My mental health and professional journey – hand in hand
I studied economics and realised pretty quickly that a business school was not the place for me. Several times during my bachelor and master, I looked to do something else. But I never ‘quit’ and just soldiered on. After graduating, I guess it was fear and the appeal of a safe path that made me take a job in a large financial corporation even though I knew that my heart wasn’t in it.
My levels of happiness in the job oscillated. I really appreciated the people I worked with, and when my satisfaction level with work dropped, I lifted my spirit by attending job-related trainings that I hoped would open new paths in my career. But deep down I knew that I was kidding myself.
Four years into the job, I was taking some strong medication against adult acne, and it may have triggered some sort of manic episode: I was flying high! Doing a full-time job in four days, studying for a degree in statistics and spending the weekends across Europe sleepless and dancing. I met my future husband on that high!
When I got off the medication, I crashed. Or maybe I crashed because I had changed jobs. Or maybe it was because I had burnt all my body’s and mind’s resources. Who knows. I fell into a proper depression. I couldn’t sleep at night, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Shopping for food and cooking was too much to ask, and my dinners consisted of chocolate. I almost screwed up my credit rating because I wasn’t opening letters nor paying bills.
At work, I was still functioning. When I was with my long-distance boyfriend, I brought out my fun side. But besides work and boyfriend, I avoided any social contact. It was just too exhausting to keep up the front.
After several months, the depression improved slightly and I managed to open up to a couple of friends (which was mind-blowing) and saw a psychotherapist. She encouraged me to open up to my boyfriend who was extremely supportive, but the cloud of the depression stayed.
The long-distance relationship was progressing, and we were talking about moving in together and potentially starting a family. As much as I wanted that, I couldn’t imagine becoming a mom while being depressed and unhappy. I needed to change my life! And I handed in my notice.
A career coaching course helped me uncover a fact that I had refused to see until then: I loved working with people! Even though my job profile was a technical role, what really gave me joy and satisfaction was to bring people together, alleviate misunderstandings, get projects unstuck. I love figuring out how people tick – especially the parts that may be misunderstood. And I get enormous motivation and strength from embracing the parts of people and society that are deemed unacceptable.
That’s how I arrived at coaching. My mission is that we allow ourselves to accept who we are, what we wish for or desire, our needs, our strengths. And of course the first step is to take the time and space to figure out who we are and what we want and need. I believe we do ourselves, our work and our environment a huge favour when we know what we want and how to get there while being true to ourselves.
In coaching, I also connect with my creativity. I love bringing my clients’ imagination into coaching. And of course, I bring my own playfulness! There’s nothing wrong in approaching a serious issue with a playful attitude.
In my private life, I’m an imperfect mom to two little boys and a flawed wife to my husband – and most days I’m okay with that. I want to be fully present with the people in my life and share meaningful moments with them. I have ups and downs, and both make me who I am.
Having moved from Switzerland to London, I really miss the mountains, hiking, and skiing. In London, I recharge with dancing and by spending time amongst trees. And I appreciate the small village feel of my London neighbourhood while having access to international cuisine and global culture.
I’m glad the depression gave me the kick in the butt that I needed to take charge of my life. Still, I do wonder how my life would have turned out if I had received coaching early on in my career or while studying. That’s what I love about Sanctus: that it makes coaching accessible to everyone and reduces the barrier to reach out and talk about what’s really going on.