Hi, my name is Andrea, I am happily married to Tony and we have two young teenagers. I have also lived with Multiple Sclerosis and chronic fatigue for over 20 years.
I was diagnosed with MS in 1995 and I have been everywhere from physically disabled (using a wheelchair, walking sticks etc) to being blind and even incontinent.
On the other hand, I have also been very fit, healthy and have ran 10km races.
Thankfully, I have recovered well from each relapse and can be in remission for long periods of time.
But the one symptom I have dragged around with me is FATIGUE. For me fatigue can be anything from needing a nanna nap or feeling the effects of an afternoon slump, all the way to chronic fatigue that takes weeks and weeks to subside.
…Sometimes I cope well and manage this well but other times I have ignored the signs and ‘powered through’ only then to be hit with a bout of chronic fatigue.
I don’t need to tell you that fatigue can be the most debilitating, isolating, and frustrating issue to cope with and manage effectively, its invisibility making it ten times worse.
When fatigue hits all my MS symptoms coming racing to the front of my health. I can’t function, I experience brain fog, a lack of focus on the most basic of tasks, feel that gravity is pushing me down, dragging my arms and legs, am unable to hold my head up, unable to hold a conversation and no amount of sleep reduces the symptoms. I am forced to live like a zombie for as long as it takes for the symptoms to lift.
Having MS, or any other chronic illness, forces you to focus on your health but it also meant that I blamed my MS for my fatigue, after all fatigue is a symptom of MS. I just thought, “I will show you MS” “you won’t beat me”, and so I powered on through until my body forced me to stop. I would then feel weak for failing, I wasn’t good enough, other people can live a normal life, why can’t I? I judged myself as ‘weak’ and that I was letting everyone around me down.
So what changed?
I got totally fed up with a roller coaster of energy levels and became sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I became aware that MS was not solely responsible, it was a whole host of reasons which I had either ignored or failed to recognise. This was a light bulb moment for me and a realisation that I could now take control of my life and health
After suffering the sudden death of my younger brother, Sean, whilst pregnant with my first child, as well as recently caring for my lovely mother-in-law through her final months with cancer, I fully appreciate how precious life is. I didn’t want the second half of my life to be like the first, I wanted to find that elusive ‘balance’ of enjoying life to the full.
Once this decision was made, I started to prioritise me, my health and well being. I introduced new habits, I learnt about what nutrition my body craved and re-discovered my love for exercise and the great outdoors (my anti-depressant of choice).
I worked with a health coach who helped me understand my mindset around ‘weakness’ and judgments as well as strengthen my resilience for when life throws you a curve ball…. this transformed how I thought and behaved towards myself and others in my life.
I can honestly say, I am now the healthiest I have ever been, have the most consistent energy and am the most emotionally resilient, and you know what? It was easy!!
By putting me and my health first, I am now more consistently able to be there for the people who rely on me and ironically get more done in a day, I now enjoy consistent energy first thing in the morning to last thing at night, which has been totally liberating.
Do I still have MS? ………Of course I have an incurable chronic illness, but I manage it much more consistently and effectively and work with my body not against it.
Do I still have fatigue? Yes – but only when I have ignored the early signs or not honoured my new habits and it is no longer chronic and I can turn it around very quickly and it doesn’t take me down like it used to.
I now can honestly say that I see my MS as a gift and fatigue as a messenger.
I then discovered a course with the highly respected Health Coach Institute which was like a bolt of electricity going off inside me. Everything I was learning was making so much sense and it has totally transformed my life. I studied, read and soaked up everything I could get my hands on and discovered a community of like-minded people passionate to make a difference. I am now a total book nerd, am constantly learning, adding, or enhancing my knowledge and sharing with anyone who will listen, and so passionate to help others find the missing pieces in their health jigsaw puzzle. If I can do it anyone can.
If I can come through it then so can you. Don’t let anything hold you back for over 20 years like I did, make the change now. You have one life, no matter what health setbacks you have everyone deserves to live their best life, time to grab it.
Inspired by and dedicated to Patricia Thomas