Ten years ago, if you’d told me I’d be living the life I lead today I’d have laughed in your face.

Actually, that’s not true, I doubt I would have been able to smile let alone laugh. I was clinically depressed and suffering from suicidal ideation.

Looking at my life then, you’d have said I should be deliriously happy! On paper I had everything. I was working in the job I’d dreamed of since childhood, I had the nice house, the car, three kids, a cat and a husband.

Did you notice that the husband came last in that list? That’s because for many years that’s where I was in his priorities. I was his housekeeper, cleaner, cook, bookkeeper, childminder, chauffeur but little else. Oh, he threw me crumbs every now and again, and fool that I was I believed that I meant something to him, that this was a blip and things would get better.

They didn’t. The more senior he became in his job and the more he earned the more he treated me as staff, unpaid staff, because the money he earned was his money not family money.

I did everything at home. I did everything for our children. I worked full time in a job that required so much of me that I often wasn’t in bed until 1 or 2am and up again at 6am to repeat the cycle.

Something had to give…

I had a breakdown and I walked out of my job. The job that was my dream. The job I could no longer do because I’d fallen into a pattern of beating myself up for not being able to do everything at home and at work perfectly. There was no just good enough because I didn’t feel good enough.

I felt like a failure.

And the husband revelled in it. Told everyone that I had walked out of a perfectly good job for no reason whatsoever and moaned about the fact that he now had full financial responsibility for the family. He didn’t believe in depression and refused to pay for counselling for me.

He repeatedly asked when I was going to get a job, and when I did get a part-time job, he wanted to know when I was going to get a “proper” job.

The “proper job” comment lit a little light bulb in my head, and I realised that for years he had been putting me down, belittling me, questioning my choices and demeaning them.

That realisation sent me into a tailspin and along with the depression I began to experience panic attacks. I went to the doctor thinking I was a having a heart attack. They did all the tests and told me my heart was in excellent shape. Nobody mentioned panic attacks, so it was a while before I realised what was happening to me.

I reached a point where I felt so useless, I even thought my wonderful, cherished children would be better off without me in their lives. That if I was gone, their father could find another wife, someone who would be a better mother to them. A mother who didn’t have a panic attack every time she needed to take them somewhere new. A mother who didn’t spend her days crying and lying and saying she’d been chopping onions if they chanced upon her. They were too young to understand, and I wouldn’t have put that burden on them anyway.

A friend recommended yoga and I found a studio and a teacher who was very understanding of me and my repressed emotions. When I first started, I was so tense I couldn’t even lie flat, I needed multiple blocks and bolsters just to get comfortable. I hated savassana, as there was no calming my thoughts and my emotions would overwhelm me, and I would invariably start crying. I was never one for showing emotions and living with someone who ridiculed me when I did which made doing so even harder. Nevertheless, I spent the first six months on my mat crying.

Eventually, I plucked up the courage to tell my husband I wanted a divorce and for a few weeks I felt lighter, happier, and then the reality of it came crashing down. Not only had I failed at something else I’d also torn my children’s family apart. I couldn’t deal with my emotions let alone support my children through this difficult time. The thoughts of suicide reared their ugly head again.

One morning, as I was walking to work the usual monotonous cycle of thoughts going around in my head I was almost blinded by a flash of light and I heard a loud voice say, “You must heal by the light.” I had no idea what this meant and was convinced that on top of everything else I was going slowly insane.

A few days later an email offering me a free book on Reiki dropped into my inbox. I ignored it for a couple of weeks but then the calling became so strong I gave in and downloaded the book and began to read. I finished it in one day.

Suddenly, everything made sense. I had seen though not yet experienced the light.

I booked my first Reiki treatment. Anxiously, I lay down expecting forty five minutes of torment trying to lie still and not let on what was going through my mind.

The reality was so different. As soon as the therapist’s hands came near my body, I felt a tingling from head to toe that was especially strong in my hands and on my scalp. It felt as if my hair was standing on end. My body began to feel deeply relaxed, something I hadn’t felt in a very long time, my arms seemed to be pinned to the couch and I couldn’t move them. It seemed as if a huge black cloud had gathered in my abdomen and chest weighing me down, pressing me into the couch. For a moment it was suffocating. Then I heard a voice, gentle yet persuasive, telling me to let it go and I felt my body shudder and the weight lift off me, the black cloud broke up and dissipated in the air above me. Colours of hues I’ve never seen before made patterns behind my eyelids.

All too soon, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder and the therapist telling me my session was over. I was hooked and a few weeks later began my training in Reiki.

Since then, Reiki has helped me get through three years of divorce proceedings, selling the family home and buying my own home all while taking care of my children who also suffered emotionally in the aftermath of my relationship break up. I have not had a panic attack in years and while I occasionally feel down in response to an event or bad day the depression has lifted. I am aware of and able to deal with my emotions as they arise. I have also helped clients deal with their anxiety by using the exercises I wrote and used on myself, and I have helped a couple women leave abusive relationships. Reiki has brought me solace, strength, and stamina, it has enabled me to have not just a new lease of life but a life I wouldn’t even have dreamt of.

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