Swim Society Stories : Tash

by Swim Society on May 11, 2021

"I didn’t think I had a “problem”.

Depression, anxiety, sleep paralysis, panic attacks – these were all big scary terms"

 

 

A bit about me 

My name is Tash, I am the ecommerce and merchandising manager here at Swim Society, although as you can imagine at a start up like ours, get involved in a bit of everything! 

 

My journey with my mental health  

I wanted to use the opportunity on our blog to talk about my own mental health and my journey over the last few years and share what has helped me along the way. I am no expert by any means, but I think its important that we are more open about things where we can be, and if my experience can help just one person than this is the right thing to do.   

I am firm believer that we shouldn’t talk about mental health as a bad thing or attach stigmas to it being negative. The way I see it is everyone has mental health, it has its good days and its bad days just like your physical health does. Sometimes we all struggle with a cold, we don’t attach stigmas to that we just know our body needs rest to recover, the same way that if you have a tough mental health day there are steps you can take to make yourself feel better.  

Until about 4 or 5 years ago, I’d never have placed myself as someone who had any kind of mental health “issue”. I am fortunate to have a very loving family, had a good upbringing and have always had a great support network of friends. Sure, I was a nervous person at times, but ~ anxiety ~ or ~depression~ me? No, I would have never have used those words, it felt too serious, too big a word to admit that I may struggle with it.  

 

Anxiety and the work place 

For me my trigger was work and my working situation at the time. I’m not going to name names, but I worked at a very large co-operation and felt like it couldn’t get better than that and that I’d reached the peak of my career as it were in terms of companies to work for.  

What started out as a high of even being offered the job, very soon became apparent was one of the worst working environments I had ever been in. It felt very dog eat dog – there was a lot of very talented people there but it created a toxic culture where everyone is pinned against each other and put on a path of how to succeed with little to no consideration for one's actual feelings or mental health. I got to the point I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping properly and all I could think about was work.  

It started to consume my life – I would be up so that I was the first person in the office every single day because of little things like there being not enough seats for everyone in our particular work area and I may have to sit elsewhere or with people I didn’t know.  

I wouldn’t sleep if I had a big meeting or presentation, not because I wasn’t confident enough in my role or what I was doing, but because I felt in constant fear that people would think I wasn’t good enough, or felt that someone else could walk in and do my job better. 

These sound like little things but for me at the time they’d be the things I thought about night and day and consumed me so much it started to turn my relationship with my now fiancé, argumentative because I couldn’t see straight, or put anything or anyone in front of my job. A job that actually didn’t put me first for anything (they even ran their internal mental health awareness week the same week as black friday …). 

Eventually it got to a breaking point and to the point where I was worn out and burnt out. However, I so badly refused to believe I was struggling with anxiety or panic attacks, and at times sleep paralysis, that my boyfriend almost forced me to go and speak to a doctor.  

I didn’t want to. I didn’t think I had a “problem”.  

Depression, anxiety, sleep paralysis, panic attacks – these were all big scary terms.  

These weren’t words that I’d have used to describe my experience at the time – I was just a “bit stressed” something I thought everyone felt from time to time.  

 

So what helped me? 

The huge turning point for me was acknowledging it. Accepting I needed some help, and that doing just that was ok. For me, it was having a doctor tell me that I suffered from all of the above was the first stage in me realising I needed to give myself a break.  

She signed me off of work for a week or so (which at the time ironically gave me more anxiety as to what people may think) and I took that time to rest, heal and put myself back at the top of my priorities.   

I took a break from noisy London and was lucky enough, in that I could go back home to the countryside for a week or so where I finally caught up on some sleep and took the time to try and repair. I used oils and calming balms, all the cliché things that say they help with anxiety but actually really do! From this I was then able to start reaching out to friends who shared their experiences with me and talk more about what I had been facing in order to help me recover.  

To cut a long story short, when I returned to work, I handed my notice in as soon as I got back. It was a scary thing to do with no job to go to but, I knew that it was vital for me to do it, for my own health. I am a firm believer of things happening for a reason, and within my notice period I was offered another job immediately which I loved and ultimately led me to meeting Montana and Laura. 

In my day to day life now, the smallest difference I have made but the one that makes the biggest impact, is to give myself small breaks throughout the day. 5 minutes or 10 minutes here and there to go outside with a coffee and reset and think about something other than work, or what is particularly stressing me in that day, week or month. Some people write their affirmations down, I find it easier to think about mine and reflect on what I’m grateful for in the moment. This helps me reset, focus on my breathing and allows me to carry on with my day.  

 

How I want to make a difference; 

I hope that by at least sharing this experience and talking about it will help others. I want to encourage others to speak about their experiences (where they are comfortable to) whether through forums such as this blog, the clubhouses we do around mental health or just chatting to friends and colleagues about what could help them.   I also want to build a society and workplace that none of these subjects are taboo, and that our team can feel comfortable talking about, or flagging when they need a break. Mental Health days are just as important as physical health days in my eyes and no one should be afraid to ask for a small time out to reset. Burn out is real and it’s silly when there could be so many small things done to avoid it!  

Work should be something you enjoy, not something you loathe. I am lucky enough to have met Montana and Laura and have helped create a brand I am so proud to be a part of, and ultimately enjoy working for so much. I think would find it hard to be in the position I was once in again. I know we have such a strong community already that respects each other's feelings, I would never worry about flagging if I wasn’t having a great day, and that’s what I want for every future member of our brand.  

My DMs, like Swim Society’s are always open (@tashhall or @swimsociety on Instagram) and if anyone ever feels like they are struggling or need to talk – I am here.  

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