My name is Courtney and I am 21 years old.
A little bit of background history: I grew up in Perth with a loving family of my mum, dad, and older sister. I went to a private education high school and my mum raised me to be a confident, powerful girl who’s world is her oyster (my mum was a feminist – and so am I).
The road to drug addiction
When I was 18 I started going out clubbing with my sister and I met some people out and starting going out with them. Within a few months I was experimenting with social drugs and didn’t think much of it.
When I was 19 I met a particular friend who introduced me to a drug I had heard of before but knew nothing about (I was very oblivious to drugs and what they did as at my high school no one did them or spoke about them). Within 3 weeks I was addicted to the drug and did it close to full time for eight months. I went to work, university, saw friends and did everything of a normal life but on the drug.
After about 5 months people around me started to notice that something was wrong. I was very thin, very on edge, was sick a lot and called in sick from uni and work last minute very often.
At the end of 8 months one of the chefs at my work came to me and said ‘I know what you’re doing, and you really need to stop’. I burst into tears and I promised him and myself that I would never touch it again. I was humiliated and knew that if he knew what was going on, a lot of other people did as well but weren’t saying anything.
A couple of months before I turned 20 (after 8 months of it), I stopped, but very soon after I felt the effects of what I had done. I gained a lot of weight (as to be expected after not eating), I couldn’t stop sleeping, I feel tired and lethargic all the time and I couldn’t string my words together or answer questions without a very long pause for thinking. If only I knew that this was the BEST of the recovery process.
The onset of anxiety
After being sober for about seven months, I started to get really bad ‘anxiety’. Simple things like going to university (where I knew people), going to work (where I had worked for 2 years), and waiting for my family to get home after work (after living with them for 19 years) started to make me feel sick and terrified and anxious.
I stopped going to uni, I felt sick the first hour of work until I calmed down, I avoided my family in the house. But what stumps me now is that those should have been the behaviours I had when I was on the drug, but now that I was completely sober off it for seven months, I was now starting to get the painful after effects. I struggled to get through every day and all I could feel was hate towards myself for what I had done. I didn’t feel like myself anymore and I honestly thought that I had messed myself up for the rest of my life and couldn’t live with that.
At the end of August in 2018 I had my first ever anxiety attack. I had been sober for just under a year. I had to go to the petrol station because my car fuel light was on. I was at home knowing I had to do it but my mind did not want me to. I thought about situations like ‘what if the pump doesn’t work’ or ‘what if they are closed’ ‘what if the guy looks at me funny’ and I started to get overwhelmed and more overwhelmed until I couldn’t breathe. I had no idea what was going on and I cried for about an hour: the first few minutes being because of the petrol station situation, then the other 57ish minutes being because I realised how horrible it is that I couldn’t go to the petrol station anymore without having a break down and I couldn’t stop myself from crying.
I had been following the story of a girl from my high school who has been suffering from anxiety her whole teenage life and I saw her talk a lot on her social media about Jean. I had had her number in my phone for three days but was too scared to call. In that moment, after crying for an hour, I stopped the crying and I called Jean’s number. The whole time the phone rang I felt sick in my stomach and was trembling but I knew I needed to do it. She didn’t pick up (was probably with a client) and when it asked me to leave a message I hung up. Jean tried to call me back but when the number came up I couldn’t get myself to answer it.
The next day I had university in the morning and I somehow got myself up, got ready and headed into uni (It was week 3 of the semester and it was the first time I had gone in).
I remember having music playing the whole way in the car but I couldn’t tell you what was playing because my mind was racing and my thoughts just kept coming and coming (negative thoughts). I got to uni knowing I had missed the lecture but was happy with myself for getting there for the tutorial.
I walked into the classroom and saw a lot of familiar faces, and scanned the room for the two girls I was friends with the year before. They had already sat down with other people so their group was full. One saw me (surprised to see me I might add) and said hi and we had a quick chat before I scanned the room of where to sit. I saw a table with one seat left and it had three girls sitting there that I used to have a music unit with in first year (2 years before) so I sat down next to them. My heart was beating out my chest after not being able to sit with my friends and I felt so anxious even though I KNEW these girls and had studied with them for 2.5 years (they should have been friendly faces to me). One of the girls started talking to me then she continued her conversation with her two friends.
In that moment I had worked myself up so badly that I started to feel sick, my breathing was heavy and fast and my head was filled so much with negative thoughts it could’ve exploded right across the room. I started mildly hyperventilating – I knew I was about to have my second ever anxiety attack. I grabbed my bag quickly and without saying anything to the girls or my friends went up to the tutor. In tears I said ‘I feel sick I really need to go home’ and she gave me a sympathetic look and told me to go and look after myself.
The second I left the room I burst into tears and ran to the nearest bathroom and couldn’t breathe properly. At that point I did not care who was around me I was just trying not to die and trying to get my breath back. I cried the whole way to the car and cried in the car for about 10 minutes. I thought to myself ‘Enough is enough’ and I called Jean. She picked up and as I started talking I think she could hear the fear in my voice and told me to come see her that afternoon.
* Sidenote: A few weeks later the girl that I was having a conversation with at the tables asked me in a lecture what happened that week when I left so abruptly and when I told her I was sick, she said ‘Oh I was worried, I thought you might’ve found out a relative passed away’.
Working with Jean
Initially I went to see Jean once every week or so for kinesiology. The first two or three sessions I almost cried the whole time and was unable to come to terms with my body and mind at that moment. Jean sometimes gave me home work assignments (such as breathing exercises) and gave me some natural supplements such as magnesium or Bach flowers to assist me. When I first started going to Jean I had terrifying nightmares almost every night and I would wake up each morning feeling exhausted and dazed and struggled to get through my days because my mind felt so foggy, but after a few months of her fantastic super powers I was able to sleep through each night without a problem.
After my first session with Jean I left with this feeling of a huge weight being taken off my shoulders after speaking to her. Her kind nature and intelligence made it really easy to be myself and let all my guards down. I woke up the next session and felt like I had been hit by a bus after all the work we did, but I somehow felt better a tiny bit better.
Each time I visited Jean we planned for a goal and we allowed my body to speak to her about what it needed. In our time we have discovered a lot of things about myself I did not know (including a small childhood trauma for my parents where I fell into cement and almost went blind) and made me think back to specific times of my life which could influence who I am now (especially when I was 19 years old). I could not tell you how many goals me and Jean have worked through, I would say about 20, and over time my ‘problems’ became less and less.
After seeing Jean for around 3-4 months I came into the year of 2018, one of the most amazing years of my life.
I spent all of last year anxious about finishing my final teaching practicum in April of 2018 and dreaded the idea of it, and had created these sudden fears of travel, my family, university, and my body. I came into 2018 having doubts about my life but I had lost that ANXIETY that had been slowly destructing me.
In January of 2018, I went to Thailand with my sister and her boyfriend.
In February, I got a part time job as an education assistant in a classroom and made some fantastic memories with the kids and great relationships with the teachers and admin.
In March, I started back at university on campus with two units and went to every class for the 8 weeks (with absolutely no problems).
In April I completed my nine week practicum where I dealt with teachers, students and parents with confidence. I grew so much in those nine weeks I can’t even believe to think back on now.
In June I finished my practicum, and in July I went on holidays to Bali with my partner.
In August, I went back to uni where I am one week away from completing my degree while I juggle two jobs – one at the school I did EA and the other at a take away restaurant. I have applied for the graduate pool for jobs where I am ACTUALLY going to be working in my profession hopefully next term or in 2019.
Me and my partner have plans to go away in 2020 for the year and live in England and travel around England and Canada where I can hopefully teach. I have PLANS, I have AMBITIONS, I have EXCITEMENT for my future.
If you told me where I would be a year ago I would probably have a nervous breakdown and think it was a joke, but now I am living a life that isn’t scared of commitment, taking chances, and getting myself out there.
My mind has restored in ways I cannot believe. I am able to form sentences quickly in verbal conversations, I am able to have conversations with people without thinking whether they are judging me, I am able to write assignments without pausing every few words trying to think of what I am trying to say. My short term memory is still not the best but I am exercising it everyday and making it stronger and better than before.
The confidence to move forward
Throughout my journey Jean has taught me a lot and showed me a lot of strategies that I can now use in my own life. My favourite one is a breathing technique where you visualise your problems floating away in a balloon. One time I was driving in my car to the shops and I started remembering something of my past that gave me anxiety (a person). I took a deep breath, counted out my breathing (as Jean taught me to do) and visualised the person floating away in a bright red balloon. I felt relieved, exhilarated, and I was able to just let that problem go.
Since April I have only visited Jean twice. The last time I went to see her I had a different type of issue… an upset stomach for a period of time (how strange going for something so different). It didn’t alarm me until after the appointment that that was really my only ‘problem’ happening at the time (when I first started visiting her I had such a long list in my head I didn’t know where to start). We did the kinesiology, discussed diet, and my stomach has cleared largely since.
In this space of 5 months, Jean did not e-mail me asking about appointments or when I am coming to see her next but allowed me time and space to work on myself and knew she had given me the tools to do so. We did however have e-mails back and forth a few times updating each other about how I was going and that to me is very special.
I am now a happy, confident and growing young adult and I could not have gotten to the place I am in now without Jean. I am not a perfect human being and I accept that, but my strength and perseverance (look at me complimenting myself!) to get through a dark patch in my life has made me realise, imagine what I could do now if I have come this far already! I am motivated to keep pushing and create more goals and build myself up to be successful and have self-love.
Conversations with Jean, kinesiology sessions with Jean, and the techniques she has taught me to use for myself has honestly saved my life and I could not thank her enough for her incredible services and general company.