1 Big Goal was born out of my own journey with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from a 27-year career in Emergency Services work.
After one of the worst jobs I have ever attended, I was diagnosed with PTSD and despite still being able to work, I became increasingly distant from my family and friends and from the life I had previously enjoyed.
I felt isolated, unable to talk about what I was experiencing, angry with negative thinking and very misunderstood in what I was going through. Talking about what had happened was often discouraged in my work environment and not understood by those outside of frontline roles.
Black humour and focussing on essential tasks got me through my shifts and over time became the coping mechanism that masked just how unwell I was becoming.
Setting myself 1 big goal was an attempt to get my life back on track and open up a safe and non-judgemental space for people to share their stories of PTSD and adversity. I decided to take on the challenge of walking the Camino de Santiago (an 800km pilgrim walk across Spain) and share it on Facebook as a means of inspiring and connecting with others who might resonate with my story and feel free to share their own tales. I also wrote a book about my experience of PTSD up to that point, and My Faded Uniform was published only weeks before I left on my epic journey.
Walking the Camino solo was the single hardest and most rewarding challenge I have ever completed and many of the mindset changes of self-compassion and self-love that came from it have remained with me to this day.
As with many though, after my return from 3 months away, and feeling re-energised and refreshed, I felt happy return to my job and slowly fell back into my previous life and habits.
I continued to see the trauma and darker side of life that comes with the job I loved so much and while I still battled with the unresolved PTSD from the previous traumatic cases I had attended, I spiralled even deeper into the black hole of what was now a complex PTSD condition.
Covid hit shortly after and all our worlds were thrown into chaos and fear. Working on the frontline provided a unique experience and an upward trend in the stress of an already high-pressure job.
As the ever-increasing deep darkness of PTSD worsened, I was unaware that I was slipping down a rabbit hole into oblivion. I was existing but could no longer do anything that required my energy or thoughts outside of getting through each shift at work.
1 Big Goal was still in the back of my mind, but had to be put aside in this new unchartered territory we were all experiencing.
One cold night the snap occurred!
The tightly wound spring of PTSD broke and in an instant my whole life was about to be changed in a way that was to become irreparable. For many months I was dissociated and have little recollection of that time. All I could recall were the many traumatic cases that replayed in my mind and all I knew was a black hole, from which I wondered if it was possible to ever return.
1 Big Goal was always there though. The learnings from the Camino would not be forgotten amongst the grief and pain despite the blackness and dark days of deep PTSD. And so…
Now I am ready to revive 1 Big Goal. It will take the form of a 52 Week journey of discovery.
It will be a 52-week challenge on an unchartered, unknown path of discovery, towards unearthing my new identity outside of the green uniform I have worn for the past 27 years.
It will be a lived-experience education about living with PTSD and all the strength and challenges that come with that.
It will be an open space, building a community where acceptance and shared stories bring inspiration to others.
It will be advocacy to change the story of the perception of mental health.
And it will be a place where people will be encouraged and supported to decide on their 1 Big Goal and to achieve it step by step. Join me next time to find out what my next 1 Big Goal, 52 Weeks – a journey of discovery will be. Sign up to receive updates on a regular basis so you don’t miss the story and the unfolding of my new identity and life experiences.