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There must be something wrong with me...

...that's what I told myself most days. I mean, I'm happily married, have a nice home, and doing very well as a self employed chef. So why am I waking up each morning feeling like I'm so far down a black hole that I will never climb out? People shouldn't burst into tears for no reason should they? People really aren't judging your every word and action all the time are they?

For many years, I blamed myself for feeling like this - "think of all the people in the world less fortunate than you" I would tell myself over and over again, closely followed by feelings of guilt for comparing my situation to theirs. So many social occasions out with my wife have been ruined, due to my inability to talk to, or take any kind of interest in other people. Making small talk? Brings me out in a cold sweat just thinking about it!

Working as a chef made it easier to cope with - you are always so focussed on the next task, or on service, there is no time to have to face up to anything. Of course this means that it's all built up for you to deal with at 11pm after work, which is never the best time, especially when you have work again in a few hours….

This cycle went on for years, until a couple of months ago. I was in a nice restaurant with my wife, that she had booked for my birthday. I was sitting there, staring at my first course, and I could just feel myself shutting down, like I had been fighting it for so long that my body just said "enough now". I got up there and then, and left my wife to make our excuses. When we got home, I cried non stop until the next morning.

Since then, I have quit my job as a chef, and started work in an office, thinking this would solve my problems. The pressure of dealing with a brand new career, and the seemingly endless time to think about things whilst sat my desk, just staring blankly at a computer screen were just too much for me. I broke down in tears again, but this time it was at work, in front of my new boss. "There must be something wrong with me" I thought again, as I waited for him to fire me, hell it was only a matter of time before he did anyway, right? To my immense surprise, he told me that he understood, he had a close family member that had gone through the same thing. He told me to take some time away, and my job would be waiting for me when i was ready to return.

I'm still not back at work, although hopefully I will be soon. I have been learning to try and live life in the present moment, not to be scared of things that probably won't even happen! Since practising this, I am learning to enjoy each moment of life for what it is. My bad thoughts are still there, but instead of fighting them, and obsessing over them, I can observe them from a distance, acknowledge them, and then move on from them.

I still have a way to go with this, but for the first time in years I'm not thinking that there must be something wrong with me. And this gives me hope.

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