Where I've Been and What's Going On
So, I haven’t written a blog post in a rather long time and I’m at a point now where I want to clue you in on what’s been going on over the past year and a half or so and why I dropped off the face of the earth a little last year.
If you’ve been part of this community for a while you will know that I like to be upfront and honest about pretty much everything. I think it’s a key part of being a good business owner. So this is my full honest story of what’s been going on.
As you may know I suffer with my mental health quite a bit and last year I took a massive nose-dive. So let’s roll back the clock to the start of last year. I was feeling great and really confident about the year ahead. I’d had a great Christmas in terms of business and things where clearly growing, although not as much as I’d have liked, it was still great progress. I was determined to get back to being healthy in terms of my physical and mental health, and I was doing well. Fast forward a few months and things started to chip away at me. There were some bad things that happened and some good. The highs were that I was starting to get more consistent sales and I had my first wedding ring commission!
Then smack bang in the middle of last year I was the victim of a scam. It broke me, and I’m not exaggerating. It completely took over me. The help I needed just wasn’t there. I was getting sick of making endless phone calls repeating my situation and getting passed around and just plain ignored. I luckily got some help from my bank which made the situation a bit better and I’ll forever be grateful for what they did for me. But the brunt of it was still there. I was still trying to fight my corner trying to get people to listen to me, but it just didn’t happen.
At this point I was facing having to pay back a few thousand pounds I shouldn’t have to and with nothing in the bank and a business to try and keep afloat. I was honestly depressed and my anxiety was getting worse. While this was happening there were other major changes going on that should have been great but I only saw them as further stress and made my anxiety worse.
Then came the holiday of a lifetime. I was off to Orlando for two weeks with my amazing Fiancé, and boy did I need it. Although I had a great time I was still having to battle my anxiety and there were a few times I felt a little dissociated and felt physically ill. Unfortunately my mental health has a drastic effect on my physical heath and I was majorly suffering with my stomach. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t have a constant knot in my stomach, nausea, bloating or acid reflux. But I battled through and had an amazing time.
Then came the time to come home. I have NEVER felt so ill on a flight in my life. I’m usually a great flyer and only get a little anxious before boarding but the second I’m on the plane I’m usually fine. This time however, not long after taking off I felt unbearably nauseous. I had to stay in a constant state of sleep because the second I was fully awake I felt like death. When we were close to landing and they were handing out breakfast I just felt worse and worse. I physically couldn’t eat anything, my stomach was in knots and the nausea was unrelenting. I felt a little better once I’d got some fresh air but the whole rest of the day I still didn’t feel great. I fully believe this was my anxiety kicking into overdrive. I’ve never had panic attacks but it’s now clear to me that this is how my anxiety manifests itself alongside the chest issues I’ve had for a number of years now. I have a slight heart murmur, it’s nothing serious (the Cardiologist I saw made that very clear in saying that there is nothing really wrong, I don’t need medication and I will just have to learn to live with it.) but it tends to get worse when I’m stressed and anxious. I feel like someone has stuck a brick in my chest, my heart rate shoots up and I can feel my murmur a lot more and can have difficulty breathing.
So once I got back I was still dealing with the stomach and chest issues and just had no enthusiasm for anything. I also got the verdict that I would have to pay back the money I “owed”. So I set up a repayment plan with the debt collection agency (yes this is how far it went but the agency have been really nice and they put things on hold to investigate on my behalf, although it made no difference.) and I’ll finally finish paying it off at the very end of this year. I just accepted it and just wanted to get on with my life, but my mental and physical heath was still appalling.
Fast forward to Christmas and sales had been awful. I was getting a sale an event if I was lucky and I was getting more and more frustrated. I still am, like my business will be four years old in September this year and I’m still not breaking even. I swear there’s something massive I’m missing! Then add to everything else me being really ill over Christmas and New Year. To be honest I should have probably taken some time off work but I seriously couldn’t afford to.
I started this year feeling like an empty shell of a person and facing having to give up the business. It was beyond awful. Then we all know what happened after that…..COVID! But in reality I’m actually glad it did and it was what I needed. I was starting to get a bit better by this point but I knew I had to get help so I had an appointment with my doctor and got referred to the local mental health team and signed up for cognitive behavioural therapy sessions. This was literally just before lockdown happened, and when it did I just decided to let go. I’m a control freak and a perfectionist and I knew that the more I tried to control what was happening I wouldn’t get any better, so I just let go. I now had the time to focus on myself and the things I love doing.
I was lucky enough to get furloughed so I knew that I could scrape by and still manage to pay the business bills. I then got a letter in the post saying I was eligible for the government small business grant thanks to my studio being a rateable business premises and getting small business rate relief. I then had the amazing moment when I knew how much money I was getting and literally burst into tears and was shaking. I couldn’t believe it! It has saved my business and I’ve been working on improving it and growing it ever since.
I also started working out five times a week and started eating a lot healthier. The exercise made an instantly HUGE difference to my mental health and so my physical health started to follow suit. I then started the six weeks of CBT and learnt the skill I needed to make sure that I stay in a good mental state.
And that leads us up to now. I not long had a giveaway for hitting 500 followers on Instagram and the numbers are still climbing! I’ve been working from home making what I can, and I’m continuing to work from home for now as I have to rely on the train to get to the studio and I just don’t feel safe doing that yet. I also don’t feel safe to go back to markets just yet, I want to make sure I have a decent plan in place so ensure your safety before I do. It’s a lot to work around when you’re a jeweller as people want to pick things up and try things on. I’m still working to improve my business and still chasing those ever elusive sales (seriously, what am I missing, what am I not doing right!!!!!). I’m taking orders still online or directly via email/DM. I’m also still open for custom orders, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I know this has been a bit of a long one, I tried to zoom though the events of the past year and a half as best I could. I really wanted to update you on what has been going on and where I’m at. I hope you’ve all been staying safe and continue to do so while things get a little bit back to normal. If you’re a fellow small business owner I hope you’re okay and have been able to get some help to keep going in these strange times, I’m always here if you need a chat/rant.
As always feel free to comment and share this post, and until my next one you can find me on social media, especially Instagram!