This month; how one woman’s walk transformed depression and disillusionment into a new destiny
Katie Phillips, self-love coach, health and wellbeing entrepreneur, author, creator of The school of Self Love and all round Action Girl was born in Australia in the 70s and now lives in Haywards Heath with her new husband James and her son.
Hi Katie, thank you for taking the time to join me in the first in the series of Primal Cry Conversations. Firstly, how would you describe your childhood…
We were a middle class family living in Sydney, Australia, in what is now a really affluent area, but back then was a simple place where we had a healthy, happy upbringing, going to the beach etc. It was a lovely life.
Tell us about your formative years.
When I was around 16 my parents divorced. It was the first time I suddenly felt that nothing in my life was as it seemed. My mum started to reveal deep secrets and truths about her own mental health and the health of the marriage, that had been going on for years. It seemed like a continual stream of unfolding dramas.
I left home at 17 and around the same time Mum attempted suicide and was in a coma for a few days. I was away with friends on a planned end of school trip that the family didn’t want to cut short for me so I did not find out about Mum until I returned. I was so angry as I felt my bubble has literally burst. I didn’t cry or feel sad, it was “damn” nothing is as it seems. I thought my mum was fine; she was the ultimate “people pleaser”, with a big smile, so gentle and so kind and yet clearly she was mentally and emotionally tortured.
At 22 the bubble burst again and this time Mum took her life with an overdose. Now I couldn’t trust anything; nothing was as it seems. I felt really abandoned, let down and disappointed that life was not all roses. It was a wake up call that we all have to have; life isn’t all roses, neither is life hard, it is designed to support and give us opportunity for growth. I didn’t see that at the time. I was a victim and angry for a decade.
What rolls/identities did you form as you were growing up?
I had powerful modelling from Mum and Dad. From Dad I got this “I can do anything” attitude, that anything was possible, he would tell me often “you can do anything Katie” and I grew up believing that and it became the the basis of my business Daring & Mighty
I lived outside the box. I didn’t go straight to University like everyone else. I travelled a lot, I had a really cool career as an Events Manager getting onto the Olympic circuit, Grande Prix, Rugby World Cups. I remember all my friends in Australia saying, “oh, what’s she doing now”. I was thatgirl, who they thought was so lucky living such an interesting fun life.
As a Daring & Mighty woman, do you think you saw your mother’s suicide as failure or weakness?
I was definitely motivated notto go down the route that Mum had gone down. I don’t feel it was her “choice”. She chose to kill herself [Katie went on to describe how her mother killed herself and ensure she was able to see it through to conclusion, however, I did not feel it appropriate to detail here. Suffice to say it was clear this was no cry-for-help act]. Yet I did not feel she was “in choice” as she did not have any emotional mastery. There was so much in her life she felt victim too and she didn’t know how to deal with it. I think she felt this was her lot in life and she couldn’t handle it any more or see how it could get better or she could feel better. When Mum did attempt suicide and it didn’t work, we then had the opportunity to talk about it and to ask her what it was all about. She told me she just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up again, that she couldn’t deal with anything. She didn’t equate her death with her leaving her children. There was no mental leap to see the consequences of her action on her family. So I cant see how she was making a choice, she was the victim to her emotions.
Superwoman to Single, Struggling and Sleep-deprived….
I may be been achieving in my career but I had never been able to manage myself emotionally. I suppressed the emotion, keeping it down, until it became a volcano waiting to erupt.
My relationship with my sons father was deep, intense and volatile. We pushed each others buttons. Our volatility became too much for me to handle and eventually I went into a depression.
We had been together for a couple of years when we decided to have a child and get married. Close to the time we were to get married I realised I could not marry him. I felt like a Lioness protecting her cub. I knew I could do it and, although I didn’t realise it at the time, it was the beginning of a major healing journey for me and perhaps him as well.
You left corporate life to set up your own business as a Self-Love coach. How did this happen?
I was having counselling for a while until it came to the point it wasn’t going any further. I kept attracting relationships that were full of drama and were triggering me and my darkness and not allowing me to be whom I am. Although I didn’t know who that was, I knew something needed to be shaken up and I needed healing. Life just seemed to show me the way.
A Transformational Coach come into my world and I started seeing her and we did a lot of healing work. She showed me the Hoffman Process (https://www.hoffmaninstitute.org/ ) which I went on to do. It was fundamental to getting to the core of who I am, why I thought what I did, why I was attracting what I was attracting. I healed a lot around my parents. The process helped me come to understand what self-love really was and what it took. Whilst I was a believer that you could create anything you wanted in life, I didn’t know you could create that experience emotionally, I didn’t know you could feel good just in your own skin. (my italics as I felt this was a powerful insight)
Daring and Mighty meant to me then as leading a bigger life, going out in the world and achieving and being who you are. I put more now on being able to love yourself and that is daring and mighty, as I think it is quite hard to love yourself. It is mental and emotional mastery and daring to know yourself; light and dark. Loving and healing the dark.
You found yourself facing a health challenge last year. What happened?
I started to develop very bad cystic acne that was really painful and ugly. At the same time I started experiencing night sweats and a sudden onset of depression.
It didn’t seem to correlate with anything in my life; there was no dietary change, stress or change in the products I was using. It came out of the blue and I knew something was going on. I was putting weight on around my lower belly, getting brain fog and not remembering my words.
All I knew was that I had to go for a walk every morning – I was compelled to get out in nature. I would walk and stop walk and stop and try and get my heart rate going. It was not to keep fit. I called it my “mental health walk”. It hit me that I was the age that Mum was when she first tried to kill herself and I panicked as I didn’t want to be like that. So the walks reset me every day and felt like a life line. I later came to understand that this was my feminine coming through; she likes to be in nature!
How did this impact you work?
I was feeling emotionally vulnerable and couldn’t do any work, or think or create. I didn’t know how to go about bringing in new business. Nothing was happening, nothing was easy.
I found I was yearning to have women around me and so I created Daring & Mighty Dinners locally where I invited 5 friends who I “deemed” to be daring and mighty as they were “doing” cool stuff in the world, they were fun to be around and high vibration. I asked them to come to dinner and bring a friend so I could meet new people. This was the feminine coming through who knows she needs sisterhood.
It was at one of these dinners that I was telling a woman about how I was feeling and she suggested I may be in peri-menopause. I didn’t even know what that was! So I decided to do an interview series with the top experts around the world called “ My Menopause – An Interview Series”(.https://theschoolofself.love/my-menopause) I ended up having the most beautiful conversations with amazing women all around the world who helped me understand what my body was going through. So it was hugely supportive and helped me change elements of my diet, doing more yoga and some strength training as I understood this was what the body needs when going through menopause.
When things need to radically shift in ones life I call it the Primal Cry Moment. How did this arise for you?
Although the walking set me up and helped me get through the day, the depression was getting worse. Because I now had the understanding that my hormones were changing I was using these walks as a space to just love myself. I was walking and surrendering to it and allowing it to move through me. Telling myself it was natural and normal and I had to just walk and let it move through my body and send myself unconditional love.
Then one day during my morning walk the depression was really bad and as I was walking I was bawling my eyes out because I felt so lost, frustrated and uncomfortable in my body. Its hard to be a coach, to lead and guide people when you are coming from a place like this.
Suddenly this voice suddenly came out of me, “fuck off black dog; no more!”. It was a primal growl coming out of me. I understood that my body was changing and the symptoms but with the depression as well? I was letting it spiral and (in that moment) decided “no more”. In that moment it become the most self-loving thing I could do for myself.
You couldn’t have told me that was what I had to do; I had to feel it for myself. Everything inside me was ready to say “no more” so it [the primal moment] came from a place of such power and instinct, it just shifted it.
I continued with my self care practices but this time I wasn’t carrying around the depression any more. The morning after the primal cry moment I had woken up and the depression had simply lifted, it wasn’t there any more. Soon after my skin started to clear up. The walking had been transmuting energy and moving me from one state to the next state, detoxifying me, which was probably why the depression was coming up and the cystic acne.
Historically, I would have done what most women do, which is to get on with their day. Ten years ago I was working in corporate and I would have pushed it aside, I wouldn’t have made time to feel into my emotions. I new enough at this stage to trust my instincts telling me to go on these walks.
Did this health shift effect other areas of our life?
By the Spring last year nothing was happening with work. I had the clients that I had and was servicing them and not trying to bring in new business. The money flow stopped and I didn’t have the ability to bring it in either. I couldn’t. It was like my coding had changed and I couldn’t force it. I had lost that ability to sort shit out. I didn’t know how and I didn’t want to make it happen.
It all coincided with the hormone shift and I had to totally surrender which was utterly uncomfortable. I had to let my VA go who was my admin and tech support and that was really difficult as I was her primary source of income. I did the menopause series of interviews that generated a buzz of interest that was exciting but it didn’t generate any money. Nothing was coming. So I did an amazing experiment. At the start of the summer I took surrender to a whole other level and I took 10 days where I wasn’t allow to do anything unless I felt it. I had to learn to discern the difference between doing something because I wanted to keep busy and doing something because it was what I really needed. It was highly uncomfortable but I remember one day sunbathing nude in the garden and laying there thinking “what the fuck am I doing? I should be making money, I should be bringing clients in.” As a society we value being busy and having something to show for it, we don’t value “being”.
Something interesting came out of it. I developed a wisdom for valuing “being” and so started seeing what else I valued. I realised that although I valued getting paid by the client as an energy exchange, it was not why I was working with them. I liked being in their company and spending time with them and I valued the inspiration I received whilst being on their journey. So I was redefining the value in my business, that it wasn’t just coming financially. That fun was valuable. That pleasure was valuable. The human being who ever she was was valuable, the connection was valuable. Having time to be with my son was valuable.
So I reached out to 6 of my old clients who also ticked all of these values (they were a pleasure to work with and the coaching would be a beautiful evolution). I offered them 25% of what they would normally pay and it was easy for them to say yes. I knew that in those 12 months all my bills would be paid and I wouldn’t have to worry about any marketing as I didn’t have it in me to sell or make it happen. The taking action was the masculine dance with the receiving and surrendering feminine.
What that year led into is a complete miracle. In August we went on a family holiday to Bali and again the feminine quality of faith and trust in life and intuition was really tested. Right before we went to Lom Bok they had a massive earthquake and everyone cancelled their flights and my friends decided they didn’t want to go. It was really hard but my intuition said we’ve got to go. It was not a rational decision after a major earthquake and my sons father initially refused to agree to him going. I asked him to trust me and eventually he agreed and my friends decided to come. I think that my faith held the faith for everybody. I was scared but we went. We did experience a couple of earth quakes whilst we were there but everybody was ok. It was scary but an amazing life experience. We had a beach that would normally be full of tourists, to ourselves and it was paradise. I also had a strong belief that we were brining love and faith to Indonesia when the world was showing them fear. The number of people whose lives were touched because we turned up and showed hope.
I was running that feminine trait of love, intuition and faith. I remember one night we had to get out of our rooms as the whole place was shaking. It was terrifying as we ran around gathering all the kids and we ended up sleeping in the garden. That night I had the most profound experience. I was lying I the garden, again I felt that lioness in me taking care of her cubs and although I was scared I felt this incredible energy coming up through the ground and felt we were so taken care of by Mother Earth and I had instinctual feeling that it was all going to be ok.
Following this James proposed to on a small island off Lom Bok and we were married 5 days later. My friends took care of it all! I was being invited to learn to receive (another feminine superpower). In an old journal I describe my dream wedding as being “like a retreat in an exotic location surrounded by my best friends” and that is exactly what I received. It was a miracle.
We bought our house in November last year and moved in.
I still wasn’t doing any marketing or having any tech support for my business and was simply going to events and meeting people I enjoyed and doing only what felt right. Yet by the end of this quarter my business has done the best it has ever done!
Katies primal message…..you have to go with what feels good! Thats the way of the feminine. I discovered that life feels so mjuch easier when you learn to drop the “push”. At first it might feel weirdly uncomfortable because you are learning a different way of doing life but its so incredibly worth it.
You can find Katie at