We, humans, do whatever we can to avoid feelings of pain and do whatever we can to repeat feelings of pleasure. The pain and pleasure cycle of life dictates our thoughts, feelings and actions and is at the centre of all experiences.
But how do we avoid physical and mental pain that is a direct result of an illness, and what if this illness is incurable and lifelong? And how do we find moments of pleasure whilst having to endure this pain? Extremely difficult, if not impossible, would you agree? Not according to, author, philanthropist and motivational speaker Anne Welsh. From birth, Anne
has been suffering from a rare blood disease called Sickle Cell Anaemia, an incurable and lifelong illness.
Sickle Cell anaemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder, the disease can affect all major organs of the body and people who suffer from this awful illness face many challenges, which include fatigue and severe episodes of pain on a regular basis. Anne was diagnosed with the disease at the age of three, she said, “ As a child, I was always ill and the realisation of my condition was devastating for my parents, especially being told I may only live to the age of twenty.”
Anne is one of four siblings, she describes growing up as extremely challenging, her condition at times was unbearable. Anne said, “I would often ask what have I done to deserve this, why me? The answers were never convincing or I could accept, it’s like you’re being punished for something and you don’t know why.”
Anne added to say “I felt alone, whilst my siblings and friends got on with their lives, my life was on hold. The hardest part of having an illness like Sickle Cell is you can’t plan anything, let alone plan for a future. The onset of symptoms is not something you can predict, they can trigger at any time and any place. The very best you can do is take each day at a time.”
She openly admits for many years she struggled to cope with her illness and suffered from depression. “I couldn’t enjoy or look forward to anything, at the back of my mind there was always the possibility my illness would ruin any joy and happiness, I was living a nightmare.”
Today, Anne talks about her experiences at events, on social media and wherever the opportunity is presented. Despite her condition, Anne is a successful entrepreneur, She runs a company that provides expert support and guidance in the world of business and works with several charities, raising money to further research and find treatments for the disease.
In 2019, Anne published her best selling book ‘PAIN-LESS’ a powerful account of her life with the illness and to raise awareness. In the book Anne shares ways on how to prevent adversity from holding you back and not allowing any illness or difficulty in your life to paralyze you. She shows you how to win back your freedom regardless of your situation.
Anne’s remarkable attitude is beyond even words like inspirational, it has a deeper understanding and meaning. She added, “God has given you a body, all of it is unique to you, its abilities and frailties are its assets. Use what you have, share what you have and above everything else, find joy in the pain you have.
In 2016, Anne decided to join the Sickle Cell Society here in the UK and it was there that she realised how many other people were suffering like her. “Instead of focusing on myself, I started noticing my desire to help others, supporting them to become more comfortable with their illness. In a short time, I began mentoring other sufferers.” Anne started to use her illness as motivation to help others, to speak out and be an ambassador. “Helping others overcome their struggles with this illness gave me joy, I discovered and experienced for the first time that you can live with pain and still find inner joy.” she said.
Anne continued, “When you can with conviction accept your situation and find something that is bigger than your own pain, the pain can no longer control how you feel, it is now merely a condition you live with. Your situation is no longer breaking you, it is the making of you.” Anne also believes sometimes you have to experience extreme intense pain before you can break through it. She said, “It’s when you’ve reached your breaking point and you say, enough is enough.”