Hey everyone!

Back in November 2016 I revealed in a livestream that I had to take a substantial period of time off work (4 months to be exact) with work related stress. I had been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder 4 years earlier but managed to beat it, or so I thought with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), exercise, diet and sheer willpower. In September 2016 due to enormous pressure at work my anxiety returned with an absolute vengeance and knocked me for six. After I revealed this I got loads of messages to my Facebook and Instagram pages from my followers, saying they had or currently still do suffer with anxiety, so after a long time of wondering whether or not I should post this I've decided to tell my story and how I manage it. This post isn't looking for sympathy, all of these events have helped shape me into the person I have fought to be, and I am immensely proud of who I have become and what I have achieved. It isn't going to be easy to write and might be uncomfortable for you to read in some parts but, the more people who speak out about their own mental health issues, the less stigma there will be for those who suffer. It is going to be a long post and very personal post, so sit down with a cup of tea and make yourself comfy.

One thing I also want to stress is that this post isn't to paint anyone in a bad light but there are events that transpired that are integral to this story.

My anxiety first reared it's ugly head in the summer of 2012. I was a 20 year old full time student, living with my emotionally abusive ex-partner, working a part time job and running my own small business to make ends meet. At the time I didn't think my life had that much stress in it but looking back, I'm surprised I didn't lose my shit. As my ex-partner was off work sick and with me being a student this meant money was tight so I started my own small business alongside working my part time job at a local shoe shop to support us whilst he recovered. A little background on the reason my anxiety was so severe - my relationship with my ex-partner was unhealthy, for me anyway. The constant cheating and lying made me withdrawn, paranoid and my self esteem was practically non-existent. I had no confidence and I rarely left the house. I hear a lot of people ask why women don't leave abusive relationships (be it physical or emotional) and honestly? My reason was that I felt stuck because I had been conditioned to believe that no one else would want me. The thing with emotional abuse is that it isn't sudden, it creeps into your everyday life so you don't notice it as abuse and it becomes your 'normal'. It eats away at your self esteem gradually so you eventually don't recognise yourself and by that point they have control. I can see now that the relationship had always been a thinly disguised point of stress in my life.

It was a normal day, we had argued about yet another woman who had sent me a Facebook message informing me he was seeing her behind my back and I had just finished making dinner for the evening, nothing remarkable but something I had eaten on the regular. After finishing my meal I started to feel too hot, my face/neck/arms and hands become a bright, angry red colour and I started to feel like I couldn't breathe, almost as if I couldn't get enough air into my lungs. I had never experienced anything like this so I called our 111 NHS number to get some advice from a medical professional and was told with my symptoms I needed to urgently attend our out of hours clinic. My Dad rushed me down to the clinic and I was called straight through to one of the Nurse Practitioners rooms. She told me I was most likely having a severe allergic reaction to what I had eaten and called an ambulance whilst another nurse injected me with anti-histamines and steroid injections. At this point I was terrified that I was going to die because I had heard so much about Anaphylactic reactions. When the ambulance arrived I was rushed to A&E and was kept under observation for 6 hours. My symptoms improved so I was released with steroids and antihistamine tablets to take at home. This event was the beginning of daily panic attacks and food avoidance issues. My main symptoms included chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, red rashes, feeling like my skin was burning, ocular migraines and visual symptoms. Anxiety affects everyone differently which is why it can be mistaken for other conditions, including allergies.

Shortly after the diagnosis I stopped eating almost completely, simply because I was terrified of having another reaction so I was referred to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester for allergy testing which included a full spectrum of possible allergens including foods, animals and substances to get to the bottom of it. After a few weeks my results came back as negative (except for my dreaded nemesis Marmite), and the consultant at the hospital concluded from the results and my symptoms that I was misdiagnosed with an allergy and that I should be evaluated for anxiety and depression. I was diagnosed with GAD and went back and fourth with my Doctor for almost a year trying to find a suitable treatment for the anxiety attacks that were happening almost daily. The first round of CBT had failed and it looked like I would finally have to start a course of anti-depressants. We had discussed managing my condition with exercise and dietary changes so this was the route I eventually went down. I cut all processed food, caffeine and alcohol out of my diet and started going to the gym with friends. Eating better and the endorphin's released during exercise slowed the attacks down to around three/four a week which was a huge relief but the main source of stress was still in the back of my mind.

At the start of  2013 I moved out of my apartment to move back home with my Mum and Dad to ease the financial pressure and to give myself some space from the my relationship with my ex partner (who had at this point returned to work but was still putting immense financial stress on myself). 

So where does airsoft come in to all of this? Well, in August 2014 I played my first proper airsoft game! As I've said in the past, I had such an enjoyable day I thought if this is what airsoft was like all the time I should play it more often. I was exercising more and getting out there and socialising. My new hobby was quickly helping me manage my stress within the week and gaining confidence as I met new people/made new friends. My Anxiety attacks reduced even further however, as many of you know in November 2014 I had a car accident and lost my graduate job as a designer and this was when my anxiety was at it's peak. As I was unable to work and with no job to even get up for I created Femme Fatale Airsoft, after scouring the internet for information for female airsofters and not finding a great deal! Femme Fatale Airsoft was something to pour my spare time into and to give me something to wake up for in the darkest period of my life.  

Femme Fatale Airsoft saved me.

I will tell you in a nutshell why. I love airsoft for many reasons - I have met some of the most amazing people through a shared love of a hobby, I get to spend obscene amounts of money on kit and build some awesome loadouts, it releases stress/tension, gets my adrenaline going and of course, in regards to MilSims etc it makes me push my physical and mental limits. I love blogging for a very different reason - when I started the blog I was a full on newb so it was a huge learning curve from learning how guns worked, to disassembling pistols to building loadouts that looked awesome and were more importantly functional! It has allowed me to build a community based on knowledge sharing, positivity, encouragement and support and has allowed me to travel the world - all this has helped rebuild my confidence enormously.

At the end of 2014 Doctor suggested a second round of CBT therapy to help me beat my food avoidance issues which I undertook successfully and my therapist was happy with how much progress I was making and how my new blogging/airsoft hobby was helping me to become more confident and happy in my own skin, but there was one thing holding me back. I couldn't pin point it until I drove 150 miles down south to play an airsoft game with people I had become friends with through airsoft forums. I was so happy, at ease and carefree that weekend I thought 'why can't I be this happy all the time?' and it dawned on me, the only stress I had that weekend was the relationship. This is when I decided to end the relationship, and immediately it was like a weight had been lifted. Combined with the dietary changes and the increase in exercise, my anxiety dropped to its lowest point in 2 years.

 I fully believe that it was airsoft and FFA that helped me gain the confidence to finally put my own happiness first.

In September 2016, I started to suffer immense pressure at my 9-5 job, I was the head of the Customer Services department and involved in purchasing at a builders merchants. Customer service is a thankless job and nothing is ever good enough for customers so to all those who work in retail/customer service, I salute you. I loved the people I worked with and my company was supportive of me but the constant pressure from customers and abusive language that I was facing on an almost daily basis brought back all the symptoms I had been suffering with all those years before. Noticing that my well being was on the decline once I again, I visited my doctor and she signed me off work for just over 4 months. I definitely needed the time to recuperate and focus on myself. This was when I made a life changing decision.

In January of 2017 I decided for my own well being (and sanity) I would quit my job to be a full time writer/blogger. This was the moment everything changed. I took this huge step despite all of the 'sensible advice' I was given. It's no secret that I love what I do and leaving all of my previous stresses behind to focus on FFA gave me a new lease of life. I decided to take this time to travel as well - to broaden my horizons and grow as a person. It has been 7 months since I made the decision to become self employed - it hasn't been easy (I now work 60 hour weeks instead of 30 hour weeks) and there have been bumps along the way in both my professional and personal life but I have come out the other side more confident, with a more positive outlook and a new perspective all thanks to this sport. 

If you are reading this and are currently suffering from mental health issues, know you are not alone. It can be hard to ask for help and you may not even know who to talk to but remember it's okay to not be okay all the time. Even the strongest people stumble. Speak to a trusted family member, a friend or see your Doctor, hell even send me a message, but don't ever feel like you need to struggle alone.

Kelly x


  1. Sorry to hear about your pain. Though it's brilliant that something as simple and as silly as shooting people with little plastic balls has helped you through it. Above all, hats off to you for sharing your experiences. As someone who's been in a dark space (and occasionally returns there) I applaud you for using this forum for sending a positive message to others who may be going through something similar, or who know someone who is.

  2. Hello Kelly I read your story and I love it so much, reminded me of alittle of me.I have problems as well, I don't like being social. I was born 7 weeks early, I have lazy eye they tried to fix. My thought process is slow, I don't think fast. About 20 years I started playing airsoft, over the year I made alot of friends and I grew out my shell alittle.

    I fell for your story


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