This week on Talk Learn Connect, Writer Yvonne Reddin asked Rachel Gotto - Clinical Hypnotherapist,Transformational Coach, Author and Speaker to share some TLC (Talk Learn Connect)
Can we start with your current profession and what its main elements are, and can you share your unusual and powerful life story with the TLC audience?
I work as a personal success coach; a clinical hypnotherapist and I have just completed my memoir and it will be published in 2021. I am also forming another part of my business as a corporate, motivational speaker. I have an amazing life story and is something I love to share because when I was going through and experiencing multiple trauma, there wasn’t very much support, in the sense, we didn’t have leaders or people who had been through traumas talking about it. I remember one really dark time, where I felt truly alone with my experiences, I had complex PTSD, I had experienced multiple losses, sudden death and I had lost my own physicality and my mind.
I wanted to share my story in my memoir and to show people that anything is possible and we can overcome any obstacle, any challenge providing we follow a few steps and that we understand we ultimately have a choice and the human spirit is stronger than we think.
We arrived on a boat from England and that in itself is an unusual beginning. I had an adverse childhood that was challenging and that already took away my foundations, so I was always surviving emotionally. My gorgeous brother Dominic got cancer very young and we were very emotionally co-dependent and I traveled the world with him trying to find a cure for his cancer and unfortunately to no avail. Sadly, he died with me beside him at the age of twenty-eight, I was twenty-six.
At the age of twenty-three, I started my own business, I was an entrepreneur at a very young age. I was incredibly driven, capable, energetic and at the same time, I was dealing with a lot of emotional issues. When Dominic left, part of me left with him, I was quite destroyed and incredibly bereft.
At the same time, I also met my future husband, which was a great advent into my life, there was a dichotomy of deep, deep loss, and guilt. I felt a survivor’s guilt, that it should have been me, I felt I was stronger than Dominic and perhaps, if I had got cancer, I would have survived it. That guilt and falling in love were so difficult for me. A year after Dominic died, I married Nic and we were incredibly happy. He was a wonderful man and I was pregnant soon after we married, we had been together for four years.
Nick died eight months later in a scuba diving accident at which I was present. I was six months pregnant and as you can imagine, I was absolutely devastated after these traumas, and this was the beginning or continuation of PTSD, which I knew nothing about back then. Our daughter, Nicola, was born three months later, and the circumstances of giving birth after such loss were not easy.
That was, of course, another challenging event, Nicola lost the sight in one of her eyes, due to a birthmark. When Nicola was five, she found me unconscious on the kitchen floor. I had a benign, inoperable brain tumor that was growing and I was unlikely to live beyond two years and I was told I should put my affairs in order, write my will and have Nicola looked after as things were not good.
Not one to lay down and give up, I searched as did my family for someone who could give me a chance of continuing my life. After a long search and a lot of closed doors, I was introduced to a surgeon called Richard Nelson at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. He told me if I did survive the operation, I would more or less be paralyzed down the left-hand side of my body, for the rest of my days. I didn’t have to think hard about my answer, I had preparatory surgery in London beforehand, incidentally, the operation was not available in Ireland, there was no capacity for it here.
"On January sixth, 2006, I survived a fifteen-hour operation but only just. I had an intracranial bleed in my head, very sick and it was many days after before I moved. I was also paralyzed down the left-hand side of my body"
This was another journey, I had to learn to live with paralysis, being dependent and I refused to accept the prognosis that I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I fought and fought to the point where I was able to walk. It was many years before my left arm moved at all. It was a long journey and a journey of serious strife but one I was willing to overcome.
I was beginning to feel well but the quality of my life was going downhill rapidly, I was living in a twilight zone. A very, grey monotone, the only range of emotions I had was rage and anger and deep depression. None of the subtler emotions were available to me. I had been put on a lot of medication following surgery as I had intractable epilepsy as a result of the scarring on my brain.
I had been seizing up to twelve times a day, so they had to keep adding in more medication to try to stop the seizures. Eventually, unaware to me, one of these medications was a Benzodiazepine, and the quality of my life was deteriorating because you need more and more of this drug to stay at the same level you are at. I was in constant intolerance withdrawal. What that meant was, I needed more drugs to feel stable.
I was slowly losing my grip on life, living a twilight life, sleeping during the day, just about managing been a parent, drinking a lot, and just about staying alive. It was only when I found out what Benzodiazepine was, I had to undertake a long journey of withdrawal and it took me two and a half years. I chartered up forty-seven symptoms I lived with, in those two and a half years. Some of the symptoms included my teeth constantly bleeding, my skin falling off my body, absolute insomnia, Akathisia, I was completely agoraphobic, unable to feel any emotions, and I couldn't even cope with washing up.
"Eventually, I became suicidal and homicidal and it was a very tough battle to fight those demons, it was like my mind had become completely dark, fighting between good and evil. My mind turned against me, so that is part of the story and it is a difficult and dark part of the story"
It’s a very necessary part of this story as there are many people who are the accidental addicts. Society doesn’t even see because people don’t understand that they are physically dependent on these drugs and it's not possible to just go cold turkey off them.
My story from 2013 to now, has been one of great changes, great movement forward, and great transformations. I became interested in hypnosis, therapy, and public speaking because I finally realised, that my journey was quite unique and I had a message that I needed to share with the world. And that is that we are resilient, we have strength, we just need to choose to tap into our strengths and that we are very powerful as human beings.
I bring all my experiences, all my life skills to the table with each client in a unique, powerful, and transformative way. When I share my story to a wider audience, It shares wonderful, inspirational messages in it, that people can take with them to understand that they are capable of transformation in their own lives. And that consciousness and choice are vital for us to bring into our lives and to know, we ultimately have choices.
“The transformations that happen, have a cascade effect, they affect all areas of your life, even though your working on one final point- so it’s very exciting”
Can you chat more about your statement here, what kind of transformations?
Absolutely! When we positively affect change in one area of our lives we automatically positively alter another part. I frequently get feedback from clients that the issue we worked on is completely transformed but so is another issue we didn’t even look at.
I remember a few years ago, I worked with a lady who completely transformed her fear of speaking in leadership meetings. When we removed the root cause of her problem, she really began to look forward to her monthly meetings. She became very proficient at speaking and went on to get a promotion because of her newfound confidence.
When we reviewed a few months later she was delighted to confide that her intimate life with her partner was much better because through the work we did she had become more empowered and finally was brave enough to share with her partner what she enjoys and what doesn’t. A complete win-win situation.
You certainly have lived by experience and openly talk about the traumas you have encountered through your life; how do you stay so positive and upbeat?
By choosing the energy of gratitude. Having gratitude makes us more future-focused and keeps us in a positive mindset. The traumas I have experienced have all been life-changing. Having experienced loss after loss I was truly brought to my knees both physically and spiritually.
I had nothing left, I had lost the people who meant the most to me, I had lost my physical freedom to paralysis and I was an accidental addict through prescription drug addiction.