In January 2017 my life fell apart.
6 months earlier I had been promoted to a job where as a 21 year old with little/no previous work experience, I was completely out of my depth. I was managing over £400 million worth of securities and all of the associated legal documents. To compensate for my lack of experience, I worked every hour under the sun, and even when I wasn’t working I was thinking about work. I tried to arrive a couple hours before my start time and stayed sometimes until 11pm to make sure that I kept on top of the work. And guess what? I never did. At the same time, I was using my lunch breaks to under-go light therapy for a auto-immune disease which affected my skin. The light-therapy sessions would leave me with sun-stroke symptoms (headache, fatigue, nausea) and burnt my skin so badly that it would leave blisters. Oh, and also my family made the decision to re-locate from Birmingham to Carlisle so there was that too.
My stress levels were at an all-time high.
At the end of January 2017 I went to an appointment at the hospital expecting to be discharged as my light therapy had thankfully come to an end…
What happened next is still a blur. But I do remember leaving the dermatology wing with four things going round my head on repeat:
- “If we don’t use chemotherapy, the scar tissue will spread to your lungs and you won’t be able to breathe”
- “Your hair will most likely fall out”
- “You could be infertile for the rest of your life”
- “I want my mom”
And so my anxiety levels spiralled. I asked the doctors to give me some medication to help with the physical symptoms and they prescribed sertraline. Within a week of taking the medication, I noticed myself driving to work planning which tree I was going to drive myself into.
I wasn’t well enough to go into work anymore. So I worked from home for a couple of days, called in sick and eventually handed in my notice.
The next 12 months bought both physical and mental health challenges. My skin condition was spreading at an alarming rate. It spread across my right breast causing it to shrink by 2 cup sizes. My body was destroying itself from the inside and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was put on chemotherapy in an attempt to switch off my immune system and the harshness of the drugs caused my liver to fail. Then I was put on an immuno-suppressant (the same drugs they give to people who’ve just had an organ transplant). The new medication came with fun new physical and mental health side affects.
During this time, I made the decision to start my own network marketing (NM) business. Looking back it was actually one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
- It gave me something to focus on other than my illness
At first I was so ill, I couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t even shower by myself, so no I wasn’t thinking about starting a new business at this point. But thankfully that stage only lasted a couple of months. But once I became able to concentrate on things again, a new mental battle began. One where I needed something other than TV to distract me from the fact my body was internally destroying itself.
- It allowed me to be productive even when I couldn’t get out of bed
Whether it was due to the medication or depression, some days I just couldn’t get out of bed. The beauty of NM is that all you need it a wifi connection and you can literally work from anywhere. It meant that I could end the day with a small sense of achievement even if I hadn’t been able to do much else.
- It encouraged me to share my story
One of the methods of selling in NM is telling people why YOU do the business and how it helped you. At this point I hadn’t really told anyone about my illness in much detail, but I found that the more I told my story, the less I was afraid of it. NM helped me turn my story from something I was ashamed about to something I was proud of.
- It inspired me to be creative
In a NM business, you have no boss. You don’t have anyone telling you what to do or how to do it. This enabled me to get my creative brain on and think outside the box. In October I organised an “Autumn” themed event, made decorations, provided themed snacks and shared my business in the most creative way I could think of. I could also be creative with designing posts I shared on social media which was a quick, easy effective way to share the business with my own spin on things. Considering I was so ill at the time – this felt like such an achievement and I felt so supported by everyone who came to those events.
- It encouraged me to be social
The clue here is in the name “Network Marketing” means that you have to build your network. Yes, you start with your warm network (people you know) but the magic begins once you tap into the cold network (strangers). This was actually really great for me. At this point I wasn’t working and I missed the interaction I had with my work colleagues. NM enabled me to meet new people and work with people I genuinely enjoyed the company of. Rather than feeling isolated as I had been in the first few months of my illness – I began enjoying talking to new people and interacting with them.
- I worked on my mind-set
The main people that people quit in NM is because of the rejection. Its all a numbers game. Statistically you have to tell 100 people about the business to get 10 people interested, and then out of those 10 people its likely that 2 of them will be successful. Understandably, the rejection of those 80 people is too much for some people. So self-improvement and mind-set is a huge part of success in NM. Everyone at the top says that you have to grow yourself before you grow your business and so plugging into training, and reading the recommended books kept my mind-set strong and enabled me to look at my situation from a different perspective.
- I became part of a community of people
I can’t say this for every NM company, but the company I joined has an incredible support network. Even people who aren’t in my success line have been so helpful, not only with my business but personally as well. They became my friends on social media, follow my progress and sent me messages of support and love. How many jobs have you had with people like that?!
- I was able to build skills
Even though I wasn’t able to function in a 9-5 job, I was able to build my communication, presentation, and so many other transferable skills by applying them to my business. It also meant that when I did start studying a business management degree in September, I was able to apply everything I learnt directly into my business helping me understand and connect with the content in a much deeper meaningful way than my peers.
- It took the pressure off financially
When I stopped working it was a shock to my bank account. Again I can’t speak for other NM companies but mine gave me the opportunity to earn bonuses on top of any commission and overrides I earnt. Which not only gave me something to strive for, but also meant that I always knew I was only a couple emails away from a nice £60 bonus.
- It gave me hope for the future
Although I started out earning £50-100 a month (which isn’t exactly earth shattering amounts) I know that in 3-5 years time and maybe even less I can be earning/exceeding my corporate world monthly salary – without all the stress, red tape and time restriction that comes with the corporate world. Having a hope for my future really kept me going especially in those dark moments.
Sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together. In January 2017 my life fell apart but in January 2018 my life fell began to fall together again. I came off the medication and used nutrition to heal myself. The products from my NM company helped with that alongside a professional nutritionist.
In 2017 I had lost my job, my boyfriend, my family home, my health and a lot of confidence. But in the process I found a career, my relationship with God (a story for another blog) and happiness. Just 18 months after my life fell apart: I have officially passed my first year of university, I have travelled to three new countries this year already and I am planning to spend 4 months in France later this year, I am still building my business and confident that as I continue to grow/heal so will my business, my disease officially hasn’t spread in over 6 months so next week I am attending an appointment to discuss the possibility of reconstructive breast surgery AND I am dating the most incredible guy I’ve ever met. So I guess I wanted to leave you guys with 2 key messages from sharing my story with you:
1. Don’t judge network marketing – yes its not conventional and you might not understand the model but that’s fine. It helps so many people in so many ways you might not be able to see on the surface. It might not be for you but try not to discourage those around you running there NM businesses.
2. No matter how bleak your situation looks, there’s always hope. Even if it comes in an unlikely package.