Throughout my life, I’ve had various instances where stressful situations got the better of me.  It actually took the most horrific one to teach me many lessons; about stress, about myself and my resilience, about mindset and about creating change.

Stress is a nasty beast; or can be. It seems everyone is “stressed out” in one way or another. Not sure when or why this happened….but it seems we’ve become a society of pressure; either put on ourselves or from external sources.

My “stress” story

I love to help others. Especially those who are suffering. I had one such friend who was and decided to do something about it; organize something that would help alleviate some of the expenses of the suffering.  Who knew by doing this …. my health would be challenged like it hadn’t been challenged before (in this way at least…).

I will say this before I begin; would I have avoided this particular gesture, had I known what was in store for me? No. I would have still done it.

I wanted to share this since, as always I know when we (especially us gals) share, we are helping someone. Someone who perhaps thought they were alone in their struggle…or perhaps someone who didn’t know they had options.

I also felt compelled to share, since if I can help just one person avoid the ramifications of letting negative stress (yes! There IS positive stress…back to that later!) get the better of you, I’ve done my job.

My personality is “blue”. Not sad blue. LOVE blue: I want everyone I know and love to be happy; want nothing but love and happiness in the world. Will do ANYTHING for those I love and my sweet won’t stay sweet if someone tries to do something to those I love. It also means I don’t like letting others down, or wasting others’ time.

All of these traits came into play for this one particular life event that caused me to now have something called “chronic urticaria” – basically hives on steroids…..ON steroids.

Four years ago, I wanted to create an event to help someone and in doing so made myself sick with worry leading up to it. What if it was a failure? What if no one turned up? What if I’d wasted the time of all involved? What if I didn’t raise any money for the person involved? I was making myself physically sick with worry in the weeks leading up to this day.

There’s good and bad news here. The good (make that GREAT) news is, my Community came out in droves. The event was a 4 hour event, but most had come and gone within two. HUNDREDS turned out. In two hours we had raised $10,000 dollars. Not bad for a mom-on-a-mission huh?

So what could be the bad news out of this? My new health struggle began. One that continues to this day; is debillitating and one which I would not wish on my absolute worst enemy.  That’s where the urticaria comes in.

I won’t go into the sordid details, but I will try to explain in in a nutshell: basically, your immune system is fighting against you. For me, initially the first three bouts of this lasted 6 weeks. I now get this perhaps once or twice a year….and it seems almost a relief that it lasts about a week, give or take. I’ll tell you this: the week I get that is a relief, would in itself be debilitating for most. But…since I began at six….wow…one week I’ll take.

I get small hives initially. But why stop there? These end up becoming groups, larger bumps and cover my entire body head to feet. Thankfully, when at my worst…it leaves the pads of the soles of my feet I can at least tiptoe around my house.

I end up swelling all over. I become unrecognizable; describe myself as looking like the elephant woman. My body full of welts is incredibly itchy 24-7 and because I’ve swollen so much, I’m in incredible pain.  I can’t wear clothes, I can’t lie on the welts, but I can’t stay standing. It’s energy-draining trying to figure out just how to be during each day. And….like any nasty illness, there is no sleeping at night due to the itchiness. So…I spend weeks sleeping with cold, wet towels on me.

Sounds nasty (it is), and I don’t want to explain this to put out there the “woe is me” face.  Not me at all.  I want you to understand WHAT stress caused to me, yet what it HELPED me find WITHIN ME.

If I can do this, you can…..and that’s what I’m hoping I offer. Confidence in you if you need it to know you can overcome……

Lessons I have learnt:

  • I learnt I could either sit back, cry (oh I still do this!), and wish the situation were different, or I could take control as much as possible.  Have a cry, feel sorry for yourself….and then be done. Time for gameplan!
  • When I have any health struggle thrown my way (they seem pretty constant!) I look at ALL ways I can help myself: MIND: am I meditating, thinking positively, resting, relaxing? BODY: am I working out? Too much for what’s going on? Too little? Finding the happy medium.  FOOD: am I doing the absolute best I can to eat in a way that will help me? SOUL: Mind over matter; am I thinking positively?
  • STRESS: Deal with. Figure it out. It affects our health and is NOT worth it. Find out what stresses you …. find a way to control it. (Fyi? I can help you…)
  • I learnt the mind KEY: when it comes to handling negative stress, it’s NOT about trying to push it aside, get rid of it, not deal with it. It IS about learning how to handle it…embrace it….. If you can look at your stress in a different light and almost have the “bring it on” attitude you are helping yourself. Want to learn more about what I mean? Workshop coming on JUST this!
  • Meditation: this SAVED me the first time around.  Literallly.  After 6 horrific weeks, I meditated, visualized, willed myself better. I cannot say enough about Meditation. Want to help yourself all-round in life? Take this up.
  • ATTITUDE: I learnt that even going through this, it’s all how you look at things. What began through this illness…has filtered out into my everyday. ANY challenges thrown my way get dealt with the same way now. Not “woe is me, what do I do?”, but I WILL figure this out; how do I get over, under, through or around it to my best ability?
  • STRENGTH: From learning to use this new attitude, it gave me mounds of new strength.  It took away any emotional ego or emotional-driven fears. If I wish to do something now and it scares me, I’ll do it anyway if it means that much. Screw what any naysayers might think; I’m doing it!
  • RESILIENCE: I guess, this ties in with the strength piece, but I am pushed so much farther now than I ever was. Be it with health or my professional life. Professionally I take more risks, put myself out there more….but it’s worth it at the end of the day to do so.
  • POSITIVITY: The ONLY way to be is positive. You are what you believe.
  • Managing time and priorities: since this nastiness had occurred due to an event I was organizing, it made me look at how I can do things better next time, without less strife. To this day, I can get overwhelmed (which can cause these nasties)…so when I do, I sit down; write out all on my plate….prioritize, organize, plan. Takes the stress out of it all. I take back my LOCUST of CONTROL.
  • SHARING: I was asked to speak at an event last year. I wasn’t going to speak about my situation, however the topic got onto stress with the group of women. I shared my “nutshell, nutshell” version…..and wouldn’t you belive it…a woman piped up stating her hairdresser was suffering with what I had….yet had no idea what to do. I’d by this time spent years researching everything about urticaria; what you should/shouldn’t do or eat and was able to share with her. This chance meeting…was life changing for her stylist. Time and again it is reinforce with me that when we as women SHARE, we HELP each other.

Here’s the funny thing. It was organizing an event for someone else that began me on this journey of self-learning and inner-strength building: but guess what I have done? Talk about knocking yourself against a brick wall: I created a Company which offers events all about confidence, health, wellness, mindset, resilience….to others. It began with young girls, and we now offer them for young adults, women and boys. The one thing that began this….is the one thing I now do on a daily basis.

This taught me so much about strength, character, resilience…it turned me into someone who all I want to do is offer these kinds of things to help others with the their struggles. So yes. In a way it’s been worth it (I just don’t think that when I’m “in” the struggle.).

Wanna know something else? As I write this I’m back “in” the struggle. I’m suffering today….my head is one urticaria-ridden place right now; it’s painful, it’s itchy as hell…..but you know what? I’ll get through this….

And so will you.

Have stress? Affecting your health? I’m here to help….you don’t have to suffer as much with the right tools in place.

Coach Carolyn