Ep 59. Trauma, healing and high functioning anxiety with Grace Victory - Calmer you

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Ep 59. Trauma, healing and high functioning anxiety with Grace Victory

June 3, 2019

Grace Victory is an award-winning creator, and trainee counsellor. She’s a TEDX speaker and has been awarded ‘Most Inspiring Role Model’ for InStyle Magazine’s Project 13. Over the last few years Grace has presented multiple TV shows, including “Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets” – one of the most watched documentaries on BBC3, achieving over 1.5 million views across […]

I'm Chloe!

I'm a coach and hypnotherapist who helps people to create work life balance, quiet the inner critic and become their calmest and happiest selves. 

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Grace Victory is an award-winning creator, and trainee counsellor. She’s a TEDX speaker and has been awarded ‘Most Inspiring Role Model’ for InStyle Magazine’s Project 13.

Over the last few years Grace has presented multiple TV shows, including “Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets” – one of the most watched documentaries on BBC3, achieving over 1.5 million views across BBC1 and BBC3 combined. 

Grace talks about problems that all young people and women face, as well as topics that are perceived taboo; therapy, sex, trauma, relationship dynamics, diet culture, self awareness and spirituality. Grace’s content has a focus of plus size fashion, healing the mind, body and spirit and the importance of personal development.

We discuss:

-High functioning anxiety

-Grace shares her story of coming from childhood abuse to finding her own path to healing and training to be a counsellor

-Why healing should be holistic 

-Why you have to feel your feelings in order to heal them. 

-Why we’ve lost our power and how to regain it 

Come over to www.calmer-you.com/confidence to join my free 5 day confidence challenge – starting on 1st July I’ll lead you through 5 days of simple yet powerful exercises to grow your confidence, calm your inner critic, create a new positive self image and connect with other like-minded people so we can all support each other and cheer each other on.

Please subscribe to ‘The Calmer you Podcast’ in the podcast app or in iTunes to get the latest episodes and please leave me a review 🙂
Thanks so much for listening!

Transcript

Chloe: Hello, and welcome to The Calmer You Podcast. This is your host, Chloe Brotheridge. I’m a coach and a therapist and the author of The Anxiety Solution, and a new book, Brave New Girl: Seven Steps to Confidence. So, this week I’m talking to the amazing Grace Victory, an award winning content creator, she’s also a trainee counsellor, she is a TEDX speaker and she’s been awarded the ‘Most Inspiring Role Model Award’ for InStyle Magazine’s Project 13. She’s presented multiple TV Shows including “Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets” – one of the most watched documentary on BBC 3. And in this inspiring conversation, we talk about high functioning anxiety, something that Grace experiences.

She shares the stories of coming from her own childhood abuse to finding her own path to healing and going on to train as a counsellor, and she discusses why healing should be holistic and also, why we might have to actually feel our feelings in order to heal them. And we also talk about why we’ve lost our power and how we can start to regain it. I also want to invite you to come over to calmeryou.com/confidence on the first of July, I’m going to be leading a five day confidence challenge. I’m going to lead you through simple, yet powerful exercises, to grow your confidence, calm your inner critic, create a new positive self image and connect with other like minded people so that we can all support each other and cheer each other on as we go on this journey together. So, if you want to get involved in this free challenge, enter your email address at calmeryou.com/confidence. So, let’s get into the episode with Grace.

Grace: Yeah, so I started making YouTube videos in 2011. So, I’m like an OG Youtuber, long time ago. And I originally started because I was watching YouTube videos and couldn’t really find anyone that looked like me and spoke like me, and was relatable in that sense. There was mixed race YouTubers, but they were American, and I think that is quite a distinct difference I think between British culture and American culture. And then I didn’t find anyone that was plus size or anyone that was a bit common, basically. So, I thought instead of waiting for someone to appear, I was just going to start making my own videos because maybe other people could relate to me. That’s what I started doing and my old videos are just oh my God awful.

Chloe: And you kept them all up?

Grace: No, there’s a few. And they are, wow. But back then you could just film on a really shitty webcam,  upload it and it will get loads of views. It was so simple. So, I started doing like makeup videos, fashion videos, beauty. And then it got to this point where I was getting so many questions and comments like, “Oh, you’re so confident, you’re so inspiring, like how could you get to this place?” And I was like, I’ve always been confident, but I wasn’t as confident as I was coming across on camera. I grew up at a performing art school so being on camera was second nature to me, but I have these deep dark demons that I was suppressing and I felt really aweful because people say, “Oh, you’re such a role model.” And I was like, “You have no idea what actually goes to my brain and the unwell mechanisms that I’m using to cope.” So, I did this video called the pressure to be perfect and outed myself basically almost like, I feel the pressure, I’m not okay, here’s what’s going on.

And at the time, I think it was a massive thing to do because no one was talking about mental health or body image issues or self-harm or issues with food. I look back at very surface level but back then it was like a big, big thing and old me found that quite difficult to do. And that’s where I started seeing a rise in followers and engagement when people were like, okay, like this is so raw and vulnerable, we’re into this. And that’s when I realised that the more you talk about your problems the more other people talk about this. And it just sort of went on that snowball effect was like the more followers I got, the more followers I got, if that makes sense. And it grew and grew and grew and grow and grew. I started my blog, started Instagram and I was doing all of that alongside working in the children’s care home. So, I was working 11-24 hour shifts with emotional and behavioural problems with children. And whilst they were asleep, and I was on a night shift, I would do my YouTube stuff. So, I never slept, which I do not recommend.

Chloe: Oh my God.

Grace: And I just go on and on and on and I guess I took all the stuff I learned with like my own childhood and the kids in care and sort of bridge the gap, I guess, online with talking about beauty and fashion, but also the real life stuff that’s actually going on. I think working with children and care gave me an insight into what people were actually going through. Because fair enough, they are in care, but they’re also normal kids, and they go through all these different things, and they want to talk about sex and boobs and periods. And that’s where the sort of changing my content came, went full time in 2015. I was making no money there so I’m not sure why I did that. But I just thought it’s January 2015, I want to just try and pursue this. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong. And I think that I was sort of raised with like, having to take risks and chances because you don’t really know what’s going to happen just kind of do it.

So, I quit my job, which was like really hard because I love working with the kids. But I just knew that my purpose was bigger than like working with– I think I was working with like four to 10 kids at a time. But I just knew that that wasn’t enough for me. I want it to work with loads of people. Numbers don’t matter, but I just knew that there was something out there for me. And so yeah, I quit my job. I took out a loan to pay the first month’s rent on my flat, moved to South London. And I was like, okay, I’ve got 00 in my account, let’s see what I can get in this month. And then lucky for me, I just got loads of work and it went up and up and up and up. And then I won a few awards, got a management company to look after me and did some TV work, got a book deal and it just sort of grew and grew and grew. And then obviously now I’m in a place where my content is like definitely changing again because I think I’ve changed so much. YouTube was an outlet for me, like a creative outlet too, I think it was to escape. Whereas now what I do is to actually heal and process. So, yeah.

Chloe: Yeah. So, how has your content change? How would you describe your content now?

Grace: I don’t know. I think that growth with your career is always going to happen when you’re growing personally. And I think your 20s, every year, you’re just a different person. And I think that when you’re in therapy, and you’re in recovery that just accelerates everything. So, I would say my content is intentional. So, everything I do is with an intention, sorry. I’m purposeful. Whereas before it was sort of like, what can I do to get some more money or what can I do that people want to see? It’s more about like what I believe I’m meant to be doing now. I don’t really do a lot of beauty content anymore. I do a lot of outfits, but I don’t really work with a lot of fashion brands. A lot of my work is around poverty. I do a lot of work with the BBC, going to schools, I go and talk at youth clubs. I just work with like generic brands, which I’m really proud of. Like I was the face of a Mac campaign at the beginning of the year. So, I’m very lucky that I get to work with so many different brands and my content, I guess has a focus on like being conscious of what’s happening to your body and your brain. And everything is, I tried to be relatable, but also educational and yeah, trauma based I guess, as well.

Chloe: It’s amazing what you’ve created and I followed you on Twitter for ages, for years. And I love what you’re posting about at the moment a lot about healing and I noticed you wrote something about high functioning anxiety recently. Can you talk about that?

Grace: Yeah, so high function anxiety isn’t actually like a proper diagnosis, which I need to just put a disclaimer out there. However, it has been recognised by psychotherapists and doctors that there’s some sort of, there’s some people that have anxiety, but can function incredibly well on it. With the research that I’ve done into it on myself, and like I Google everything. People always ask, “How do you know so much?” I’m like “Google is your best friend.” I Google a lot and I read a lot. And there’s when you’ve experienced childhood trauma or a situation that you perceive to be traumatic, I think you go two ways. So, you either shut down and withdraw or you work incredibly hard not to really feel what’s going on. For me, as a child, I had a talent, and that was performing, that was singing and dancing. So, no matter what stuff was going on at home, and no matter how badly I viewed myself, I always knew I was talented. And the focus on me as a child was either on my weight or what I could achieve. So, you can see now growing up, that I’m quite successful, but I will obviously have body image issues. So, my career for me was always something that I knew I had.

So, as a kid, I focused a lot on like getting out, getting out of my family home, getting out of my hometown, getting out of whatever difficulties I was facing. And the foundation of me was my trauma, and it was the fight or flight response mode. And it was throwing everything I had into my work and being very highly organised and structured. And high functioning, anxiety is all of that, but then underneath, it’s that fear of being seen, it’s that fear of failure. It’s not really relaxing, trying to relax but then your mind is in overdrive. And I was like, I definitely have anxiety being manifested in different ways. And I don’t realise that I’m functioning at that state unless I go into that hole and actually feel it.

But I think it’s like a common thing. People just don’t connect to what it is. Like I don’t worry about going to events. I don’t wake up and I’m like shaking with anxiety. It’s more like, like get up out of bed Grace, you’ve got this to do, this to do, this to do, right, it’s time to get on with it. And that constant state of like running and believing like if you stop, the world’s going to end. That’s the kind of anxiety that I’ve experienced. It comes in waves so there’s some days where I’m absolutely fine, I’m really chill. And there’s other days where I just cry. And I’ve noticed that it’s what I have a lot of work on. And I think it’s really hard to find a balance because you say yes to a normal amount of work. But then suddenly, you agree to them and then they all come in at once, all the deadlines on the same day and you’re like freaking out. And that’s what happens to me a lot and I’ve noticed that’s when I usually go up into my anxiety or when I’m due on my period.

Chloe: Yes, well, that’s a whole other topic that people are only just starting to talk about in the last few years actually, your cycle affects everything, can really affect your mental health.

Grace: Yeah.

Chloe: But I think it’s such an interesting topic, this thing of high functioning anxiety because, you know, anxiety is not just the shy person who’s kind of too afraid to leave the house. It’s also the really successful person that’s doing loads of things, you know, might appear really competent outside, but underneath it may be that success is driven by fear or driven by not being good enough, or there’s trauma. I mean, I actually think we’re all traumatised to some extent, you know, whether it’s big traumas or little traumas. And I think there’s almost like an epidemic of this high functioning anxiety. It’s so – common

Grace: Yeah, it’s like really, I think it’s under researched and under recognised and I don’t want to be that that controversial person it’s like the Western world. But I do think the way we in the West view medicine and the way that certain doctors management to health I just think it’s really backwards. And yeah, I try and again not become controversial, but I do believe in like holistic healing. And when you’re working on healing, to like want to heal all of you not just specific parts. Yeah.

Chloe: What’s your experience of holistic healing then, what sort of things have you done so far? I’m so fascinated.

Grace: So, I’ve had– Okay, so when I first realised that I had some issues, I was about 16-17 and I was offered counselling on the NHS. And it was just a bit horrific if I’m honest.

Chloe: The counselling itself or the time in your life?

Grace: The counselling itself. I was told basically that all my issues were daddy issues, and I probably like I should work on myself and like lose weight to fix my issues. So, being told that at 17 is not appropriate. And that’s when I started going to Weight Watchers and then Slimming World and when my eating disorder just went, like through the roof. So, that was my first experience and then my second experience was CBD. And the counsellor was re-traumatising me in every session so I was just fucked, fucked. And that that caused a breakdown in my relationship with my past boyfriend, my ex because I was just an absolute mess. And I was like this kind of counselling is not working for me. It was so in my terms aggressive, and at the time I didn’t know that you need to research counsellors and find out how they work. I didn’t know any of this. So, I quit that and was just sort of trying to stabilise myself.

And then I met a woman called Emmy while shooting a documentary, and she was a psychotherapist for the show, which is about food and eating disorders. And after the show, she was like, come and see me because you may have issues with food, not really knowing my history. And then I saw her and she diagnosed me with an eating disorder and PTSD. And I started seeing her every week for a year and a half. She has the recovery clinic, which is based in central London. And it’s all about spiritual and holistic wellness and recovery. It’s all about treating the all of you and not just one part of you, and going to the core of your pain, and then sort of cooling back out. And I think it’s a bit of a life coaching with psychotherapy, psychodynamic therapy, and all these different aspects. And I think that when you’re healing, one thing isn’t going to fix you, one thing isn’t going to heal you. It’s like 10 different things. So, I had Emmy with a whole life coaching and the psychotherapy, and I learned about self care. So, I had like sister circles I was going to and then I got into crystals and essential oils and and things like that.

So, when people ask about like how I healed, I’m like it was literally I just turned my whole life around with music. So, I was going to like sound baths and like I did everything, was in nature, reading. It had changed my whole life. It wasn’t just one core thing, and that’s what holistic healing is to me. And it’s plant based medicine as well. So, I started looking into like, what can I make in a tea that’s going to help my wound today? And so I was researching different herbs and things like that.

Chloe: What can help heal the wound, I need to know that.

Grace: So raspberry root leaf is really good, magwa is really good. In terms of like baths, colangelo is really good for your nervous system, lavender oil, bergamot is good for depression. I basically went on this massive– I’m still on a massive journey to like, find what was going to work for me because what I was recommended at my doctors and I guess the Western way did not work for me and my soul was a yearning for more. And then yeah, I kind of found what does work and everyone’s different. Some people really, really like recommend taking medication, some people love CBD, some people like talking therapies and stuff, but I just think it’s about what works for you. And I was just able to yeah, find what works for me.

Chloe: I think that’s a really good point that it’s different for everyone. And I think from the people that I speak to, they maybe try one thing, doesn’t work and then they kind of give up and think, oh, no one can help me.

Grace: Yeah.

Chloe: But my journey was maybe similar to yours in that I just did loads of things. I had lots of different types of therapy, went on retreats, smothered myself in oils, and all that sorts of things. And I think sometimes we do have to make it, like I talked about making it your priority, make like taking care of yourself a priority.

Grace: Yeah. I think I did okay in my life to getting well, and I think because my therapist, Emmy said to me, she was like, “You’re like a sponge. Everything I say to you, you absorb it slowly but surely and then it just sticks to you.” And I think yeah, I was, I think it’s a privilege, though to get well. And I was really lucky to be able to dedicate my life to getting better and better journey because I’m back in therapy for other things. My therapist is a man which is just wild and you know, you just keep going. And I think that a lot of people get overwhelmed with a healing and the what I need to do, but I think that that’s the whole reason that we’re here on earth is to like, heal but also to have a lot of fun. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? The whole point is being able to master who you are and being president over that. Meditation is also incredible, but kind of is a massive difference. Like I just– I don’t know what it– Have you watched Documentary Heal?

Chloe: Yes.

Grace: Okay. I think that’s like a really good introductory to people that don’t get it. I think I only watched it like three days ago. And so like for me, I, again, just Google everything. And I just think there’s always a reason for whatever issues you’re going through or any like, dis-ease you feel in your body. And I’ve been getting really bad headaches the last few weeks. And I was like, I’m going to Google meditation for headache and see what comes up. And there’s a whole thing, there’s a whole frequency to help with headaches. So like, just things like that. Like I’m just very in tune and open to whatever the universe has to offer me. And yeah, it’s a journey, things take time.

Chloe: Yeah, it definitely is. And I think sometimes you think oh, I have made a big breakthrough in my mental health and then there’s like another level or something else is coming up to be healed and to be worked on.

Grace: Yeah, we’re like onions.

Chloe: Yes.

Grace: [??? 21:56] one layer. So, when I first saw Emmy and was healing my eating disorder, that was the outer layer of the onion and then it went in a little bit and now with a latch that we go into the centre of the onion, and it’s so painful. But I think when you have a good therapist, they manage your crap and your shit in this session, and then you able to leave and enjoy life and then come back to it like that’s the safe way to do it. I think sometimes we try and be vulnerable and then we’re vulnerable a hundred percent of the time and then we’re drained and then we’re tired and we’re very triggered all the time. Whereas everything is about dipping your toes in and goes a bit deeper then coming back out. And that’s just the way that us as humans have to operate. Otherwise, you know, it leads to breakdowns and then no fun.

Chloe: Definitely not, definitely not.

Grace: And I do think it’s about so when you say kind of dipping into the pain is it about like feeling the pain or what sort of processes have you been through?

Chloe: Definitely feeling it. What I’ve learned is that what you think is going to be painful, is never as painful as what you think it’s going to be. When you actually do it, you’re like, oh, it wasn’t that bad. But then sometimes it’s even worse and you’re like, well, that was absolutely shit. And I think that is just being brave, actually and knowing that nothing can actually break you. And it’s that having that self belief and recognizing that everything in life is always a perception, even our memories are perception, and that trauma, create really false perceptions and false realities. And feeling safe enough to do that, like I think I’ve only started really going to the core of my pain with my therapist, and I’ve been seeing him for a year. I haven’t felt that safe for a year, but I’ve showed up every session because it’s part of my self care. And I think it’s about feeling the things you don’t want to feel. But it’s scary, it’s very scary. And when you put up these walls and you’ve locked that pain in that box for so long, you throw away the key. Finding the key is enough, that is hard enough, and then you have to put it in and then you’ve got to turn it and then you’ve got open the lid, and it just takes time.

But one day, you’ll wake up and you’ll be like, oh my God, I’ve actually done it. Like in my last therapy session, I actually open the key. And it’s not– it’s about not putting a time limit on your healing as well, which is an issue that I think I have with a lot of the stuff that they recommend to the NHS because it’s like six weeks is that that isn’t– Six weeks is not even enough to feel safe with someone, it’s not. And I think sometimes that’s the only option people have and it’s diabolical. I think that six weeks are good for interventions, and to just be able to manage the shit that’s going on. But if you really want to process, it’s years, it’s actual years. And it also sometimes takes years to find someone that you want to work with. But I think that’s the beauty of it. I think you also have to be very ready and willing. You have to have a certain amount of self worth as well, I think to want to get well. Because searching for therapists is hard and you have to have some sort of motivation to even do that. But yeah, I don’t really have the answers to be honest. I just think it’s about an individual process. People work very differently, but I do think that holistically is the option that I recommend people because it tends to be the one that heals mind, body and soul, not just one of them.

Chloe: Definitely, definitely a lot different approaches. I work as a hypnotherapist, and a lot of what I do is, is sort of taking people back to things in childhood and getting to the root of where things come from. And people are often scared about that process, but once you do it and you kind of release something around something has happened or change your perspective, it can change so many things in your life. And it is like, you know, yeah, turning a key and just kind of looking inside and getting rid of some of the rubbish. But I think what you say is that it does take courage to go there. And I know a lot of people are scared about what they’re going to find and they just don’t want even think about or talk about it and that can be a lot of resistance to getting help for that, a lot of defensiveness around even looking at that. So, yeah.

Grace: It’s your covered memories, isn’t it? It’s the fear of what am I going to remember? And which I didn’t even think about until this year, actually, when I started remembering things, and I was like what the fuck is that and go to therapy like I’m having dreams, I’m remembering all these things that happened to me or the things I witnessed, I’m not okay with this. Because it makes you like full of fear, anxiety, you go back to being a child. And I think that’s why it’s really important to have a therapist that can manage you, so that you can come back to yourself and ground. I think grounding techniques are really important. Even if you’re not in therapy, being able to ground yourself and rebalance in the morning and at night, is really going to help. Because anxiety and being full of fear is like, I think shame as well as is one of the worst things in the world.

Chloe: Yes, yeah. Yeah. How would you describe shame?

Grace: Well, from a trained point of view, shame is obviously the emotion that allows people to recognise the repercussions and responsibilities that can happen when you make decisions. However, shame internalised with fear is like you’re going to die. I can’t explain it. It’s like you’re drowning, you don’t want to be seen, you’re embarrassed, you can’t step into your full power, you’re in fight or flight mode. And it could, I feel like shame can destroy you. It’s really interesting because shame is the root of my trauma. That’s literally it. It’s not depression, it’s not food, it’s nothing, it’s literally shame, just one word. And it’s– like sometimes going to therapy, I’m like I don’t want to be here today. I’m pissed off. And he’s like, “Why?” And I say because all these things have happened to me and all this shame is like, it could happen once and it takes you 10 years to heal and I said I’m pissed off about that. And yeah, it’s really hard. I think with trauma it can happen to 25 times, it can happen one time. And sometimes there’s no difference in how much of the cause and effect that you’re living with, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the same same thing with sexual assault, I think. So, my training at the moment is on sexual abuse and working with child sexual abuse survivors. And it can happen once or it can happen sustained, over a period of time. But some of the research that comes out of looking at that and the damage it can cause or whatever, is there’s no difference. You can have one sexual assault and you could have 50 of them and it affects your brain the exact same way. Yeah.

Chloe: Wow. And I read something recently, that is something like 13% of women have experienced a sexual assault as children.

Grace: Well, yeah. So that’s wild. And I know, I think every woman I know has had sexual trauma. Every single one. And yeah, shit is really– the statistics are wild. But also they’re quite inconclusive because not many people report and not many people remember, either. That’s the thing, you go to therapy for issues and you could have like all the textbook, symptoms of sexual trauma, but absolutely have no idea that it happened to you. So yeah.

Chloe: Yeah. So, if people have experienced that or if they’re worried about that, definitely speak to someone. And yeah, trying to take that holistic approach it sounds like is–

Grace: Yeah, and things take time, like I always– I think people see where I’ve come from, and where I am now and I may forget the amount of time that that’s taken me. And I think that try not to worry about how you’re going to do and what you need to do, but just take one step. So, just telling one person is a start of healing. So, even just calling like Victims Support if it’s sexual trauma, or the Samaritans or Mind, or going to see your GP or inquiring with a therapist, like baby steps, and then one day you’ll realise that oh, I actually heal every day, we’ve got 10 different things and it just build up and build up and you incorporate different things and you just try things and see what works. Like for some people, it’s like Tarot and crystal healing. For other people, it’s hypnotherapy and it’s exercise, you know. Everyone is different and self care is self defined as you know, I can sit here and say holistic is the best but for some people it’s not. You know, it’s all about what works for your soul and that’s okay, wherever it is.

Chloe: Yeah, yeah amazing. You’re training to be a counsellor–

Grace: I am.

Chloe: So, what made you make that decision and how is that going?

Grace: I think originally working at the Children’s Care Home, I knew my strengths. So, I had the most disclosures from the children and I was the youngest staff member. So, I was like, okay, so the children seem to want to talk to me more than anyone else. Why is that? And I think it was because of being relatable, like, they saw me as like an older big sister, had tattoos, spoke like them, like dress a bit like them, you know, quite straight or whatever. And also that I think I’m very approachable and I have a way of talking to people that’s educational, but also they understand that the words that I use, they understand. So, I knew back then when I was 22-23 that I had– I was good, I was good at helping people and we had therapy at the children home. And I was like I really like therapist and what they do, I’m really interested in that. But just never saw an option for me. I was like, in my 20s, I thought education is over. I didn’t really enjoy school anyway, didn’t go to university. So, just sort of thought well, it is what it is, I like doing it, but whatever. I’m doing YouTube and I’m doing this advice stuff on there, that’s kind of enough.

And then I guess I started my own therapy journey, having therapy and healing working on myself and realised that I was a sponge and I’d taken all of this in and I was holding in all of this information, trying to get it out to the masses, but I think when it to the masses, sometimes it can get watered down and it doesn’t have the impact it has when you’re with someone one to one, and it’s a safe space for just you want them to kind of talk and communicate. So, I was getting questions a lot on Instagram and YouTube and tweets like, “How can I do this? How can I do this? You’ve done this, what does this mean? I need to see a counsellor, but I’m not sure how.” And it’s every day I get these messages and I was like, I think I need to get some sort of training. And it was like a natural progression for me. And you know, comments about periods and like should my vagina smell this way or this happened to me as a kid. And I was just like, although I don’t feel out of my depth at all with these kind of questions, I do thought I need to backed myself up and have some sort of protection. And also I love learning. I love learning and I love writing essays, I’m just weird. It’s writing a blog post and I love being able to understand and process what happens to humans and I find it really interesting. So, I was like, fuck it, I’m going to train to be a counsellor. I had no idea how to do that, where to go.

So obviously, Google. And so I found a open college course on counselling child sexual abuse survivors and though that sounds up my street because I’ve been healing sexual trauma. And again, I find it very interesting and I think that there needs to be more women of colour therapists and black therapists. So, I was like I’m going to do it. Paid for it, did it in literally six months, less than that, probably about three months. I loved it, I found it very, very easy. I new a lot of the stuff that I was doing, so I thought, okay, I’m actually good at this. That’s been sent off, now I’m waiting for my results to come back, and then I’m going to do level three counselling course and then I can take clients after that. I kind of want to, in I don’t know, 20 years, probably before then, I want to have my own recovery program. So, it will be trauma based, person centred, it will also be humanistic, which is very spiritual aspect of treatment. And I kind of want to make my own recovery program for people, also be able to offer free sessions, discounted sessions and working with women and children on healing. And I want to get a degree eventually. That’s basically it.

Chloe: That’s amazing.

Grace: Yeah, it’s been honestly, it’s been very easy and just great. I thought like it’s just what I meant to do. I think it’s nice because I’m an example that you can sort of, like, do things in different order. Like I knew from 12 I was not going to go to Uni so I could be asked. But now I’m like I want to go to university, and you know, that’s just the way it is sometimes. I’m very lucky that I can do all of my YouTube and blogging and all that kind of stuff, and that’s going to pay for my education. So, I’m honestly so happy. I think I also want to do like a few life coaching courses and different things. I’ve done an aromatherapy course and I’m going to do essential oils and some other random stuff, astrology maybe. I just think there’s something in the market that can bridge the gap between spirit and science. And I think people are spiritually hungry, if I’m honest, and that is where a lot of the issues are. And I think basically a therapeutic program that is going to feed mind, body and soul.

Chloe: Sounds amazing.

Grace: Thank you.

Chloe: Sounds amazing. I’m very excited for this. You’ve mentioned about, you know, wanting to help women and girls to step into their power, why do you think we’re not in our power, firstly?

Grace: We’ve never been taught how to be. Self love and self care and how to be human is never taught at home or in schools. And we expect children at 16 to leave school be like cool, now you’re done, now you have to love yourself. And it’s like, they have no foundation to do that, and it is because of trauma, it is because of lack of education, lack of funding. And also our generation– the generation above us was not empowered that much, didn’t have the access to heal. So now, obviously, my generation and your generation, we are healing for like our moms and our grand moms and ancestors. And that is what stepping into your power is all about. I’m recognizing that you can be multifaceted. I think that we put labels on us a lot of the time and, you know, this is who I am, this is what I want to do and actually, you couldn’t be that person. But you can also be that person over there as well. And that’s what it’s about for me and going on a journey and having the toolbox to do that, have a toolbox for your mental health and to grow and become the person that you’re meant to be before society told you you you are.

Chloe: I think you mentioned this term generational trauma, which is as you say, it’s sort of healing things from your mom, your grandma, things come down the generations don’t they?

Grace: Yeah.

Chloe: And if you’re going through this process of trying to heal yourself, it almost can feel as if like I feel like I’m healing my mom stuff, my granny, my great granny, I feel that a lot and it can feel like quite a lot, actually. It’s a lot to carry.

Grace: A lot of people don’t talk about the physical effects of healing, and I never knew they were any until I was feeling them. So, when I first started about a year into treatment, in 2016, I, my body was just fucked. And I was purging so I was like aches, it was like I was going through growing pains; aches and pains, tiredness, breaking out for no apparent reason, my toenail fell off, like just random stuff. And I was never physically unwell ever. Although I had a lot of thrush and vagina issues because of obviously trauma. And I was like this is definitely the effects of healing. Your body has to align to your new brain and your new soul and your root chakra is the base of your spine, and that is I guess, that you’re grounding to life. But it’s also where your trauma is held. So, for black people, that’s what generations of like slavery and things like that. So, often when you’re healing, you will have a lot of lower back pain, and yeah, your trauma is held in lower back. So, I tell people I try and get massages on your lower back because you’re going to feel that. And yeah, the physical effects are just incredible.

Chloe: Because we hold so much of our emotions and our body like anyone with IBS will know that, you know, the stress can feel like a really physical thing and–

Grace: Thrush

Chloe: Yeah. So, many things can be linked to feelings.

Grace: Yeah, is related to something else.

Chloe: Someone described it to me recently as being like your emotions are like energy in your body. If we don’t feel it, but just stays stuck and that could make, you know, cause those aches and pains.

Grace: Headaches.

Chloe: Yeah.

Grace: There’s no way to release it. So, if you didn’t get things out of your body, they stay there. So, sometimes getting things out is visualisation, meditation. Other ways, it’s like exercise, swimming, dancing, and some days have an urge just to shake like Paul and Beyonce and just shake and just get it out. And like yeah, breath work as well, we don’t breathe. So, women and men, but women are obviously told to suck in your stomach all the time. When you suck in, you can’t breathe properly. Because when you breathe properly, your belly expands a lot, and you look pregnant. So, we’re conditioned not to breathe properly. And it isn’t till you meditate that you realise that you never actually get breath in or out.

Chloe: Wow. That’s so interesting, isn’t it? Yeah, I did a visualisation recently that was, I was trying to get rid of PMS. And I imagined like all this like black stuff in my womb like going back into the earth, and that month, my PMS was loads better and now I started doing this practice of like, visualising that happening and just imagining the earth is just taking it, sorting it out.

Grace: So, your second heart is your manifestation centre. So, if you have issues with PMS and anger and your period, it’s probably coming from somewhere else, and your womb like demands to be heard, it’s our wisdom. When you bleed you’re allowing your wisdom to go into the world, hence when you have menopause, spiritually that’s the most incredible women because they’re holding all their wisdom now.

Chloe: Wow. I am loving this. I’m so fascinated. I’m reading, I read wild power, have you read that?

Grace: No.

Chloe: I’m reading Period by Maisie Hill, which is all about living in accordance with your cycle, the spring, the summer, the autumn, and the winter. Have you heard of that, we’re describing it?

Grace: Yeah, have you read– I think you should probably Red Moon.

Chloe: Okay, I’ll add that to my list.

Grace: So, Red Moon is like the– I would say like the number one book about your cycle. Yeah.

Chloe: Okay, I’ll get it. I’ll get that right away.

Grace: It’s the best book ever, change your life.

Chloe: Yeah. Because it’s like, again, one of those things that we just don’t– we’ve never been taught about, never been taught.

Grace: Never been taught. I think a lot of people, they want evidence for everything. And they want it to be written down in a book somewhere or they have to always see things. Whereas I think you feel it. So, what you feel is right and your intuition because some of the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen with the naked– with your two eyes. And that’s the problem, with like schools are– and I think it’s just like our parents as well. There’s a lot of conspiracies and they don’t really believe in certain things because it’s not there, it’s not concrete, it’s not proven. Whereas, I just think that there’s so much magic in the world if you let things be magical and view them as magic. Women are cyclic beings, like that’s absolute fact, we have cycles so of course we’re going to be powerful and like this divine feminine energy and be connected to the moon. Like why not? It doesn’t make sense not to. Where some people are the opposite and think, doesn’t make any sense. I’m like, it makes perfect sense. Yeah, but it’s you’re teaching women and children that we’re magical.

Chloe: Yeah. Yeah, I love that. I love that. And often with kind of health things or psychological things, that kind of the mainstream isn’t offering solutions. So, you do offer and where one does often go looking for other solutions and go down a more spiritual path or a holistic path or something that actually, you can find solutions there quite often. Where maybe having CBD and taking antidepressants isn’t going to be the solution for you.

Grace: Yeah, I think it’s about people want quick fixes. If you look at a healing or you look at weight loss, or you look at fixing your skin or whatever, people want the thing that is going to make them better in a week or a month. Whereas the more holistic approaches, usually months, if not years, and that’s the issue. People want to be better now. Whereas– so, I had like really bad womb problems and I was bleeding for like, a year straight. And my doctor was like, this is definitely something. We’re not sure what and I was like, it’s my trauma. It started when I started mentioning my sexual trauma. It’s the pain leaving my body through my womb, it’s blood, that’s that. He’s like, “I’m not sure that’s a thing.” I was like, it’s – okay. And I was like I’m not taking any medication. They were like, go on the coil. I said, the issue is, I came off the pill, I started bleeding nonstop, it’s obviously these hormones, these things in my body that don’t want to be there. So, I’m not going on the coil. I’m going to do meditation, I’m going to work with crystals and oils and on different baths and I’m going to heal my own womb and he was like, “No, you’re not.” What happens? I heal my own womb. And it took me two years to do it, but I was persistent and I just knew. Our bodies know what they’re doing, and we’ve been taught not to believe them and to believe that outside people and noise over our own intuition. I just knew my body will figure things out. My body can have a baby, my body can do amazing things, my body can bleed, my body cannot bleed. It’s a self cleaning vagina. Like my body’s incredible. I trust that it will figure out and it did.

Chloe: And I think when we are in a kind of a calmer state, we enable our natural capacity to heal, and it does means taking care of ourselves more so that we can be a bit calmer and that natural ability to heal comes through.

Grace: Yeah, it’s stress. Stress, I think is the number one killer. Stress is the one thing that everyone struggles with, people die from and no one talks about it. And I noticed in myself, I cry more, I’m angry more, my food is awful, my self care is rubbish when I’m stressed, it’s just everything in life is shit when I’m stressed. And it’s about coming back home to yourself and just like balancing and just taking even if it’s half an hour every night to like come home. And it’s mad because people are like I haven’t got time and it’s like half an hour, half an hour, that’s like less than 2% of your day or 1% of your daily hours. Like just take that time just to sit and be and breathe, and you just feel so much better. But yes, it’s giving yourself permission to do that, isn’t it?

Chloe: And I often say it’s not really about not having time, it’s about not making it a priority. Because if you, you know, we find the time for the things that are important to us or if–

Grace: Like binge watching TV.

Chloe: Yeah, watching Love Island for – a day.

Grace: So true.

Chloe: Okay, amazing. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Grace: Oh, my God. I get given a lot of good advice, I’m not going to lie to you. But the first that came to my head was, this is very on topic what we’re talking about. I went to a yoga class in February 2018 and had BV and thrush, okay. So, everyone knows what BV is. It’s got a fish smell, I was not in a good place. And I knew that it was trauma, I knew that my body just was not happy. And I said to the yoga teacher, I was like, “I’m really suffering with vagina problems. Do you have any advice?” And she went “Just breathe.” And I was like, what does that even mean? Because at the time– was it 2018-17? I can’t remember. But at the time I was like “What the fuck? What kind of advice is that?” So, I went home and I was like okay, I’m just going to breathe. So, then I Googled vagina meditations and then I started doing meditations and imagining a white bright light in my vagina and stuff and releasing the pain. And I would say within a month I had, I always get thrush every month, and then since then I’ve not had thrush. I think I’ve had the thrush once in two and a half years.

Chloe: Amazing.

Grace: And I was like, oh my God, breathing, just breathe. I was [??? 50:09] shit advice, but now I’m like that’s the best advice I ever got.

Chloe: That’s brilliant. Wow. I mean, going back to the visualisation, thing, so I practised a thing called Qi Gong, which is basically like, Tai Chi, but it’s like the more ancient version. It’s about 5,000 years old whereas Tai Chi, I think, is only about 1,000 years old. And you basically just make some hand movements with your arms. I can’t obviously show people listening, but you sort of make some very gentle hand movements, and you’re moving energy into your body. And it’s really helped my immune system like I don’t get sick when I do it and loads of things just feel better. And it’s like a visualisation essentially. So, it is powerful, this stuff.

Grace: [??? 50:47] unwell. I get headaches quite a lot and I think that’s my third eye opening, and I put an ice cream, my third eye and that helps. But I do think that it’s down to what you believe. So like, I just believe that I’m not going to get sick and I’m going to live a very long life. I’m never unwell. There’s a book that I recommend called Heal Your Body by Louise Hay. Anyone wants to find out the soul and spiritual aspects of their physical symptoms, it has everything in there.

Chloe: So, definitely check out that book. Is it how to Heal Your Body, Louise Hay?

Grace: Heal Your Body by Louise Hay. Yeah.

Chloe: Brilliant. Thank you. I love a good book recommendation. So, that and Red Moon as well.

Grace: Yeah.

Chloe: I think I’ll have a look. What’s next for you, what are you working on at the moment?

Grace: A new columnist, a mental health columnist for a magazine.

Chloe: Ah, that’s very high.

Grace: So, that’s going to be announced soon with a very exciting article. So, that’s what’s next to me. I’m an ambassador for a new brand that hasn’t been announced yet. So, that’s also next. Training to be counsellor is next, and also, I want to have a baby. That is like what I want to do next, next few I want to start a family. I just think becoming a mom for me is like it. Like, I’ve always had a career. So, although I’m very happy and proud of what I’ve achieved. I think for me like having a family as like the thing. So, definitely want to, yeah, start a family. And to be honest, I’ve made no solid plans. I’m just writing it down what I want to do on my vision board, thinking about things that I would like to do, travel, go to Bali, etc, etc. and live in New York for like three months or move to LA for a month or whatever. And then if it’s meant for me, the universe will give it to me. So that’s it.

Chloe: Beautiful.

Grace: Yeah. What’s next is whatever’s next.

Chloe: Yeah, great attitude. And where can people find out more about you?

Grace: So, I’m pretty much Grace F. Victory on everything. So Instagram, YouTube and Twitter and my website is GracieFrancesca.com. And on there you can find outfits, along with think pieces and mental health and healing content and that’s it. Oh, and I’m [??? 53:14] podcast on Spotify.

Chloe: Brilliant. Thank you so much for speaking to me. I’ve loved this conversation.

Grace: Thanks for having me.

Chloe: Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I really hope you’ve enjoyed it. Come and let me know over on Instagram @ChloeBrotheridge what you thought and what you’re taking away from this episode. And please do subscribe in the podcast app or on iTunes and make sure you leave a rating and please do leave me a review if you’ve enjoyed this episode. Don’t forget you can sign up to join my free five day confidence challenge. I’m also going to be including within that a powerful workshop, and a group hypnotherapy session. So, you can find all the details of that at calmeryou.com/confidence. So, thank you so much for listening. I’m sending you loads of love and hoping you have a brilliant week.

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