Episode 20

Bharti Lim shares her personal journey of overcoming Imposter Syndrome and transforming her life

Episode Notes

Bharti Lim shares her personal journey of feeling an Imposter in both her personal and work life. From a young age she felt a rebel going against the traditional path set out for a young Indian girl. In her late teens she was drawn to a male dominated career in Cyber Security where she was the minority female. She felt she had to prove herself and not show vulnerability. Later in life, Bharti fell in love with her now husband, a person outside of her own culture and once again she had to justify her choice in the face disproval. During the early phases of Motherhood, Bharti hit an all-time low in her life with suicidal ideation. She talks us through the events that built up to her wanting to take her own life. As a Mother, I totally relate to her challenges as I’m sure you will too. Bharti shares her inspiring journey of her road to recovery which I know every new mother will gain so many tips from.

Bharti is a very successful Cyber Security Specialist as well as the owner of Bee-utiful Creations by Bee where you can pick up beautifully made personalised goods. Bharti regularly donates money to mental health charities to give back, never forgetting the support that has helped her regain and rebuild her life.

You can find Bharti Lim on…



[Roksana] My guest on today’s episode is a mum to two young boys, she works in cyber security, and for the last four years has been running her own business too. Recently she’s become an advocate for mental health and has been using her platform to raise awareness and help others in a real way. Welcome Bharti!

[Bharti] Hi, thanks for having me.

[Roksana] My pleasure, thank you for coming on. So Bharti, I’d love to know a little bit about your back story. How you got into doing what you’re doing right now.

[Bharti] So I started my business which is the bit that you’re referring to about mental health, but when I was on maternity leave with my first son about four and a half years ago and it wasn’t actually focused around mental health- that’s a more recent part of the story, but I started doing the business, running the business because I just needed something different to do that wasn’t a child related item and obviously I was on maternity leave and I’ve always been quite creative so it was kind of like a natural outlet of doing something different. It started off as a hobby which turned into a business.

[Roksana] So take me back a little bit to, as far as you want to go, in terms of your childhood and what led to you wanting to get involved in mental health.

[Bharti] So the mental health part came a lot later on. So, I’m Indian/Hindu/Gujurati, obviously born here and you know I’ve just had a very normal Indian life, Indian British life I guess. I have a job in security which is very un-normal still for many women to do and my husband who is Chinese, so I’m married to a Chinese man, always jokes that you know there’s Indian- females in IT are much more acceptable now than they’ve ever been, but I don’t see that here. So yes it’s acceptable in India, but it’s not as acceptable here so for years leading up to where we’ve got to, I faced all of the comments about, “You can’t do that job,” “That’s a man’s job,” you know all of those things and I feel like there’s always been like a story where you have your mum had the ideal vision of your life. You know, you get married and have kids and you do a good job; a job that everybody accepts is a job for a woman, and then your husband is the main breadwinner in your house, and you know you might give up your job when you have children, but your job is not that important. Your job is just a job. So all of those things all part of what led to probably the story. My mum wanted me to be to be like everybody else because that’s what she knows, that’s what she grew up with, and that’s what she did she had a job and then she got married quite young and I didn’t, and then she had children quite young- I didn’t. And I then obviously decided to not marry an Indian just to make everything a little bit harder for myself. So there were lots of little factors that eventually lead up to where we get to where the mental health part comes in, I guess.

[Roksana] So you were saying that there were some dominant voices as you were making decisions about your career that was saying, “Well that’s not for women,” and “That’s not for Asian women.” Let’s explore that a little bit. Who were those voices? Where were they predominantly coming from and what was their idea of what you should be doing?

[Bharti] They came from lots different places actually. Funnily enough, I still get these comments. But they came from people that just knew me, other people who were doing degrees in an IT/computing related degree. Anybody that basically just thought it wasn’t the right job. So I think when I started up by I was one of, and I said this to my husband and we were talking about this the other day. I think my school was one of the first to do an A-Level in Computing and I chose to do that A-Level because I’d grown up around computers and my dad had a computer early on his business and I had experience of it. So at the time I thought all this make sense, I’ll just do Computing. And it was actually quite difficult but my teacher had great faith in me and believed that I was really really good good at doing the coursework and all the stuff that was related to it and eventually I realised I really enjoyed doing computer related items. Doing my coursework and discovering how computers work and things that you can do with them and what comes out with you put the effort put some input in from one place you start a process and then you can produce something. So eventually I decided that instead of doing like an Economics degree which is why I applied for, I was going to go down the Computing route. And the amount of people that thought I could not do that job because it was very, any is still a very, male dominated role was just unbelievable. I mean of course it worked in my favour because it meant I wanted to prove them wrong, because why can’t I do this job? I’m just as good as a man. But it did go on and it always- it has gone on for years and it still does. It’s still a huge thing, you know. I write lots of blogs about women in IT and women in Security but yeah it’s just it hasn’t ever really stopped. It’s becoming more acceptable but it’s still difficult.

[Roksana] And during that time you have had two boys, you’ve had maternity leave and you’ve gone back to work. How has that been? Working in a very male dominant environment? How have you been accommodated, if you like?

[Bharti] There’s that very fine line of “did I get this job because I’m female?” “Did I get this job because I’m Asian?” Now I tick 2 boxes of diversity, and so there’s always those things. I’ve been very lucky I’ve had very good managers most of the times. 90% of the time I’ve had a very good manager who has taken me for the skills that I’m able to do or the potential that they’ve seen, but I’ve had other people around me who have made it very clear that they didn’t think that was the right role for me. Quite early on into my career, I had comments said to me that I should be making the tea, I shouldn’t be- you know, I might break a nail if I fix the computer, am I strong enough to pick up a PC? Back when I first started. I wasn’t able to do the same job that they were doing when my colleague who did the same was in the same role same level as me, they had no problem with him because he was a man, and that’s something I had to face quite early on so I always felt like my voice was a bit suppressed. I wasn’t allowed to say anything, I wasn’t allowed to question anything, because that would then prove them correct that I don’t know what I’m doing. So there’s lots of little things that happened over 10 years of my life when I was working when I just felt I wasn’t allowed to do anything outside of the box because it would- it would be that I’m not suitable for this career. So it is quite a difficult thing to do.

[Roksana] That sounds really challenging. In any work, any kind of corporate career that I’ve been in, even when I’m feeling like pretty sure, 70% that I know what I’m doing, it’s always good to have a second opinion from somebody and just crosscheck and ask is this the right thing to do? I think if I was working in an environment where that culture didn’t exist for me, because to be able to put my hand up and say actually it’d be good to have a second opinion, or do you- would you do it this way? Cause I’m doing it this way. That culture doesn’t exist. I can’t imagine how- I’m trying to think how I feel in that situation coz it would be stifling to my ability to function firstly, and to have complete belief that I’m doing the right thing cause obviously when you work in a team, you all depend on each other to to some extent to feel like we’re all on the right lines. You know, sense checking, if you like, you know am I doing the right thing? I’m trying to imagine what that must have been like for you.

[Bharti] It’s funny that you say that. Even now when I look at people who are friends with their University friends, they had great groups of friends you know that all the girls, they were they were in that group or they’ve had work colleagues who are female- I’ve never had that, because my degree was full of men. There was one other female, she was older than me, and I’ve never worked with another woman in my team and only ever been the only woman in my team and to some extent I have to be like one of the lads in order to be invited into things and do things. For a long time, when I went for interviews and when I went to work, I dressed like one of the boys. I’d make sure I wore a trouser suit to an interview because they I didn’t wanna be judged because I was wearing a dress or a skirt, and I want to be seen equally. I would probably join in with some of the lad jokes because it meant that they would feel at ease they now don’t see me as a female. So there’s lots of things I’ve had to do over the years which stripped the person that I was in order to fit in to a job that I wanted to do.

[Roksana] It sounds like you’ve had to dim your light in so many ways to accommodate a culture that wasn’t and probably isn’t to an extent able to let you be you, and for you not to have to- the fact that you had to wear trouser suits to interviews, I mean obviously it’s your personal choice what you do, but the fact that you made a conscious effort. “I’m going to wear trousers because I don’t want them to see me as a female” – it just is such a massive red flag for me, to have to have that thought process.

[Bharti]  Yeah I mean, I recently did a talk at school, secondary school, and I hoped that after 15 years or 20 years (I sound really old when I say that) that at school, things would be different. But actually they’re not. They’re just not progressing quick enough which is why I’ve started making conscious effort to go to schools and represent myself and not be dressed like what they expect because it just hasn’t changed. It’s still exactly the same. When I spoke to this this group of I think it was year 10 and A-Level students, so first-year GCSE and first-year A-Level students and asked them what they want to do, would any of them go into IT careers, obviously all the boys, a lot of the boys put their hands up. They were studying IT or Computing. None of the girls put their hands up, so I questioned them why, they didn’t want to answer. I think they were scared that you know, they’d be wrong. And I told them that there’s no right or wrong answer, I’m not gonna judge you for what you say, but if you give me if you can tell me why then maybe I can help open up what the rest of the story is here and by the end of it you could see that there was a slight change in the way that they were thinking and then at the end when I said well if there’s any questions you can come and talk to me how I’ll hang around for the next 10 minutes. And one girl came over and talked to me and she had the exact same conversation- “oh, but I went to an event and it was it was all boys, I stood out like a sore thumb, I’m not sure if it would be the right thing, is it going to be difficult when I go to work?” And you know I had that conversation with her and I said you know there are women like myself who are trying to change that. By the time you get to work I hope we will have progressed because people like me are actively trying to change those things now, and we have progressed slowly, but it is still unfortunately very slow.

[Roksana] I have to take my hat off to you for being the, probably the only voice in these kind of organisations where is so male-dominant and I’m just thinking back to when I was making my career choices and I grew up with four brothers so I’m so used to being around men. I’ve got so many uncles and male cousins, I was like the only girl growing up in my entire family and network of cousins and relatives. I completely empathise with how it is to be the only female voice, especially when you have got- like my mum was not even pretending that the boys were her favourites. Like that was just, you know? She came from a culture where you know males are superior, and you know although she wasn’t blatant in in saying that I was a bit of a burden on her, it was obviously her actions that I saw and so I kind of got to an age where I would become a rebel to be heard, and I had to be the one that made statements that were controversial in my family. And I still am the controversial voice in my family, but you know in a progressive society, I’m not. And that’s the thing; when I talk to my friends about what I want, they’re like, ‘yeah, of course you should have that!’, like why wouldn’t you have that? But then as soon as I’m around a group of people who don’t think in that way, I’m now a rebel.

[Bharti] Oh yeah, that sounds like me. Complete rebel and yeah it’s always been difficult I think even now a lot of my family don’t realise what I do for a living. But I mean to some extent, some of my friends don’t realise. I was talking to- I was on a Zoom call with a couple of friends last week and I was having some laptop problems. They went, “Why don’t you get Luke (my husband) to look at it?” I was like, “You do realise what I do for a living?” And they go, I didn’t realise that, and it is it still there. It’s still that these people know that I work in IT but they don’t realise I would know how to fix my own computer.

[Roksana] I was just thinking- so would you say, I’m trying to make a connection here between your mental health and having to live for so long in a way that has meant you’d have to dim your light, you’ve had to tow the line, change how you dress, how you speak not only your career but in your family life too, a lot of relatives don’t know what you do or don’t support what you do  or they didn’t at one point or another. I’m just wondering how many- how much of that has led to you feeling a little bit less? A little bit like you’re not accepted for who you are.

[Bharti] I would say it played really really big part until that all changed. I mean that that went on obviously it’s gone for years. I think just to make sense, part the reason why did up marrying my husband because I did you know I did date the Indians that I’ve met or been introduced to, and again I had the same problem. It’s you know, I work in IT so I was either threat to them because I was doing so well or they expected me to give up my career and I think I’ve worked really hard for this and you don’t even understand how hard I worked for this that I can just give it up. People ask me now like would you give up your job and just focus on your business, I was like no. I worked so hard to get where I am and I love my job, I do love my job, I love my career choice. I’m not going to give it up and if my business became super, super successful, I would hire people to do that before I gave up my job. That’s how much I love my job and so it’s one of the things that when I was looking at you know when I was meeting all these Indians and they’d say don’t want you to move don’t you want to do this and I’d think, no. I’ve had years of everyone saying no to me, you can’t do something. That needs to be one who’s going to say, right you just do whatever you need and I’m just going to be there. And my husband did that. We were together and we were both in Birmingham and I moved. In the middle of our relationship, I moved halfway down the country and he didn’t have a problem with that. We made it work- it was hard work, but we did. I was very clear to him, my mum is not going to accept this, you’re not Indian. Nobody in my family have not married an Indian, and they’ve all towed the line and done the right thing and obviously that was what was right for them but it wasn’t right for me. He stuck with the whole thing. You know I genuinely genuinely think it was it was him who changed the person I became. He made me more adventurous, he opened up my mind to those things I could achieve that didn’t hold me back, and whenever I get in a position where I’m like I don’t know what to do, I always think what would Luke do and whatever he would do is what I would go and do because I know what- he wouldn’t let it stop him, so therefore I shouldn’t let it stop me and you know he has he has been part of the reason why I’m not I’m not as bad as I could have been. I really do believe that.

[Roksana] What do you mean, not as bad?

[Bharti] In terms of mental health. I think I could have easily have gone the other way and married someone who would have suppressed me and I don’t know what my mental health would be like right now. Maybe I wouldn’t even address it because I would just go into autopilot. But he did help me address it for a long time and I became- I think I became free. I don’t think I was free before I met him, so after I met him I went and bought my own property which again is you know, as an Indian, you don’t buy your own house. You get married and then you move into your husband’s house or you buy a house with your husband. So when I went and bought a property, everybody was like what are you doing? You should be getting married, why are you buying your own house? And alarm bells probably started ringing for half my family so like, why she doing this she’s not meeting a husband, she’s moved to somewhere where there’s no Indians and there is, I moved to Reading, but you know they wanted me to move to London where I’d meet a suitable boy and get married and do the things that would be right. I decided I was going to do everything that would be wrong. I’m proud of what I’ve done but it’s only happened, I’ve only realised what I’ve done probably two years ago when I went to counselling. Until that point I didn’t realise how I had- what I had done and how I changed things, and how I changed things my for my cousins who are younger than me, for them to see that there is a different way of living to the idealistic Indian perspective on how life should be. So kind of where it comes to where the whole mental health situation and my career collide is I went back to work after I had my first child, so just after I’ve started my business and then I went back to work, and someone who I used to work with and he wasn’t he wasn’t my manager at the time. I asked if I could get some training and because I work with men they all had potentially even come back after two weeks. I had a year off. He didn’t give me any training but he had this idea of a way that he could ease me into work and it wasn’t the right way so I asked for more training cause insecurity- things change so rapidly that in a year you can be completely out of touch. So I repeatedly asked for training, I didn’t get training, he put me in front of some customers with somebody else who was a man, who wasn’t technical. And in my interview- sorry, in my meeting, they asked the non-technical person the technical questions and I stepped up talking about something I had no idea about the time but I made sure that they didn’t think that we had gone in completely clueless. The meeting was a hit, we managed to get some project work off the back of it. I didn’t get praise for that. I got nothing for that. No acknowledgement of what I’ve done. So when I had my quarterly review and my manager at the time was was leaving he wrote my quarterly review and said “she wasn’t ready to come back to work” and that was a very low blow after I’d had a child and come back to work and being female that I already was very, very scared of going back to work after maternity leave as a lot of women are you know they don’t feel very positive they don’t get there in a positive place they really scared they’ve lost their ability to work because they’ve been around child singing nursery rhymes and around mums and not have an adult conversation about anything that isn’t child related. They’ve lost their confidence and then that happened to me, so I then I knew that I was going to have another baby and and I I stayed at the company and I did my I stayed until I went on my next maternity leave and made the decision that I wouldn’t go back. And that manager had left at the time. Unfortunately I think that was part of the problem maternal- I say it was post-natal but it wasn’t post-natal necessarily because I I did have some problems while I was pregnant with mental health. I ignored them but I think they were all that kind of almost kickstarted it before I’d even realise it started. At that point I went on maternity leave, ignoring that there was there was already little things that happened to make me realise that my mental health had been in a bad state before I even got to the point where I’ve had a baby. I do talk about this in my business pages quite a lot because I think it’s important but while I was pregnant I wanted to to kill myself, I wanted to be in a car accident. I had justified it to say that my husband would be okay with one child and that I wasn’t useful to anyone I was there is no purpose and I think part that came from going back to work the first time and maybe all of the things that happened prior to that way I didn’t feel like I had the ability to do my job, I wasn’t important enough I was female Indian, I don’t know all those factors I didn’t meet the requirements of being a good daughter, you know who had gone against my mum and got married to somebody who wasn’t Indian, there’s all all those factors I think all kind of collided at the same point and I was pregnant. And I just thought that I was okay, you know after the thoughts had gone and I carried on and had a baby. Unfortunately I wasn’t OK at all you know, and I think at that point it just all of those years of not doing the right thing by the right people, not being the right person in my job, not being able to talk, not being able to speak, not being put forward for anything that I should have been, all happened and it happened really in a really big way so it wasn’t a slow progression to bad mental health that was noticeable, it was kind of like wham- there it is. So I think yeah, everything that’s happened is probably amount got me to where I am now.

[Roksana] That’s really interesting that you say that because I know for me when I was pregnant with my daughter, my first pregnancy- my first successful pregnancy I should say – was the time that it felt like everything that happened in my life came and hit me like a tonne of bricks. All the things I’ve managed to suppress and bury and not deal with came out and even once she was born and was sitting in front of me it was then that I started having flashbacks. I don’t know if it was from the pregnancy hormones or what it is that made me become actually make me go and the memory of my childhood and all sorts of events became technicolour. And now in hindsight I know that was somehow the universe’s way of saying you need to deal with stuff you need to work through it you need to overcome it. Talk me through what happened then. How did you navigate those days? I don’t know how long that went on for you, what was that like?

[Bharti] So after I’d had the baby, obviously I thought I was okay again.

[Roksana] Was this your first son?

[Bharti] My second actually- so funnily enough because of all the things that happened prior to this I actually thought I’d get to post Natal depression first time, and I didn’t. I didn’t actually get it the first time so I thought I’d be okay. I’m okay I’ve done well I managed to handle everything, and then when I had my second child and I’d obviously had those thoughts while I was pregnant I thought it was just hormones, put it down to hormones. Had the baby loved him from the second that he was born and thought thank God I don’t have post-natal depression because of the stereotype that is shown on TV that you can’t relate your baby, or you don’t love them, you can’t bear to be around them. I didn’t have any of those. I loved him to bits I went out and made new mum friends because I knew I consciously needed to be out of the house and doing stuff so I made new mum friends. I went to coffee mornings, you know I really put myself out there thinking I’m doing a fantastic job here, you know I went to baby classes, my business is still going- I did take a break from the business because obviously it was crazy not sleeping and then trying to run a business at the same time and have another child as well he was 2 1/2 at the time. So I did take a break but it was actually when my son had silent reflux that this all ended up being very different situation because I wasn’t sleeping. So I know there are nights where I don’t know if I actually went to sleep because every time I got into bed fall asleep I’m pretty sure I was awake because my child was crying again and I was still trying to breastfeed the first time I was made to feel like I was a really bad mum for not being able to feed my child and so the second time I was more determined than ever. Obviously this is a personality trait I seem to have. More determined than ever to make sure I breastfeed my second child and so I-  I did for six months and but he didn’t sleep, and nobody spotted was wrong with him until I got to the point where I was suicidal, that suddenly somebody had realised that there’s something wrong with my child. And we found out- you know and I kept saying like I’m sure there’s something not right, I’m sure there’s something not right, we had some cranial osteopathy, it had not really worked. You know we tried and tried a million things to see it would help and then we thought well maybe he’s just one of these babies he just doesn’t sleep, and very different from my first child who did sleep after you know 7-8 weeks he managed to get into a good sleeping pattern. One night my husband said something to me. He didn’t say it to be mean, but he just said that my younger- my other child had said when I call mummy she doesn’t respond at night, and it was cause I’m so tired but my husband told me that and that was it I said so I’m just crap mum. Tou know my child who is 2 and a half/3 years old, made a comment to say that mummy doesn’t hear me when I call at night because I was so tired. y husband told me that and that was it at. I couldn’t sleep at night because that was on my mind my child was still waking up. He was at the time about seven or eight months old he was still waking up I think he’s probably about six months at the time and he still waking up in the night and then in the morning my husband had to go to work. I’d got really annoyed at my husband because I couldn’t believe that he even told me what my 3 year old had said but he didn’t mean anything by it. He went to work I sent him a text message, because obviously been thinking about this all night told him not to respond to my text message, to carry out to go to work, but I wanted to kill myself. And I said you know just don’t respond to this and he did- he did send me a text message just said I love you but I knew that if I sent him that text message at that point, I would take power away from myself. And somebody else knew what I was thinking about so I couldn’t do it anymore and to be fair you know I still had a child to look after, and I did I did love him so my my next thought was how can I time this so that my child is not left on his own in his own pooey nappy or screaming for milk? And how can I pick up the other child from nursery I need to make sure that everything is timed really well so I mean – a lot of thought gone into this so it was you know who’s really serious and so I told one of my friends who then came to my house and sat with me. She didn’t say anything, she just told me to make a cup of tea I couldn’t bring myself to get off the sofa and we had a cleaner at the time and the cleaner came round and she said I think your child has got silent reflux.

[Roksana] The cleaner?

[Bharti] The cleaner was the one who told me that my babies got silent reflux, cause I think she saw the state that I was in and she spoke to me about it and I told her what he’s been doing. Normally she cleans and we try not to talk so she can clean quicker, I don’t want to be stopping her, but at this point she stopped to talk to me and then she said I think you need to call the doctor cause I think your baby’s got silent reflux and my friend came by myself with me and my husband came home and then all of a sudden everything suddenly started out a bit quicker but my husband still didn’t believe I had depression, because his stereotype of a mum that has depression doesn’t go out and make friends, doesn’t go to baby class, doesn’t necessarily love her babies. Even he was convinced that I didn’t have depression. It then kind of all kind of happened where eventually I couldn’t stop crying, I called the therapist, she directed me to the doctor who gave me medication. I eventually decided not to take the medication because of side effects so decided that you probably got this from the rest of this conversation that I’m very determined. I was determined to fight this on my own without medication and I did.

[Roksana] Was that the right thing for you?

[Bharti] It was. There’s nothing wrong with taking medication, some people do need that help and I did try it. I was grinding my teeth which is why I stopped because actually then I couldn’t stop focusing on the fact that I was grinding my teeth which is giving me headaches which was then not helping the situation. But I take medication to start with because the doctor won’t let me leave agreed to take it because I was in such a bad state and you know, she she said to me and a lot of other people who eventually when I told them that I was suffering, you know tried to explain to me it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain and you need help right now to fix that in order for you to be able to function, in order for you to be able to then manage without it and they were correct. It is exactly that so I do you know I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking medication but like I said because I was grinding my teeth, it was then, it was not helping it was not helping me at all and I was on the smallest dosage that they could possibly give me. That’s why the doctor and myself made decision that we were going to try and tackle it in different way.

[Roksana] Talk us through that different way; what did you do?

[Bharti] So the doctor’s suggestion was I went to counselling. I think I knew that counselling would open up something that I’m not ready to deal with and it did. Counselling would mean I would have to look all the way back to where it started and I wasn’t ready to do that. And also because I had a small baby still he wasn’t even one years old, I didn’t know how I would be after I’ve had counselling. I almost predicted what would happen it’s like I almost knew what the cause was and I just didn’t want to face it, so we I went to the doctors every two weeks and we talked and I started telling friends who became my support system and they were brilliant. You know some of my friends were so good they would organise dinners and they checked up on me regularly and try and get me to exercise and all sorts of various things that they did you know they were such a great support system and it’s one of the reasons why I talk about it my business. I urge you to talk to someone, anyone, because as soon as you tell somebody it’s just that weight really is lifted and it makes it easier. And then I decided to take myself on holiday on my own. I booked a holiday – I used a travel counsellor to help me because I didn’t know where I wanted to go and she booked it for me. I went to Cyprus for 4 days, absolutely on my own. It was quite funny because as soon as I did that everyone wanted to come on holiday with me you know they’re like oh I would have come with you, but they didn’t understand why I needed to go on my own. I went completely on my own I was so sick before I left the house. I was physically sick at the thought of leaving my children. I felt guilty. The travel counsellor had given me lounge access. I couldn’t eat or drink a thing. I was sick at the airport because I couldn’t believe that I was being so selfish by leaving my children and going on holiday, how dare I do something like this for myself? I got on the plane suddenly I felt you know I was I was not the same person I it was almost like there is nothing I could do. I can’t turn back and go home, I’m on a plane. You know, I just have to now face this and move forward. So I got I got to Cyprus and I was really scared at the time because I thought I haven’t been on my own for I don’t know how long. I’ve always had a child with me or my husband or had a friend or a mum or a baby group or my mum or you know my cousins around- how am I going to do this my own? And I sat in the hotel room when I got there and this is where this is when my husband comes in, I thought what would Luke do? Luke would go around the hotel and go for a walk. And so I did. And all of a sudden my whole holiday was a very different holiday. I suddenly realised that I just needed to take care of myself I think it’s as mums we are so guilty of doing we always forget about everybody you know we forget about ourselves. We do everything for everybody else, everybody else is our priority. Our mum you know, our dad our in-laws are husband and children, my employer you know my friends. Everybody needs me can’t say no I am a very I’m very bad at saying no to people I am a people pleaser and that’s what I’d just become and the only person I wasn’t pleasing was myself because I was never taking time to do anything for myself.

[Roksana] And this is what I see on your posts a lot, is that you’re such a big advocate for self-care. I’d like to know a little bit about, before we end, so going on holiday to Cyprus. Obviously was a massive big deal for you, but what were your intentions? What were you hoping when you booked it and you knew you’d be ¾ days on your own? What were you you hoping for and what did you want to be the reality for you?

[Bharti] I was hoping that I would almost reset myself, and I needed to be I needed to be comfortable to be on my own you know and I’d lost that. Even for work I I completely lost the ability to be on my own and do something on my own, and that’s what I was hoping for and when I came back my husband said to me, “You look different and I could tell that you are different.” And I felt different. And all of a sudden I had realised that I took- I took some good I took some books with me. I was very selective about what I did, and I took some books and I took a book about women in IT and women in Security and that changed my career. The book changed my career, but it also changed a lot of other aspects of my life, and I came back and realised I needed to do something different for myself and then it did you know I now work in a job but I’m the only female. I’m the only person never mind the only female, I don’t know why I addressed myself like that. I’m the only person doing my job in what I do and I have to speak up. I can’t hide behind anybody, so I took my job for that reason because there was no person to hide behind. There’s no other team, there’s no other men. If I get it wrong I get it wrong, but I put myself in a position where I’m really uncomfortable, because I think I have I I am able to do something and why should I hide anymore? I think counselling changed my life in the end. All of those things that we’ve talked about led me to the point where I said I need to go to counselling, and I need to address the issues and, I have regular mental health checks as I call them, because why should we not go to counselling? You know, I’d go to the doctor if I was sick, so why should I not go and see a counsellor if I’m sick? And I am desperate right now to see my counsellor cause I want to tell her everything that I’ve been up to the last 10 weeks. A lot happened and a lot of emotions have gone through that, and you know I need I almost need that safe space that everybody else knows what I’ve been doing which is fantastic and I’ve had so much support, but the counsellor allows me to be somebody completely different where I can give praise myself and not think that I’m being arrogant or I can tell at all my fears and what I’ve just done or have happened or things that I’m scared about and she won’t judge me. So I that’s why the counselling foundation is the charity that I support because of all of those things because I genuinely believe that everybody should go and see a counsellor at some point in their life.

[Roksana] I agree. Or any other kind of coach or who people want to access. And I know you’ve recently been involved in the big effort to support during COVID-19, and I know you’ve been sending quite a lot of your proceeds to help the counselling foundation. Typical people who might not be able to afford to pay for counselling themselves can at least have it subsidized or hopefully free service and I think that that’s amazing, you’ve been a part of that. I salute you. Gosh, you’ve had an incredible journey and you know I love the fact that you’ve been trailblazing throughout your life and yet you know you’ve had to sit back, reflect, figure out who you wanna be, how you can function in a healthy way. Don’t ever stop being a trailblazer.  I love that you’re just going from strength to strength and what a role model you’ll be to your boys.

[Bharti] And hopefully they’ll see that women are allowed to be all these things, which is the main thing I want them to see. I don’t want them to think that women aren’t capable.

[Roksana] They’ll be enablers, because they’ll see what Luke has done, they’ll see how you are, and they’ll be enablers for other people. Hopefully not just their partners but anyone they see in their workplace and community. And that’s one of the gifts when a mother accesses her personal power, when she taps in to who she can be and finds joy in her life, that enables everybody to find their personal power and find joy in their life. It has such a ripple effect on everybody and that’s what I’m a huge advocate of. I think if we support the mum, if we help the mum to heal, we help the next generation. And you’re a prime example of that. Thank you so much for your time today.

[Bharti] Thank you.