Her personal journey from high flying fashion designer to resilience and self-care guru.
15 years ago the concept of self care and mental health care simply didn’t exist. If you suffered from mental health issues, you kept quiet in the workplace for fear of it being viewed as a weakness, one that could very easily get your fired from your job.
You’re not good enough. You’ll be caught out soon. Work more. Stay later. Come in early. Do more. Be more. Be better.
Aggressive and bullying behaviour was the norm in the fashion industry back in 2004 – a norm that almost everyone in the workplace accepted. Marie worked as a high-flying designer for major fashion power houses and experienced a working culture that undermined her sense of self and sense of worth. It was ok to shout. It was ok to bully. It was ok to undermine confidence. It was ok to dominate your employees lives. It was ok to demand everything.
Eventually her deep seated drive for perfection and her desire to keep saying yes to demanding bosses lead to bulimia and excessive drinking – very effective tools if you wish to punish yourself. Marie wanted to stand up to her boss and say no, but didn’t have the emotional and mental tools to do so.
This continued over an 8 year period until her marriage broke down, and so did she.
Starting to recover.
The New York marathon gave Marie a new focus on herself. She overcame her bulimia in order to be able to train for the big event but whilst it helped to ground her, she eventually realised that excessive exercise had meant that she was simply swapping one demon for another. She wasn’t addressing her mind.
“When we are at school we are taught about the human body, but nothing about the human mind. We now know that we can use our mind to rewire our thoughts and think differently.”
It wasn’t until Marie focussed on her mental health and self-care that she was able to start her figuring out what her new life might look like.
“You can’t sustain that level of pressure without doing damage. A lot of damage.”
She started with the small things and found that they began to make a difference – getting out of bed, brushing teeth, making the bed. The more she looked after herself the more resilient she became, and with greater resilience she was more able to cope with the challenges that life threw at her.
“What about the sustainability of our people and our talent? How are we going to help them?”
Part of Marie’s journey has also included setting up The Trend Academy. The Academy is a learning resource that helps students access the fashion industry, whilst also giving honest answers about what it is really like. As part of the Academy, Marie has talked to hundreds of students and her vulnerability has allowed them to open up about the realities of their own lives in a very safe space.
Marie’s recovery, through introspective, self help books and perseverance, has produced four key steps that have helped her, and those she speaks to, to maintain good self-care and a good mental attitude in the workplace.
Marie’s 4 steps to self care.
1. Accountability for yourself – don’t let others make decisions for you. Make them for yourself.
2. Vulnerability – sharing your personal journey with others helps them to open up and smashing the myth perfection.
3. Kindness – be kind to yourself, don’t drive yourself so hard. Extend that kindness to others too – spread the love.
4. Gratitude – be thankful. Learn from your journey, be grateful for the everyday and how that can make you happy.
With these insights Marie is in a unique position to help students and young adults prepare for the future. Her mantra of “self care is about learning to say no” will help prepare our next generation to go forth and flourish.
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