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Moving from strength to strength

Posted Sun 22nd Sep 2019 at 21:07
by Lauren Matthews

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Lauren has changed her life around by starting up a business that celebrates diversity through fashion.

Hi, I’m Lauren and I am 18 years old. I now live in Hampshire and run my own business, although it’s been a difficult journey to get to where I am today. I really struggled at school- growing up with autism I always found it difficult to really ‘fit in’ with my peers and making and maintaining friendships was something I could never really ‘get right’. In my secondary school years I developed significant mental health difficulties (anxiety was my main problem) and, eventually, my family relocated to Hampshire and I got to have a fresh start.

Tourette’s has been in my life for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I experienced a lot of vocal tics; I would be walking along and suddenly shout “CHEESE” for example. This used to embarrass me endlessly, as nobody else seemed to do things like this. Then, as my little sister got older, she began to have similar tics- both vocal and motor. Finally, I wasn’t alone.

As we grew up, my urge to tic began to decrease- but Lydia (my sister) found that hers were getting worse. They caused her physical pain and the effort of trying to suppress them became unbearable, to the point where she had to be signed off school. Eventually she was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and received therapy which has helped her to manage her tics. Lydia, like most people with Tourette’s, faces other challenges- mostly high anxiety and obsessive thoughts. Again, this is something I know all too well, as I am prone to similar things. Lydia is also now undergoing assessment for autism- it’s so nice for me to have someone I can so relate to.

In September 2018, when I was finding it impossible to attend college, I launched a business which aims to help people celebrate diversity and accept themselves for who they are. It is called ‘Øbsydian’ and the name is derived from the volcanic glass obsidian, which is said to have strong protective and strengthening qualities. My website is www.obsydian.net. I want my brand to enable people like me and my sister to know that they are great just as they are. We are all different- but that is the one thing we all have in common (as per one of the slogans on my T-shirts!). Supporting different charities is a very important part of my business- we love to give back to the people who’ve supported us over the years. This includes YoungMinds, the National Autistic Society and, of course, Tourettes Action.

Whilst things are still challenging for me, I now feel I am well on the road to recovery. My business gives me a sense of purpose and knowing that I am helping people by sharing my experiences makes everything worthwhile. I have recently appeared on BBC South Today talking about my struggles and my goals to make a difference to people’s lives, you can watch the clip here:

I hope to be able to continue working with Tourettes Action, as they have provided a huge network of support to my family in our times of need.

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about me and my brand, you can email me at info@obsydian.net and I will be in touch.

Thank you very much for reading and remember: YOU ARE AMAZING!!

Lots of love,

Lauren x


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