This is Ella, we met Ella by chance through a friend and it just so happened she was a very keen and talented aspiring designer. Ella designed our Maldives collection and this year we were delighted to be able to take her on as our design intern for a 3 month placement (Our Ella bikini was named after her!).

Ella, has become part of our little tight, knit team and decided she wanted to very bravely share her story of anxiety, body confidence and her experiences of dealing with internal trauma. This is her story.

My Experience

Since about the age of 16 I experienced intense anxiety seemly, out of nowhere panic attacks, shaking and more, which intensified massively around men or boys. This got worse and worse over the years to the point I did not leave my house unless I was going to college or a night out (where I’d get so drunk I could block out any of my fears). If a guy would look at me for too long on the tube I would have a full blown panic attack, if I had to meet a friends boyfriend most likely I’d quickly make plans to meet another friend or stay at a family members house, I was living and do still sometimes live in intense fear of men.

I just thought I was being crazy, I felt so alone in this. At 21 I started to go to therapy and at 22 I uncovered the truth of my deep fear of men, I essentially had PTSD and I was carrying a trauma in my body I was totally unaware of, by the age of 16 when I started to look more ‘womanly’ men started looking at me differently and I became totally triggered. I became full of intense anxiety and fear at even a glance or a hello, from a guy I did not know. Don’t get me wrong these guys were not always being ‘creepy’ or too forward, I just was so full of fear that I wanted to be left alone by any and all men. I only went to coffee shops with women at the counter, I sought out female doctors, therapists, I asked for female tutors at university, I shaped my life around avoiding men and thank f**k I did lingerie and swimwear as I think there was only one boy on my course who I also… avoided.

I realised there was a PROBLEM and did SO much work on myself, CBT therapy, hypnotherapy, cranio-therapy, meditation, breathwork and got to a point where now at 24 I feel such an incredible difference. I am starting to own my space in the world, but this fear, it still is a part of my everyday…and this is because as a woman this sh*t does happen every day. Unwanted stares, cat-calling, seemingly innocent behaviours. A few weeks ago I posted an Instagram story because, I was completely triggered in my local supermarket when a guy wouldn’t stop staring at me and it made me so uncomfortable. I realised wow this isn’t just my trauma this isn’t my fault, that situation was so uncomfortable and this sh*t is REAL. As a result I started speaking to women and to my friends, starting conversations about everyday life as a women and how often they experience cat calling, staring, and inappropriate or unsolicited comments.

I have always felt so strongly about this because I have this, almost hyper awareness of people being ‘creepy’ as I had trained my body to pick that up thinking I was keeping myself safe. However, I also realised this meant I was seeing the subtle realities of guys looking at other women for WAY too long, coming into their space, running after them to chat them up on a run, or just staring at them on the tube, without wavering. In light of everything that is being spoken about in the world right now.

I wanted to emphasise that you never know what someone has gone through, it is my responsibility to heal and own my power and my truth and feel safe in the world, but it should be all of our responsibility too to be consciously aware of our behaviour, to have difficult conversations with friends who talk about women in a derogatory way, to stop seeing women as objects and as humans working out there way in the world just like everyone else.

Let’s be real, it’s been a long time since a friend said to me, “god I met the love of my life staring at me in the supermarket line”, or “wow this guy cat called me and ugh I just fell for him right then and there”, it just doesn’t happen. And if it does for you great! But lots of women do not like this sort of attention.

This is not new to me and this is not new to any woman or man that experiences fear at the hand of men, the only difference is a man more often fears attack and a woman more often attack and rape. that’s why Sarah Everard being murdered has brought up so much for me, that for so long I have pushed down. For so long I dressed down to not be looked at, as I felt I was giving the wrong impression. NO. We have to flip this narrative, I am dressing for me not for you, and we all need to be allowed to own our space and work together! to keep each other safe.

With all this being said, I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with my own anxiety, trauma and feelings of fear. I wanted to make sure that not only does anyone reading this take the educational aspect away from it, but perhaps finds something useful in the coping mechanisms I have experienced over the past few years.

What helped me

What helps me shift a mood: Emotional freedom Tapping, (EFT) this is a form of (in my own words) emotional acupuncture. This has been life changing for me and I would recommend to anyone suffering with intense feelings, general stress, sadness, or who just needs a pick me up full of self-love and confidence. (An amazing beginner app: Tapping Solution)

My favourite motivational speakers: Mooji, Eckhard Tolle, Marissa Peer, Brené Brown.

My top meditation apps: Insight Timer (I love Sarah Blondin, Andrew Johnson and David J), Headspace and Pranayama. Breathwork is also incredible and majorly helpful for shifting old patterns. Instagram @one__mind__ is amazing.

The work that has helped me the most: inner child healing work, we all have an inner child who we often neglect or push away as it is too hard to connect to the truth of what we feel, and what they have been through. My life truly started when I let my inner child speak and I connected deeply with her and her experiences. I now talk to my inner child every day and say ‘it’s okay, we got this’. NLP Hypnotherapy really helped me with this (Richard Maule is amazing) Instagram @thehypnotherapistguy

Favourite book at the moment is: Brené Brown, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ & Clarissa Pinkola ‘Women Who Run with Wolves’

Learning to see my shame patterns & release them, is the next big and wonderful step of my healing journey x'

April 06, 2021 — Swim Society

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