New Years Eve is typically when everyone looks back on the previous year but for me, this year, I am not looking back just one year. Instead, I am looking at how far I have come over the past few years and I have to say, if I hadn’t lived it, I’m not sure I would believe it.
Not everyone knows but I had many dark years after university. I was trying to get used to living with a disability and after about 5 years finally figured it out but that was when my mental health took a dip/deep dive. I realised that I had figured out dealing with all the physical issues and limitations but the trauma and emotional side of all that happened reared it’s ugly head. It was tough and I’d never felt more alone in my life and was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety.
After regular CBT and trauma counselling for almost 3 years it was this year that, that treatment finally ended. I had faced, accepted, and dealt with everything and since then, things are just getting better and better and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.
One thing that really gave me the boost I needed was my 2 way Windermere swim in 2021, it kept me focused on a goal, during long training swims I would think about everything and try to figure things out. Ultimately that is what set me on the course that I find myself on today. During my training for the swim, I realised how much I missed teaching/coaching, so I did my coaching qualification.
Being back coaching what I love improved my confidence and when I completed my Windermere swim my confidence improved even further. It was due to that swim that I was given a spot to talk at the Kendal Mountain Festival and it was through that, that I made connections, met extraordinary people, and realised the importance of spreading the word about swimmers with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
As a result of the confidence, I had built at The Kendal Mountain Festival, I applied to be an STA open water swimming ambassador for 2022 and, was accepted.
Thanks to all that has come before, 2022 has been incredible. I’ve swum lots, made new friends, started coaching both privately and for my Triathlon club. I finally completed a cross channel relay and have done countless swim events. On top of that I have helped hundreds of swimmers and built the first ever community of open water swimmers with disabilities. I was asked to be a monthly contributor for the Outdoor Swimmer Magazine and I gave the first ever talk on accessibility in open water swimming at the STA Conference in Leicester. I am now working towards turning ADOWS into a Community Interest Company.
However, perhaps the most important thing that has happened this year is that I have reached a point in life where I am happy and proud of who I am and what I do.
So, remember, it is important to reflect on what has happened in the previous year, but for me, personally, I feel it is more important to reflect on the full journey that got you to where you are; no matter which year that journey began.
Here’s hoping for another fantastic and successful year I can be proud of in 2023.