Many years ago when I was just 17 years old I lacked self confidence and I then started to suffer (and I use that word intentionally) with panic attacks, they were the most frightening experience in my life at that time! In the late 80’s nobody discussed panic attacks they were a taboo subject! In fact I was told by my Doctor at the time to go home and lay in a darkened room after I reached out for help!
On my 18th birthday I suffered the worst panic attack on my way to work! I was so frightened, I headed back home! My mum did not have a clue how to help me in fact she got more frustrated telling me to 'pull myself together' and to 'not think about it' hoping it would help! She wasn't being unkind but back then we all knew no different!
There started my struggle! I spent years battling with extreme anxiety and panic and feeling I had let everyone down. All the time never talking about it to anyone outside my family in fear of being judged! It just wasn’t the done thing and I was constantly worried people would think I couldn't cope and I’d lose my job! At the age of just 21 I sought counselling privately to help me understand what was happening and to find ways to cope!
This anxiety by that time had taken over my life so I had to put some coping routines and rituals in place to help me function. Always a bottle of water with me, always extra strong mints in my bag, a hand held fan to cool me down and always a sick bag in case I needed it (I never did, but I had a massive fear of being sick in public).
The one passion I did sustain with ease throughout those younger anxious years of my twenties was with the clothes I wore. My love of fashion, style and trends never wained, in fact from a very young girl my passion was with styling and fashion - in fact it became my therapy, my armour, my confidence boost! Style was the the one thing I felt in control of and it gave me back my outer self esteem.
After a divorce at just 23 years old I found myself living alone ( I did not want to move back home) and learning to build a life for myself in my own house with my own mortgage and do you know what happened? With the councelling and the inner work and belief in myself I became stronger, my confidence grew and the panic attacks subsided!!
I changed my career, I started to manage and organise conferences and events all over the globe, I travelled the world for my job (always with my water and mints) and sometimes pushing myself out of my comfort zone more than you could ever believe possible. But with every trip and event I realised I was stronger than I thought. I also realised that panic attacks arent an 'it'! You see I used to refer to them as when 'it happens'. I learnt to realise they are something inside of me that I have ultimate control of and the biggest lesson I learnt was to accept them, yes you hear me accept them, and not to be afraid of them! So when the feeling of anxiety washed over me, I said hello, I said to myself come on then do your worst ... and then do you know what happened, the fear had gone, I was no longer fighting the feeling away sending my body into fight or flight, I breathed deeply, relaxed, dropped the shoulders, accepted it and let the feeling of calm wash over me!
However, then when I was 29 I was really poorly and my (now) hubbie told me to go to the Doctors as I was having terrible problems with my tummy (I will spare you the graphic details). After numerous tests the Doctor rang me one day and said 'are you sitting down I have some life changing news for you!' Of course I was scared, my heart went in my mouth! ` She went on to say I had been diagnosed as a Coeliac - which meant I have an auto immune diesase and cannot eat anything with wheat, rye, barley or oats in it as my body treats it as an anti body and trys to dispel it as quickly as possible (again I will spare you the details). If I were to eat a normal diet, it could lead to lots of other very serious illnesses too, so a life long gluten free diet is essential. Back then in 1999 nobody knew what Coeliac was though, you couldn’t get food in the supermarkets as you can now and eating out was just not possible, unless I ate fresh fruit salad, meat and veg (no gravy) and fresh fruit salad for dessert too! If you know you'll know!
I then realised that my association with food and being ill after I had eaten had led to the hot sweats, anxiety and panic attacks without me even realising from the age of 17. I had been undiagnosed for 10 years! So the more anxious and poorly I became the more panic attacks I induced because my body and mind got used to having them. The more frightened I became the worse they got - it was a repetitive cycle. The panic attacks started because of my lack of confidence in myself, coupled with my body having an allergic reaction to the gluten which sent my body into fight or flight mode hence the anxiety attacks ! My body and mind became used to having the anxiety attacks and then the pattern repeated!
The anxiety I felt I wouldn’t wish on anyone else, it attributed to a lot of sadness in my earler life and to do this day, now I am 51, there are still certain things you will always find I do or need in difficult situations to ease my mind and help me to feel safe - but I make no apology for them now and I will openly talk about anxiety to anyone! We all have things we do to help us cope or feel better in different situations and we are all unique. I am never blasé about anxiety e v e r.
I have had a few mini relapses over the years where I've had to re check in with myself and work hard to ensure my mindset, my wellbeing and my confidence cups are all full of self love! Because its only by taking care of ourselves and slowing down to reconnect with our inner selves and understanding who we really are and what we need can we truly be happy and confident on the outside too!
So what does this have to do with me becoming an accredited Style Coach™ - well a Style Coach™ is all about the inner and outer self care, it's not just about putting people in clothes or buying into fast fashion trends. I could put the prettiest dress on someone but if they feel like crap on the inside will they feel like the best version of themselves! Maybe for a short while but it's true style confidence that we should strive for - the confidence that exudes from someone when they walk in the room and we know they have their shizzle together! They know who they are, how they want to be seen, they give less hoots about what others think of them, they are swimming their own lane and they are owning their style!
True success and happiness come from confidence and I know first hand how important having a healthy mindset is, to take time for you, to understand who you are, to believe you are as good as everyone else, that you are worthy of being your own person, that you are wonderful and unique. Who doesn't want that!
Right now I am the most confident I have ever been in my life - I am the happiest I have been and it's all down to stopping, reconnecting and becoming the person I have always wanted to be and creating the dream life I wanted too. Since becoming a qualified Style Coach™ a few years ago now and training in mindset coaching (NLP) I am so excited to move onto my next chapter and help even more successful ambitious women feel and look great too!
If I could go back and tell my 17 year old self not to worry and that I would have an amazing career, yes that there would be highs and lows, but I would have my own succesful style coaching and marketing business with two studios and hundreds of happy clients I don't think the old me would believe it - so dream big, stay positive, seek help, seek support where needed and make it HAPPEN!
If you want to reconnect with your inner and outer style confidence for your success, if you want to define your personal brand as a busy ambitious woman then I would love to talk to you - you can book a free 20 minute clarity call with me here
Part two coming soon - How I coped with a divorce in my early twenties, refoccused, developed my confidence and built my dream career and dream life!