A woman who once suffered up to 20 anxiety attacks a day was cured after a lifechanging holiday to India – and has now quit her job and become an apothecary expert to help others beat their struggles with sleep and stress.
Clare White, 39, who was a hair and makeup artist, hid her anxiety attacks when they struck at work by hiding in a toilet while she tried to calm herself down, but she eventually travelled to India for four months where she says daily yoga and meditation gave her a new outlook on life.
Now based in Benfleet, Essex, Clare and her partner, Darren Cooper, 37, have launched Made By Coopers, a natural skincare and wellbeing brand.
Clare, who has two children with Darren, Harrison, six, and Daisy, five, said: “Of course when I booked the trip I had no clue just how much it would change my life.
“I quit my job and launched a business to help other people battling things like anxiety and now, I can’t even remember the last time I had an anxiety attack.”
Clare said she began to secretly struggle with anxiety when she was 25.
She said: “I worked in salons and, I don’t really know what triggered it, but my anxiety attacks started to get worse.
“No one at work knew about it so I’d make excuses to leave the room quickly. I’d go to the toilet to escape and try to calm myself down, which I now know is called avoidant behaviour.
“The attacks would creep up on me suddenly, my heart would start beating fast and I could feel my vision getting fuzzy.”
She added: “I spent a long time just dealing with them, not knowing how to make it stop.”
Clare suffered with the anxiety attacks regularly, and they occurred up to 20 times a day.
She said: “It was bad until I was about 30 years old. It became a vicious cycle, I would be self-conscious about them and worry about having an attack in public, but this would lead to me getting more anxious and make it more likely to happen.”
She added: “I was living in a constant fight or flight mode and my self-esteem took a knock. I decided I needed to take a break from work.”
In 2013, Clare booked a trip to India in a bid to cure her anxiety disorder.
She said: “I had started doing lots of yoga and mediation which I felt was helping me, so I thought where better than to visit the birthplace of yoga.”
She added: “I went out there with a friend and Darren joined us a month later. He was supportive of me searching for a solution to my anxiety, so he went on this healing journey with me.
“We travelled around the country, stopping off at different places including Delhi, Kerala, Agra to see the Taj Mahal and a small town at the foothills of the Himalayas, and every day we practised yoga.
“I stayed in India for four months before returning to the UK. When I got back, I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had an anxiety attack.”
Back home, Clare admits she could not imagine returning to her normal life.
She said: “In India we were so immersed in wellness, the lifestyle of yoga, meditation, breathwork and natural remedies.
“It had become just a huge part of my life that I knew I couldn’t return to work as a hair and makeup artist.”
She added: “Instead, I threw myself into the world of wellness.”
Clare and Darren began working on their own brand of candles and natural remedies under the name Made By Coopers.
Clare said: “It took a long time to perfect the scents and we definitely took initial inspiration from the fragrances we were surrounded by in India.”
She added: “We started off with the goal to release a range of candles first and all of the scent testing was done at home.
“We included things like cardamom, sandalwood and eucalyptus which we had been exposed to in India.”
The brand launched in 2016 and the couple have since expanded their product ranges, now selling essential oils, bath salts and sleep sprays.
Clare said: “The feedback from happy customers has been wonderful. To hear from other people who also suffer from anxiety and tell me that my products have helped them is really rewarding.
“In 2017, we launched our Sleepy Head sprays which have become so popular and help people who struggle with sleeping.
“They have become our bestseller and we have even seen complete strangers on the same flight as us carrying them onto the plane.”
And while starting a new business can be stressful, Clare says her anxiety has not returned since her holiday.
She said: “Stress and anxiety are very different and, while it is naturally a bit stressful to launch a business, I have not suffered anxiety as a result.
“Anytime things have felt too difficult, I’ve taken a break to meditate for 10 minutes and then I’m absolutely fine.”
She added: “Over the years, I have learnt the tools to use in order to keep my anxiety under control and I don’t even remember the last time I had an anxiety attack.
“The work I do now is very rewarding and knowing that I’m helping others has also, in a way, helped me.”
And Clare and Darren’s business has not gone unnoticed, as last year the pair won a beauty award from Natural Health Magazine.
Clare said: “It’s great to get recognition and it makes us really excited about the future.
“When I booked that holiday to India nine years ago, it was because I felt trapped by my anxiety attacks, but I never imagined how much it would change my life.
“I finally feel free and I hope my products can help other people to feel the same way.”