Lindsay Friend was at an all-time low when she got a text from her GP practice offering her health and wellbeing coaching.
Her body and mind had been badly hit by Long Covid affecting her memory and confidence. Her relationship had ended, her father was seriously ill, she had lost her job, was battling painful infections and, although still working freelance, was struggling to pay the bills.
“I spent days just crying,” says Lindsay, 42, from Bethnal Green, east London, who owns and runs the non-profit contemporary art IMT Gallery. “I went from being the person who could buy a round of drinks, who everyone could rely on, to someone I didn’t even recognise, someone in a big hole. I felt very suicidal at times.”
Then came the text, in September 2022, inviting her to contact Tower Hamlets health and wellbeing coach Tazkia Chowdhury. At first Lindsay worried it was spam. But when she found out more about what was on offer, she decided to give it a go.
“It has been a lifeline,” she says. “Tazkia has got the calmest voice and, rather than trying to find solutions, she listens to me and helps me understand what I am thinking and feeling. She has convinced me that I deserve to care for myself. She is brilliant.”
After seven hour-long calls with Tazkia, Lindsay can stop herself spiralling into despair.
“We look at a different thing every week and I take away a little exercise to work towards by the next session,” she says. “I don’t want our sessions to end but, when they do, I know I have now got the tools to use when I am overthinking or feeling not good enough or that the worst will happen.
“I have even started to explore some things with my mum that we had never talked about and she is happier as a result.
“It only needs that little something to get you back on track. I think this could be a game changer for society generally if lots of people do it and avoid illness related to stress, anxiety and depression. There could be a big financial saving for the NHS in the long term.”
Health and wellbeing coaching is for people who want to tackle a health problem that is affecting their lives.
“One of the great things is you don’t need a mental health diagnosis to get coaching,” Lindsay says. “So many people would benefit from this. Why not find out if your GP practice offers it?”