Things weren't going great for Sharon Bull. While she was living a life that seemed perfect on the outside, her mental health was taking a toll. Her new book, Stripped Bare: Swapping Credit for Compassion, details how she opted out of the cosmopolitan lifestyle and found happiness in her true, authentic self. We sent Jazmin Hill to the launch of Stripped Bare, and here's what she had to say.
With her high-flying career as a sales executive, expensive wardrobe and outgoing personality, everyone believed that Sharon Bull was living the dream. But behind this confident exterior, Sharon was struggling with depression, anxiety and a shopping addiction which had left her in £50,000 worth of debt.
After a heart-warming introduction by her nephew, Jude, Sharon took to the stage at Waterstones for the launch of her book Stripped Bare: Swapping Credit for Compassion, the story of how she turned her life around. She began by reading her poem, also titled Stripped Bare which prompted the audience to question whether the impression we give to other people accurately reflects our true selves, or rather, if we build our lives purely to gain the approval of others.
The focus of the evening was how Bull found her ‘authentic self’ through persistence, passion and a determination to change her life. Bull commented that the single thread which runs through her book, and the single piece of advice she gives to everyone is ‘to start being you’.
Bull spoke honestly and openly about her experiences and revealed that for many years she placed value on her status and sought happiness through superficial means. She admitted that there was always a part of her which enjoyed helping others and that although she had raised money for charity through organising events, low self-esteem made her doubt her ability and prevented her from changing career paths.
After a period of her life she called ‘the lowest of the low’, Bull knew she had to change her life. She began to reconnect with her childhood interests which included a love of animals and nature. She also began to write and explained that this became a ‘release therapy’ and that creativity was fundamental for her recovery.
Bull also began to raise money for charity again focusing on disadvantaged and vulnerable children and animals. She explained that through revisiting these interests, she finally found her true self, a person a who enjoyed helping others through ‘doing what she believed she is meant to do’ and because of this, she no longer misses her old lifestyle.
Having found where her true passion lies, Sharon now works as an inspirational speaker, author and poet working under the name A Compassionate Voice. She continues to campaign and fund-raise for both animals and children.
Throughout the evening, Sharon spoke about her experiences and mental health and was praised by her publisher who took to the stage to close the evening. Stripped Bare is published by Trigger, who are dedicated to promoting mental health welfare for everybody by working with writers like Sharon to change the way society views mental health.
With mental health issues still so heavily stigmatised, writers like Bull are fundamental for opening up these important conversations to a wider audience. She is living proof of the amazing things that can be achieved when we focus on ourselves rather than trying to live up to the expectations of other people and the pressures of society.
As the evening drew to a close, Sharon chatted with the audience, had her photo taken and kindly signed copies of her book. Surrounded by her family and friends, the atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable and she made time to speak to everyone who had attended. It was clear to see that by rebuilding her life on her terms, Bull has not only found her true self, but her own, more real, version of happiness.