A month before my 18th birthday I had a breakdown, caused by the stress of studying for my ‘A’-level exams, being bullied by one of my teachers and by a girl in my class, and worrying about what on earth I was going to do with my life once school ended.

By the end of that summer I had concluded that nothing in life was worth worrying about, and that I would take each day as it comes and choose my path based on what brings me joy.

Not wanting to go straight from school to university, I enrolled on a trilingual secretarial course, but changed to a degree course after a year. After graduating, I did various temporary jobs, always with the hope of travelling and finding ways to use my language skills.

After a couple of years working as a secretary, I trained as a computer programmer, using my language skills in a different context. This led to 18 years of fulfilling and enjoyable work across 6 different organisations in a variety of IT roles, some involving global travel.

2 months before my 48th birthday my job was made redundant, and I chose to start my own business. Once again I felt like I was cast adrift in an unfamiliar sea, with no direction and no paddle – and for a while I forgot the wisdom acquired in my teenage years.

My soul sent me messages, through cancer, to guide me back to myself. When I failed to heed the messages, they got louder – until I could no longer ignore them.

My life depended on finding my way back to the most authentic version of myself and to my heart’s deepest desire.

I don’t yet know the end of this story. Only time will tell whether I have understood what my soul is trying to tell me.

In the meantime, I am once again Taking Life As It Comes, choosing Joy in every situation, and not worrying about the future – and I’m encouraging others to do the same.