Avery Thatcher Inner Stillness Outer Chaos (2)

How I went from watching the aftermath of stress and burnout in my patients in the ICU to starting my own business

Before there was a thriving online membership, a busy coaching practice, and a number of highly downloaded podcasts, there was a shy, emotional person that thought she had found her dream job as an ICU nurse.

I enjoyed coming into work, managing complex machinery, making autonomous decisions for my patients, and being a vital part of keeping someone alive.

But then it started to feel futile. Every time I came into work there was someone else with an illness or disease that could have been prevented.

Then my husband and I moved across the country for him to get his Masters Degree and I ended up working as a part of team of family practices where I helped their most complex patients with the greatest medical and mental health needs navigate the health care system.

I realized, however, that connecting my patients with community resources and agencies wasn’t the most impactful thing I could do for them. 

Every single one of my patients struggled with self-compassion, stress, negative self-talk and the learned habits like perfectionism and people-pleasing that inevitably lead to burnout and illness.

Now I was on a mission!

My super-nerd kicked in and I started reading, taking courses and listening to podcasts to:

  • have a more in-depth understanding of how the stress response works
  • learn more about trauma, complex trauma, PTSD and cPTSD
  • discover more about the neuroscience behind human behavior, how we create new habits and break unwanted ones
  • how to regulated a dysregulated nervous system in an accessible and inclusive way

From there I discovered our stress comes from two sources:

#1 - Our inner high-achiever that equates our value as a human with what we can accomplish, who we can help, and how perfectly we can do that

#2 - Our inner protector that is scared of anything new or different and says anything and everything they can think of to keep us the same

I applied this to my nursing practice and the results were beautiful!

I began by showing my patients how they could:

  • reprogram the beliefs that were sabotaging them and leading to burnout
  • not take anything personally
  • quiet their negative self-talk and rebuild trust in themselves

 

Within a few weeks, the difference in them was profound. I remember a number of their doctors calling me and asking what I was doing because they’d noticed such a significant improvement in their patient.

It was at that time that I realized I found my true calling, and I started my online business.

My business has been through many iterations since then as I found my voice and learned to trust my abilities, and now I couldn’t be happier or more fulfilled with my work. This truly is soul-work, and I believe in my heart of hearts it was what I was meant to do in this lifetime. 

And I am so grateful to have found myself and brought my own life into balance along the way.

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Why'd I change my name to Avery?

Pull up a chair... it's a bit of a story.

The truth is I’ve never really felt like a Heather, but then I know it’s normal to not always like your name.

Over the course of my life, I’ve walked through a lot of struggle and trauma which changed me over time. This gradual change is something that I think we can all relate to and is just a part of the human experience.

However, on December 25, 2018 I experienced a massive change in my life that happened literally overnight. I was working 12 hour shift work in a pediatric ICU and I was coming off the night shift and I remember the Charge Nurse coming up to me and saying “Heather, you really don’t look good. I’m going to mark you down as sick tonight. Feel better!”

I went home and slept for 20 hours straight.


And I did that the next day.


And the day after that.


After nearly a year of painful medical procedures, surgery to remove a thyroid mass and half my thyroid, and multiple specialists investigations and tests, it was determined that I was now the proud owner of a chronic illness and permanent disability known as Myalgic Encephalomylitis. (I call this part of me Emmy – get it? M.E. Emmy? I thought I was clever)

I worked hard for nearly three years to get back to some form of normal, and in September 2021 I realized that was never going to happen.

I was no longer Heather.

I was no longer a Registered Nurse capable of working in an ICU.

I was no longer able to be as active as I was used to being.

I was no longer the weight I was used to being.

I was no longer the person I was used to being.

I realized I was no longer at home in my body.

I wasn’t connected to my previous identity at all and it was causing some strong PTSD dreams, intrusive thoughts and anxiety.

So after talking about it with my husband and therapist, I decided to change my name and spend days looking on baby name blogs until I found the name Avery.

It was strange at first to start referring to myself as Avery, when I had been Heather for 37 years – but now that I’ve had time for it to settle in – my goodness it’s a beautiful thing to feel at home in my body again!

To feel connected to who I am.

To start fresh, learn new habits and strategies rather than try and fit what I’m capable of now into the mold of what I used to be able to do.

So if you’ve made it this far, thank you for being a part of my journey. It’s lovely to have you in my corner.

Much love,
Avery