Fibromyalgia sufferer and coach Sarah Joyce Hindle sought a better life and produced a podcast
She had no official diagnosis. Numerous tests had revealed no known illness for the mother of three from Thornton Cleveleys, but she knew things were not right.
It was a long journey to finally get a diagnosis. She says after tests ruled out other possible conditions including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis the conclusion was reached that she had fibromyalgia, a condition the NHS website describes as causing widespread pain.
She said: "I've had fibro for about 10 years, since my first child was born. It got progessively worse. With three children at home it was very difficult. At times it increased my anxiety. It made me feel a failure, that I couldn't be a good mother - what was my life coming to at the age of 29?"
But the diagnosis in later summer /early autumn 2019 turned her life and focus around. Now she has a new direction - as a life empowerment coach and wellbeing mentor helping other people to also gain a clearer sense of direction and more fulfilling lives.
She describes herself as "now smashing her own goals of having her own podcast and coaching business... empowering people to create their own success and smash their own goals along the way."
Describing her condition as "an invisible illness" which is not always apparent, she acknowledges it was necessary to screen her for multiple conditions before concluding by a process of exclusion that she has fibromyalgia: "I was back and forth for about three months."
Tests also revealed she had low iron and Vitamin D3 levels.
Recalling her symptoms she said: "When you say you're tired, you're not just tired, you're really tired. Mainly it was the fatigue and the sort of all over pain., like a radiating pain affecting me mainly in the legs and hips although I do get it in back and arms. I get a lot of pain in the knees, ankle and hips, followed by my wrists. I get a lot more pain the week before my period starts. I'm learning to pace myself ... be more in tune with my body."
Her story did not however instantly have a happier ending as she found that the medicines prescribed to deal with her fatigue and physical pain did not suit her and she experience unwelcome side effects including being more fatigued. She recalled some of the medication made her "more depressed, anxious and jittery"
She said: . "I weaned myself off them with advice from the doctor. I didn't want to be dependent on medication."
Sarah says she is now helped by using CBD oil and, prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, had regular massages, completed a modified pilates session to the best of her ability once a week and had a monthly reflexology session. If she gets a bad flare up she uses co-codamol.
She stressed: "I do a lot self care. It's not one size fits all."
In the longer term she says her condition has also meant: "just slowing myself down and realising some days I can't do what I did the day before. Some days you can clean the house and (you'r ) on top of the world. It's not one of those conditions always a constant. It's learning every day can be different and that's OK, just ride the wave ... that's massively helped me , especially now I'm confident to build the business at home."It's learning to realise your limitations. You've got to deal with this and get on with your life."
Most significantly she said she changed her mind set. She decided to focus on positivity and cultivated a can-do attitude. "I've had to really work on myself. It (fibromyalgia) is a problem, but it's not going to stop me .I just had to change how I do things and how I respond to situations."
Her new outlook helped when it came to comparing herself to others : "You don't need to run at everybody's level. You need to do what you can do because you're a completely different person ... I thought what can I do?"
She realised working 9 to 5 was not possible with her condition and the demands of looking after family. While earlier ambitions to be an occupational therapist got put on the back burner when she started her family at a young age the desire to help people had remained: " I really started looking at how can I fulfil that need to help people. That's when I started looking at coaching and online services to help other people."
It was also a flexible job where she could control the hours she worked. "I started off helping other people online. It's grown very quickly."
She ensures clients work with challenges in mind- focusing forward and setting their goals "I set them with the intention of making yourself accountable for example, I've got this goal, what steps do I need to take to reach that?"
She applies the well known SMART approach, ensuring goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound, believing her clients need to be "intentionally accountable"
She plans to build up an online membership group and for the monthly fee she charges members will also receive an online accountability session, a weekly check up and Friday wrap where she and the client reflect on the week just gone.
Sarah continued: "You've got to keep chipping away at these goals every week. I'm passionate about goal planning the right way."
She says the pandemic has given her the time to help create her new business as the family has been forced to be so home based. Plus she pays tribute to her "very supportive" husband Ashley, a chief technology officer who works from home for a London based company and says her children, aged seven, nine and 11, have also been very supportive of her ambitions.
Sarah is also drawing on her experience of previously running her own business as a maker of children's clothes. She set up Purple Owl Clothing and produced clothes for six years until 2019. She made unique garments ranging from dungarees and rompers to dresses and trousers. But her illness meant it had to stop: "Hours hunching over a sewing machine was making me worse."
She now believes her own life story is an exemplar, summed up by her business slogan: "A better life. A better you - empowering you to create your own success."
She continued: "It's all about empowering you to do it yourself because you can do it yourself. It's just about having the right tools and support and a hand to hold (metaphorically). "
She has now completed a course in podcasting. As a fan of business and mindset podcasts she has recently launcched her own podcast. She has also completed online coaching training and will be taking further training in the new year.
The former student of Anchorsholme Primary, Montgomery High and the Blackpool and Fylde College has many ambitions for growing her business, guided by the lessons she has learned and the choices forced upon her by her health condition.
She sai: "I want to do something with my life. I want to leave a mark on this world..We are lucky to be alive ... I just think we're all here. Let's make it worthwhile."
*Sarah's Facebook page is called sarahjoycehindle
* The “A Better Life: A Better You” podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer and Pocket Casts.