was wrong? I brushed it off and claimed I had a cold. I remember feeling very, very sad that I was leaving these two. I had played such a motherly role in their lives and we had such a close bond and I knew this would break them.
The next few hours was spent finalising the last minute details and I made my way up to the spot I had pre determined my fate would take place. I had spent the last month researching and visiting different spots, trying to find the “easiest” place that would result in as little pain as possible for me.
I sat there for hours. It was daylight when I arrived. I was experiencing a wave of different emotions. I was sad and crying. Then I would be hyperventilating and hysterical. Then I would be calm and determined. These would wash over me over and over while I sat in my car.
Once darkness hit, I started to make my way to the edge. I was terrified. I was shaking. I couldn’t do it. After a few minutes I came back from the edge. I remember thinking too myself that there was no rush, I would wait another half an hour.
Then I would try again. This time getting further out on the ledge. Every time I got close to that edge, I would shake and cry in fear. I have never, ever felt so lonely and afraid as I did on that ledge. I remember wishing that I had someone to protect me. I remember wishing that someone knew I was there and would come get me from the edge.
On that night, between the hours of 6 and 10pm, I sat there repeating this, over and over. It was a constant cycle. My feelings and emotions. Me stepping from my car, walking to the edge, retreating back to my car. Over and over.
I had the thought that maybe I would wait until I was braver and come back the next day. And then I had a thought. I realised that I had been imagining this scene for so many months and many years. I had been completely secretive about my mental illness and not spoken a word of it to anyone. Not my family. Not my friends. Not even a stranger. The idea of coming back the next day and going through the day, waiting until the evening,. And then playing this out again- I couldn’t do it. It hit me. I gave myself an ultimatum.
I decided then and there that I was not going back to my old life. I was not going back home, continuing to live this lie.
I was to make one of two choices;
I was either walking off that ledge and committing to this suicide that I had been planning for years.
OR, I was calling someone to ask for help.
Lucky for me, I did make that call. I can’t even imagine how the person I called felt when they heard my voice asking for help. All I can tell you is that he was there in less than 10 minutes.
I often feel really sad that he had to drive to pick me up, in the middle of the night and see me at my absolute worst. But it actually was the kindest thing I have ever done for myself. That call for help ultimately changed the course of my life forever.
I found myself unable to return home as I had this strange fear of being alone with myself. The next few months I lived with friends and was pretty numb. I don’t remember much of that time except for watching a lot of **** and eating a lot of red snakes. I saw a multiple of psychologists, counsellors, life coaches, anyone I could. I avoided medication and tried my best to seek out what I needed to heal and overcome this illness.
I eventually came across a psych who recommended a book to me that changed my life. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I read it cover to cover in less than 48 hours. I re read it. I read it again. I googled her and watched her TED Talks over, and over, and over. I still watch them.
Her message about shame made me realise that I was not alone. Her explanation of how shame works gave me an understanding of my thoughts, feelings and behaviours. I finally for once in my life, felt like I got it and I had hope that I could get through this. I have since gone on to recommend this book to many, many people. It’s honestly a book I believe everyone should read in their lifetime.
Since that day in my life, I have just tried to live my life one day at a time. But I have tried to be more real, honest and vulnerable with those around me that I love.
I feared for so long the judgment that if I shared these thoughts, I would be seen as attention seeking. Or that people would question WHY I was so sad and miserable? I had a career I loved, I lived by the beach and plenty of family and friends. I was always seen as the happy, bubbly and friendly Nez.
But deep down, I was a dark, sad and very broken little girl. I was someone who needed some help, and needed the care and love of those around me. But more than ever, I had to do the work.
I had to look inwards. I had to make peace with my past and forgive. I had to let go of the stories I had made up in my head and try and create new, better and more positive ones.
I read. I wrote. I listened. I learnt. I swam. I sung. I walked. I laughed. I cried. I screamed. I hurt. I lived. I loved. I forgave. And most of all, I forgave myself.
I really had to work hard to like myself. I had to work even harder to love myself. And I’m not even all the way there yet. I still have days that are good and I have days that aren’t so good. But I am glad to say, I don’t ever go back there to that old pattern.
Looking back, I wonder if I purposely put myself in that position to call Bullshit on myself and see if I would do it. There’s a saying I have come to love;
“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting sick of their own bullshit”
I love that and resonate with it so much.
I’m not saying that everyone should put themselves on a ledge and test themselves like that. Im actually really sad and ashamed that I took myself to that point where I was at such risk. I don’t for one second condone or encourage that kind of action.
What I AM trying to say is that asking for help and doing the work has been what has saved me. Everyone is different. But what I’ve learned since then is that many, many of us are struggling. Many of us are in a hell hole that maybe others don’t know we are in.
I share this story for one reason and one reason only. If this helps just ONE person feel less alone, less ashamed and one step closer to asking for help, than I am relieved. I want each and every one of you women to know I am committed to creating a safe place where every one of you can be supported, loved and cared for in your darkest hours. I now know that I have that with you.
I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how we all heal and feel better and do better. All I know is that the only way we can, is together. In a real and honest and vulnerable way.
I promise to each of you that I am here for the long haul and I am so grateful that my “Plan” didn’t pan out the way I once believed I wanted it to. I’ve had such joy since then with my niece and nephew that I would never really have known if I had taken my life that day. I remember very clearly always watching certain men with their partners, wishing that I had someone in my life who treated me with such love, respect and adoration. I eventually met that man years after my recovery. It saddens me to think I almost lived and died in this life without ever knowing what that felt like.
My business. Oh how that’s given me such joy. From watching my little baby Lissome grow into this empire that it’s coming to be. For a girl who honestly believed she would be lucky if she scored herself a full time gig working for Woolworths I sometimes pinch myself that I now run a business with staff whom I adore and customers I love. To think that I am a respected female of the community who is oftentimes invited to speak on public stages and even meet women like Michelle Bridges!!!! Haha. If you had told me 5 years ago that this would be my life- I WOULD HAVE LAUGHED AT YOU.
To think that I came so close to missing out on knowing the girl I’ve grown to become…
If I, a poor girl, from a deaf family, who was bullied at school and shamed at home, a binging alcoholic, someone who was not very bright, a girl who was not super popular, a girl who was not “pretty” or funny or even really anything out of the ordinary- If that girl can become a business owner, a partner to an incredible man, an aunty and a sister and a friend and a daughter and a woman who knows in her soul that she IS deserving and she IS worthy and (hardest for me)- she IS loved. Anyone can.
I hope that this story hasn’t been too overwhelming for you. I hoe more than anything it resonates with at least one of you. Maybe two. Maybe more.
I hope that if it does, you’ll reach out to either myself, our professional OT Renee or a trusted person.
I want you to each know how worthy, loved and special you are and that we all have days where it’s harder for us to believe it.
But if you an in those darkest times, become your own best friend and be as kind to yourself as you are to all of those Lissome sisters you train beside every day, then together we can all get through this and who knows the women we are to each to become?
Love Nez XO