21 April, 2016 Andy Firth

My journey so far

Whilst writing the ‘About’ page I realised that there was no way I could condense my journey so far into one super condensed paragraph! I will probably keep adding to this page, but I’ll try not to go into too much detail as I will be writing individual articles on the various topics mentioned here.

For now, here is my journey so far . . .

Computers, Organs & the outdoors

Like everyone else, my own journey started as a child, playing out, making dens and tinkering with stuff. The era of computers had just started and we used to play on hardware such as the Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and the Amstrad. Despite this new technology, for me it was all about being outdoors, so I joined the scouts. At the tender age of 7, after my sitter damaged the guitar I had got for Xmas, I started to learn to play the organ.

Teen Anxiety, Kickboxing & Music

I was an anxious teenager and struggled to deal with anxiety at this age. I would often avoid anxious or confrontational situations to avoid the feeling of anxiety. Then I watched the films Bloodsport, Kickboxer, The Karate Kid and Enter The Dragon and I was hooked. I joined the local kickboxing class which was run by 3x World Kickboxing Champion, Arthur O’Loughlin. My keyboard/organ playing continued and I began to play music with my friends in their mum and dad’s back garden, playing songs from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. At 15 I joined my first band and we began playing the pubs. Then I had my first anxiety attack on stage and I eventually left the band because of this.
After a few years off, my Dad asked me if I was going to continue playing music. From the confidence gained from kickboxing I felt ready and decided to give music another go. Despite my initial goal to be an architectural technician or a graphic designer, I left the 6th form and joined a band with my friends who I used to play music in the garden with. Six months later and at 18 years old, I turned professional as a musician.

Living the dream, alcohol & back to the 9-5

My early 20’s were spent touring around the country in the band, doing the pubs and clubs, weddings and events. You name it, we did it. We also released our own independent album and I was living the dream. This was a fantastic time of my life apart from one thing, alcohol. I had my first anxiety episode when I was 15, and although I didn’t know it then, it had anchored itself subconsciously and I had started to drink to mask the anxiety as well as all of the other new things a young man has to cope with. At 21, I met my wife Helen who followed the band everywhere, it was a great time. At the age of 29, then came the bombshell. My band mates had taken enough of my drinking, we were all unhappy but I still thought we could make our own music a success. Unfortunately they had other ideas, they were no longer happy and decided they didn’t want to do it anymore. I will never forget the feeling I had when walking out of that meeting. The first thing I did? I went for a 4 pack of Stella. I then later came to find out that they had set up another band.

My life went from being in a successful band, making music and pretty much being in control of my own choices, to working as a fork lift truck driver earning poor money and with poor hours. The drinking continued. In December 2003 we had our first child Bethany, and despite still drinking, working in a ‘normal’ environment did me a lot of good. My confidence started to grow again and I started to look towards the future.

Police, Alcoholism, Lifestyle Design & Business

At the age of 30, I failed the Police assessment by 4%. Two weeks later they contacted me and offered me a new role, which had just been created, called a Police Community Support Officer. The drinking still continued. After 18 months I left the Police to work as a computer operator at the Yorkshire Building Society. I will never forget the day I walked into that very large office, I started to retract my footsteps. What had I done?  That same feeling of anxiety came all over me again. The shift pattern there was 4 days on, then 4 off and then 4 nights on. This was not great. I had always been used to having a drink after work and so finishing at 7 in the morning the first thing I did was have a drink. In August 2006 we had Lauren, our 2nd child and I left YBS to rejoin the Police as a PCSO again, I was 31. The next two years of drink got worse and worse. I had begun to drink throughout the day, hide drinks and make excuses to buy drinks. The drink was now actually causing more and more anxiety and the only way I felt I could deal with it was to have another drink. I’d entered into the vicious circle of being an alcoholic.

On 8th July 2008 and at the age of 33, my friend loaned me £500 as we were skint. I remember her saying to me “I’ll lend you this money, pay me it back when you can, but I don’t want you to come into work again smelling of booze”. I have never touched a drop of alcohol in any form since. 🙂 I will go into greater detail on this in a future post.

It was from taking this massive action that my sober Journey of Finding Success began.

Over the next few years I began to experiment with various businesses and idea’s that had only been talked about when I’d had a drink. I considered everything I liked doing. I did everything from working with actors and a sand sculptor, to building websites and selling sports nutrition. I was still with the Police, but it really wasn’t what I wanted to do so I kept on learning and taking action by trying different things.

During a meeting with my friend Sacha King, he asked me if I’d read a book called The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. I hadn’t, so that evening I went home and downloaded a free excerpt from the book. Tim’s book was a life changer for me and it changed my whole outlook on life and how you can create your own lifestyle design. This was also the the start of my addiction to reading and listening to audio books.

Over the next few years I tried everything, I was on a roll, but this was the start of things getting out of control again. Towards the back end of my 30’s I was still working full time for the Police, I had two sports nutrition businesses that were not making any money and I had 7 affiliate marketing websites with ideas for more. I was also taking in far too much content. I never had a rest and was working 15-16 hour days, every day.

My mum then had a stroke which left her paralysed down her right hand side and later that year my Dad was diagnosed with breast cancer. The anxiety was back again and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Anxiety was triggering OCD thoughts that were draining me. I was burning out.

I had a break from work and stopped everything I’d been working on and closed the sports nutrition businesses. I wanted to see if there was anything I could do about the anxiety and OCD, so I didn’t need the stress of everything I’d been working on continuing. My doctor put me on medication and I attended a 10 week course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). The CBT was great.

During my 2nd break from work due to another patch of stress and anxiety, my mum passed away and my Dad was diagnosed with early stage dementia, I was 39.

BMW’s, The Speakmans & The Penny Dropping

I’d always planned on going part time but never thought I could afford it. The outcome of my mum’s passing and my Dad’s diagnosis meant I had no choice but to go part time. Going part time also gave me time to reflect and decide what was important in my life after what had happened. During the age of 40 I went on a journey of learning and dealing with the anxiety and OCD, and I took a real good look at what I wanted to do with my life. I’d always loved cars and loved buying and selling things, so after selling a few cars, I set up my own car sales business selling BMW’s from my home. The main reason for this was so I could spend as little time as necessary earning the money I’d lost by going part time. It would also cater for my love for BMW’s and enable me to have a vehicle to transport my Dad around.

Despite being on medication, I was still getting anxiety from phobia’s of the dentist and flying and I couldn’t understand why it was still happening. This was still triggering OCD thought processes as well. Then on 12th September 2015 I attended The Speakmans How To Be Happy event in Nottingham and everything changed.

This event changed my life. The Speakmans gave me the tools to cure the anxiety, phobia’s and OCD. The penny had dropped and they had also made me realise what I really wanted to do in life. The feeling you get from helping someone is fantastic.

Since then I have read books, been to seminars, learnt NLP techniques and watched world leading life coaches and entrepreneurs in the pursuit of my own success and helping others. Life is good.

The journey continues . . .

 

About the Author

Andy Firth My purpose in life is to explore, learn and discover what makes me tick and to help people do the same.

Comments (16)

  1. Sarah Bampton

    Wow Andy that’s a very honest and interesting read. What was your journey has made you the amazing man/friend you are today.
    Now you have chapter to unfold in your future I look forward to that read. ☺

  2. marc

    nice one mate at least your honest and upfront about stuff .. No one ever knows about stuff until you open up about it … takes a lot of gutts to do that and im proud to call you a friend for that 🙂

  3. Joanne

    Bloody nora you’ve been through some crap, you’re obviously a much stronger person than you thought. So sorry to hear about your mum and dad, keep strong xx Joanne Cooper by the way x

  4. Debs

    Wow! Well done for being so open and honest. It shows that you’ve accepted your weakness (alcohol) but you’ve also shown your amazing strengths. I’ve always thought you were a decent bloke even though I don’t know you that well and you’d never guess all the heartache behind your smile. Keep up the good work 🙂 xx

    • Hi Debs, thank you for taking time to post on my site. Everyone has their ups and downs and hopefully by making my journey public, it will begin to help others. Thanks again, Andy x

  5. Hi Andy and kudos for being so honest and putting it out there. It takes a special kind of courage to do something like that as it requires you to be honest with yourself first which most people seem to struggle with.
    I really do wish you success if finding/keeping your own happiness in life and never be afraid of what others think, as Nietzche said ‘The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those that cannot fly.’
    All the best to you and your family…

    • Hi John, I hope you are well mate. Thanks for commenting, it means a lot.

      as Nietzche said ‘The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those that cannot fly.’

      I like this quote, I shall look him up. When I eventually write a book, our own little ‘journey’ may be in there! 🙂 Thanks again mate, take care.

  6. Riki G

    I remember all those early days old friend,its great that you have faced your demons and found the tools to stay focused and in control.It takes a big pair to write as honest as you have done,I will follow this page and wish you evey success in your future path.x riki

    • Those early days were great times my friend. Thanks for your comment mate, it means a lot. Great to hear from you, take care bud x

  7. Clare

    I have to admit Andy, when you 1st posted this I overlooked it as I’m not a fan of the Speakmans and the self help generation. But I hold my hands up now and say well done for your honesty and commitment to battling your demons. It’s a long road and we all choose our own path, it’s what you build and develop on your journey that makes all the difference. Wishing you great success x

    • Hi Clare, great to hear from you and thanks for commenting. I’m glad you managed to read my post and you’re right, it’s about building, developing and learning in our life which makes our journey what it is, as long as we can see the positives from what we do. I hope the business is going well x

  8. Julie woolridge

    Wow Andy I never realised you had gone through all that. Well done to you for getting your life back on track. My eldest son has anxiety attacks and I know the only way he stops it is to have a few cans of lager to calm him down. The dr. Just gives him pills so any advise would be great. Julie

    • Hi Julie, thanks for your comment.
      I would have to arrange a meeting with him, however he needs to identify what is triggering the anxiety. Medication can help get a balance to deal with the trigger but it won’t solve the problem. Alcohol only masks the symptoms.

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