The sea, anxiety and me......
Updated: Jul 29, 2019
Every single day I count myself very fortunate to be doing a job that I love. I have loved selling things since I was very young...even if it was selling stamps from my childhood post office set!
When I was in my 20's and 30's I spent quite a few years being a retail manager for both Anita Roddick's Body Shop' and then at Laura Ashley. Busy, busy times, mainly during the 80's. Products were flying off the shelves and you had to work hard and learn fast! Looking after a team of 13 at one time mean't you had to know where everyone was at any one time and what they were doing, even if it was a toilet break!
Many years on, having had my children, I saw a couple of retro beach towels for sale on an auction site. I loved them and they reminded me of childhood seaside holidays in Cornwall. The lady who was selling them lived only in the next village and when I met her she told me how she still had a photograph of her sitting on one of these towels on the beach. Her face lit up as she remembered these happy holidays from her past.
So on that very day, the idea of Retro-On-Sea was born Suddenly I had customers all around the UK. People were telling me that our seaside collectables were going into camper vans, caravans, pilot boats, converted barges and beach huts! For a good few years I was setting up our stall at fairs, fetes and car shows! My Morris Minor and VW camper van were such fun to take to these events.
Everyone loved the nostalgia of Retro-On-Sea. We found ourselves in the pages of our local newspaper, on the Homes & Antiques website and part of a lovely article on retro in The Somerset Life magazine. Complete with support from my hubbie and children,...life was good. My disposition in life has always been a cheerful and sociable one. My friends and family will tell you that I talk a lot, laugh a lot and love to be out and about a lot. Running Retro-On-Sea was fun and rewarding.
The reason I have shared all this with you, my lovely customers, for the very first time, is that one day,....that all changed.
I set up my stall in a friendly location we had been in before, when suddenly I felt nervous and unsure. I stood in the 'ladies' toilet and felt physically overcome by fear. I shook, my stomach churned and I just wanted to run. Run...run back home.
My dear husband was calm. He took on the stall single handed, while I grabbed the keys of the van and drove home as fast as an ancient vehicle would go. What was I doing I thought to myself...what was this strange invasion in my life...taking over my body and telling me what to do!
The truth was this...
In the coming years I had to share my life with an anxiety disorder. At my lowest point I couldn't even leave my house. I couldn't get past the gate. I couldn't speak to people. In my effort to get beyond this, I decided to set up a very small bricks and mortar shop, where I would meet my customers head on and shake this problem off. I was proud of my beautiful shop. With hindsight I was in the wrong location! I tried so very hard to meet and help people...when it was really me, that needed the help.
In between now and then I have been on a journey that I never saw coming. I would never have believed that anxiety and panic like this would be something that would happen to me.
Yes, some people just don't 'get it' or want to understand it, but many do. I had no idea how many people suffered with it. Maybe it is one of those things that you are not aware of until you have it, or perhaps it is a 'sign of the times' that we live in and the pressures we have to face.
It has been a tough 4 years, but in many ways so rewarding. Going on-line with Retro-On-Sea has been incredibly good for me. I still get to meet and chat with customers, without the pressure of running a bricks and mortar shop. I can wake up in the morning and do my meditation before I start the day.
You may wonder why I have shared all this, when what we really want is to show the 'good life' through retail.
We can still do that, but I have seen a greater awareness of mental health issues in the past year, through people being prepared to stand up and tell the world just how it has been for them. Dear friends, I am just one such person out of many that don't have the voice to share this. I couldn't have shared it when I was in 'the eye of the storm', but now feel sufficiently well to do so.
If you can relate to any of this - just remember that you are not alone. It may feel like there is nothing in this world that can help you - but through the loving kindness of others and the right medical help you can come through this.
Most of all give yourself time. Time to rest your mind, time to relax, Time to let yourself off the hook. Not to beat yourself up for not doing things as you normally would or feeling that you have failed. Time to give yourself a chance.
Time to heal.
Thank you for reading and letting me share this with you. I have improved greatly and running Retro-On-Sea on-line has been in many ways part of my therapy. Thank you everyone for your support. Please keep reading any blogs, following the shop through Facebook and Instagram. Do take a look at the site at www.retro-on-sea.co.uk
In my next blog I will share with you some of the things that I find helpful and therapeutic day to day.