Moira mum credits counselling with rescuing her from brink of suicide

Moira mum credits counselling with rescuing her from brink of suicide following workplace bullying

It is a long way from the high-flying career she studied for and excelled in as a company secretary and business development manager and which was taken away from her by workplace bullies.

The Dympna Hannon Clinic is a sanctuary for health and healing - both of which Dympna herself was robbed of when she was pushed to the brink of suicide after two years of victimisation by former colleagues.

Her story is sadly not unique as workplace bullying and harassment is believed to have doubled during the recession.

Fiercely ambitious Dympna (44) had hit the ground running after university, securing a job almost immediately where she successfully set up and developed a whole new subsidiary company from scratch.

Her natural talent, dedication and sheer hard work while juggling life as a single mum saw her soar through the next few years, eventually moving to a management position within a well-known accountancy firm.

But it was here - the dream job with the dream salary - that her career took a dramatic turn because of bullying by exclusion. It got to the stage where she couldn't take any more and eventually left her job feeling broken, depressed and suicidal.

Her own journey back to good health has led her to retrain for a new career as a life and mindfulness coach and chronic pain relief specialist, where she is now enjoying helping others rid their lives of pain and stress.

It is immensely satisfying work, given her own personal experience which she has been able to bring to the job, as many of her clients have been through their own personal traumas.

Dympna's story is also inspiring for anyone struggling with severe stress, depression or anxiety as she has battled her way through these to enjoy life to the full and excel once again.

Brought up in the countryside at Gawley's Gate on the shores of Lough Neagh outside Lurgan, Dympna helped her family work on the land, which instilled in her a love of the outdoors and introduced her to geology.

“I am a country girl born and bred,” she says.

“From the age of 10 I was spending my summers pulling peas and beans and my winters gathering potatoes for a local farmer.

“Also my dad was a fisherman on the lough and we would have helped him run the lines.

“It gave me a love of the earth so I studied geology at Queen's University.”

She gave birth to her son Benjamin shortly after graduating and with support from her parents, she went on to secure a place in a graduate management training course to get her NVQ Level 4 in management.

Her career took off immediately when she was offered her first job with a demolition company during her second work placement.

She used her expertise as a geologist to set up a subsidiary company within the firm, which specialised in cleaning up contaminated gas work sites.

She says: “That was my baby, I set that new company up from scratch and it was a great experience for my first job which I loved.” After two years she moved as a business development manager to another newly-established firm specialising in cleaning up domestic oil spills.

During her time with this company, she also studied for a Masters in Administration and Law and was promoted to the position of company secretary.

This experience allowed her to move to the legal department of a large accountancy firm, to head up and develop the company secretarial section.

It was here that her dream job came to a end when she found herself the victim of bullying.

Dympna recalls: “I spent the first four years in the legal department but I outgrew my position within the first three years and found there was no real challenge left in it and I was getting bored.”

Tragically though that move to what she believed would be a whole new chapter and challenge in her career proved to be the beginning of a nightmare two years.

During that period she went from a highly competent, confident and enthusiastic professional to a depressed, nervous wreck that was finally so beaten down that she walked away from her job to simply save her sanity.

She says: “I went down three flights of stairs to my new department and I might as well have walked onto the moon. It was horrendous.

“I knew I was learning and was happy to sit back but my senior manager changed every piece of work I did and my colleagues treated me like a wall flower, it was as if I wasn't there. It was soul-destroying.”

Her anxiety became so bad she was in tears every morning at the thought of going into the office.

She had no idea that her depression was being caused by bullying until she sought counselling and was told that she was being “bullied by exclusion”.

She says: “That really threw me as it never entered my head that what was happening to me was a form of bullying.

“I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me and suddenly it started to make sense. I was being ignored and knocked down every single day.

“The thought of going to work made me physically sick in the morning and I would vomit before I left the house.

“I wasn't sleeping and yet all I wanted to do was work, but I wasn't being allowed to.

“I had six months off work with stress leave and the whole time I still felt desperate to get back to work.”

When she did go back she lasted just a few months but couldn't take any more and left, even though it meant she would be a single parent with no income.

“I had never walked out of a job and as a single parent it felt wrong to resign, but I couldn't go on and I kept asking myself 'What did I do wrong?'. I know now I hadn't done anything.

“I just felt so bruised and battered by the constant knockdowns, especially when I knew I could do the work.”

She then set up her own consultancy firm, but she had no idea how ill she was and pushing herself so much inevitably led to a breakdown a few months later when, as she puts it, “the horrors of it all came back to me”.

It was at this point that Dympna had reached such a low that she considered suicide.

“It was about a year later and I was exhausted from picking myself up again and I hadn't really dealt with being bullied and put out of a job,” she says.

“My life was at its absolute lowest ebb and I felt physically and mentally exhausted. I even had the thought 'I want to die'.

“I organised counselling for myself and after just five sessions I decided to stop work and sort myself out.

“During this time I read a lot of material on depression and how to combat it. I practiced many of the given techniques and started to train for triathlons - I found exercise was a great stress reliever.

“I got into meditation and practicing mindfulness daily. I worked hard at getting my life back on track.”

As she started to feel well again, Dympna recognised that if she could do this for herself, she could help others too and started a six month course in life and business coaching.

She had found her passion in helping others and went on to become a Reiki practitioner and later studied Tui-Na traditional Chinese medicine, which would allow her to help with alleviating physical pain.

She set up her clinic specialising in pain relief and soon recognised that for a lot of her clients, stress played a big part in their physical pain.

From her own experience she knew that a calm mind was essential to release physical pain and so she developed a number of courses to give her clients tools that she had learned and used daily to help calm their minds.

“People don't know how to turn their minds off,” she says. “The chatter that goes on is not real and is not part of the true you, and I now train people how to recognise it and shut it off. Most people don't realise they can shut it off.

“I have four life-balancing courses teaching people how to be grateful for what they have and to get what they want out of life; I have found that if you focus on what you have, then you get more of what you want in life.

“Most people coming onto my courses don't know how to love themselves and I teach them how to tune into their mind and body, and how to choose to think and feel what they want to. I work with them to help them understand how to let go and forgive, and how to focus on living in the present moment to find contentment.”

After three years her clinic is thriving through word-of-mouth and while she is practicing pain relief therapies and teaching others to turn their lives around, her own is finally exactly where she wants it to be.

“What I am teaching now is something I didn't know when I was depressed and which I have had to learn; it is a powerful tool for achieving peace and contentment in life.

“I get people of all ages and all backgrounds for the life balancing work - everything from teachers, students, GPs, housewives - mostly people who are so stressed they can't sleep at night because they are worrying too much.

“I just love this work. I feel so lucky to have found something that I love doing, especially after having come through so much.

“I'm living on a lesser salary after having had a high salary, but I love it and I will work at it 24/7 because it is so rewarding.

“The feedback I get is all positive and that keeps me going. It is so satisfying when people get off the therapy bed and immediately can see and feel a difference, or when you can see people doing the life balancing work and getting that lightbulb moment just from something I say that makes a big difference in their lives.

“You don't get that sort of job satisfaction in management.”

A gentle solution to beating pain…

Dympna's chronic pain relief treatment involves a very gentle, yet highly effective alternative to structural and muscular pain relief. This involves realigning the body in a way that does not require any forcing or cracking of the bones into place. The treatment covers all types of pain, from sports and accident injuries to post-natal and stress-related pain

Life-balancing courses and workshops include a range of mental and emotional well-being courses, as well as one-to-one sessions to help with creating balance in your life.

This may be to relieve stress, increase confidence, and alleviate anxiety or depression or any other debilitating condition. These are designed to teach the individual the tools and techniques to help them achieve contentment and balance. The approach is to look forward, taking clients from where they are today to where they want to be tomorrow

More details on the clinic can be found on The Dympna Hannon Clinic Facebook page or by contacting Dympna on tel: 07824 337933

Belfast Telegraph