Author, life coach and public speaker Beverley Jones, from Raglan, opens up about her 20-year corporate career and the devastating crash of depression which led to her rebuilding her life. FRAN GILLETT reports.
“I TRY to help people change their life. I’m an author, life coach and speaker. Life coaching and empowerment sessions can be for anybody.
“I had an amazing, wonderful childhood. I was very lucky. I have a brother and sister who are both older and I’m quite close to them now.
“In school my biggest aim was to get out! But I liked the creative subjects, my favourite was English but I liked art too. I remember telling my English teacher I would write a book one day, and I did! Although I had close friends, I was really shy in school which is interesting given the fact that I now stand up and speak in front of people.
“I did a two year hairdressing course which I only did because my friend persuaded me to. I got a job as a hairdresser for three weeks but hated it so got a job in the paper-shop, Caldicot’s, in Raglan, which is now a chemist.
“I went back to college to do typing so I did that for a year but then didn’t like typing – I just kept going from one thing to the other. Then, quite by fluke I went to the job centre and saw a job for Snappy, the one hour photo shop in Woolco. In six months’ time I was a manager. I loved it. Photography was a passion for me when I was a child – the creative bit I suppose – and I used to love looking at people’s photos.
“Then I did an area manager’s role with them which meant I moved to London and worked for City Photo. At 18 I had visited Trafalgar Square and had always said I want to live in London one day, and that’s what happened. I met a man there and we moved back to Chepstow and got married in Raglan. We were married for two years and it ended very amicably, but without children and nothing to be bitter about.
“After that I went back to London and started to work for Kodak in Hemel Hempstead. I had over 200 indirect staff, and ten managers with me and I loved it. Still today I say Kodak was one of the best jobs that I’ve had. The people were lovely and though there was pressure, I didn’t feel it as pressure. It was different pressure or maybe I was just younger. Then I went to Kodak’s marketing department in head office and looked after the budgets and the operational side.
“But in 2001 I thought I need to change my life. I was in the job and there was nowhere else for me to go and I thought, I need to move on. Photography was moving into the digital era and things were changing. I had always told people I wanted to live in Dublin so I visited Ireland for a weekend in 2001 and by June I was living in Dublin.
“I arrived in Dublin and walked around with blisters on my feet looking for a job which I soon found with a car leasing company. I spent three and a half years in Ireland but then one day I just decided I wanted to come back to Wales. I was missing my family more and more. My mum and dad always said home is always here and we will be here to support you. I was happy but I was lonely.
“I came back home in 2004 and lived in Newport and worked on the railways. Then, I just got busy. There’s a saying which says that depression isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign you’ve been strong for too long. And it’s true. I felt like I was spinning out of control. It wasn’t the job specifically, but because I didn’t have children I almost felt it was my responsibility to arrange everything and I worked a lot. Do I regret not having children? I say I can’t regret a decision I didn’t make.
“In 2009 it got to a point when I started to have panic attacks at work and I crashed out big time. I went through a period of deep, dark depression. I was on anti-depressants, saw two counsellors, self-harmed and contemplated suicide. It started when I would go into the office and have a panic attack.
“It got worse and worse and soon I couldn’t get up in the morning. I thought, ‘I have to go to the doctors’.
“When he told me it was depression, I felt relief that it has a name.
“I’m a young, positive, upbeat person and I didn’t understand what had happened. I couldn’t get my head round how I had turned into this negative, un-trusting, angry black hole. It was a relief he said there was something wrong. I took sick leave from my job and then left in November 2009.
“I started to work on myself. I took baby steps. When I couldn’t get out of bed I would move from the bed to the sofa and that was an achievement for me. I couldn’t face crowds and couldn’t do public transport. I didn’t go to Tesco for almost two years.
“Then the apartment got dry rot and became uninhabitable. This coincided with relationship turmoil in my personal life but my family were so supportive.
“Raglan became my sanctuary. It’s a community that wraps itself around you. Over the Christmas and New Year of 2009 to 2010, I thought: ‘That’s it. I’m not going to have another 2009 in 2010. I can never live that year again’. I almost stood outside on my life and just looked back in and thought I can’t do this anymore.
“I had to sell my property. That took three months to renovate, but it was massively therapeutic to be painting the house. I had some building work guys who came into the house and I was forced to communicate with the outside world.
“But by communicating I started to talk about how I had depression and they started to share stories of neighbours and people they knew with depression. It was brilliant.
“By reading Sue Stone’s book, Love Life Live Life, I wanted to do what Sue does and help anyone who just wants to change their life and live their life to its full potential.
“I started to do a home learning diploma and trained as a life coach. I did it in six months and started my life coaching business, Awaken, in August 2010. In the beginning it was hard to find clients, but I had all this life experience and it was just a matter of getting the message out there.
“It’s taken almost four years to get where I am now, as starting a business can be a struggle.
“My book was published in 2012 and that’s when I started working with Time to Change Wales.
“I have been to speak with South Wales Police, the NHS, and in schools and organisations to talk about my experiences.
“It’s taken five years to get my confidence back to go back into the corporate world, but now I’m also a business mentor and help small businesses.
“When I speak I use the message of my corporate experience, I talk about leadership and management.
“I’m still writing and have other books online which are available on Kindle, including The Simple Guide to Business Confidence and If You Think You Can, You Can. I’m also currently writing my second book.
“I’m now in a relationship with Mark who was actually my first boyfriend when I was 17.
“He’s from the village and we met again when I came back and we just bumped into each other. We were best friends for a long time and we got together in 2011.
“Five years on and people ask if I am still depressed, but I say I still am in recovery. I manage it now. But you have to get it out.
“Life coaches can deal with the now and so can coach you along your way.”
* For more information on Beverley’s life coaching sessions, contact Bev on 07502 375714 or visit awakenlifecoaching.co.uk