Livvy blogs about how her bedding design company has boosted the mental health of young people while raising money for Mind.
At 43 and after a lifetime of mental health struggles, I now realise it has only really been in the past six years I have truly felt and known who I am and am happy in that. In fact I think I'm pretty ok if rather quirky!
After all this time, I have lots of hard earned strategies for managing my mental health, but it hasn’t always been like this, I know for lots of people, especially young people, it can be really hard to get the right support at the right time.
I can’t really pinpoint when I was aware that I wasn’t happy in myself. I had always struggled but I spent most of my time putting on a brave face and pretending I was fine. I was sent to boarding school aged seven. I am dyslexic, and my parents lived abroad. I don’t think they really knew what to do with me, and in the 1970s dyslexia wasn’t really known about. I think my dyslexia was a major part of my unhappiness. My daughter also has dyslexia, and together we celebrate it.. I tell her it is a gift, which I truly believe it is. But my parents were embarrassed that their daughter wasn’t academic. I felt stupid, different and thought I would never achieve anything in my life.
I was around ten when I first experienced all-consuming sadness. I was in an art class and I felt this overwhelming need to cry. There didn’t seem to be a reason, I don’t remember anything that had happened particularly but I knew I had to get out of there because I was about to break down. I ran out of the class and ended up in an empty classroom and broken down in tears. I didn’t want to be me anymore.
This pattern of behaviour continued throughout my teens and well into my 20s, but it all came to a head when I had children. After my third child I completely crashed. I felt that I couldn't function. Many times, I was found on the floor of my room unable to move, just heaving with tears. I will never forget my five-year-old girl coming in and the horror on her face. It will live with me forever.
Finding a wonderful counsellor, CBT, and antidepressants saved my life. It made me realise the power of a positive mind.
At this stage I was taken under the care of a hospital and put on strong medication. I had an intense course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling. It took me a while to find the right therapist, but when I did, it changed my life. In fact, finding a wonderful counsellor, CBT, and antidepressants saved my life. It made me realise the power of a positive mind and trying to find even the tiniest silver lining in a negative feeling.
I have tried many times to come off the antidepressants but I always end up going back on them, even If it’s just a small dose. I have come to terms with it, and it doesn't bother me anymore. I mean if you have a heart condition or diabetes or any other physical medical condition you take drugs for life to help you, so what is the difference with antidepressants if they keep me happy.
I still have bad days and weeks but I know they will pass and I put all the tools I learnt into play. I am also lucky to have a wonderful close network of friends and family and when I am struggling I tell those closest to me so they understand if I cancel things or need help.
I’m now in the best place I’ve ever been in. I have finally found the confidence to believe in myself
I’m now in the best place I’ve ever been in. I have finally found the confidence to believe in myself and this led me to starting a company selling bedding for the teen market.
After my experiences growing up I wanted my business to do good for others like me, and soon an opportunity presented itself. During a walk a friend of mine expressed to me her concern about the amount of anxiety her daughter was experiencing during the build up to her GCSEs.
The teenager is a talented artist and so I then thought who better to ask to help me design bedding for teenagers, than her. I hoped it would help her to have a focus away from the pressures she was experiencing. She came up with a fabulous paisley print and chose colours that I would never have thought of – her design has been one of my best sellers.
I wanted to make sure no one had to wait as long as I did to find the right support for a mental health problem.
And this was just the start, I decided to continue working with young people who were struggling with anxiety and self-esteem. I also wanted to help make sure no one had to wait as long as I did to find the right support for a mental health problem by donating 10% from every sale I make to Mind.
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