Finally Free to Be Me: Naphtaly’s Story
Suffering with your mental health is not easy. And I should know, having struggled with my mental health for more than a decade. During adolescence, I experienced anxiety and stress due to my polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
By the age of 16, this developed into low moods, causing anxiety and self-hatred. At 17, I moved to London to study, but had no social connections there at that point. My depression became worse, causing me to feel like my energy and motivation were drained. But none of this compared to the feeling that I had lost myself and my identity.
During my bachelor’s degree at university in 2014, it became harder and harder. I felt caged inside my own mind, dying to be free. I had a rage inside of me, all I was doing was taking medications for my PCOS, and whatever the doctor had prescribed did not work for me at all.
It was hard to focus on my studies – in class I felt numb, and even lonelier. I didn’t know how to manage my anger and depression. Carbs, alcohol, and sugary sweets made it easier to survive those stressful days, but only for a short period of time. I started talking really negatively towards myself. Can you imagine spending 24 hours a day inside your head, with only negative thoughts for company? I couldn’t find equilibrium.
When I turned 19, I started partying a lot, which was hard as I was working full-time while going to university. The amount of pain I had from the PCOS was increasing with an imbalanced menstrual cycle, and I was putting on a lot of weight, even when eating healthy and exercising. I was going six to eight months, or even a year, without having a period, then having them last from four to six months long. Not only was my mental health affected, but also my physical health.
During those times, it was hard to accept who I was seeing in the mirror. I had spots on my face and I began wearing loads of makeup to hide the person underneath it, which didn’t help. There were days where I locked myself inside my room without seeing daylight, without seeing or talking to anybody. The worst part was that I was ashamed to tell my parents, friends, or partner how I felt, because I didn’t want them to feel sorry for me. When I began explaining to a few friends and colleagues about the way I felt, it was always one answer, which was “It’s only in your head” or “You’ll get over it.”
At the age of 22, I was feeling rejected, sad, unmotivated, and things weren’t going well in everything from my personal life to my career. I hated feeling like there was no spark in my soul. I wanted to only spend time with myself; all I wanted was to be in my own sad little world.
But I had – and still have – my amazing supportive partner who was always there to help me through this process.
I realised that I had to learn to forgive myself, and show more compassion towards myself
In 2017, during my final year at university, I was feeling exhausted and drained, but I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I went to the doctor to get help with my PCOS. I looked myself in the mirror, and asked myself: is this how I want to feel? My answer was no, I wanted help, I wanted to be myself and happy.
I’ve tried numerous things to combat my depression – I changed jobs, went on frequent holidays, exercised, ate healthily, spent time off social media, had herbal teas. The list goes on, and it was tiring. But nothing seemed to work.
In 2017, I had an idea: why not create something for relaxation without breaking the bank? I wanted to provide and practise self-care within the comfort of my home, so I started to investigate what was needed. I thought home fragrances and skincare would be a great way to start, and launched NaphtalyWorld in summer 2017. This was the start of me being able to accept my depression, and start on the road of recovery. I used to see my mental illness as an affliction. But now it’s a part of who I am, and I’m comfortable discussing it openly now.
I realised that I had to learn to forgive myself, and show more compassion towards myself. Now, I keep a gratitude journal and write positive things in it every day. I have a healthy diet, exercise more often, and travel when I can. I also have positive affirmations posted all over my house, and I make sure to practise mindfulness daily.
I am now better at looking after myself, and do more for me. I go on solo-dates to restaurants, the opera, movies, holidays, and generally make myself a priority. I don’t beat myself up for having a bad mental health moment, or day, or week anymore.
My business has been a game-changer for me, not only because I’m doing something I love, but because I can share my story with others who are also living with depression and PCOS, or are looking for a new way of improving their health and wellbeing.
Now, for the first time in my life, I am more than happy and feel at peace with myself. I am a health and wellness coach, dedicated to helping others and myself. I run an award-winning skincare and home fragrance business, and I am writing a wellness cookbook to be published this year. I hold wellness events, do public speaking, and much more.
My journey has taught me the importance of health and wellbeing for creating a balance of good nutrition, good health, and happiness in one’s life. I hope my words give you the strength and knowledge you need to act as your own advocate, and the power to create change in your life – starting from today. Many women learn to manage PCOS naturally. For me, I have learned not to let this affect me mentally anymore – everyone is different, and trust me, you are not alone.
Please know that there is no quick fix or magic potion to cure depression or PCOS, along with many other mental health conditions, but there is still so much hope for those affected. Help is all around you – yes, it often does take a lot of hard work and courage, but you will get there.
(Adapted from Happiful)