I've been battling depression since childhood. It probably comes as no surprise.
After I had my babies, post natal depression joined the party too.
It's easy to feel like a failure when you suffer from something that people can't see, but if there's one thing I've learnt, it's that the only person you ever need to impress is yourself.
Because, at the end of the day, when all's said and done, we enter this world on our lonesome and we leave exactly the same way.
I've blogged a lot in the past about the importance of being kind and unselfish. And it's something I still, and always will, stand by. But, what's the point spending your life helping others, when you're neglecting to help yourself? What good does that do for the world around you?
Of course, getting the help you need is vital for your own well being - wherever that help comes from, whatever form, or combination it takes.
So, let's start from the beginning. Five years ago I felt heavy, unfit and unattractive - it tends to happen when you've had a rugrat or two. So, I began the journey to lose weight and hopefully in the process boost my self esteem.
A couple of years ago I ramped it up and managed to lose two stone, thanks to a combination of HIIT and the 5:2 diet. (What I didn't realise at the time was that phase 1 of my self improvement journey had begun).
Phase one - fitness
In the last few years I've grown massively in love with exercise (well, to be fair, it's a bit of a love/hate relationship) - I quite often hate it when I'm doing it, but afterwards it feels amazing.
As well as the physical improvement to my health and appearance, I never cease to be amazed by the positive energy and mental boost that a regular fitness routine can bring - and I swear it helps manage depression no end.
Three to four times a week for the last few years, I've been doing HIIT and Pilates and, up until very recently, I've felt amazing both physically and mentally. It's one thing to lose the weight, but maintaining it through a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise is the key to continued feelings of health, wellbeing and positivity.
Then, a few months ago, I lost a much loved friend from my life. Someone so important and massively influential to me and my children, that their sudden absence was a catalyst for a complete return of the depression, along with strong feelings of low self worth and loneliness, that were worse than I'd ever experienced before.
So, I could have gone two ways. One, the dark route, or the other 'lets try and fix this' way. Of course, because I have two little dependant critters to take care of for the next few years, the first was never a practical option.
There were two ways to go about the 'lets fix this....', both of which were good ideas.
Firstly, the help of a medical professional is always advisable, so a trip to the doctor was a good plan. Secondly, there are ways to help yourself - and the great thing I realised was that this had already begun with the fitness.
Phase two - mental and spiritual development
The exercise was helping with my state of mind anyway, enabling me to feel more positive and happy, thanks to the feel good endorphins which were being released every time I worked out.
But, in light of recent events, I needed more, and this was where good friends and a couple of really amazing mentors stepped in to teach me about mindfulness and ways to manage the different parts of my mind to help myself feel better from within.
Here I was able to address my feelings of sadness and low self worth, through books such as Prof Steve Peters' 'The Chimp Paradox' - an exceptional publication which seemed to understand my thought processes and show me the most positive ways to deal with and adapt them. To this day, mental and spiritual improvement remains an ongoing phase of my life. There are up days and big time down ones, but generally things are on the up.
The next book I'm looking forward to reading is "The Four Agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom," by Don Miguel Ruiz... This, again, has come highly recommended to me as a way to help myself rediscover the happiness and love that I lost.
And then this brings me on to the newest way to help myself on the road to self improvement:
Phase 3 - nutrition
I realised that the good effects of exercise and spiritual development are hindered by allowing an overspill of toxins into your body.
Don't get me wrong, it's great to let loose and have the odd treat or night out. But, when you're using them to self medicate, that's different. It's pretty much the most unhelpful thing I could do to myself.
Binging on cakes and sweets, while allowing myself to use alcohol as a crutch to numb the pain was stopping the healthy changes to my lifestyle from having the best possible effect.
So I'm just about to begin on phase three - the path to better nutrition - in the hope that it will positively benefit the first two phases.
And with that I've discovered Isagenix... A nutrition system that helps you to feel better in yourself, more energised and healthy, while getting a good night's sleep in the process (something I've been missing a lot lately).
My scientist friend Lynsey told me about it a while ago, and I must say, I was impressed. People use it the world over to aid in weight loss, give increased energy, or offer a boost to their fitness routine. So what harm could getting the right stuff into my body for a change do?
I've decided to give Isagenix a go and over the next month I will be feeding back on the difference it is making to my life as a busy mum, in addition to the exercise and spiritual journey. I'm also going to try and cut down on the booze... (I said try!!)
The box arrives later this week, so watch this space! And in the meantime, find out more about Isagenix through Lynsey's shop :)