Hi, I am Andrea, happily married with two young teenagers. I have also lived with Multiple Sclerosis for over 20 years, hormonal imbalance and P.C.O.S. as well as chronic fatigue.
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 ran 10km races.
Thankfully, I have recovered from each flare up and can be in remission for long periods of time. The one thread that I have had to cope with throughout the whole of my life is managing my energy levels, which range 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.
I can be dealing with an MS flare up and my energy crashes
I can be stressed and overwhelmed with children, work and my energy crashes to the floor,
my hormones are all over the place and my mood and energy is either on the ceiling or on the floor,
…Sometimes I have coped and managed with this well but other times I have ignored the signs and ‘powered through’ only then to be hit with a bout of chronic fatigue. For those of you who have experienced chronic fatigue, you will appreciate when I say it is the most debilitating, isolating, frustrating limitation to cope with. My body forces me to STOP and I have no choice but to listen.
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.
So was I good at listening to my body and what it was telling me to do???
Sometimes! Having MS, or any other chronic illness, forces you to bring your health into focus and make your well being a priority, but it also meant that I blamed my MS on a lot of my energy issues even when MS had nothing to do with it!
For example, when I wasn’t eating well, sleeping well, or making exercise a priority and my energy was slumping, I blamed MS. Or when stress, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed were present in my life, and I was coping with chronic fatigue, I blamed MS. In these situations I was awful at listening to my body because it’s just life, life is busy and you just have to power through! Right?…….Wrong!
So what has 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 wasn’t 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 whilst also helping others do the same.
Once this decision was made, I started to lose weight, made sleep a priority, learnt about what nutrition my body craved and re-discovered my love for exercise and the great outdoors (my anti-depressant of choice).
By putting my self care and health first, I now have consistent energy first thing in the morning to last thing at night.
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.
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!!
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. It’s time to live your best life; it’s there waiting for you.
To your health xx
Inspired by and dedicated to Patricia Thomas