There was a time a few years ago that I wouldn’t have been able to write this. I hid my mental health / Mental Wellbeing for so long, not willing to admit it to myself and certainly not able to admit it to others. No way would I have written about it.
I have become stronger over the last few years, due to many reasons that I will go into, and now I
want to tell my story. If it can help just one person, I want to share what I’ve been through with my
mental health. I want others to know that it is ok to admit you’re struggling. And what I’m really
passionate about is letting other women know that you can absolutely run a successful business if
you have a past or present with mental health struggles. I am doing it, so you can do it too.
I now know the trigger of my mental health struggles – or the main one. I was bullied in my
secondary school, which was in Hastings, England where I grew up. I remember the moment it
began, I was in the changing rooms getting ready for PE and took off my school polo shirt.
Underneath it I had an old top on, for layering sake only. The “popular” girls obviously took a dislike
to this top and a couple of the girls decided to laugh about it and talk about it to each other, and to
me. I actually stood up for myself – I’d had a wonderful upbringing, loved my primary school and so
was fortunate enough to have not ever experienced anything like it, so I wasn’t too timid not to
stand up for myself at this point.
Well that was a mistake, the bullies did not like that. I remember no one standing up for me and
unfortunately from that point onwards I became a target to the bullies. I think it was due to this, and
the other pressures we face as girls growing up, that left me always striving to be popular and liked
by all. It’s actually something I’ve only just managed to shake but still need to work on, but more on
The bullying continued for the whole of secondary school and got worse. I had a fairly big mole on
my nose and so the boys in my year – you know the ones – decided to call me Rhino. It really hurt.
That and the bullying from the popular girls continued.
I left secondary school at 16 to continue my education in college, which was one of the best
decisions I made. College was fine actually; I had an amazing boyfriend who was a footballer and I
had good friends. However, the comments from the bullies stayed with me and I was still striving to
be the popular one. This led onto me caring far too much about my appearance, not helped by how
girls and women are portrayed in the media along with the fact that I felt I was ‘the fat one’ out of
At 20 – when in university – I started making myself sick. I had lost a bit of weight on the summer
break and liked it. I liked the feeling of it, and I liked the comments I got. From that point onwards
until now, I still struggle with the feeling of putting on weight. I check my body in the mirror every
day – not for vanity reasons but because I want to see if I’ve put on / lost weigh daily. I really hope to
stop doing this one day.
The bulimia continued for 12 years, until I became pregnant with my son Bertie, who is now 5. Again,
we will talk about that in a moment. The bulimia dictated my whole life. I would purposely plan
weekends in on my own so I could binge and purge, and going to a restaurant was an absolute nightmare. If I told you I thought about food 24/7, I wouldn’t be far off. I craved the feeling of an
empty stomach and if people told me I’d lost weight, it would make my day/week.
I did try and stop occasionally. I told the odd person and my now-husband helped me when I told
him. I saw counsellors and started exercising, so I could become healthy. Just nothing stuck.
During these times I had bouts of depression – not that I admitted to myself that this is what it was. I
would get so down that I wouldn’t want to go out, especially if I wasn’t as thin as I desired. I went
through life still striving to be liked and be the popular one – amongst friends and in my jobs.
I think my son saved me – not that he knows that! Maybe I will tell him one day, but not to this
extent. I knew I couldn’t continue making myself sick whilst I had a human growing inside me. He
was now my number one priority, and it meant the world to me that I had to look after him. I’m very
proud to say that my active bulimia is now in remission. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of my
mental health struggles.
Whilst having Bertie was the most incredible moment of my life, it brought my depression back.
Again, not something I admitted at the time. When I first had him, I revelled in his existence – this
incredible little boy that I had made who sleeps lots and brings unconditional love. But then I started
struggling, having a baby is really, really hard. I was so tired and my life wasn’t how it used to be. I
felt alone and I wasn’t enjoying every moment, like society tells you one should.
I distinctly remember one day when we had planned to go out. I just couldn’t, I couldn’t leave my
bed and I couldn’t stop crying.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until Bertie was 3 that I realised how much I was struggling and how
unhappy I was. During that time, I had started a business though, so somewhere inside me there was
strength and courage. Although I realised how much my mental health was affecting my business. I
was hugely lacking in the confidence I needed to do really well. It was going ok, but I wasn’t pushing
myself enough or believing in myself enough.
It was this and looking back at my 3 years with Bertie – I felt sad that I perhaps hadn’t been the best
of mummies for him at times, when I was too tired to take him to soft play like other mums or I’d get
far too cross too easily. It all needed to stop. I had spent far too long suffering, not living life to its
fullest and not giving my all to everything.
Before I realised this, I had a really rough few months. My relationships with my husband and friends
were suffering and this caused me to take my first step of asking for help – I went to see a
counsellor. Although it wasn’t the first counsellor I had seen, she felt like the person I needed at that
time to help me start to make changes for the better. I also began taking anti-depressants. I had
fought them for so long, thinking I would be a failure if I succumbed to them. But I had tried to get
better on my own and it just wasn’t happening, I needed some help.
Taking the anti-depressants gave me the clarity I needed to begin doing the things that I still do
today that have helped me hugely. I made the decision to step away from some toxic friends – one
of the best decisions I have ever made. I carried on seeing the counsellor for a bit, and she really
helped. And I looked inwards, who am I? What are the good things about me that I can concentrate
on? Getting to know myself well was a really good step I made. I soon realised that I had a habit of
talking to myself awfully. That had to stop. That and relying on other people’s opinions. I turned to
journaling, something that still helps me today. I looked at what I was eating and realised that hugely
affected my mental health. Although I was very careful to not take that too far.
All of the above – and more – have helped me realised what’s important in life. It’s not being thin
and the opinions of people I don’t care about. It’s family and for me, it’s running a successful
business. I have such a passion doing what I’m doing. When I’m styling I’m not thinking about
anything else. And being able to teach and mentor other women fills me with absolute joy. I want
other women to know you can do whatever you set your heart on.
I tend to work with other women who are a bit like me – softer souls who have maybe also been
through a challenging time. They’re often introverts like me (admitting this has been incredible, as I
now know why I’m a little quieter than others and it’s not because I’m not fun or clever, like I used
to tell myself). I want them to know they are incredible and it’s ok to be emotional, it often comes
along with the creativity. I want them to know it is ok if you feel life is just too hard right now. But I
want them to know they’ll get through it.
Writing this has been one of the hardest things I have done, but I’m so pleased I have. If you’re
reading this and struggling in any way, please know there will be brighter days. Please tell people
how you’re feeling. And when the brighter days come, look at things you can build into your life to
help you. You are not struggling alone, and you can achieve anything.