THE first thing that strikes you about Mandie Holgate is how upbeat and positive she is.

But behind her sunny disposition lies a story of triumphing over adversity.

Now she has written a book helping others face their darkest fears - coming from a position of knowing exactly what it feels like herself.

At 43, the mum of two is a successful businesswoman running a thriving network for women in a similar position to herself and also working as a business coach.

But she faces a daily battle against a number of debilitating conditions, including the auto-immune diseases Lupus and fibromyalgia which leaves her in constant pain.

She admits some days she operates from the sofa in her living room - wrapped in a blanket and fighting constant pain, but seeing clients and helping them confront their own personal issues.

This month businesses from across the country gathered at London’s iconic London landmark building, 80 Strand, to celebrate the international book launch of her debut book Fight the Fear: How to beat your negative mindset and win at life.

The book was commissioned after a leading non-fiction publishing house heard of her strong business reputation success with coaching business clients.

Mandie says: “The book is made up of some of the biggest fears that impact on people’s success.

“I understand these fears because I have been there and been petrified of doing some of the things highlighted in the book.

“These are not fears that wake you up at 2am.

“Some are very subtle, but they can be just as devastating to your life.

“The chapters look at the skills you need to learn to help change your mindset, the tools to stop the fear creeping back in and exercises to follow that will ensure you reach your potential and more.”

All this is a far cry from how she found herself just a few years ago.

Mandie explains she suffered from crippling depression just a few months after the birth of her daughter Sophie, now 13.

“I was one of the youngest managers of an automated body shop, and one of very few women in that field at the time, but I stopped working when my oldest child, Harrison who is now 15, was born.

“I knew I needed a new career and then when Sophie was born, I got this terrible depression and to help with it I had some cognitive therapy.”

Things got so bad for Mandie, she attempted suicide twice, but continuing therapy helped her climb out of the black hole.

“That was when I realised the power of the mind,” she admits.

Finally In 2012 Mandie was diagnosed with Lupus and discovered it could have been this which had contributed to her severe depression.

“I learned that depression is actually one of the symptoms of it.

“I was also having to sit in a dark room because I could not bear the light and I was in constant pain.

“That is something that is pretty much a day to day battle for me.

“I have to fight all the time with the medical profession for the medication I need and often it is difficult to get them to understand.”

Living with Lupus means Mandie suffers from severe chest pain, pain in her joints and gastro intestinal problems.

“That can be difficult when you are regularly standing up and giving talks to a crowded room,” she jokes.

“I basically live with a constant hangover but I also have Reynards, which affect circulation, Sjogren’s syndrome where my body does not produce any moisture and fibromyalgia which is basically constant pain.”

By the time she had developed the severe symptoms of Lupus, Mandie was beginning to launch the Business Women’s Network.

Despite it being temporarily “killed stone dead” by her illness, she soon re-grouped and in under eight years it has gone from a local network and support group for businesswomen in Colchester to a nationally recognised format with branches across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, London and Hertfordshire with further groups on the horizon in the north of England, the midlands, south coast and Kent.

Mandie was recently named finalist in the national Best Business Women’s Awards and her website for The Business Woman’s Network named as one of the top 15 resources for female entrepreneurs.

But she is frank about how tough some days can be.

“Today for example I am sat on my sofa with a blanket around me because I am too much pain to move but I can still see clients and they pretty much accept that is how it is.

“I am very honest from the start and tell them I can help you but you might have to come to me and it seems to work,” she adds.

Once a jetsetter who had travelled extensively, since being diagnosed with Lupus, Mandie has not been able to go as far, but again has not let it stop her determination.

For more information about The Business Woman’s Network visit l Fight the Fear - How to beat your negative mindset and win at life is £12.99 and available to order from Amazon. It is also stocked in W H Smith, who have chosen it as the non fiction book of the month and large branches of Waterstones.