*This post was written in 2018 & has been extracted from an old website. It was the initial 'coming out' of my mental health in a bid to encourage and inspire others that may be facing similar challenges, particularly directed towards my clients and 'fans' of my makeup career.*
What is really the best way to start a conversation about mental health? To me, it would be sharing my own personal story. I feel an obligation to the people that have supported my journey as a Makeup Artist for the last 5 years. I am finally ready, to show my scars so that others know they can heal.
When I began doing makeup (at 17), I didn’t know where I was going – but I had one mission “I want to make people happy”. If you’ve ever sat in my chair you’ll know that this was my first & foremost goal. Rising at 6am every Saturday, taking no breaks & exhausting myself into darkness, I felt incredibly lucky to help so many girls feel just that little bit more special on momentous occasions and also for sharing a little part of themselves with me. You may not have known, but I have valued each and every conversation shared between myself and a client. One thing is for certain, I always put my clients first, above all else, above myself. I am so grateful for you all, though now it’s time to claim back some of my space in this world.
Free. That’s how I always wanted to feel. I tried to escape from myself in any way that I could. I yearned for everything outside of myself and had the power to manifest my dreams into reality however nothing brought me to where I wanted to be, where I thought I should be. ‘Why isn’t this working?’ I would stifle myself as my fear for the future grew larger with each passing moment. ‘I’m becoming more successful but it’s not bringing me the joy I had aspired for?’ I didn’t understand. I did what I felt I was supposed to do. Why didn’t I feel the way I should? Life had failed me. Outwardly, I had friends, family, reasonable health, a buzzing career, a sense of humour, a confident demeanour however on the inside I was torturing myself, trapped in the silent jail cell I had locked within my head.
‘I’ll lose weight, that will work’ I thought as I began to shrink my already petite frame hoping that it would bring me some kind of purpose I had been so desperately longing for. Like most things that I cared enough to work on, I became very good at it. I ‘succeeded’ – in what regard, though? My body got smaller, my face got slimmer, even my lips got bigger but my thoughts became louder and my spirit got darker. The further I went on this search for external happiness the sadder I quietly became. The bags of grief I heavily carried for so many years had meshed into my being & I could no longer differentiate who the real Martha was, in fact – I didn’t even try.
Fighting an internal battle for so many years within the vortex of my mind, my body had no choice but to eventually fight back; to signal the volcano that was about to erupt. A pain here, an ache there. These weren’t the passings of a virus but the pressings of my soul.
Pressing myself, begging “Please, you can’t keep doing this to yourself!”. As far as I was concerned, my body was a separate entity & was something that could be controlled, contained, silenced. Months passed & I became sicker until I no longer had the basic function of my organs or the power of my limbs. Time went on, my hair began falling out as the bones in my body protruded through my grey, lifeless skin. Surgeries ensued as vital lymph nodes were cut from my body as I searched for the cause of my organ failure. I was so angry with myself, with the world. “Why? Why me?” I looked in the mirror to a soulless gaze staring back at me from a wheelchair, with utter hatred and dismay. Every vessel of my body was screaming out for help but I refused to listen.
This was the end of my life as I knew it. If I wasn’t about to be diagnosed with lymphoma then I was sure that I would have to just end my life. A thought that had always seemed like a glimmer of hope to me, somewhat of a ‘backup plan’, a way out of this torturous life.
Physically wasting away, I mentally burst. I burst open.
I didn’t tear down my walls, I annihilated them.
In the midst of an extreme, traumatising mental breakdown that will potentially shape me forever as those around me feared for my life & wondered where Martha had gone, I finally knew, for the very first time, where she was. She was here.
She was free.
Finally. The years of suppression & repression to which I had become a custom to had caught up with my subconscious mind until it exploded into a psychosis, like a ticking time bomb. There WAS a way out! Finally. I was free. Free of judgement, free of thought, of shame, of silence, of the girl I thought I was. I now know that this person I had become so familiar with wasn’t truly myself at all, but my mask, my identity, my ego. Like a pane of glass, she shattered as my inner essence took her first breaths in a hospital emergency room. To others & myself, it was a harrowing experience however I truly had to burst into smithereens in order to break my way into freedom.
I greeted the world with fresh, vulnerable eyes. Everything was so scary and new. I am indebted to those that handled me with such care as I had to learn to talk and walk again, as though for the very first time. Those that were there to feed me, to shower me, to aid me in that traumatic period as I stepped into myself for the first time will forever hold a special place in my heart.
I was sectioned under the ‘Mental Health Act’ & spent the summer of 2017 in a psychiatric hospital where I met some wonderful people as I journeyed my way through the wards. Although I had a handful of friends & family, those I met ‘inside’ connected with me on a much deeper level as they were the first to see me without my mask. Not only that, but they saw my vulnerability as beauty. It was okay to just ‘be’. For the first time, I really understood that we are all the same. There was no hierarchy here, no ‘us‘ and ‘them’. Like guiding lights, I have looked deeply into the eyes of so many that aided my recovery in soft, subtle but significant ways.
I was always so afraid to look inside myself as I feared the darkness that I held so tightly in my core. But when I had no other choice but to face myself in such an exposed, raw state, it turns out the darkness I had feared wasn’t quite as black as I had anticipated. In fact, there was light.
As I sit here writing this, I can’t help but think of my 19 year old self who refused to get help, my 15 year old self who thought the world was against her and the inner child that held herself in silence for so many years. Finally, they are being taken care of. Finally, I am free.
You can resist your thoughts, you can block out your feelings, you can run from the turmoil of your surroundings however you can never escape from yourself. Somewhere buried deeply inside you is the inner child that always wanted the best for you, when you grew up – and still does. It is never too late to come home to yourself, your true nature, your soul.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my clients and ‘fans’ of my work, for instilling confidence & self belief when I found it hard to believe a single word. Every nice comment or message has always sat deeply within my heart. If it wasn’t for your love and support, I wouldn’t have been lucky enough to invest my time, skill & energy into a craft that at one stage gave me so much joy, what I at the time felt was my purpose.
I understand now that my purpose in life goes far greater than what can be seen on somebody’s face, but rather felt on a much deeper level. As special a task that will always be to me, I’m now ready to turn over these pages of my book with a smile on my face & some pride in my heart as I turn the corner in my life, unveiling a beautiful new chapter.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to become self sufficient at age 18 & influence the lives of many beautiful girls (and boys) as they witnessed their innate beauty with fresh eyes, for even a split second, perhaps for the very first time.
Right now, I’m learning to be kind to myself and taking some time to heal both physically & mentally, although I wouldn’t call it ‘time off’ as I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I will now use my experience to help others.
I’ve decided to set up a holistic healing blog & I’ve also been enjoying pouring myself into my healthy food-blog (www.mytastysoul.com) ‘@mytastysoul’ which is where you often find me, learning to heal body and mind from within. I’ll be spending the remainder of the summer volunteering at a holistic health retreat centre in Granada, connecting with others on similar journeys and finding deeper healing within myself.
I wish to inspire others to transmute their sufferings into serenity, their pain into peace and experience into evolution.
For the first time in my life, I am grateful for everything that has happened to me as each triumph, trauma and tragedy was although unbeknown at the time, a gateway to myself.
For anybody that is struggling to find their way, let me please tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Please keep searching, keep digging, push through the darkness and break down the barriers. I am waiting for you at the other side. Martha x