Woman, 30, who was ‘allergic’ to her £55,000-a-year high-stress job in finance says quitting to travel the world ‘saved her’ – despite returning home with £10,000 of debt and just £50 in the bank
- Caitlin Taylor, 30, had a £55,000-a-year job at a large investment bank in London
- But her ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle soon took a crippling toll on her health
- She developed hives all over her body and was warned she had to slow down
- Splashed entire savings on a two-and-a-half-year adventure to travel the world
- Within six months of her lifestyle changes, all her illnesses disappeared
An investment banker revealed she was forced to ditch her 18-hour day and corporate lifestyle after she developed an ‘extreme allergy’ to her stressful job – leaving her covered in horrific hives.
Caitlin Taylor, 30, from London, went into financial services after she Googled ‘how to make the most money’ – but after taking on a role at a large investment bank, her ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle took a crippling toll on her health.
She developed a rash of hives all over her body and for more than a year, her face would regularly swell up until she could barely see – yet despite doctors carrying out several tests, a cause or cure wasn’t found.
After being hospitalised three weeks in a row due to struggling to breathe, Caitlin consulted private, alternative health experts, who diagnosed her with an ‘ extreme allergic reaction to stress’ and warned she had to slow down or face taking medicines for the rest of her life.
Caitlin quit her £55,000-a-year job and splashed her entire savings on a two-and-a-half-year adventure to travel the world – and within six months of her lifestyle changes, all her illnesses disappeared.
Skint but happy, Caitlin, who says her drastic decision ‘saved her’, returned to the UK with just £50 in her bank account and £10,000 of debt but with a long-term partner and a new job as a life coach.
Caitlin Taylor, 30, from Worcester Park, London, went into financial services after she Googled ‘how to make the most money’. Pictured, Caitlin developing hives
But within months of moving to the capital for a role at a large investment bank, her ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle took a crippling toll on her health. Pictured, Caitlin during her travels
As well as exploring the globe, Caitlin took on an anti-inflammatory diet – which favours fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, while discouraging the consumption of processed foods, red meats, and alcohol.
She had a whirlwind holiday romance in Spain, joined a party bus of students in New Zealand, joined a yoga retreat in Bali and bought a caravan in Sweden.
Caitlin said ditching her gruelling commute, 18-hour days and concrete city environment saved her.
She said: ‘It was really frightening. I woke up absolutely covered in these hives, and I couldn’t breathe, or see properly. I looked like I had been burned all over my body, or attacked by an alien. It hurt so much.
‘But I kept going into work because it was so busy. I was working from 7am to 10 or 10.30pm, and commuting an hour and a half each way from Surrey to Canary Wharf.
She developed a rash of hives (pictured) all over her body and for more than a year, her face would regularly swell up until she could barely see – but despite doctors carrying out several tests, a cause or cure wasn’t found
After being hospitalised three weeks in a row due to struggling to breathe, Caitlin (pictured) consulted private, alternative health experts, who diagnosed her with an ‘ extreme allergic reaction to stress’ and warned she had to slow down or face taking medicines for the rest of her life
‘In the whole year I was badly ill I only took two-and-a-half weeks sick leave. I went to university because I thought I should, and got a job I thought I needed, but by the end I was working like a dog and didn’t even have my health.
‘I packed in my job, packed my bags, and went travelling with the money I had saved to buy a house. I left everything, and I didn’t have a plan.’
She admitted: ‘I was scared, and I was crying when I flew out, but I had the best time ever when I was travelling. I discovered a new way to live and now, ironically, I help stressed and burned out Londoners to do the same.’
Creative Caitlin considered music college, but went into investment banking in search of cash.
She graduated with a first-class degree in business and marketing from Canterbury University and won a place on a prestigious bank’s graduate scheme.
After a stint in project management and then compliance in Bournemouth she moved to London in 2014 – and her health took a huge downturn.
She said: ‘I had no idea what to do with my life. In Bournemouth I got the corporate bug and wanted to make it big in London. The London corporate lifestyle was a really different culture though.
‘It was very dog eat dog, with colleagues – even other women – trying to put you down rather than raise each other up. We were working long hours and then going out with colleagues drinking and talking about work.’
Caitlin (pictured) quit her £55,000-a-year job and splashed her entire savings on a two-and-a-half-year adventure to travel the world – and within six months of her lifestyle changes, all her illnesses disappeared
Within two months Caitlin started to feel ill with stress and anxiety, then the lumpy rash appeared on her head, spreading to her arms and chest within weeks.
She ended up taking a cocktail of medications – including steroids, pain killers, anti-inflammatories and high-strength antihistamines. They made her gain weight and get mind fog.
She said: ‘First I could really feel stress and anxiety creeping in. Then I started to get very ill. The rash on my head was really bad. My skin was really swollen.
‘If I ran my fingers through my hair I could feel big welts like bee stings. They itched a bit, and if I touched them they hurt. They were hives.’
Caitlin recalled: ‘One day I was sitting at my desk and my lips started to feel really hot. I went to look in the mirror and I could see my whole face was swollen.
‘The pharmacy said it was an allergic reaction and gave me antihistamine, but it got worse and spread all down my neck arms and chest. I started to have panic attacks.
‘I went to St Thomas Hospital and my blood tests came back fine and I appeared to be healthy, but I was clearly quite unwell. They said I was having an allergic reaction.
‘They gave me steroids and stronger antihistamine but it kept coming back. Then the brain fog started which was really affecting my work.
As well as exploring the globe, Caitlin (pictured) took on an anti-inflammatory diet – which favours fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, while discouraging the consumption of processed foods, red meats, and alcohol
‘This made me really stressed, and I realised the more stressed I got the worse the hives got. The hives came and went but were getting progressively worse every time it came back. It was terribly embarrassing as well.
‘I spent a lot of time with my head down, and the steroids made me put on a lot of weight. I lost a lot of confidence.’
Her symptoms raged on for more than a year until as a last resort she went to see a Harley Street naturopath – a health practitioner in natural therapies – in January 2017.
What are hives?
Hives are a skin reaction that causes red or white itchy welts.
The welts vary in size and appear and fade repeatedly as the reaction runs its course.
Chronic hives are a condition in which the welts last more than six weeks or recur over months or years.
Chronic hives usually aren’t life-threatening.
But the condition can be very uncomfortable and interfere with sleep and daily activities.
Often, the cause of chronic hives is not clear.
In some cases, chronic hives are a sign of an underlying health problem, such as thyroid disease or lupus.
Source: Mayo Clinic
‘I was at my wits end’, she said. ‘I would have dismissed it as a load of hippy woo-hoo before, but I was ready to try anything. She said stress was the trigger, and that all the stress and toxins had accumulated in my body.
‘She recommended yoga and an anti-inflammatory diet. I had tried so much stuff I thought I might as well give it a go.’
She overhauled her diet – ditching boozy brunches for olive oil, salmon, vegetables and chicken, and her hives started to go away.
It was a wake up call, and she packed up her job in June 2017, and flew to Ireland to see family weeks later, with the £10,000 she’d saved for a house deposit.
Two weeks later she flew to Barcelona for a fortnight and fulfilled her dreams of having a Spanish love affair. Then in New Zealand she joined a party bus of uni graduates for a month.
Having ran out of savings Caitlin worked in Australia for a year, then went to Thailand, Vietnam and then Bali, where she lived for 10 months.
She said: ‘In New Zealand we ran naked down the road and went skinny dipping in freezing lakes. When I looked back I realised I hadn’t had any fun. I had just worried about money and mortgages.
‘It was the first time I can honestly say I made friends. I felt like I had come home when I arrived in Bali. I started my yoga teacher training straight away.
‘I got a job writing for the yoga company, and I started to learn how to be a life and health coach. I started my own business and met my partner.’
Caitlin and Marcus Grip, a photographer, bought a caravan in Sweden and travelled Europe for six months, before heading home in December 2019.
Caitlin now works as a consultant project manager for a consultancy firm during the day, while building up her own life and health coaching business in the evenings.
‘We came back with £10,000 of debt and £50 in the bank’, she said. ‘Everyone thinks they have to make drastic changes – I thought that and I did – but you don’t have to do it that way.
‘Now I am making small changes every evening building up my own coaching business while I work to earn enough to go back to Bali. You can do these things bit by bit.’
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