In 2013, I had a friend betray me. In doing so, she tugged on every heart string as she did it. She told a series of lies about her own life that led me to open up about my experience of my step dad having cancer, which he thankfully survived. I delved into a place in my brain that I had shut off for 4/5 years - it really hurt. What hurt further was that this “friend” was telling a series of other lies, some of which involving me, to our work colleagues.
This led to a work environment that was pretty unbearable, with rooms falling silent upon my entry, people completely blanking me, and with one person even spitting at the floor in front of me as I walked past them.
At the time, I was working 12 days out of 14 in order to save for a deposit for a house, so it really did feel like there was no getting away from this toxic environment. I had also been struggling with pain from a scoliosis of the spine, and taking a lot of cocodamol and tramadol in order to manage this pain. I had started to see a chiropractor and had monthly massages, which had worked wonders. I could move better and I wasn’t in constant pain. I had even started to wean myself off the painkillers.
In December 2013, I was at the chiropractor having a massage, when I couldn’t stop shaking uncontrollably, I was freezing cold, but to the touch, i was boiling hot and had a fever. Fortunately, I had become great friends with the Chiropractic Assistant, who then took me to the hospital. Initially they thought that I had viral meningitis; it was really scary and I had to stay overnight in my own room in case I was contagious. It was a really horrible experience, but I was lucky and I was let out the next day as they confirmed that it wasn’t meningitis. I had to wait 10 days for a diagnosis, and in that time, I declined massively to the point that I had to move back in with my mum as I couldn’t care for myself.
After the 10 days, it was diagnosed as glandular fever, and it hit me hard. I couldn’t eat without vomiting, so I lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time and my entire body hurt. I was off work for a month. And yet the world carried on without me.
Needless to say, with the colleagues that I mentioned earlier, I didn’t get a get well soon card. It was a dark and lonely place to be. Recovery took a long time, I suffered from post viral fatigue, which blended seamlessly into chronic fatigue syndrome. This was a lot to handle, and as the cloud over my head became darker and darker, my mood spiralled lower and lower.
Mid-2014, at one of my, what had become monthly, doctors appointments, I opened up about how low I was feeling. I felt stressed and anxious, and he explained that it’s like a pyramid and that if you’re feeling stressed and anxious that you’re likely experiencing feelings of depression as well. He offered me antidepressants, which at first, I baulked at the idea of. He explained that antidepressants should be used to give you a bit of help when you need it the most. Extending the sides of the bathtub to stop the water overflowing. So, I took them, under the proviso that he told me that if anything was to go wrong, I would get an emergency appointment.
Six weeks later, the day before my review with the doctor, I had a massive breakdown at work. I called for an emergency appointment, which was with a different doctor. I was told by this doctor that there was no way that the antidepressants could have made me feel the way that I was feeling, to which I told him that I was not going to be taking any more of the tablets. I reiterated this to my doctor the next day, and he agreed that I should come off the antidepressants. I would need to find another way of improving my mood. I went armed with information about a herbal medicine called St John’s Wort, which I started taking immediately and continued to take for the next 18 - 24 months.
My massage therapist is also a trained aromatherapist, and during our sessions, she would ask how I was getting on with my recovery. I opened up about my low mood and how I was struggling to keep my head above the water and she recommended that I try using essential oils to assist me alongside the St John’s Wort. I started to use bergamot oil on a tissue that I put in my bra so that I could smell it as I went about my day. It honestly helped me immeasurably.
I started to experiment with other essential oils, using an oil diffuser around my home. I used stimulating oils such as peppermint and rosemary when I was trying to concentrate on my Open University courses. And lavender and frankincense essential oils when I was trying to relax and manage my anxiety.
I was, and still am, a massive fan of candles. I would light them when I got in from work or whilst having a bath to relax. And I would throw the windows open and light a fresh scent when I was on a cleaning spree. They were a huge part of my day to day life. I also loved to have a reed diffuser in the hallway so that I could smell it as I walked in the house, and also in the bathroom to keep things fresh.
One day, whilst I was taking a break from my conventional job, I had a thought. What if I refilled my newly-empty reed diffuser bottle with essential oils? That was when I started to play with different combinations of essential oils and finding a reed diffuser base. I also started experimenting with candles, room sprays and wax melts.
Once I found a scent that I was happy with, now known as "Unwind", my brain started whirring to what else I could make and who for. So, at the conception, this was going to be gifts for family and friends. I thought about how I could choose essential oils and how I would blend them to assist with particular ailments that people I knew struggled with. From there, "Uplift" and "Breathe / Focus" were born. This completed what is now known as the "Core Collection". Additionally, because it was coming into autumn, I created two Autumn/Winter scents. These were blended for their scent, but because they are made using essential oils, they still have healing properties associated with each essential oil in the blend.
I originally spoke to one of my best friends about the idea, who then encouraged me to launch my products as a business. She was organising a Christmas Fayre at the garden centre where she had her shop for her business and said that she would put me down for a pitch, so I had a deadline to work to. I’ll be forever grateful to her for giving me the push that I needed to have faith in myself and the concept that I had come up with, and continue to develop.
My products are not just wax melts, candles, room sprays and reed diffusers. They are handmade by me, using only soy wax and essential oils, making them completely natural. If you feel like you struggle to find any time for yourself, the products that I have developed are intended to help you to take care of yourself.
Whether you have difficulty relaxing, are struggling with your mood or you have allergies or perhaps you, like me, love a nice candle, we have something for you. And if you’re like me, even the lighting of a candle, sets me in the right mindset for self-care.