As I sit here thinking about how I want to tell my story, I’m haunted by how my story is going to effect me moving forward- it’s quite scary. I have wanted to tell this story for a very long time, but I just didn’t have the courage. Also, the obvious; I’m not a professional writer. But as I sit here and take a deep breath in, I decide that it’s now or never. And it’s really for the right reasons.
If my journey in life will help just one woman out there, then this will be so worth it… So, where to start? I ask myself this question, because the good Lord knows I have so much to say that I feel I could actually burst at the seems. The idea that thousands of people will know my darkest secret of my biggest insecurities and vulnerabilities is almost crippling.
I guess, let’s start with the dream. I had this dream of having my own cosmetic and skin care line for a really long time- over 10 years to be exact. But life and all it’s hardships seemed to get in the way. I had worked in the beauty industry for 25 years and loved everything beauty. But dealing with mental illness always seemed to get in the way of my really going the distance.
For as long as I could remember I suffered with depression, anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder. I was just trying to keep my head above water let alone do big things. My faith helped me and did give me some comfort, but not in helping me grow in the direction I wanted. I always knew that without depression, I would have been able to do some amazing things with my life and my career- but depression had it’s hold on me.
When I was around 37, I had a stroke and this stopped me dead in my tracks. I was found non responsive and barely breathing. My body was cold when the ambulance arrived. They had to start CPR and use the paddles on me to start my breathing again. I was put on life support for 4 to 5 days. I had absolutely no idea what had happened to me.
I know at the time I was over working myself and most definitely starving myself. Every time I Iooked in the mirror I hated what I saw looking back at me. I despised my body. But the ironic thing is that I worked in the beauty industry where women would come up to me everyday and tell me how glamorous and beautiful I was. They said I looked like a model and they wished they had my figure.
How ironic that under that perfectly prepared face of make up, I hated everything about the way I looked. My eating disorder and body dysmorphic finally got the best of me- not to mention my mixing of medications.
I remember they told me I had a 0 blood sugar level. This was likely the cause of the many days I ordered large diet cokes to fill my stomach in order to not eat too much food. At this time, I would have maybe 3 or 4 bites of something to eat, if that.
That stroke changed me forever. I was tied down to the bed as if I were crazy. I was hallucinating. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t eat. I was left deaf in my right ear. My balance is still not right and I have permanent cognitive damage.
That day I believe 100 % that I saw myself leaving my body. At this time, I was still non responsive and things were not looking good for me. It was like I was floating over my body. I remember I felt safe and warm. I asked God if we were going to go to Heaven. He told me no, because he had important work for me to do. It was in that moment that I woke up after 4 days and opened my eyes.
I was awake. I looked around and saw my family. I swore from that day forward I would never diet, restrict my eating or do any plastic surgery again. Well, old habits don’t die fast and within a year my demons were back.
I put in a lot of effort and hard work going to counseling. I know body dysmorphic is one of the hardest mental illnesses to treat. I had 3 elective procedures since the incident and started obsessing over social media. I was determined to look like what I saw on Instagram. The last procedure I had landed me in the hospital where I was suffering with heart failure.
I had complications and went from 170 lbs. to almost 200 lbs. in a matter of 2 days. All of this abuse to myself because again, I was comparing myself to other women and pictures that had filters. My low self esteem that I had fought my whole life had gotten the better of me again.
On the outside everything looked great. I was excelling in my career and had some really great friends. I was traveling and getting ready to buy the rights to the name of a skincare line and start development. I had everyone fooled by that perfect “mask” I would wear. A mask that would come off the moment I closed the car door and started my drive home, when my eyes would tear up and I felt empty.
One day after looking over a woman’s Instagram page for almost 2 hours and feeling worst about myself, I said no more. I took myself off social media and decided only to use it for work. I also made a vision board. I had shifted my career path a bit and Limitless Beauty was constantly on my mind.
I decided to practice healthier ways of coping with my body image issues and depression. I got rid of everything in my life that was toxic to me and my mental health. I started to do daily meditation and self affirmations. I did a lot of really hard but good work with my therapist and started to believe in manifesting the life and things I want.
I realized that staying away from social media was key. It’s the devil for me. I knew that what I loved more than anything else was making other women feel good, beautiful and empowered. And as funny as it sounds, when a woman feels beautiful, she feel like she can do anything- she can conquer the world! I know this personally after 25 years of working with clients. I absolutely love that moment when I hand them the mirror and a smile appears on their face that could light up a room. I believe that’s what God has put me on this earth to do.
In the last 2 years I have come a long way. I will not say that there have not been some very serious struggles, but I have come so far that I’ve cancelled an elective procedure because I am learning to love the body God gave me.
I started working on Limitless Beauty by Helena. I named my company this for two reasons. First is because I really believe that there is something beautiful about each and every woman. It doesn’t matter if you are plus size, what color you are, your age, if you are disabled- none of these things matter! We are all beautiful in our own way and we need to own that and be authentic.
I can tell you my pictures on my Instagram don’t have filters, nor my Facebook and this is on purpose.
The second reason is, Helena was my grandmother’s name in Greek and I was named after her. I loved her dearly and she would always tell me how special I was and how beautiful I was. She taught me how to cook and so much more. I now am living a more authentic life than I ever have and telling my truth. I don’t worry about wearing what I call my MASK. My mask is that perfect face of makeup and the perfect hair and outfit.
Now of course when I have a business meeting or a date I dress up. Because fashion and beauty is my passion. But I do it for me and no one else. I have realized the more I tell my story the less the depression has its hold on me. I really hope that this helps at least a few readers so you know you’re not alone. I’m just like you, a 46 ½ year old woman who knows it’s never to late to follow not only her dreams but her heart and at the same time help lift other women up.
There is nothing more important than women supporting women. We are strong , powerful and more resilient then you could ever imagine. I love Limitless Beauty By Helena and what it stands for. “Beauty without Limits”.
Something else that was really important to me was bringing quality pharmaceutical grade products to my clients that they could actually afford to buy. I noticed through out the years a client would come in for a facial service but couldn’t afford the home care. I wanted to provide everybody with the same opportunity to buy superior products that are better than what’s sold at a retailer, (because mine are Pharmaceutical strength). I have worked with a Dermatologist to provide the best skin care and still be able to keep cost down.
This is something I am extremely proud of! I hope you enjoy your products as much as I have enjoyed my journey to get my brand to the marketplace. You can find my products on Shopify just search Limitless Beauty By Helena . Remember Limitless Beauty By Helena is not just a skincare product, it’s so much more. It is a lifestyle , it’s a choice, a mindset and an attitude. It’s us knowing that we are still relevant, trendy and most of all head turners.
Shop now at www.limitlessbeautybyhelena.com