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"Breaking the Stigma: My Personal Journey with Mental Health"

Hi everyone,

This week’s edition of Shaped by the Sea is very personal. I share a lot of my life on the blog as so much of it is shaped by the yachting industry, and my mental health is no different.


Mental health in the yachting industry… isn’t this a conversation that comes into the forefront of yachting time and again, Over the years the industry has become more accepting and open to change to develop a basis of understanding and support for seafarers.


In 2021 I wrote my dissertation for my degree in Operational Yachting Science on “ how COVID-19 19 affected the mental health of yacht crew”  As the industry began to move on from the effects of the pandemic, I spoke to crew members from captains to junior stewardesses to assess and collect data and gather an understanding of what was happening across the industry.

After publishing a survey across the industry and building my dissertation on my findings, I shared and published it to multiple yachting platforms once completed and assessed. One of the questions I asked in my survey was...


“Do you feel mental health isn’t talked about enough in the yachting industry?”

"47 per cent of yacht crew stated “strongly agree” that mental health is not talked about enough in yachting. Furthermore. 36 per cent of the crew stated “agree” which underlines that over 83 per cent of subjects from the industry believe the mental health of crew is not talked about enough. "


Writing this three years later, I would love to know if these people still feel the same way, and how much has changed in three years. I think the industry has developed and grown to acknowledge mental health as a real issue onboard but is it seen as equal to a physical injury...

My Story…

 

A series of Events in quick succession led me to struggle with my mental Health.  Recovery from an emergency surgery which I discussed in a previous blog (Bodies, Bikinis and Boats), leaving a job that wasn’t right for me, and moving away from a toxic relationship. I slowly became a shell of who I was before, which occurred over a slow progression.


Lack of self-confidence

something I had never struggled with previously, I’ve always been an outspoken and confident person, who was never afraid to speak her mind.

 

Uncomfortable in my skin

post-surgery, I became body conscious due coming to terms with a scar after surgery, what was supposed to be a simple routine surgery had complications which meant afterwards a scar from my belly button to my bikini line.

 

Becoming Bland

this one I find hard to explain, those who know me well know I have passion and a spark for the things I love. I lost that.

 

Anxiety

This started to show itself in becoming uncomfortable with confrontation, then escalated into feelings of self-doubt, I became less and less able to deal with stressful situations and whilst working onboard became detrimental to my mindset at work.

 

I shoved in a box, and pretended that the pit of nerves, concern and stress in the bottom of my stomach wasn’t real in public or in front of the crew but in private I didn’t deal with it I let it overwhelm me to the point that I began to have panic attacks.

  • shortness of breath

  • Brain fog

  • inability to focus

  • Shaking

 

These lasted for about three months before I decided I had to have some time off boats, which was the right time as I was underperforming in my job. I moved home and took time to recentre myself, surround myself with my loved ones and work on my core happiness.

This was harder than I’d ever imagined and just the beginning of my journey of being aware of my mental health.

 

Why am I Sharing…

 

There are small signs and symptoms you can look out for in your fellow crew members that may indicate they are unhappy or struggling… I’m no expert this is just from my personal experience.

 

·      Withdrawing from social activities

·      Being repetitively self-deprecating ( putting themselves down)

·      Out of character emotional outbursts

·      Inability to make decisions (Brain fog)


Who can Help?


The hardest thing to do is ask for help but it is the best thing you can do for yourself. The above organisations are there to help, support and heal. There is no shame in not feeling ok in your mind. If you break your arm you go to the doctor if you break your mind...



As always, keep smiling, laughing and loving the Sea xo


feel free to like, comment and share with your friends, the more people talk about mental healthh in yachting the more awareness we raise*



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1 Comment


A massive congratulations on sharing your story and journey, which sounds like such a tough journey from start to current day.


I definitely feel that so many Yachties go through the same process as you without being able to put a finger on why! All crew should read this to know that they aren’t alone!

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