What I’ve Learned About Wellbeing


Debbie – survivor of domestic abuse – what I’ve learned about wellbeing

I’ve come a long way since I escaped my abusive relationship, learnt a lot too and I’m still learning, still trying, I’ll never stop. Life isn’t always easy, I have a son who is severely disabled, financial worries sometimes plague me and in February I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve completed my treatment, but I’ve been weakened so need to shield during this pandemic – I’m finding that a challenge because I’m missing seeing my friends.

Walking keeps me sane especially now. When my older son is able to look after my twins, I love to spend two hours walking my dog, I don’t always know where I’m going, I just walk. There is no anxiety involved, it clears my mind. I love the natural fatigue I feel following a long walk. I know it’s good for my health too and following the cancer, I’ll never take my health for granted again.

I’ve learnt I need to take time out to keep feeling good. On a warm evening, I’ll sit in my garden surrounded by fairy lights and listening to smooth radio. In the past I would feel selfish taking time out to relax. Now, if I’m feeling physically or emotionally tired, so long as my boys are fed and happy, I’ll take time to switch off. I’m a lone parent and I know that if I go under, we all go under. My wellbeing is important for the whole family.

Friends and social contacts are important to me and I can’t be happy without them. I’ve been missing my friends during lockdown and notice that I can start to feel anxious without them. It’s really helped staying in touch with Broxtowe Women’s Project through their wellbeing programme We’ve had regular zoom meetings including coffee mornings where we’ll discuss our concerns and support each other. I’ve found it very empowering and always feel so good afterwards – I know I’m part of a supportive community, we’re connected having worked through abuse and we’re helping each other to move forward.

I need to have a sense of purpose to maintain my wellbeing. That again has been more challenging during lockdown since the toddler group I helped run is currently closed, but it will open again. I need to have structure in my day, a reason to get out of bed, I’m finding my day is not as defined as usual due to the pandemic and this is hard too. I love life, I can’t wait to get out of this mad situation and live life to the full again. Having cancer has made me realise how precious life is, how transient too. I’m determined to enjoy every moment.

Kindness is very important to me, – I think kindness can be very healing for everyone involved. I’m lucky, my dad was a kind person and I think I’ve learnt from his example. I don’t judge and if I see someone looking sad, I’ll say hello. Some people you talk to will have depression and a small gesture can mean so much to them. Some people haven’t been shown love and don’t know how to respond emotionally. Even saying ‘good morning’ can make such a difference to people. People tend to remember kindness and will often return the favour – this is rewarding too but not why I do it.

I’ve learnt to let go of anger and bitterness, I won’t allow it to consume me anymore – it takes up too much energy and brain space and brings out a side in me I don’t like. I’ve also learnt not to over analyse what people say or worry too much about upsetting people either, I’ve learnt to let all that go because thinking like that never made me happy. Sometimes you need a bit of anger to fire you up and force you to get stuff done, but then you need to move beyond it. I feel so much calmer having learnt all this.

My appearance and clothes are important for how I feel about myself. I’ll put my lipstick on, put a smile on my face, make an effort with my clothes and if I’m happy with the way I look, I’ll feel good too. If I see someone in the street who I think looks really good, that inspires me to make even more effort myself.

Life isn’t always easy – I know I need to push myself, challenge myself and take care of myself to keep feeling good. I also know that life isn’t always fair, but so long as I have people in my life to love and people who love me then I know that I’m lucky.