Regular readers of my blog might have realised that I don’t often “talk shop”. In fact, only three of my blogs have been about different types of Life, Critical Illness, or Income Protection insurance.
So, I decided for October that I was going to do a blog that related to Futures Protected and what I do, I’d even started to write it while away in the New Forest. BUT I went and met another interesting person with an equally interesting story to tell. I felt this story needed to be shared and that the sooner the better.
I first met Nick Elston at a business breakfast and he was a jolly chap, big old smile crashing through some facial hair and a nifty waistcoat, we didn’t talk much as we were the other sides of the room but we exchanged pleasantries. A week later I met him again and we spoke a little and I was struck by what a gregarious, fun guy he was, and he is.
But life has not always been that easy for him, the third time I met him I had the pleasure of being at an event where he was giving a talk about how he has overcome much of the anxiety that had held him back for 30 years.
Below is a reflection on the whirlwind few weeks Nick had, some of his thoughts on discussing anxiety and how he hopes to help people.
‘A Showman’s Life: How I stepped up to talk about Mental Health’ – Nick Elston
So – there I was… May 2014
Scared…and about to bare my soul in front of 32 people at a networking meeting.
After 30 plus years of battling with Anxiety, GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) & OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and despite the taboo nature of mental health I had decided to take a stand & step up to speak about my story.
What followed for me were 20 very long, mildly sweaty, painfully uncomfortable minutes of me delivering my story. The experience for me was far worse than the audience who stood up and applauded me. I then fielded a multitude of questions, I’d struck a chord!
Afterwards, I felt a little better. Only a little, so I made a decision. ‘I’m going to do it again!’
So, I did, then again and again and within a week I’d decided to take my story on a speaking tour of the UK, I toured the various breakfast, lunches and evening meetings of the business network I belong to, 4N.
A few weeks later, I didn’t just feel a little better like after my first talk, I felt a lot better. I was now back in Bristol and somewhere on that journey through confronting and discussing my issues my OCD & GAD were gone. I was still left with something, ‘just’ my regular Anxiety – but I was no longer afraid, I knew I could do this – I felt powerful, strong & in control for the first time ever!
Fast forward to present day and I have since spoken at hundreds of events – and now speak to thousands of people and run professional workshops on Anxiety, Mental Health, Confidence & Resilience.
But it all started with that initial choice to ‘step up’ & speak.
My journey has been an empowering and surreal one, I went from hiding my mental health challenges from even my closest people, to speaking about them publicly even to the point that last week I was discussing what walk on music I’d be using for a national speaking event.
Why are we afraid to be honest & open?
When Ben and I spoke about me writing this we discussed some previous Futures Protected blogs, I was very happy to hear that one he published is about a charity working with young men to help them discuss their problems, their worries and to help them open up. This is great to hear as I believe being open is the key starting point to getting towards dealing with your mental health issues.
Many people have this perception that people might reject us, make a judgement, or simply avoid us. I too felt like this but I found the more I spoke the more people were queuing up to help me and offer support.
And the few who didn’t? Well I don’t need those people in my life anyway.
So, I encourage you, if you have overcome a challenge, if you have lived through a painful experience and survived then ‘step up’ and tell your story. Maybe even deciding to stand up and tell your story could be the first step in helping conquer your anxiety.
If you can help just one person, if you can positively impact just one life then it’s all worth it. My very worst challenge – 34 years of a life with Anxiety – is now providing me my most exciting future!
To those who might be reading this and not ready to take such a large step please allow me to offer you the following thoughts.
Surround yourself with people who will inspire you to thrive, support you when you fall & won’t judge you for being your true, authentic self. Try the next time someone asks you how you are to be honest with them, tell them how you are feeling you never know where it will lead.
And remember, if they reject you – it’s best you find out now rather than later!
And as for the title ‘A Showman’s Life’…
Firstly, I am a huge Country Music fan and ‘A Showman’s Life’ is an amazing track by the legendary George Strait! (Check it out!)
Secondly, the lyrics to this song are so powerful, they resonated with me.
The song describes the life of a superstar singer, who to the outside world has it all. Despite whatever is going on in their life they are expected to step in to the spotlight and put on a performance, regardless of the pain they may be suffering.
This song it was what inspired me to start this journey, I hope over the coming years I can help others start their journey too.
The story above from Nick doesn’t really do him justice as it is unfair to contain Nick’s story to short format print, but I hope if you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or any mental health issues that reading the above might help in some way.
Nick asked me to include his email so that if you have any questions, would like to know more or perhaps book him to speak at your event, school, club, organisation etc then you can do.
Next month I will hopefully write something about my industry but I dare say I will find something far more inspiring to write about. BUT in the meantime, if you or anyone you know has any questions about Life Insurance, Critical Illness cover or would like to understand their current policies and situation more please feel free to give me a call or drop me an email.
Best wishes and have a lovely October,
0117 979 0118 – 07702 577 452
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