Sarah Hollebon – Living with Anxiety and PTSD
My name is Sarah. I am an emerging fashion designer with a mission to open up the conversation on social issues. I have suffered from anxiety since the age of 11 and have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from two separate incidents.
The first incident happened when I was in my teens and the second one happened when I was in my final year at university when I was in my early 20s.
I was fortunate to be in therapy for both traumatic incidents. My therapists were incredible and helped me so much along the way. I also had a small network of friends and family around who were very supportive and helped me when I was struggling and are still very supportive now.
Most days, I feel my usual self and experience regular emotions we all feel every day. Yet even years after the traumatic events and even with therapy, flashbacks can still surface. Sometimes out of nowhere, sometimes without warning, a trigger surfaces, resulting in a flashback and this can throw me off course for a few days.
Flashbacks are debilitating. They make me freeze in my body, feeling helpless and so small.
I am a lot better at coping with my flashbacks now as I’ve learnt tools over time in therapy.
However, when I first started enduring my flashbacks, they were extremely hard to manage and cope with and it became extremely disruptive in my daily living.
My flashbacks that came to me when I was awake were different to the ones from when I was asleep. One of the flashbacks when I was awake really terrified me happened when I was lying in bed. A trigger surfaced out of nowhere, I felt a weight on top of me pushing down, I couldn’t move for what felt like forever. This resulted in a breakdown.
My most frequent flashbacks surfaced when I was asleep, through nightmares. They were either me enduring my trauma again or someone else enduring my trauma and me watching. I suffered daily from these for approximately 2-3 months, every night. They were so graphic and lifelike I would wake up in cold sweats, sometimes I wouldn’t be able to move from my bed for an hour because I was so shocked my mind could conjure up such graphic imagery.
Enduring these nightmares every night was horrendous, so I soon began to not sleep ending up extremely sleep deprived and lacking concentration at university when I needed it the most. During this time, I developed various other symptoms including a constant state of hyperarousal and hypervigilance which I still suffer from to this day.
I am an emerging fashion designer, my core focus is to explore and raise awareness of social issues that are happening in the world. My background is bespoke tailoring, I am a London College of Fashion graduate and I have been trained by a Savile Row waistcoat maker.
Each collection I produce explores a different social issue that is happening in the world. I like to challenge what can be uncomfortable subjects as I feel they need more awareness and I believe fashion is a powerful platform to create positive change. My current collection explores and raises awareness of 7 mental health conditions. I interviewed people with specific mental health conditions, whilst also taking my own experiences, turning them into pieces of artwork that can be both worn or publicly displayed.
I’m also a mental health advocate, to which I campaign and volunteer for Time to Change campaign and I am also a public speaker where I explain my collections and talk about my experiences with mental health.
Some examples of my work can be found below.
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