Show Us Your Hands! Annual Report: Managing Stress as an Organization and an Individual

To celebrate the first anniversary of Show Us Your Hands! as a non-profit, the Board of Directors is writing a series of blog posts about the past year. Each of us writes about a different topic, relevant to us as individuals, to the organization and to the community. We welcome your comments and hope you’ll share these posts with others to continue the conversation. Sallie Ferguson, Director of Fundraising, writes about how managing stress benefits Show Us Your Hands! and ourselves. She also shares exciting plans to expand in the new year. 

Stress, me?  Never!   Ask all my friends and colleagues over the years and they will confirm that I am always serene and calm; nothing fazes me.   

Or so we all thought.

While the swan held her head serenely above the water, underneath the water level she was paddling fervently trying to keep her head above the water without knowing that she was in danger of drowning.

Prior to my diagnosis of RA in mid 2012; i had been through a very painful 5 years where life had thrown some major challenges my way, including losing my Mother and Brother. This,  together with a very demanding career with lots of travel and long hours meant that soon the cracks began to show.  Suddenly, I was no longer able to deny my stresses and how they had manifested in chronic pain and fatigue and finally the diagnosis of RA.

One benefit of working for a large corporation is that they were able to support me, not only in the workplace but with psychological support and cognitive therapy.  Why hadn’t I reached out for this help much sooner?

Alongside the cognitive therapy, I was also spending every spare moment researching and reaching out to various groups.  It wasn’t long before the research led me to Show Us Your Hands! and ultimately the fabulous opportunity to work with Eduardo, Lene, Cathy and Jess.

The Show Us Your Hands! board really made me look at my life, my priorities and the demands that I put on myself.  There is a real bond between us and a determination to make things better for everyone floundering as I was before.  It has made me realise that I can continue to have high standards around delivering to promises while shifting my expectations and those of the board to accommodate the fluctuating impact of the disease. It has also helped me prioritize differently, finding ways to reduce stress, both on and off the job.

Last week I had a major breakthrough…..I switched my blackberry off on my day off work. The world didn’t fall apart without my responses and my team felt empowered and trusted.  I’ve also joined Rock Choir - singing makes me happy (I’m not sure it makes those around me happy) and is a wonderful way to blow away the stresses.

The Show Us Your Hands! team has many plans for 2014.  This includes ensuring that the Charity is registered here in the  UK.   It is my role to ensure we have the funding available to continue to unite and inspire the Inflammatory arthritis community.  We want everyone to know how bright the future can be!

Sallie Ferguson
Show Us Your Hands! Director of Fundraising
December 13, 2013