Coping with anxiety and depression is never easy.
But for Amanda-Jane Taylor it became an even more arduous battle when she lost her dad, marriage and house all in a short space of time.
Dealing with the pandemic while living on her own, bringing up two sons, brought further challenges as she struggled with her illness.
She eventually had a breakdown and was signed off work but has since been focusing on her love of singing to help her recover.
‘I was really close to my dad so it was difficult’
Eric Taylor, 62, died after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and Huntington’s disease, a rare condition that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.
“It happened to him over a period of less than 18 months and I was really close to my dad so it was difficult,” Amanda-Jane said.
“Watching anyone going through that is the most horrific thing.”
It was during this time that her Amanda-Jane’s 12-year relationship fell apart and it soon became clear her marriage had come to an end and she would need to move home.
But giving up the family home and taking on rented accommodation meant she also had to give up her cat and dog because pets weren’t allowed there.
Her mental health hit rock bottom and she could not see a way out.
Amanda-Jane, 41, who suffers from borderline personality disorder, said: “Grief just comes and goes and you never know what you’re going to feel like from one day to the next.”
The mother-of-two, who lives in Westhill, was furloughed from her work as a dental hygienist during the first lockdown.
And after returning to work at the end of the summer she felt she struggled to breathe dealing with all the trauma and all the PPE she now had to wear.
Then, in October, she suffered a mental breakdown and ended up signed off work to help her recover.
Amanda-Jane has been learning new coping strategies through the help she receives from a mental health nurse.
And the most positive changes in her life came through taking part in a Branching Out outdoor therapy course.
The course is based on around three hours of activities a week in a woodland setting over 12 weeks.
Exercising and being out in nature has helped
“I exercise daily. I go out in nature pretty much every day – I’m outside a lot,” Amanda-Jane said.
“I’ve always been a nature lover but since I’ve been to an outdoor therapy group it’s made me even more immersed in it.
“They showed you how to forage for food and taught you all about different birds and wildlife and how to light fires and cook outside.
“I can’t get enough of being outdoors. It takes my mind off of everything and I feel so much calmer – it’s realising that there’s so much more out there and it’s really grounding.”
She now concentrates on making sure she is doing the activities every day that make her feel better.
And this has included focusing on her singing, penning a song called Breathe on her way home from the school run one morning.
The lyrics describe going through a bereavement journey and finding strength in remembering that she will always hold her dad in her heart.
The song is a reminder that her dad is with her
“That’s why I wrote the song really,” she said. “It’s a reminder that they are there, even though they are gone. It’s a beautiful song and it’s touched a lot of people as well so that’s a nice thing.”
Amanda-Jane Taylor, who performs under the stage name AJ McLovely, sang regularly in her spare time before coronavirus struck.
During the last few months she’s been helping mental health sufferers across the globe performing shows on social media while raising money for charity.
Her fourth single, Breathe, is released this week, which she has written both the song and lyrics to, features Dennis Douglas, the Aberdeen Wedding Pianist.
It features on most music platforms, including Spotify, Amazon Music and iTunes.