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How Lightning Strike Survivor Kellylee Evans Conquered Fear to Heal

How Lightning Strike Survivor Kellylee Evans Conquered Fear to Heal

Kellylee Evans’ Juno-Award-winning career as a singer-songwriter came to an abrupt halt when the impossible happened — she was struck by lightning while washing dishes in her home. This life-altering event sparked a decade-long battle with chronic pain that often impacted her mobility until she finally discovered what lay at the root of her health issues. Fear.

The lightning strike had put her body in a constant state of stress and anxiety that manifested itself physically. With a new understanding of fear’s impact on both her physical and emotional health, Kellylee underwent intense therapy to re-wire her brain in hopes of coaxing her body back into a sense of safety.

In just three months, Kellylee went from a person suffering from chronic pain, needing a mobility scooter, and only walking 500 steps a day to someone who walks 12,000 steps each day without assistance.

Today, Kellylee shares her incredible recovery journey in her keynote concert, “Unbreakable: Finding Strength in Adversity”. She combines original songs with powerful storytelling to showcase the important role mental health plays in our general well-being and empowers audiences to trust themselves and live up to their potential. Kellylee leaves audiences with practical strategies to take control of their health and build true resilience through adversity.

Learning How to Outgrow Fear

“I can still remember lying on my osteopath’s treatment table and him asking me about my anxiety,” Kellylee shared. “I carefully explained that I didn’t have anxiety. That yes, I have had countless ulcers since my early teens and suffered from panic attacks since the lightning strike and yes, I was there to be treated for a tightness in my stomach that was making it difficult to eat — but ‘no’, I did not have anxiety. What a joke. It’s so amazing how we can’t see in ourselves what may be crystal clear to others. That conversation was my first indication that I had some work to do, and I began that work.”

It was almost a 10-year process from that realization to where Kellylee is today. In late 2023, she discovered that she suffered from psychophysiologic disorder, where your brain becomes stuck in certain pain pathways. So, while the physical reasons for that pain may no longer exist, your brain can easily become activated and create very real symptoms of it as a form of protection.

Undergoing Pain Reprocessing Therapy, Kellylee learned how to soothe herself and calm her fear. It gave her the courage to deliberately engage in activities that would typically cause flare ups, which for her were simple things like walking, and the tools to talk herself through the experience to reframe her response to it.

Kellylee would start by asking a simple question, “is there a lion, tiger, or bear chasing me?” With the answer being “no”, she could logically understand that she is safe and then lean further into the fear to find its root.  

“The fear might be tied to something that I have been afraid of for a long time and am now ready to move out of my way,” Kellylee said. “Or I might just need more information to feel comfortable. Or I may need to talk to my little inner Kellylee who is freaking out and let her know that I am going to protect her and be there with her.”

Kellylee would engage in this process until her heart rate lowered and her body could relax. “If I hadn’t experienced the changes in my body myself, I am not sure I would have believed it,” Kellylee continued. “It has been amazing to witness.”

The Building Blocks of True Resilience

In her keynotes, Kellylee walks audiences through some of the techniques that helped her throughout her remarkable recovery. She draws on her experience to show others how they can integrate these practices into their own lives to build a foundation for true resilience — the ability to find strength through adversity and outgrow fear.

1. Mindfulness Meditation

Previously, my meditation focused on breath or a sound or a mantra, Kellylee said, but therapy taught me the connection between mindfulness and our ability to withstand discomfort. Through mindfulness meditation, she was able to notice the impermanence of her symptoms and build confidence in her ability to sit through uncomfortable feelings and emotions.

“If you can withstand fear, you can overcome so many obstacles that might be standing between you and your hopes and dreams,” Kellylee said.

2. Self-Soothing vs. Self-care

Too often our response to fear or discomfort is to turtle and hide in our metaphorical shells. Self-soothing helps you confront that discomfort by learning how to comfort and talk yourself through it.

In those moments where I feel fear radiate through my body, Kellylee said, I’ll ask myself if there is a lion, tiger, or bear chasing me. There never is, so I remind myself that I can do it, I can deal with the issue, whatever it is, and then I dive in.

“The more I realize that the repercussions are not what I thought they would be, and that in fact, many times, I can deal with it, the better I feel and the more my fear dissipates,” Kellylee said. “It’s been liberating.”

3. Journaling

Through journaling, Kellylee was able to finally understand how to feel her feelings and express them. She specifically worked through journaling prompts outlined in Unlearn Your Pain by Dr. Howard Schubiner, which gently guided her through learning how to process difficult feelings.  

“I always thought that being happy depended on forgiving and forgetting quickly.  Smiling and just staying positive was the answer for me. But the body really does ‘keep the score’,” Kellylee said.

What is a Keynote Concert?

As an accomplished singer-songwriter, Kellylee integrates original songs into her presentations. The lyrics are inextricably linked with her own personal story, creating a unique and intimate experience for her audiences that leaves a lasting impact.

In her keynote, “Unbreakable: Finding Strength in Adversity”, Kellylee hopes that by sharing her story and how she gained the strength to get up and keep going every day, she can help others facing challenges and adversity do the same.

The feedback we’ve received from Kellylee’s performances has been outstanding.

In short, [our event] was absolutely incredible. The feedback we heard during the session was very positive, and I’ve heard some of our staff say how much they appreciated hearing Kellylee’s story. For me, she had me in tears at time and then laughing — I was enthralled.

I am so glad we connected with her and had the opportunity to listen to her; she was amazing.

Department of National Defence, Canadian Armed Forces

As one of our top motivational speakers and mental wellness keynote speakers, contact us to learn more about Kellylee Evans and what she can bring to your next event.

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