Derry’s Danielle launches ‘Insanely Beautiful’ to support mental health and recovery
A Derry woman, who has lived experience of mental illness and recovering from addiction, has been helping others through a dedicated Instagram page and her own range of mindfulness products.
Danielle Collins is the woman behind ‘Insanely Beautiful,’ an Instagram page which already has over 4,000 followers, despite only being launched in February.
The 35-year-old shares her own battles with mental illness and addiction via videos and posts that aim to open up conversations, break stigma and ensure people know they’re not alone.
Danielle, who has a post grad in Youth and Community Work and has worked with marginalised youths and those in residential care, also runs workshops in areas such as low self esteem and personal development. Earlier this week, she officially launched her website, www.
insanely-beautiful.com, which sells positive mental health and mindfulness products for men, women and children.
Speaking to the Journal, Danielle outlined how she has ‘struggled’ her entire life with anxiety, depression, self harm as a teenager and addiction.
“I was an alcoholic by the time I was 17 and got sober when I was 22. I relapsed on drugs and got clean at 26, so I’m around nine and a half years clean now. That’s probably why I want to do this, because of my own life experience and history. I’ve been through a hell of a lot and have always had that passion to help people.”
Danielle has a degree in forensic science but when she finished treatment at the Northlands Centre, she decided to go in a different direction and do a post grad in Youth and Community Work. She worked in the youth service, in what is now EA, for five years and ‘loved it’. Through her job, she worked with a lot of marginalised young people or those battling with substance misuse. However, due to the nature of the job, she couldn’t always divulge the extent of her own experiences to help others.
In 2020, Danielle had a ‘tough year’ and her beloved dog, who was ‘like a child’ to her also passed away.
“I got to a point in my life where I was like: ‘What am I doing with my life?’
She decided to branch out on her own and ‘things started to fall into place.’
Her dream of training to be a yoga teacher came true through her links with John Bell and she came into some money which allowed her to purchase products to make up some mindfulness bags. She was also asked to develop the mindfulness bags and products for the Pink Ladies Support Group, for those who were shielding during the lockdown. Danielle’s mother, Maureen, is chairperson of the group.
“They purchased the products but I chose them and did up 160 of the bags. It was a way of seeing what the reaction to them would be like and the feedback that came back was amazing.”
Danielle had always been quite open about her illnesses on social media, so also launched the Instagram page. Her honesty and openness have led to many people contacting her about their own battles and how she has helped them.
“I think people relate to life experiences. There are so many brilliant influencers but a lot of them take their information from books or what they’ve read.
“I think those who follow my page have responded as they know my background and what I’ve been through. I always try to message everyone back, but I also let them know I’m not a doctor or counsellor. I also have that disclaimer in my products - don’t be thinking mindfulness is going to cure you - if you’re suffering with your mental health, go to a professional.”
Danielle has personally found huge benefits from mindfulness.
“A lot of our anxiety comes from fear. What a lot of people don’t realise is that worrying and anxiety can, a lot of the time, come down to overthinking and not being present. It’s fretting over the past and worrying about the future. When I’m being more mindful, I don’t worry about that stuff; about what people are thinking of me or if someone has said something or hasn’t texted me back.
“People don’t realise that it all comes down to fear and anxiety and security, really. But, if you’re being mindful you’re being more present, you’re enjoying the moment, you don’t have time to think about all that stuff or allow that negative energy to be around you. When I did mindfulness properly, I wondered how I could ever feel like this? I was always worrying about the tiny things. It would have consumed my day if I had said the wrong thing. I might have worried about it for three or four days. Now I don’t let it consume me and that’s what mindfulness has done. I think some people think mindfulness is meditating and ‘umming and ahhing’ but it’s not. It’s about being more present in yourself and enjoying the moment. People don’t realise how much you miss when you’re anxious and beating yourself up. I would have done that and it has taken me a long time to be ok with who I am.”
Danielle wanted to share that knowledge with others and her products include a mindfulness jar, which have 30 slips with small daily tasks, such as being kinder to yourself. She finds journalling a ‘key element; in dealing with anxiety and making a change and has developed a journal. There is also a calming balm in the bag, an adult colouring-in book, healing crystals, incense sticks and organic, herbal teabags. The childrens’ bags include sensory items and a roll on that reduces stress, Danielle also offers the ‘One Breath at a Time’ essential oil and calming balms, as well as a new ‘Out of Our Minds’ t-shirt collection. A lot of the products are created by local businesses, which was important to Danielle, who is going into her second year of a Masters in Health and Social Care.
She has big plans for the future of Insanely Beautiful and hopes to expand her workshops, launch yoga classes and much more.
“My vision is that I’ll be doing retreats this time next year; full days and weekends involving workshops, yoga and seminars, That’s where I want to take Insanely Beautiful.”