Carter’s story

“I’d been with a company, giving my all for them for twenty years but because of someone else’s mistake, I got a criminal record and a large fine. The company didn’t admit liability, even though it was their fault.

It was heartbreaking. I knew that I couldn’t work there anymore, I had to get away.

Just a few weeks into a new job, I started having panic attacks, sometimes multiple times a day. Some severe enough to cause blackouts.

I had built up quite a lot of ‘symbolic capital’ in my previous company but in the new place I was a relatively unknown quantity. All that capital that I’d built up had gone and I had to build it up again.

I found myself at a deep end.

I didn’t know the new company’s procedures, their paperwork, how they processed certain tasks. I’d only been with them two weeks when they implemented a huge, new management system.

The pressure for me was unbelievable.

I was running away from myself, into this new job, instead of facing the distress about what had happened. I was feeling very isolated.

I felt like I was in a cage at the bottom of the ocean, with only a pinprick of light and hope. I had a sense of not only being crushed but also falling, a gut-tightening feeling of falling.

This running away from myself got to a dead end. There was nowhere else to go. I didn’t tell my wife but I was having thoughts walking by a river, of jumping or hanging myself from the bridge.

That’s how bad it was.

I had that despair and also lots of anger. I was in a very new environment, still in a profession I was  passionate about but I only knew a handful of people at the new company, and none of them closely.

Everything had lost all sense of proportion and scale and had become so enormous.

Now when I hear people who say they had a breakdown, I really know what they mean.

The bit of me that wanted to live had called my boss and I was in floods of tears.

I was expecting him to say “no, you’re going to be letting the company down” but he said: “Don’t worry about it, it’s just work. Take some time off and get yourself sorted, go home and chat to your wife, maybe see a doctor or a counsellor.”

Dorota helped me see ‘the wood for the trees’. She gave me a toolbox of skills that offered me other possibilities.

It helped to have another person explain that there are certain ways of thinking that aren’t helpful. You don’t see them when they are your natural way of living, your modus operandi, like breathing.

You have certain feelings, the responses to certain situations where you go back into a groove, even though it’s painful. In some weird sort of way, it gives you some ontological security: it’s a constant, it’s what you know, a way of ‘being’ in the world.

It’s awful but you think that’s the way life is and how it will always be.

I don’t know how Dorota got me to do it but I now have a confidence whenever  I start feeling  down. I know that it isn’t a life threatening situation. It’s just feelings, even though they can be very strong, but they are not facts!

Interpretations bring up certain feelings but they are not facts.

You CAN question the reality you always thought was the case and consider your perspectives, your reactions to something.

I’m a work in progress, no doubt about it, but I’m much kinder to myself than I used to be.

I don’t beat myself up like I used to do, for example in that social dynamic at work.

I’ve got a lot more compassionate towards myself and others.  I try to understand my actions and other people’s perspectives.

I’m not in that dark place anymore.

And I found a particular release in mindful photography.

I had liked taking photos before, family events, holidays, landscapes and such. But I started photographing close-ups of nature, e.g.  water ripples, light rays, clouds, being with them as they change from moment to moment and this resonated strongly with me.

Taking photos this way reminds me of what Dorota said that “each being is like a mandala of energy”.

It resonated with me so much that the whole world around us, people, animals, trees, have a ripple effect that connects with us, nurtures us, if we allow them to. If we open our hearts to that.

I take shots of tree bark, stones, water, even of the way the light plays on a derelict building or abandoned objects.

There’s all this beauty, all around. It’s priceless beauty and it’s there for free, for everyone, everywhere, anytime.

I’d recommend Dorota’s work to anyone who is in a similar the situation where they feel not being able to cope, either with people or reality or their train of thoughts. Whatever pressures you feel you are under, real or imagined.

Dorota can help you to see things from a different angle, to see different ways of being that allow you to be even more of yourself, a freer self. So that you are not trapped in your own internal pressures and feelings.

I came back from the edge of a huge chasm, where I was going to disappear, where I was convinced I couldn’t handle the crushing weight of it.

Now I have been given a set of tools that can help me realise that feelings are not the same as facts and that there is richness in life and the world, if we can learn to open our hearts to their intrinsic beauty and wonder.”

Carter, Heritage consultant, UK