Assist Chit Chat – Week 4 – Sarah Walker

The AssistHer course is helping me be happier and more confident in striving to achieve what I want, without feeling selfish or guilty!

I have worked hard and have achieved a lot of positive things in my life that you would associate with success and happiness and, for the most part, my life has indeed been successful and filled with happy events. I know I’m lucky and maybe I should be happy with my lot in life? Maybe that’s why I feel guilty for wanting more time for myself, more success, a bigger house?

I am happily married to the man I started going out with when I was 19. We have two beautiful boys aged seven and three – by far my greatest achievements in life to date. Career-wise, I have found success as a journalist after graduating from university at 23, I have been a club singer, juggled bakery and call centre jobs with full time study, wrote features for national newspapers and women’s magazines and have been successful working in Public Relations for a large NHS Trust. I am now doing quite well at starting my own PR and copywriting business despite the myriad challenges posed by a pandemic! We live in quite a nice house (or it would be if it was ever tidy!) in a Middlesbrough suburb although we could do with a bit more space. My eldest goes to a nice school, my youngest to a lovely nursery.

So why do I live with anxiety, bouts of depression and nagging self-doubt?

This can partly be explained by my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which came after two episodes of postnatal psychosis following the birth of both of my sons. Looking back, my recovery from these episodes have, in themselves, been significant achievements, as I was so ill for such a long time. I’ve also survived voluntary redundancy – which, no matter what anybody says, still dents your confidence even when it’s you choosing to go – a short-lived career as a peer support worker helping other mums with postnatal mental illness that was too close to home for me to continue to stay well whilst doing it; and a year-long pandemic resulting in some torturous days of homeschooling! So why am I so bloody hard on myself and lacking in confidence!?

The things that are holding me back have been brought into sharp focus on the AssistHer course, run by the fabulous Vicky Brown and Dianne Casey. Bringing them into focus, I am hopeful, is the first step towards either stopping these myths my inner critic, Sour Susan, bullies me with, or learning to live with and counter them. Myths like “you’re going to fail” despite the fact that I have known such positive success in my life and career to date. Thanks to AssistHer, my newfound coach Rational Rachel will scream “You can handle it! And you will learn from any mistakes you make!”

Still, my nagging inner critic, Sour Susan persists: “You won’t be able to handle this business if it takes off” “what if clients give you negative feedback?” and “you’ve failed before at sales and you’re no good at selling yourself”.

Thank goodness AssistHer has introduced me to Rational Rachel! She now frequently tells me I can handle whatever situations crop up, reminding me that if homeschooling through a pandemic while trying to also occupy a three-year-old and start a business while the hubby works 12 hour shifts hasn’t driven me insane, then nothing will!

I’m getting better at focusing on my positive attributes despite finding it alien to write positively about myself at first. I’m quietening the inner critic that tells me I’m an imposter. Something else I have learned is that no matter how successful I might become, my imposter syndrome is unlikely to ever disappear completely so it’s a case of learning to live with it and letting Rational Rachel challenge it!

The course is also literally giving me permission to take some time for myself without feeling guilty I should be busy being a mum/wife/cook/(occasional!) cleaner/business owner!

So here goes…deep breath, let’s write down some positive attributes for myself. I am friendly and kind (mostly!) I have enthusiasm for what I want to achieve and I am determined! I am taking and spotting opportunities. I have courage to keep going when I’m struggling. I’m loving, loveable and very loved. Yes, I am very lucky!

So, bye Sour Susan! You can bog off now! I’m too busy moving towards my goals to listen to you! Hell yeah!

Some goals, I admit are quite materialistic like owning a bigger house (a cleaner would be nice too!) and growing a successful marketing and PR agency.

But the biggest goal of all is having a work life balance that takes into account my need to be on my own sometimes, without guilt I should be doing something for someone else. And I’m determined to achieve that one!

Sarah Walker is a journalist, copywriter and PR professional from Middlesbrough. You can find her business, Sarah Walker Writing Services, at

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