In the few days since she passed the internet has been flooded with a shock wave and a grief so very deep for someone we didn't know.
The harsh reality and the thought of someone suffering so much seemed to strike a chord and resonate with people. People cried and the ripples of change where maybe started. The internet is awash with #bekind and #fixeachotherscrown posts. I hope and pray that all these people are the ripple of change and will be more than the hashtag long after we leave Caroline at Peace.
Its so easy to post something on social media.. to follow the trend to get caught up in the thing of the moment .. to be SEEN to look like you care and your kind . Today I'm begging you rather than post it ..PRACTICE IT.
Its safe to say I've had a troubled life, I was sexually abused as a child by a family friend that would babysit, I lost my mother at the age of 15 when every girl needs one the most, My father abandoned me, I married young and suffered horrendous physical and mental abuse in 2 marriages. I had the torment of recurrent miscarriage and stillbirth, 2 stillbirths and 16 miscarriages , and later on my horrendous ordeal in Africa.
But somehow I had managed to sweep all this under the carpet, to box it away filed as a distant memory but with no emotion attached to it. Id talk about it quite blaze like i was speaking about someone else. It never really bothered me.
From being small id enjoyed sport and been good at it. Id never sit still, its no joke to say my parents would try to stick me down but still id wriggle. By 10 id be running 10 miles a day if not more. I was running for the county, held trophy after trophy for Taekwondo . By 15 I was competing in cross country, athletics, Taekwondo and cycling. I played football and I was part coaching an U'12s football team ( back then there was no women coaches)
Sport was my life. And my dream job was to be an ARMY PTI.
Like many though life got in the way for a while, my turbulent marriages, a few healthy children and a lot of extra pounds. But during the breakdown of my second marriage I gave myself a big kick up the rear as to where my life was going. I was determined to achieve my dream and join the army.
At 18 stone I was determined to do it and set about losing weight and working out .. soon my love of fitness was back and within 1 year of starting out my journey I joined the military. And finally years later the day came I wore my crossed swords and red belt.
Fitness was my life, I ran competitively, I competed internationally .. that's something eh an international athlete. It seems rather flippant of me but every sport I found I became not to bad at .. As a runner and triathlete id not really lifted heavy weight. I found crossfit.. something else to get my teeth into. I trained every day 2-3 times a day most days, I competed, I sat 14th Fittest in Europe . I won power-lifting competitions, crossfit competitions, I ran OCR almost every weekend.
I loved mountains and climbing, every weekend id be on another peak, id be climbing , bouldering ..there was always something.
Fitness was me and my life, my happy place. Any by 2011 my livelihood as I opened my own fitness boot camp B-Fit.
I wanted nothing more than to share my love of fitness with the world, to help as many people experience all it has to offer. To challenge them, to show them things are achievable. To drag them out of their comfort zones up mountains and to offer a mountain of opportunity in their lives. I wanted to inspire and to leave something of me behind.
But then, 2 years ago on Feb 11th my life was thrown upside down . I left the house fit, well and happy. I headed of to an obstacle run with some of my members. What a great laugh we had hurtling around that course. 1 set of rings, 2 sets of rings ..3 and SNAP .
Little did know that moment was about to change my life.
Sat on a hospital trolley unable to move with a 300 mile cycle ride looming somehow deep down I knew my leg was not good. The weeks that followed where hard. I was in this cloud of grey with no diagnosis but unable to walk. Unable to wash myself, stand and make cuppa or even get upstairs for the toilet. My house came to resemble nursing home of commodes and mobility aids.
The diagnosis 4 weeks later was a total ruptured MCL, ACL and grade 2 LCL . My meniscus was torn laterally and medially along with a few other bits. As i watched any plans for my ride slip on by, somehow I still thought id be a quick fix.
The reality however was that couldn't walk, For a long time was in a wheelchair, or on crutches.I could no longer do the job I loved. I was coaching classes from a zimmer frame.All my plans had gone and now I faced somehow getting through each day.
Life as I had always known had suddenly stopped. Now I wasn't running a marathon, I was sat hoping for a visitor to make me a cuppa. For 3 months I sat in that vortex waiting for surgery, praying that would fix it all and life would return. Surgery came and went ..it didn't fix it ... more surgery came and didn't fix it. 2 years on I'm told its unfix able.
But that's your knee .. what about the hashtag ..... What happened in these 2 years was that life as Id known was taken in a flash. In a traumatic event. Life was on hold, it was uncertain it was stressful. Just like all the other traumatic things id gone through .. only this time my storage box was full. There was no where to file it because i faced it everyday. My usual coping mechanism of boxing it and masking life with things I enjoyed was now gone. And suddenly not only could I not box it ... the box of life emptied.
I tried so hard to just get on, Id go to work on my crutches , praise my members then go home and cry because I felt inadequate. Id motivate them to do things ,then id go home and cry because I couldn't. Insane jealousy crept in , weight crept on . I longed for my life back as I watched and encouraged everyone else. I was called fat , I was belittled as a PT because I didn't look the part. I belittled myself. I lost my passion for work. I lost the will to live. It was only a bad knee some said behind my back .. but actually it was my life gone. It was my coping mechanism gone. My outlet gone.
I don't know how i manged to keep bootcamp going .. Id go teach an then come home and sink into the biggest despair. As the time went on the feelings got worse. I had to close my mountain walking business , give up classes and go and get an office job .. me sit down !!!
It broke me .. with no coping mechanism and life flooding out I lost the will to live. Id put on a smile to face the world then id breakdown in private. I didn't want to live anymore, I didn't know how to.
You close down
Other people would tell me to man up , its only a knee. Friends stopped inviting me out, people commented on my facebook posts telling me to get over it , not to air problems . I was no use to anyone and a burden to others. I was alone and my mind was tearing me up.
Friends would walk on by, block me on FB because i was depressing, People rightly so celebrated their victories as i cried for my loss. Things I started I was no longer invited on. Birthday nights out happened without as much as an invite. People turned their backs because they could not deal with attention seeking ... my moaning .. my crying. . Friends stopped visiting.
Even the health service had nothing for me. I kicked and I shouted to try and find something in life worth it .. someone who cared enough to understand there was no one.
Life abandoned me I cried out and I was pushed further away
Much I guess like Caroline's was.
The only way out was to end it .....
Luckily I guess on that night It didn't happen .. someone got to me on time.
Luckily that led to counselling and a diagnosis of PTSD.
Luckily its mostly manageable now. But the feeling of abandonment is still a reminder each day.
The people I thought where my friends are among some of the people I would see posting that their door was always open ..ONLY IT WASN'T
The people id see saying I'm always here for a chat .. where the ones not wanting to be depressed by me.
Those I thought had my back got on with life without me and removed me because I served no purpose anymore or couldn't enjoy their things.
People Id helped in life turned their back on me.
When i tried to find some kind of life .. people ridiculed me called me fatty on a bike.
People scoffed behind my back that it was only a knee and I was over reacting.. knowing nothing of the other trauma it had re surfaced.
Those I loved called me crazy as I took everything out on them .. and slowly they began to turn their backs to what they seen as my crazy games. My roller coaster life.
I was so alone and pushed so far away from life and love that it was unbearable.
So today as you share yet another BE KIND post .. ask yourself this..
Are you truly being kind to those in your life .. those around you that you DO have in your real life ?
Are you judging people ?
Have you really looked at those close around you ..can you honestly say your doors open?
Are you truly being kind?
I'm far from being a snowflake , Mental health is real .. it hits anyone without notice. It takes no prisoners .. it eats you and destroys you. A car crash an illness, finances, an injury ... so many things can trigger it.
It makes you suffer in silence at the hands of yourself. It distorts the world. It takes away your soul and silences your rational. It takes everything from you...Until you cant see anything
Be a nice human and just don't add to those feelings... You cant be a savior from it but you can be a friend
I was lucky I think .. but sadly for some its too late.
Every post that Caroline saw, every joke , every comment I guarantee she would have taken personally.
So while we are in shock .. while we feel this empathy that such a seemingly happy human could be so sad that she ended her life ...
Please don't post the hashtag - be the hashtag of change
Don't just paste the status ...be the status
One day that sad person may be you <3