As Seen by Her: Creative Helene Kask on the Art of Battling a Stress Disorder

The Swedish jeweller and dreamcatcher-maker writes about what happened when her body had had enough—and how she still deals with it today.

We’ve found our soulmate! Introducing As Seen by Her—a Barcelona-based platform celebrating modern women with the ambition to share honest and intelligent perspectives. Sounds pretty similar to us, eh? Since our goals come from pretty much the same place, we’ll be sharing As Seen by Her’s stories written by creative women every week.

Today, meet Swedish jeweller and dreamcatcher-maker Helene Kask. Rather than writing about her work, she writes about how work gave her a complete physical and mental breakdown in the form of a stress disorder. From forgetting how to do simple things like make coffee to learning how to slow down and have higher self-awareness, read about Kask’s journey into accepting that slowing down is necessary and that high paced lifestyles aren’t necessarily a good thing. 

My name is Helene Kask. My journey started 36 years ago when I was born into this world by two beautiful, loving parents; a few years later, my baby sister also arrived. My grandparents where born in Estonia, but were forced to escape from the Russian occupation after WWII. To leave their home behind – the place were they were born and raised – and experience the horror of a war-torn Europe had a profound impact on my family in many ways. Due to the implication of our family history, the meaning of affinity really grew strong in our consciousness. To be there for each other and to share the struggles in life together. I had a happy and loving childhood in Sweden where my sister and I grew up in the same house as my grandparents. To see them daily during my childhood has influenced me in many ways: I have a huge respect for the older generation and also for life experiences in general. I carry this insight with me today, and it influences my behavior towards people when I meet them for the first time. To share a life story with someone else lets us get in touch with values that are real and honest.

Today, we live in a fast-paced world. The pressure is high and the load on your shoulders is getting heavier everyday—which pushed me into a new chapter in life. My life had been stressful and unbalanced for many years. Unaware of and ignoring the signals my body was sending out led me into the worst scenario I have ever experienced: a stress disorder.

It all started with being tired, tired, and tired. I thought this was a normal state considering today’s high-paced society. But the tiredness did not disappear, even when I rested. I was tired deep down into my bones.

Alongside that came insidious dizziness. I had trouble breathing properly and felt an almost constant pressure over my chest. I fainted. My ears were blocked and I had twitches around my eyes. My body temperature was uneven. I had migraines. My immune system was really low. I had pain behind my left eye. I felt heavy anxiety. I started experiencing trouble with expressing myself in English. I forgot words and sentences. Then, this start to happen when I would speak Swedish, as well. I started forgetting how to do simple things, like make coffee. At the same time, I noticed mood swings. I could get upset or annoyed over small things and I had no patience. Then, I started getting numb in my fingers and around my mouth. I felt stitches in my legs and arms and I got a heavy pain in my joints. I had my first panic attack of many. I was really emotional. I cried and cried. Finally, when I had trouble walking due to pain, I had to face the truth. The day after my realization I started my sick leave, which ended up being very long.

To accept my sickness was the breaking/starting point for me. When I started to accept the fact that I was really sick, I was able to start my healing process. It all comes down to awareness. It has been tough to realize that I can’t handle the kind of lifestyle I had before. My life will never be the same again. I’ve realized that I will always be more sensitive to stress, high demands or pressure, large crowds, loud noises and sounds. I have to, every day for the rest of my life, constantly think about my energy level and not push myself into something I can’t handle.

Awareness of these facts has also taught me many positive insights.  First, I need to accept my struggle and give it time, love and respect. I also now know that I-Am-One-Unity: my body and soul coexist. Learning to stay close to my soul is a constant, organic process. I learn every day from my missteps, but staying on the predetermined path will bring me to the next level. It’s hard to be a sensitive soul in a world that speeds faster and faster, but if you accept and love yourself for who you are and stay true to yourself, your healing has come a long way.

Being a creative soul is the calling in my life. To feel pleasure, not pressure. When I create I put high vibrations into my work, and every piece has a message to encourage reflection and to let go—to find your own way back.

You can find my work at helenekask.com; my sister and I also have an Instagram account. It is a Love Story to life, Mother Earth and to each other as human beings. This is our creative playground where we post our own photographs, affirmations, poetry—and most importantly, a message of reflection.