TV3 star Andrea Hayes reveals hypnotism helped her ditch pain medication for rare neurological condition
Two years ago, the 37-year-old was diagnosed with the rare neurological Chiari Malformation 1 which has caused her chronic pain since she was 15 years old. And now that she’s learnt to manage her condition using self-hypnosis, the Rathmichael native and hubbie David Torpey would love to expand their family.v“My doctor’s like, ‘You’re a bit mad’ as my condition is so precarious. It changes from day to day so I couldn’t tell you how I’m going to feel tomorrow,” she said.
“I would absolutely love to expand our family. I really believe in mind over matter and I think at least if I’m pregnant, I’ll just have to manage it and pray that it’s a healthy pregnancy. “I’m just going to wait and see what happens. I’m so glad that with my coming out with this, it’s given me the support that I need.” The ‘Animal A&E’ presenter suffered years or misdiagnosis and unnecessary medical procedures in a bid to find out what was wrong with her. She also admits to having some “dark moments” as she struggled to live a normal life and balance chronic pain with pursuing a media career and eventually starting a family.
“I was so ashamed of my condition and it was something that I couldn’t fixed, no matter what I did. “But I’m very determined and focused so I tried so many different things and it never got better. In fact, it was getting worse over time. I didn’t know if it was something mentally wrong with me. “If you have a broken arm, everyone runs up to you and signs your cast but this is an invisible illness and it’s very difficult to even talk about it.”When she eventually got the call to confirm the diagnosis of Chiari Malformation 1 in December 2013, she immediately pulled back form work with TV3 to take time off.
She also started investigating other forms of pain control, including self-hypnosis, going on to train as a clinical hypnotherapist and studying Reiki. She also over-hauled her diet, going Vegetarian and this allowed her to gradually reduce the massive amounts of pain killers she was taking daily. “It’s depressing to know that you’re going to have pain for the rest of your life so I wanted to see what other options were out there,” she said.“I’m really into the mind-body approach so it you can take as much positivity as you can, and keep telling yourself that all is well, you can take control of the pain. I’m huge into the power of auto-suggestion.
“So if I woke up with pain, I’d listen to my relaxation tapes and that would allow me manage my pain a bit better. I found that I wasn’t as stressed.” She also managed to put pen to paper during her time out and chronicle her journey in her new book ‘Pain-Free Life.’Launching this evening in Lillies Bordello, she admits she felt “hugely exposed” by being so open about her personal life.But she said she hopes it will help others in a similar situation and inspire them to look at other avenues other than traditional medication.
“Incidents of suicide and depression are very high among people with chronic pain so I hope that I can inspire others and show them that it is possible to live normally with this,” she said.
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