"There are no flowers without rain"...
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
The trigger for first having to think about my mental health was when I was 22, after losing my younger sister, Mollie. I didn’t reach out to anyone professionally because at the time I was so naïve, and I guess ignorant. While I thought I was dealing with it – I wasn’t.
It was the first anniversary of losing Mollie that I hit breaking point. It’s safe to say I went into a severe downward spiral pretty quickly. Everyone around me seemed to be getting on with their lives. No one was stopping, so why should I? That was my mentality at the time, and with it came this enormous and overwhelming amount of pressure to stay strong. It was pressure that I had wrongly put on myself. I couldn’t believe how weak and immobilising I felt by it. I remember wanting to scream at people ‘how can you not see that I’m a complete mess inside?!’ I hated that internal/external illusion and paradox. This is the crux of the issue with mental health. You never really can tell. People can look absolutely fine on the outside but be in utter turmoil on the inside. I was doing anything to distract myself from having to face my true feelings, because to be honest I didn’t know how to. I was over exerting myself by over exercising; training for the London marathon whilst performing in a show and ended up with a pretty bad injury. I was devastated as exercising had become my crutch and outlet for the grief I was carrying but hadn’t yet recognised. I now had no distraction and was forced to come to terms with my reality. I felt I no longer had a purpose. My sense of identity was being shaken up. I started waking up in panics and extreme anxiety and felt so out of control with it. I couldn’t focus on anything and felt like I was suffocating. For the next year and a half everything was a dark blur. I slept for more than 24 hours at a time, only getting up to use the toilet and eat food sometimes. If you want to put a ‘label’ or two on it, I had complete Adrenal Fatigue, Burn Out, PTSD, crippling Anxiety and Depression. All caused by unprocessed emotions. My whole body and mind had completely shut down.
I was put on Anti Depressants and within half an hour I had a horrific reaction to them. I experienced extreme paranoia and spun into one of the worst panic attacks of my life. I remember feeling like I was being sucked away if that makes any sense. Like a light bulb going out. I had nothing left and something inside just switched off. I refused to take any more tablets so I went back to bed. I had cut off contact with everyone. I just couldn’t face it. I’d become so anxious and numb even trying to get words out was a huge effort and my voice would literally stutter and shake when I tried to speak. Fast forward 18 months. Having been reluctantly dragged from one counsellor to the other, different forms of talking therapies and medication, I went on a holiday with a friend and wanted to come off my tablets. I was incredibly nervous to go on this trip and almost didn’t as it was a big step considering I still barely left the house. I’ve always hated the side effects of any medicine and hated the thought of having to rely on them. (Side note: they work for some people and have helped lots of people - this is just my personal journey and my personal views). They made me feel like the tablets had control over me and I hated that. Something deep inside me just knew this wasn’t the way for me. I started to wean myself off them unsupervised. In short, this caused a massive adverse reaction whilst on holiday and I had to go to hospital for a week after. It was a really scary time, but also a crucial part of my personal healing process. It was such a poignant few weeks in my life which I could talk about in so much more detail,but all in all, it was a tumultuous journey into to depths of my own inner psyche that taught me so much and brought me back to life. I now haven’t been on any type of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety tablets for 2 years. Meditation, yoga, tapping techniques, NLP (neuro linguistic programming), taking life slow at my own pace, helping other people, trusting and having faith in the healing process and Mollie’s magic along the way has literally saved my life. I have a lot of people to thank for standing by me through it all.
Stress is unavoidable in all aspects of life and I’m thankful now that I have the coping strategies I didn’t back them. Whilst I haven’t performed professionally in a long while, I still absolutely love to dance, sing and write. It’s all been a massive part of my healing process and incredibly cathartic. I don’t take any of it for granted.
Me and my family now run a clothing brand in memory of my sister and it has been the most fulfilling project I’ve had the privilege to help come to life. Started and inspired by my sister I can from the bottom of my heart say that it is all her doing. Me and my family are merely just vessels to make her work come to life, she absolutely loved fashion and the products are hopefully a true reflection of her cool, comfy, urban style. This is her gift to the world and her ongoing legacy that she has left behind to shed love and hope to everyone. 50% of all profit from each sale goes to CLDF which is the only charity of its kind helping young adults and children and their families affected by Children’s Liver Disease. Proudly supported by the princes trust, we have an online store and amongst other inspiring brands can be found instore at Creoate 69 Neal street Covent Garden.
Grateful to share my story with Still Savage as it’s mission is also to share hope and inspiration in abundance to people all over the world. To remind us all that through whatever dark times we may face, when we come out the other side we can proudly pat ourself on the back, rise up and say yup, We’ve got this, we’re Still Savage!
I truly believe that vulnerability is key and once we peel back the mask and realise that we all go through storms and that people are going through them daily, then we are all better equipped to help build each other up. Everyone has the capacity to be kind, compassionate and non-judgemental and in doing so we give other people permission to do the same.
We’re all human at the end of the day and share the same emotions, we just experience them all differently in our own unique way. Your authenticity is your biggest super power and no one can take that away from you. So I encourage anyone of any age going through a tough time to never give up hope. Just know that however bad your feeling, this too shall pass, and that beautiful things and experiences are waiting for you. There are no flowers without rain. Trust yourself, never doubt yourself, for you are so much more capable than you could ever imagine and you matter in this world. If this post helps at least one person by putting it out into cyber space, then that’s all I could ever hope for.
Peace, love and light always
The charity this month, selected by Lauren, is CLDF. Still Savage has sent them a donation after being inspired by Lauren's story! If you would like to do the same, click on the logo below!
You can also check out Lauren's clothing brand and show some support by clicking below!