Hi I am Andrea and I live in Cheshire in the UK with my husband, 2 teenagers and dog. I have been coaching, training and mentoring people for over 15 years, firstly within the corporate world as a performance coach and more recently as a health & life coach supporting people to live a life that is relaxed in body, calm in mind & full in heart.
Like most people who are really passionate about what they do my story is rooted in struggle. My story began back in 1995 when in my final year of university, I started to get pins and needles in my foot, within 3 weeks I was in hospital, paralysed, blind and incontinent and being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I stayed in hospital for 3-4 months and as an outpatient for another year or so.
Physically I made a full recovery but had to navigate the big wide world with an incurable progressive illness, I am sure you can imagine the emotional turmoil and insecurity I felt during that time.
Eventually I found my feet (literally and metaphorically) and I put my diagnosis in a box, like a dirty little secret, determined to live a ‘normal’ life as possible and never become a victim or defined by my diagnosis.
Over the years I spent long periods of time in remission and then a flare up would appear as if from nowhere – but this is the nature of the disease, right? I could cope with these setbacks as they were acknowledged by the medical community as an actual flare up, with evidence on my MRI results etc and obvious to everyone when you are using a stick to get around, but what kept following me around like a bad smell was fatigue, it would vary from a weekend in bed to recover enough to carry on again on Monday morning, all the way to being signed off work for 6-8 weeks.
When fatigue hit, I was so angry, resentful and judged myself so harshly. I blamed my MS, I blamed my body, I blamed me –“if only I tried harder, if I ate better, if I exercised more”. A friend said to me “do you think its stress?” And I remember thinking “well this is life, busy home, family, work this is what everyone has to do so why can’t I cope? what is wrong with me? why am I the broken, weak one?” What made it worse was that my neurologist didn’t recognise it as a MS flare up, fatigue is a symptom of MS not the cause, “do you think you have anxiety?” “What?” “No!!!!”, don’t put another label on me, just help me!!!” The brain fog, the dragging my legs around, the inability to string a sentence together, the weight in my mind and body was debilitating.
To the outside world all looked well, I had a great marriage, 2 wonderful children, a job and friends that I adored, but when I locked the door to the outside world, I was exhausted, my mind was going a million miles an hour, I couldn’t shake of the feeling that I was broken and this was it, this is my life and it is all my fault and MS’s fault.
I constantly felt like I was letting my family or work down, and I kept pushing myself to prove I could be as healthy as everyone else, doing 10k races, lifting heavy weights – I loved exercise and its good for you right?
Even when my brother suddenly died in a car crash when I was pregnant with my first child I carried on (what choice do you have, right?) when my daughter arrived 2 years later I wondered why I couldn’t hold it together, I remember going on a holiday to France with my 3 and 1 year old, I was blind and emotionally and physically exhausted but desperate to run away from life, responsibilities, pressures and grief, but no I wasn’t stressed, its just life (!!!)
Looking back, I was totally lost, depressed, emotionally, physically and mentally drained, but I was still unwilling to ask for help, doctors just wanted to fill me up with pills and everybody else, although sympathetic, didn’t understand.
This was how my life continued and for the most part I was ok so nothing to moan about, people have it a lot worse, right? Then 5 years ago my work was offering redundancies and at the same time my mother-in-law’s cancer had taken a turn for the worse. I used this redundancy as an opportunity to help care for her. Watching her deteriorate in front of my eyes and holding her hand as she took her last breath changed me, forever!
I decided I was no longer willing to let the health rollercoaster of the first half of my life dictate the second half of my life, I wanted balance, I wanted calm, I wanted consistent health and energy in mind, body & soul.
I wanted to live my one lifetime to its fullest!! I deserved that – doesn’t everybody??
I didn’t know how or when but I was going to find the answers for me.
I was scrolling social media one day and found Health Coaching – it was like a bolt of electricity charged through my veins – this was it. I loved coaching, I was good at coaching, and I knew I wanted to help people so this was it, I found the money somehow and that was it the journey began.
Through my journey I realised the importance of the mind body connection, I realised what I was saying to myself in my mind was affecting my physical body, stress, anxiety and overwhelm manifested as fatigue for me. I realised how important our emotional and mental health is, I changed my relationship with my MS from a dirty little secret to see it as my gift and fatigue as my messenger. I learnt the language of my body, I learnt the power of my breath, I learnt that slowing down actually means you achieve more. I realised the value in rest & relaxation. I also released so much self-judgment and guilt and I learnt the true meaning of self-care. I released old out of date thoughts, habits, behaviours, I let go of people pleasing and other peoples and societies expectations and I finally accepted the real truth – that I was never broken and never needed fixing, I have been, always will be ENOUGH and deserve to live a life full of calm, balance, happiness and freedom no matter the challenges that life throws at me.
This path is a journey and not a destination and it is a choice, but if you choose this path it can be transformational and has led me to today running my own health coaching practice that is full of passion, love and purpose helping others suffering with fatigue, feeling lost, at a crossroads in their health or life, struggling with stress, anxiety and the overwhelm of modern day life to find their calm in their mind, body and soul.
If I can do it then so can you, but it really doesn’t have to take 20 years like it did for me, it just needs a decision, that you know deep down you are worth more.
If you are not happy in your current experience of health or life then lets have a chat and find out if I am the right person to help support you to create the change you deserve and desire.
Inspired by and dedicated to Patricia Thomas