A period of poor physical health and a major bipolar manic episode left Joe Roe in a secure mental health unit. But her determination to make a positive change in the lives of others drove her to continue her training to become a qualified Life Coach, and now Joe helps others with their mental health journeys
I was alone, confused and frightened when the realisation slowly dawned on me that I was being held in the secure ward of a mental health hospital. I was classed as a “vulnerable adult”. A risk to myself and others.
What I was experiencing was a major bipolar manic episode with psychosis, causing hallucinations and delusions. These were a mixture of intense feelings as I experienced wonderful euphoria and utter terror.
My first episode was in January 2013 and the second in June 2015. Both hospitalisations led to several months of recovery in a secure mental health unit, followed by months of mental wellness recovery out of hospital.
But, little did I know that my mental health journey would lead me to make a positive and meaningful difference to the lives of other people with mental health unwellness or problems, through the use of coaching and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
Everybody is unique on their own personal bipolar journey. What was it like for me when I was in an episode? Well, one moment I was feeling elated believing that I had died and was in heaven. I felt total peace and full of love. The next so scared that I had died and had the devil on my back pulling me to hell. At one point I thought I was a psychic and had won the lottery. The next I had a cure for cancer. Then I was in a comedy sketch laughing hysterically. Next, family members were turning into demons in front of me. It felt like I was trapped in either a beautiful dream or a horrendous nightmare.
Prior to this, life was rosy. Having been a successful high-achieving manager, with an amazing partner who made me laugh every day, a lovely supportive family, a great social life, three fabulous energetic dogs and a sound bill of health. Then in 2012, my health started to take a turn for the worse both physically and mentally.
There are many potential contributing factors, such as the sad loss of my step-mum to cancer, followed by the shared caring responsibilities and sad loss of my dad to cancer.
Other factors may include genetics, medication, chemical imbalance, stress, unhealthy working relationships, working long hours with no breaks, socialising that included excessive alcohol, burning the candle at both ends with late nights and early morning sleep patterns, not eating nutritionally or hydrating myself properly. I was living life in the fast lane.
The stress then started to manifest into other warning signs of mental ill-health. I was worrying about and over-thinking everything. I was catastrophizing and became totally consumed and overwhelmed with my own thoughts.
I continued to plough through life and work, without stopping to be kind to myself. Then I was hit with a virus and didn’t fully recover. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and was virtually bedridden for three months.
I reached the point where I struggled to pull myself out of the bath. My energy was limited, my bones ached, and due to the lack of activity, my muscles had weakened. I had turned from a physically fit and healthy 35-year-old, into a fragile older woman overnight.
At this point, I had my first ever bipolar episode. I had no comprehension of what was occurring.
Thankfully, I now have a much better awareness of my symptoms leading up to episodes – such as rapid thinking, pressured speech, trancing out and going without sleep for more than 48 hours. I recognize these contributory factors and can now catch this before it spirals out of control. Both my episodes provided me with a massive unquestionable motivational sense of purpose to make a positive difference in people’s lives and to humanity.
Before my second episode in 2015, I had already started my diploma studies in Performance Coaching with NLP. My goal was to become a certified and accredited Life Coach and NLP Practitioner. This was with a company called Simply Changing. Luckily, they were flexible with their approach and supported these breaks in my studies. I completed my coaching studies after my second episode.
Coaching has given me the opportunity to recognise my own patterns of behaviour and allowed me to make informed decisions about my life choices. I have adapted my daily routine to now include plenty of rest breaks and walks with my dogs.
I am now a passionate Mental Wellness Coach, as this has become my path to making a positive meaningful difference in people’s lives.
I see my mental health journey as a gift for my bright future. This is what makes my heart sing and makes me wake up with a smile every morning. This is my true passion: coaching together with people who have or are experiencing mental health such as bipolar, anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
I am now coaching people on a wide range of areas such as addiction, relationships, work, lifestyle changes and much more. I coach people as unique individuals, rather than their mental health labels. I focus on enabling them to achieve their own personal goals and aspirations, to lead an authentic full life of purpose.
I am so privileged to be a part of other's journeys.