Talk it Out

If you follow this blog then you’ll know I’ve been off the scene for a while – briefly interjecting with a post from Eid but other than that a little mute.  I’ve been exhausted for a few reasons but I’m on track to fixing that!  The New Year started with a new course and I dipped my toe into the world of counselling.

I thought, in this post, I’d give you a little breakdown of how I got there, what I’m doing now and bring you upto speed.

For those that don’t know, I qualified as a pharmacist many moons ago and have been working in community pharmacy for the last fifteen years.  I’ve been with my current company for around nine years, working as a Manager and troubleshooter if that’s the word.  For the most part I’ve loved where I work because of my wonderful staff and patients.  Those that know me, know that I have been trying to understand what I see myself doing in the future………I was fairly certain it wasn’t pill popping until I die – as fun as that sounds!

My journey dabbling into work away from pharmacy started in 2014 where, aware that I was struggling with my confidence, I decided to force myself out my comfort zone and enrolled onto a teaching course.  My self-esteem had taken a hammering in my marriage and by this stage, I was spiralling.  I wouldn’t socialise anywhere unless I knew a member of my family would be there – I couldn’t even goto a gym class unless I managed to convince my sister to come.

The teaching course was the start of a wonderful journey for me; I met new people, still have a close friendship from that time and my confidence grew in a way I never imagined.  A year later, I took a sabbatical, left home and worked in Oman.  Looking back, this was probably the turning point for me in the way I started to travel.

In 2015, I worked in Oman as an English teacher with the British Council.  It wasn’t the teaching as such that I loved more so the connection with the students.  I was invited to BBQs, trips to the mountains, their villages and also taken as a confidant by some.  I grew close to a few of the teachers out there, one in particular I’m now lucky to call my best friend.  I was starting to understand that I loved forming a link to people, that I may even have been good at it and it was probably also the first time I realised how much I actually cared about people.

I was in two minds after Oman as to what to do.  I had been offered a job with the British Council in Oman and whilst I loved it there, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I wasn’t running away from my problems.  I had also probably started to understand that although I enjoyed teaching, it wasn’t quite fulfilling what I wanted to do.  I stayed in Scotland but left in 2017 for Palestine.

Wanting to explore Palestine for a number of years but tired of waiting for people to join me, I headed off to the West Bank where I stayed for around four months.  I’m not going to lie, I was nervous but had done enough research and kindly been provided some contacts to feel like I had a slight safety net around me.  What started off as wanting to explore a culture and try to better understand a conflict followed onto some grassroots charity work.

I met these two inspiring women who were doing their best to empower female led households through linking them with work thereby encouraging them to take ownership of their lives.  My memorable moments from this trip however was simply sitting with people and listening.  I don’t mean listening to some heroic attempts against an apartheid regime but to the reality of their lives; relationship breakups, alcoholism, drug abuse, work anxieties etc….all the same things that exist in our societies.

There are some real mental health issues in Palestine, understandably caused by the devastating effects the occupation has had on livelihoods, safety and most of all the freedom of movement.  By 2018, after my second stint in Palestine, I knew that I loved creating connections and working with people to make sense of their thoughts.  I returned from Palestine and at the same time, decided to go public with blogging, something which I had been doing for six years under a pseudonym.

My first blog ‘Desi, Divorced and Damn Fabulous” had become a platform through which I connected with people in similar situations.  The pieces are no longer public on the old site (you searched didn’t you?) – mainly so I don’t have to juggle lots of blogs!  I decided my new blog would amalgamate pieces from the old one, the divorce posts feeling important to keep despite how open and raw they were.  Maybe my confidence by this stage was sky high or maybe experience had taught me some good would come from it.

I braced myself for criticism, instead, wonderful things were happening.  I had opened my life up and in return, people whom I never knew on a personal level, started opening up to me. I would be stopped at events by people wanting to talk and felt a deep sense of honor that they could share extremely private aspects of their life with me.  It was clear that talking brought with it a sense of freedom and further cemented the idea for me that counselling/talk therapies can truly be liberating for a person’s well-being.

In January 2019, I made the decision to do a taster course in counselling before committing to a lengthier (and more expensive) process!  I loved it, wanted to get into the thick of it and so I dithered about applying for the Masters.  My main question wasn’t if to do it but when – this year or save some more and do it next year?

In March however I ended up unwell with a nerve issue in my jaw and had three weeks off work (my first sick line).  Three weeks of not being able to do very much (except pill pop) gave me some time to reflect on my current job, what kept me there and the stresses that may have contributed to my health issue.

I made the decision to apply, got accepted and quit my job – in that order.  Whilst the timing for me leaving work wasn’t great and I felt slightly selfish, perhaps what I learned from this course was that taking care of your own needs isn’t actually selfish.  Maybe I didn’t learn it that well though as I still gave four months notice (fear of the unknown or being generous……?)

I had a brilliant leaving bash thrown by my staff and have decided to step back a little in terms of work.  Sadly only for a few months as mama still has bills to pay but I am looking forward to exploring some different work opportunities, maybe even pursuing some writing projects…………..oh, and catching-up on some much needed rest!

That’s it in a nutshell!



Have any of you embarked on a career change and what prompted your decision?

5 Replies to “Talk it Out”

  1. I stayed home with my son from 2013 when he was age 7, until July this year. His dad & I separated in 2013, which caused an awful chain of events in his emotional state & behaviour. I made the decision to go self employed & work from home. This was lonely, and bit by bit ate away at my self esteem, but I did it so I could be there for him, attend school meetings or counselling sessions.. As my son got “better” through counselling, camhs and not least family/friends, HE asked me to return to the workplace. On a whim in June of this year, I sent my CV off to & got my first interview in 19 yrs. I hadn’t worked in an office in 12yrs. I assumed I wouldn’t get the job, but it would be good interview experience. I got the job. My son is so happy, I am happy – but tired, my dad looks after my wee dachshund. I took a chance & it paid off. Oh, I am also 50yrs old…….

  2. Made the leap three times – all of which were precipitated by redundancy/lay-off – but in all cases I chose to change career completely rather than look for work in the current vocation. Second time round was most painful as I was unemployed for 12 months, had wife and kids to support and when I finally got a job in an entirely new sector, I had to file for bankruptcy: which is a great lesson in itself. Third time round was voluntary redundancy and I used the opportunity to escape the city and flee to the Isle of Skye for an alternative lifestyle. Still challenging, but one year later, I’m loving living in the beautiful countryside.

  3. So inspirational!!! As a social worker, I never thought I’d find myself in a situation whereby I would be on the receiving end of.abuse…let alone enduring it for 5 years! However, I sought counselling during and after my marriage which helped me to heal and get to the place I’m in right now – acceptance. Looking forward to reading more 😊x

  4. This is wonderful news Fai! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, it’s an inspiration. As a reader for years now, I found you at a time when I was going through my own divorce and reading your thoughts was comforting. I also wouldn’t have made it without my own counselor who was absolutely crucial in helping me find my own confidence. You’re going to make such a big difference in people’s lives. Wishing you all the best on the next chapter and can’t wait to hear more about it!

    1. Aww what a lovely msg to receive. Thanks so much MM and I’m so glad you found help in counselling. I think a lot of us find it at a time when difficulties arise but I often wonder how much we would have benefitted in getting counselling before these traumas occurred….there’s such a focus on keeping physical health good that I think not many of us are taught about out mental health xx

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