Journey to Chocolate
A personal development book by Ann Girling
There is a saying that we all have a book in us and “Journey to Chocolate” is mine. I have learnt that there is a real power in stories and the connection they create so I decided to tell mine. It’s a story of a journey through postnatal depression, secondary infertility, miscarriage to a diagnosis of “stress-related depression” but then my recovery and the creation of a new life both personally and professionally. And why chocolate? Because what I have now is a life of great fulfilment and chocolate seemed just the right metaphor!
But “Journey to Chocolate” is not just my story. I’ve researched various elements so that women reading it can have those “me too” moments when they see how it applies to them. And at the end of each chapter I have included “Moments to Ponder”, a section with reflective exercises to help you reflect on your life and what you want to do with it, to encourage you on your journey to chocolate.
Why did I write a self help book?
Many years ago I was working with a group of Homestart volunteers in a workshop about postnatal depression. At the end of the day when I was asking what they had learnt one lady said that she had been inspired by my story. I have never forgotten those words and they were very much in the forefront of my mind when, in 2009, I decided to tell my story.
But what I’ve also come to realise is that many of us come to tolerate a substandard life in the same way as we tolerate a substandard meal in a restaurant. We just accept it as the way it is. And it takes some unexpected event such as a mental illness, or any illness, bereavement to make us sit up and start to question what our purpose in life is. But there’s no need to wait for something like that to happen, it’s never too early or too late to take the time out to reflect.
To give you a flavour here are the first two paragraphs of the introduction:-
“It was 11 years ago in the year 2000, that I hit my 50th birthday. I was quite happy to do that, it didn’t faze me in any way, I felt I had everything I wanted in my life; a lovely home, a wonderful and supportive husband and a daughter about to go out and make her mark in the world. I also had a challenging and rewarding career as professional lead for health visiting in the NHS, I felt it was a job for life and would serve me well for the next 10 years when I would receive my pension, a just reward for all those years working in the NHS.
What I didn’t realise was that a number of life events, ranging from the impact of going to boarding school, through mild postnatal depression, through secondary infertility, through a miscarriage had left me with the need to grieve but I had never allowed myself to do so. My way of coping was to keep busy, that way I never had to feel those intensely painful feelings which were stuffed down in the bin of my mind. But inevitably the time came when the emotional bin was full and the lid burst open, and I had to face those feelings. I had to confront the guilt, the lost confidence and low self-esteem and most of all the pain of those losses.”