Healthy Living

3 Lessons I Learned After Surviving A Heart Attack At 28

I spent years in a quarter-life crisis trying to figure out why this happened to me.
07/29/2016 06:42am ET | Updated August 1, 2016
Amanda Julca Photography
You deserve to live a wonderful life.

Until I was 28 years old, I was living a pretty normal life. I would wake up, commute to work and hurriedly eat cereal at my desk as I reviewed my deadlines for the day whilst begging my secretary for a strong coffee.

You see, I’d worked as a lawyer for nearly a decade, qualifying at the age of 21, representing clients in court in my first year and, closer to the age of my early “retirement,” I worked in-house for a global shipping company that had offices in 105 countries.

Living out of a suitcase was nothing new. I could pretty much find my way blindfolded around every major airport in the world.

(Put it this way, you learn pretty quickly how to sleep on planes, shower at airports and skip the queue in customs so you don’t miss your connection!)

Stress was part of my daily life (when isn’t it?) and I’d grown accustomed to the anxiety I felt in my chest when a legal matter blew up right before the 5 p.m. deadline and all parties were madly scrambling to try to find a solution.

It’s just another day in the life of a corporate, right?

I was nothing special. Just an ordinary, small town farm girl from Queensland, Australia trying to break the poverty cycle of my youth and follow my childhood dream of being the first one in the family to get a tertiary education.

Perhaps that sounds like someone else you know?

The thing is, I put up with the chronic stress, the nights of crying at my desk, and the embarrassment of judges questioning my ability to practice in open court (because I looked too young and too blonde) for years.

That is, until I had a heart attack and nearly died.

I was 28, and my entire world got turned upside down. I had heart disease that had killed nearly 40 percent of my heart muscle, but I wasn’t overweight, I didn’t have grey hair and those wrinkles weren’t really that bad (were they?).

I spent years in a quarter-life crisis trying to figure out why this happened to me: a healthy, hard-working beach girl from Queensland now living with a wire coil in her artery.

And what I know for sure about living with heart disease in your 20s is you’ve got to:

1. Live your potential.

It’s true what they say about life being short, and when you’re confronted with the pearly gates of (insert whatever your belief is), you quickly realize you’ve only got ONE shot to make your presence on this earth matter. So take it. It’s a gift. You’re meant to use it.

You’re not meant to be sitting in a cubicle, working to ridiculous-o’clock, surrounded by mountains of files making someone else’s dreams come true. You’re actually on this earth for a purpose. You’ve been gifted with extraordinary potential that isn’t meant to lay dormant inside a glass box. It’s your duty to tap into that potential and light up the world with it.

2. Be fearless.

Let’s face facts. Fear was only invented so humans didn’t get eaten by lions, not to keep you stuck or playing small with your life! So, unless you’re about to get eaten by a lion, face your fear and do whatever it is you feel called to do. Live spontaneously, be adventurous, don’t worry what others may think of you (they’re far too concerned with their own lives, anyway) and start illuminating the world with your greatness.

3. Master your mindset.

As an authority on the matter of post-heart-attack depression, let me tell you that the only thing standing in the way of your success, happiness and abundance is you. Here’s the thing: There’s no room in your mind (or your life) for negative thoughts or limiting beliefs, because you yourself hold the power to your unlimited success.

So the more you mope around feeling sorry for yourself (and boy, did I win the medal for that after my heart attack) the more you’ll stay stuck in that dark place. Instead, try redirecting those negative thoughts and limiting beliefs that are repeating in your mind like a bad iTunes playlist and flip the switch to positive, motivating, and unstoppable thoughts because your thoughts shape your reality. The greater the force you apply to the good things, the greater those good things become!

By taking charge of your life, following the flutters and refusing to conform, you’ll overcome the struggle that’s been keeping you stuck and finally reach the summit of your true potential.

You can reach Janelle here.