How Dealing with Mental Health has changed my life... for the better

I have wrote and rewrote this blog post quiet a few times and also not been 100% sure whether to share everything or not. But I feel as today is World mental health day it is the right time to share my story.


I’ve been at different events and starting to see more and more people recently and I’m very aware that no one actually knows what I’ve been up to. Which in all honesty I’ve quite enjoyed. When I started this bog I had so many high hopes for regular posts, and I’m sorry for falling short on that. But one of the main things overall is that I wanted it to be an honest account of what I get up to, feel and go through. So that other hairdressers/creatives/people can feel like their not alone and can truly understand what goes on in my world. Now please don’t read the following thinking I want any form of sympathy, its what happened and what’s going on, hopefully it can be enlightening and maybe even help others.

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Everyone knows I shaved my head for mental health back in November, I’ve had close family and friends that have suffered with mental health, some very serious cases and others slightly more mild but no less a struggle. Ironically a few weeks before shaving my head I began my own struggle with mental health, which actually made it even harder and even more important that I do it. The last thing I wanted was to go home and go live to what ended up being over 2,000 people (thank you again to everyone that tuned in and donated) but it was actually one of the things at the time that helped me a lot. So many of you reached out to me with your own battles and I really appreciated hearing how my small act helped you too.


In November last year I had a small break down. Now I say small because I know people that have had very serious mental health issues and in comparison mine is small, but none the less life changing. In the weeks and months after, it made me really re-evaluate my life and it’s direction. Since I left school I have completely thrown myself into work, which was fine because it was my passion and I loved it. I’d spent the last 10 years chasing after dreams I’d had since I was young. During the race I’d put myself in to be successful I’d alienate myself from friends and family, and made myself ill many times. Whilst in this sprint mode I hadn’t stopped to re-evaluate my dreams, my goals and my direction, and if it was actually what I still wanted.


After the break down I felt numb for a very long time. Once I was able to piece myself back together, with the help of very special people in my life, I had to start looking at changes I needed to make short term and long term. One of which was my work-life balance, I didn’t have one! People would always talk about that balance and I never thought it was important if you loved what you do. But what happens if what you love doing burns you out so much you stop loving it?! In January I left my job at Jamie Stevens to give myself time to rest, rethink and rebuild. I also started therapy in January, which I still go to weekly. My plan originally for this blog post was to write it after I had finished therapy when I was ‘better’, but actually I’ve come to realise I’m not ‘ill’. I was actually ill before the break down, hence my mind screaming that to me. Actually now more than ever I’m looking after myself and being far more self aware.

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I have spent the last year ripping myself open and delving into the deepest and darkest parts. I’ve learnt as soon as you’ve shon light into the dark it’s not scary anymore. I know myself better now than I ever have, the good, the bad and the damn right terrifying. And most importantly I’m learning to accept all of me, not just the pretty insta filtered me, but the raw to your core me. This year I spent time on building up the important relationships in my life, and that included the one I had with myself. I took myself on a lovely relaxing holiday, on retreats and to every type of mediation I could get to. I’ve had proper days off, like actual stay in your pj’s all day eating pesto pasta days off!

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People talk a lot about mindfulness and wellbeing but how many of us actually practice any of it or even understand it? Us hairdressers are renound for putting people before us, we’re taught from a young age in this industry that clients come first. Have we ever paid attention to the fact that if we’re not 100% we can’t give 100%? We spend 40-50 hours in the salon, not taking a proper lunch break or having time to even pee, absorbing all our clients emotional dramas. Then we push ourselves outside of the salon, so that we can still have a name in the industry and step up our career ladder.


As creatives we are emotional beings, but do we actually tune into them emotions and know what to do when we are feeling certain ways? Are we actually listening to our bodies, our minds? I certainly wasn’t. One of my main goals from such a young age was to live in london. I hit that goal last year, and it made me question everything. I’m a very structured person and I’ve always found it healthy to have lists and plans. Each goal I hit I can tick it off the list and move onto the next one. But actually last year I ticked a pretty big goal off the list and had no passion left for the next one, nor did I feel them goals were still what I even wanted. Sometimes we can be running so much towards something, even the goal in front becomes blurred. The industry that I feel in love with at 18, the dreams I had, and the life I had been sold by many that had come before me, wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. I had fell out of love with it all.


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So I have spent the last 10 months learning how to breath again and only doing work that I genuinely enjoy and get pleasure from. I have yet to set myself new goals and am giving myself a year of just enjoying life. 1 year out of a lifetime is nothing (I keep telling the control freak within me). So far it’s actually been one of the best years yet, I’ve worked with brand new creatives on fashion films and editorials; had the opportunity to work on large campaigns, both industry and consumer, and I’m looking after my gorgeous clients and enjoying meeting new clients that come my way. I was a key member backstage on The Voice UK for a second season, under Alchemey for the eye. I’ve also completely loved having the time to learn something new, wig making. And the cherry on top is a British Hairdressing award nomination for HAIRDOTCOM artistic team. Something I’m sure I’ll talk more about in another post.


So all in all, it doesn’t matter how busy you are day to day, it matters where you channel your energy. I’ve learnt saying NO is such a powerful thing, and honestly once you’ve said it once it’s not that big a deal the next time or the next. The world does not end. I always felt I had to be productive- doing ‘something, anything’ to be deemed successful, but actually just like art success is in the eye of the beholder.


It’s great to see more and more people taking mental health more seriously, we all suffer with it, just like we all suffer with physical health over our lives. I’m still finding my balance and that will always be evolving over my life. I had a lovely conversation recently about the fact that our lives can jolt and take so many random turns, each one making us focus on something more important to us at that time. In an industry and society that has a lot of expectations it can be hard to do what’s right for yourself, because you get wrapped up in what you feel you should be doing, but it’s just THAT it’s what you feel you should be doing. No one actually really cares what your doing because they’re too worried about what they’re doing!

 

I urge anyone struggling to reach out and remember there’s always different paths up the mountain of life and sometimes the longer one is a healthier one-

‘For an arrow to go forward you have to pull it back first’

Therapy, books and podcasts have been extremely helpful to me in learning how to be more self aware and rebuild for a healthier life. If anyone wants to reach out and to know what I’ve been reading/listening too please feel free to message me. I’d also love to know what you’ve found helpful so comment below and let’s build a community of loving our minds & emotions.


Love & Positivity

The Hair Geek UK