By Oliver Hodgson
An entrepreneur left on the ‘brink of suicide’ following Cumbria’s 2015 Storm Desmond floods says setting up her own business helped save her life.
Five years on from the floods, Nic Hewitt has opened West Lakes Hemp – Cumbria’s only retailer selling CBD products.
Seaton-born Nic was diagnosed with Bipolar Type II in her teens and a Borderline Personality Disorder in her twenties.
She hid her mental health conditions from her friends and family for most of her life, until she had a major episode in 2015.
During Storm Desmond in December of that year her home in Carlisle flooded and she was unable to go to work at the city’s Youth Zone – which was also one of the many damaged businesses.
“I noticed the water coming down at about 10pm on Saturday, between midnight and 2am it kept coming and coming,” the 34-year-old recounted.
“There was no stopping it. At 4.30am I managed to get to bed and got a couple of hours sleep, to be then woken up by the rescue boat and emergency teams outside. The water was above the ground-floor door and about a foot off the top window. It must have been
“I was terrified. Everything happened so quickly. When the RNLI told me that it was time to go, I had to grab what clothes I could and couldn’t stop for anything. I was dropped off on Peter Street in my jamas.”
“I couldn’t get back to West Cumbria, where my parents live
because all the roads were blocked, and the trains weren’t running. So, I walked to Wetherspoons, got a cuppa and I broke down.”
She found herself at rock bottom, on constant suicide watch back at her parents’ house and working with the local psych team and community mental health team.
“When Storm Desmond hit, it felt like the end, I was considering taking my own life,” she said.
“I had to move in with my mum and dad and they had to keep coming to check on me to make sure I was still breathing. It was a black hole. I couldn’t get out of bed and I didn’t want to speak to anyone.
“I was constantly telling myself I was useless and worthless and questioning whether I even deserved to be in the world. It takes you to some very dark places.
“Before I took antidepressants and anti-epileptic medication to stop the cycle of bipolar. I found that the antidepressants allowed me to function, but they left me feeling emotionally numb.”
The family turned to a psychiatrist friend in America, who suggested she tried using CBD.
CBD is a food supplement which contains the legal substance cannabidiol.
When cannabis is taken as an illegal drug it is the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which creates the sensation of being ‘high’.
However, CBD is not psychoactive, and a number of studies have
found it may relieve physical pain and help combat mental health issues.
After using CBD, as a last resort, Nic very quickly became aware of the benefits and realised that others could benefit too.
She also realised that, after losing previous jobs, one of her options was to start her own business, allowing her to manage her mental health and work at the same time.
This is when she started West Lakes Hemp with long-term schoolfriend Luke Woodend.
Nic continued: “I truly believe that my business helped me in more ways than one. As a business it helped me focus on something when I once again hit rock bottom; it got me back into the office, back into working with the public and I was able to support people with mental and physical issues without it having a damaging effect on my own mental health I was able to share my story and encourage others to seek support.
“For me, my business along with CBD was my lifeline and I am proud to be able to provide and supply to those who may also benefit from it. I wouldn’t sell products that I didn’t believe in or would cause harm. I give our products to my family and my friends. We aim for quality, transparency, and consistency.
“Life is full of peaks of troughs. With having bipolar and borderline personality disorder the peaks are high and the troughs are extremely low but with my business and family helping me along the way, I have no doubt that I can succeed.”
Nic and Luke’s new business West Lakes Hemp will be opening its flagship store in Cleator Moor in the New Year.