Emma’s Story: Navy to Never Giving Up
Hey folks! I had the pleasure of interviewing the very inspirational lady Emma Macdonald, who is embarking on a new journey after her time in the Navy. Through her personal struggles, she is aiming to set up her own coaching business called ‘Seize the Day Performance’ working with individuals who struggle with self-esteem and mental health issues. A story of true determination, resilience and over coming personal experiences ❤
Hey Emma, please tell me a little bit about yourself!
Allow me to introduce myself… My name is Emma MacDonald. I grew up in small village outside of the city called Perth (East coast of Scotland). School was a little bit of a challenging time in my life, not really knowing who I was, or what I wanted to do with my life. I also still carry a belief around that I wouldn’t amount to anything due to not going to university, Crazy right?? I also found myself growing up really fast, being introduced to drinking & drugs at very early age (15). I worked in retail for the majority of my time selling phones for o2, up till I joined the Navy at age 22.
What inspired you to go into the Royal Navy?
My inspiration for joining the navy was that I had enough of living in the same town I grew up in, doing the same un-fulfilling job, heavy partying. I was just wasting my life… So on the 3rd March 2010, I joined HMS Raleigh to start my training for the navy. From here, I joined a ship in 2011, which was a type 23 frigate called HMS St Albans. We were tasked to do a 6 month deployment of the gulf, patrolling areas where drug trafficking was rife, at threats of piracy to container ships was also a threat.
What were your highlights of your career?
I have managed to visit some incredible places with my time on board St Albans. Dubai, Greece, Lisbon, Malta, Iceland, Hamburg, the list goes on…
Tell me about your experiences concerning mental health.
In late 2012, after being attached to St Albans for nearly two years, I was playing football when I incurred an injury to my right knee, rupturing ligaments and tendons. This was severe injury, so I was then taken off my ship and landed shore side. While I sought medical treatment & rehab, during this time I have to say I had bit of a breakdown. Many things came to my head, which had been building for quite some time. I became very withdrawn, sleeping a lot, drank a lot, thoughts of killing myself. I knew this was only going to get worse unless I sought out help.
I was referred to the Defence Centre of Mental Health. This is where I underwent treatment for my then diagnosed depression. For around 6 months, it only involved talking therapy, which I kept to myself. As you know yourself, the stigma involved in mental health, is not something I wished to talk about with others back then. During this time, I resisted going on medication. After 6 months of some mild improvement, I was told that medication alongside therapy is the best chance of my recovering from my depression.
For many years during this time, I must admit I was going to pursue a career in the navy as a Physical training instructor. I came up against massive amounts of resistance, and lots of hurdles I had to jump through. This went on for a few years, all with still being injured due to my knee and mental health. I eventually had surgery in March 2014 to repair my damaged ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament).
With this added stress and uncertainty regarding my future, all the added worry of gaining weight while recovering (not being able to exercise fully) I developed what you might call an eating disorder…
As someone who was seen to be fit and healthy on the outside, this was a very hard thing for me to get on board with. I fought the system hard believing that there was nothing wrong with me, it was just who I was…
After some time now, I have come to realise that some of my behaviours are not normal, then what’s normal? Who wants to be normal!!! As my current condition does not fit with in military life, I will be discharged in June 2016. If I am going to be completely honest, this is something that my psychologist and I have agreed on. I have had the most incredible life changing experience while being in the navy, I just feel it is time for me to know move on, and pursue my passion…
Tell me about your passion!
I am in process of setting up my own coaching & mentoring business called ‘Seize the Day Performance’. The name comes from my thought process of being in tune with the here and now. This is because all we really have is this moment. If you can do the best you can today then tomorrow will be even better, so seizing today, tomorrow etc. It’s all about making this day count, however small that little triumph is!
My coaching business is aimed at people who have or are still suffering with mental health issues. Empowering others, to then empower themselves through sound nutrition, movement and mind-set… These three key elements have helped me get where I am today, stronger in body and mind. I truly believe that if these three things are not practiced, you will have a very slim chance of recovering from mental health issues…
Do you have any advice or guidance for people struggling with these issues?
My advice to others would be…
I have been on such a journey, I have been in some very dark places, so I know what it feels like to feel you have no one or nothing to live for. As I gradually introduced these practises in to my life, things began to change. I didn’t bombard myself with trying to juggle as many habits as I could. I slowly implemented small sustainable habits, which have now led to me feeling like the person I am today. Things like reading for 15 minutes a day (mindset books), implementing protein & vegetables in to one meal at a time until I was eating protein/vegetables with every meal.
Also if, you can afford the investment hiring a coach or mentor to hold you accountable, to give you guidance a help hand, I also highly recommend this investment. This is something I have been undergoing for nearly two years now, being coached & mentored by Wildepreformance.. I could go on and on!
The key is small changes, Small daily changes = big results!
What are your aims after your time in the Navy?
My aim within the next 5 years, is to help as many people as I can, get unstuck from destructive behaviours, for them to see that life doesn’t have to suck. There are ways and means together, and we can aid you back to becoming the awesome self you once were.
Check out what Emma’s up to on her social media platforms (Check out here Instagram account)! She’s going to be some amazing and inspiring work, and I wish her all the best for the year! Go Emma!