I’m so happy that today I get to bring you an inspiring, useful and relatable guest post from the wonderful Lucy. If you don’t know, Lucy writes the blog From Lucy, With Love and she runs her own stationary business, Leaf Lane Studio.
I fully recommend following Lucy’s blog (links at the end) because she is so super honest and shares what she’s going through. Some of my favourite posts of hers are when she’s spoken out about her struggles with body image and medication. I think it’s really important that those who feel able and want to share do so, because it all helps to generate conversation around these sometimes stigmatised topics. Hopefully, reading these kinds of posts makes us feel a little less lost, too!
Today, Lucy has kindly shared her experience of coping with mental health struggles whilst launching and running her lovely business. The post is honest as ever, and there are some solid usable tips in there. Grab a cup of tea, enjoy the read and the beautiful images and then head over and find out more about Lucy, her blog and her business. I know you’ll love her!
Hi guys! I’m Lucy, and I write a little lifestyle blog called ‘From Lucy with Love’ and have my own business, Leaf Lane Studio, where I create wedding stationery and other products for lovely people like you. I live in Cornwall, with my husband Joe and our cat, Gizmo, who keeps us on our toes each and every day! We moved to Cornwall in February 2017 after years and years day dreaming of living there, craving the sea and the gorgeous views. That all sounds pretty dreamy right? Don’t get me wrong, it is fabulous, it really is, but I want to share more of my story with you, because it has been a bit of a journey to get to this point (and there is still a way to go yet!).
I suffer with mental health issues and life, at times, can seem crazy, be full of anxiety, fear and extreme lows; often, doing the most simple things can be a big struggle and so I feel, in a world of social media ‘show reels’ it is important to be open and tell people about the real life stuff. Here’s my story so far…
Let me rewind for a moment…
I have been conscious of having issues with my mental health since I was about 14 years old; there was always something that didn’t quite ‘feel’ right in my head and, as I grew up the struggle became harder and more challenging. I struggled with self-harm, severe suicidal thoughts and addiction to pain killers; I had a wide variety of therapy, tried several different types of medications (all of which just didn’t agree with me) but eventually I came to terms with the fact that this was something I would always have to deal with and so found a way to continue forward whilst trying to keep an element of sanity.
Whilst I like to share my story, this isn’t a post about the negative sides of mental health because, whether or not you have first-hand experience of the illness, you know it is not a bed of roses, that’s a given isn’t it? This is a post about how, despite of what life throws at us, we can push forwards, carving our own dreams, our own paths and show the world that we can achieve things, even if we doubt ourselves sometimes!
I have always worked, always been a hard worker who would commit hours upon hours to my job, giving it every part of me, but the older I got the more I craved independence and freedom. The stubborn side of me wanted to put all that effort in for me not for someone else (plus I started to really hate being told what to do!). On my hours drive to work I would listen to podcast after podcast about starting a business, feeling inspired and motivated to do the same, but not knowing where to begin. I had ideas, lots of them, plus I had my blog, which I craved to do more with too.
My mental health roller-coastered for a couple of years and I was still in the same routine, still listening to podcasts and arriving at work super inspired, noting things on scraps of paper and feeling butterflies in my stomach at the thought of being independent… an entrepreneur! It was during a really bad spell of depression, where I reached out for help and (finally) found the medication that works for me, that I thought to myself ‘I can’t do this anymore… I can’t have the pressure of getting up at 5am every single day, driving for an hour and working for an entire day, feeling like this… it’s going to be the end of me’. I literally felt like I was fading away, unable to keep up the act of ‘happy Lucy’ at work and crying on the way home because I felt so low. I knew I had to do something to move forward or this illness would beat me; enter the best bit of luck the universe has ever sent me: Gemma Sands, all round Yoda (!), life-coach/business coach and master of all things essential oils!
I won’t go into the whole thing of how I got to know Gemma, but I will say this, she is the reason I now have a business, she coached me from a mere dot of an idea, right up to my launch day and I am now proud to call her a friend too. I used to be on a call to her and be sweating… I felt like I knew nothing and her patience and encouragement led me to launching Leaf Lane Studio on 1st September last year!
I have learnt a lot along the way about how to do ‘all the things’ whilst coping with my mental health, something that, in the past, I would have never thought possible. I would love to share some of the things I have learnt and I hope you will find them useful, so here we go…
Accept what you don’t know!
Quite honestly, if I had understood this I would have launched my business about two years sooner. I had a huge fear of being laughed at for what I didn’t know which, in my business was how I actually get my products printed. I was terrified of calling a printing company and trying to explain what I needed for fear of them thinking I was an unintelligent idiot. You take it for granted, when you have a ‘regular’ job, that there are other people who generally know things you need to know, so you can ask without worrying because it is their job to know their thing and your job to know yours! When you start to work for yourself everything falls on you, so you have to bite the bullet and jump on in. This was something that was super hard for me, especially coping with mental health issues like anxiety, as I would get myself in a right old state just thinking about what might happen! When I finally did it, it was so easy; the printers were absolutely lovely and so helpful; the irony is that I now have a little part time job with them too!
Take some pressure off your shoulders
I am a huge believer in goals, I always set myself goals in my bullet journal and strive to meet them when I can, but I have learnt the importance of being more realistic about them. It would be so easy to think yourself a failure for not launching when you said you would or not having a certain product or service ready when you thought, but it happens, life happens, and people understand (I wish I had realised this earlier too!). Sometimes you have to take a step back, recalculate, reset and try again.
Cure yourself from comparison syndrome!
My goodness, this took me ages to figure out, it really did. Without doubt there is lots of good that comes out of researching your competition when you are looking to start a business or blog (or whatever it is), but there is such a things as too much research. I spent literally years looking at other people doing what I wanted to do, admiring what they created and dreaming about what I could create too, but the problem with doing that for too long is that you start to think what you are doing is not good enough, that they are better when, in truth, they are just different! I really had to learn that the hard way; it was super destructive for me at the start and now I just switch off to what others are doing (mostly). I follow some amazing artists and illustrators online and I truly admire and respect them, but I try to keep my time looking at what they create short so it doesn’t cloud my mind and eat away at my own ideas too much. The same goes for my blog too; there was a time where I used to worry what I was writing about, but I always remember what Gemma taught me, which is that you should be attracting or repelling your audience (your tribe!) as quick as possible; those who stick around are meant to be there!
Sometimes you have to stop
Whether you are a fellow mental health sufferer, have a physical illness or are a burnt out human being (we all know that feeling too right?), it is important to realise when you need to stop and take time to practice some self-care. I know that sometimes there is no choice but to push on through, deadlines do dictate our lives sometimes, but take it from me, stepping back for a day or two and treating yourself with love and kindness will make a huge difference in the long run. I know that if I have a good nap, eat some nourishing food and just relax for a bit that I will soon reset and be back to a better place; it is totally worth taking that time, so don’t feel guilty about it.
Launch before you are ready
This is something I can talk about from experience now but something that, when people said it to me, or I heard it on a podcast, I thought ‘yeah right!’. Gemma always said to me ‘… you can tweak things as you go’ and I guess I didn’t really ‘get’ that, but now I do! You really need to have your website up and running, or your blog a living, breathing thing, to have the insight into what you may need to change. Inevitably, with time, you will spot things that you think you would like to adjust, so stop doing what I did (seeking some kind of impossible perfection) and just go for it, make the site live, post your first blog post and learn as you go, I promise it is the best way!
So, those are my biggest tips. It goes without saying that talking things through with someone you love will really help, as will writing down all your concerns and trying to see them logically (especially if, like me, you are anxiety
The thing is with chasing your dreams is that it isn’t an easy journey, but if you are determined, realistic and gentle on yourself you can absolutely do it. On a podcast I listened to recently (although I can’t remember which one!) the host asked her guest if she would have proceeded with starting her business if she had known what the journey had in store, her guest replied a simple ‘no way!’ and I have to agree with that! Leaving a safe, long term job to chase the dream and move to Cornwall and start a business with ongoing (sometimes extreme) mental health issues is not for the faint hearted! In moments of madness I can catch myself pondering ‘what was I thinking?!’, yet here I am, still alive, having learnt a ton of stuff, because I had to… apparently no one magically appears with all the answers! I have, of course, had the help and support of my wonderful, ever patient, husband (otherwise known as tech support!) and my office ‘manager’, Gizmo, who walks all over my desk regularly to check on progress!
I still have a long way to go; Leaf Lane Studio has been running for almost a year and is barely off the ground really (but it is off the ground!). I have big hopes and dreams and I know I will succeed. I also know I will have days where just getting out of bed is all I can do in a day but that is okay because I can now live life on my own terms, which is pretty great!
Thank you to Lucy for taking the time to share her experience with us. I know this is exactly what I needed to read and I know so many of you will also relate.
Now, head on over to find Lucy elsewhere online and show her some love!