for better mental health

How I shed light on my anxiety

Friday, 27 March 2020 Lydia

Lydia explains how she has brightened her days and raised Money for Mind by starting a candle-making business.

Anxiety has always been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. This left me with a lack of self-esteem, an insecurity with any form of friendship/relationship, a feeling of dread in most given social situations. It would eat away at me, resulting in tension headaches and panic attacks. I was convinced that the physical symptoms were a serious physical health condition. It’s only looking back now that I realise it was triggered by my anxiety.

It took me years to seek help, as in the back of my mind I thought my worries were usual, and that they would go away by themselves. I didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems, and I strongly felt no one could even begin to help me.

I had no confidence and no trust, which had a domino effect on most aspects in my life

The feelings I was experiencing caused my behaviour to deteriorate. I had no confidence and no trust, which had a domino effect on most aspects in my life. I would drink too much in social situations, which ended in wreckless behaviour, followed by blackouts. All this culminated in pushing away all the things I cared about, and my friendships and relationships broke down. I wasn’t able to look after myself properly, which meant I was often getting sick and taking a lot of days off work as a result. My moods were unpredictable, I was either on a complete ‘high’ or a complete ‘low’.

In February 2019, I became really unwell. I was unable to leave the house at times, not wanting people to see me and I had no motivation to do anything. Self-harm became my way of expressing my frustration, anger, confusion, sadness, loneliness and self-hatred. At this point I knew I had to open up and talk, while not being able to make much sense of my thoughts, I knew that I was causing more harm to my body, and enough was enough.

Being open about my feelings was the first and biggest step on my road to recovery

Being open about my feelings was the first and biggest step in my road to recovery. The minute I did this, I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of relief. I no longer felt I was battling this alone. It is hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced these feelings first hand to understand the extent of the struggles that people with mental health problems face. However, I was fortunate enough to receive unconditional love, support and understanding from my family, friends and in particular, someone who had experienced exactly how I was feeling in previous years.

In 2019 I took some time off from work as a result of my struggle with mental health. During this time, I realised I had to do something to remove the stigma attached to poor mental health, and emphasise the message to that it is not a weakness to be not okay.

Soon I found that that I wasn’t alone in the feelings I was experiencing, and many people, including friends had struggled too. Although this reassured me I wasn’t ‘different’ to others it seemed crazy to me that if so many people were faced with challenging thoughts every day, why was there  such a stigma around mental health.

I decided to go to therapy for four hours a week, and it was the best decision I made. Although I dreaded the first few sessions my therapist helped me recognise my thought patterns that were keeping me trapped in the ongoing negative cycle that created all my ‘anxiety’ symptoms. Together, we unpicked all the tiny details and I began to believe I was capable of choosing how I felt and how to respond to things. Despite finding the sessions demanding, they provided me with the tools to cope with everyday life. I can now notice negative thoughts and stop them.

I began making candles to keep myself busy, and to provide myself with a sense of purpose

I began making candles to keep myself busy, and to provide myself with a sense of purpose. Hours, days and weeks were spent brainstorming, researching, mixing fragrances, designing logos and trialling candles. Through this I saw the perfect opportunity to turn a hobby into something that could have a positive impact on others and A Little Light was born. I had one goal in mind: to provide high quality, sophisticated and environmentally friendly candles at an affordable price, whilst raising awareness for a very personal cause. I decided that for every sale made, I would donated 10 per cent of profits to help Mind continue with the outstanding work it does.

I feel so proud of everything I have achieved, mainly through opening up and sharing with others how I felt. Without this journey, I wouldn’t have felt able to move on with my life in the way that I feel I can now, and my business A Little Light wouldn’t have been created. I still have off days, and I hope that through A Little Light and sharing this story, we can all feel encouraged to speak out. Please do not feel ashamed to share your experiences, and be assured that it is through talking that we can all work together to beat this. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day, and the rest will fall into place.

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