Interview With Reality TV Star Tanya Bardsley

tanya bardsley

Discovering the Diagnosis: Tanya’s ADHD Journey

tanya bardsley 3

Finding fame, raising a family, pursuing business ventures, battling with anxiety and depression – to discover it was Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and experiencing perimenopause – Tanya Bardsley has certainly had a tumultuous decade.
Joining the cast of The Real Housewives of Cheshire in 2014, a reality TV series that delves into the lives of affluent women living in Cheshire, was the perfect way to acquaint the mum-of-four with the county after moving from Sunderland with husband and former footballer Phil Bardsley. “I started filming straight away when we moved here, and I absolutely loved it,” reveals the Wilmslow-based TV star, “the show really helped me to meet new people, make friends, and get to know the area.”
The plucky businesswoman, who owned her own fashion brand and lifestyle shop and is a qualified life coach, was one of the original cast members on the show and a firm favourite with fans for her quick-witted one-liners and candid quips. After suffering a breakdown, she decided to leave in 2021. “Life became too much as I experienced deaths in the family, ADHD and perimenopause, and a stint in rehab. I had to leave and regroup,” she says.

“I really enjoyed making the programme, but a lot was going on for me. I always thought I had suffered from anxiety and depression and was put on antidepressants over the years. No matter the medication, it just wouldn’t go away, and I even began self-medicating with alcohol, so I went to see a specialist for anxiety, and he diagnosed me with ADHD,” reflects the 42-year-old former FHM magazine model, who has since made an ITV documentary on her diagnosis.

“It was a big shock, to be honest, but it has helped massively. I always thought I was different from everyone else, didn’t fit in, and felt alone. Girls tend to internalise ADHD symptoms, and I know it can be a scary and lonely place. When I was at school, I couldn’t focus on anything, nothing seemed to go in, it was difficult. I would be impulsive, and people would ask why, and I just didn’t know. I found life hard, but since finding out I have ADHD, I’ve met other people with it, and I feel this sense of belonging. ADHD combined with perimenopause was a recipe for disaster, it was like being hit with a truck, and it all came to a head.”

Tanya’s eldest son Rocco, 13, has also been diagnosed with ADHD, so she’s not only coping with her diagnosis but learning to be a mum to a child with the condition. “I noticed Rocco was identical in behaviours I was showing – he was experiencing emotional dysregulation and losing focus at football and in school. It’s a hard decision to medicate your child, and we didn’t want him to lose his magic. But the doctor said: ‘if your child needed glasses, you’d give him glasses’ so we knew we had to help Rocco. He went on to sign a two-year contract with Stoke City FC,” she smiles.

Advocating for ADHD Awareness and Faster Diagnoses

tanya bardsley 1

Tanya has since immersed herself in learning and developing her understanding of the condition to support her needs and those of her family and others. Last year, she visited Parliament to advocate for a quicker diagnosis of ADHD.

“The whole experience has honestly been life changing for us, we discovered there is a two to 10-year wait for diagnosis, depending on your area. Can you imagine how awful it must be for single mums with teenagers, for example? The condition, plus raging hormones, can be a living nightmare. When it’s out of control, people can take their own lives, it can disrupt

classrooms and cause chaos. I am passionate about bringing those waiting lists down, but it will be a long journey,” admits the reality star.

Tanya and her husband, Phil, are also proud ambassadors of Cubbie Sensory Hub, which provides tailor-made sensory experiences to people with autism and ADHD. The hub provides a safe space that allows people to remove themselves from a hectic, noisy environment if they feel overwhelmed, to regulate their senses, and to feel calmer through soothing sounds and visuals. The couple is on a mission to provide greater autism and ADHD provisions in public spaces such as football stadiums, schools, colleges, hospitals, and airports across the country for people with sensory needs such as autism, ADHD, and anxiety.

“I regularly need to re-regulate my senses,” reveals Tanya, “or to prevent sensory overload, which is a very real issue for people with ADHD, and I think this is such a fantastic way for school children and students to be able to have a space where they can feel more calm and safe. I know from experience how overwhelming and stressful it can be when you experience sensory dysregulation.
“Phil and I would love to see them in football clubs across the country, too,” Tanya adds. “As a mum, I know how beneficial this could be for children with sensory needs and how it could help them assimilate.”

Reality TV Stardom and Beyond

tanya bardsley 2

Ever resilient, Tanya is all too aware of self-care’s importance, waking each morning to meditate, take a cold shower and exercise. She recently appeared on the Real Housewives of Cheshire two-part Pride special in January.

“It was fun to return to the show and I’ll make guest appearances in future, but these days I tend to keep to family life and don’t go out that much. It is easier to go to events these days, I know my time limit and sleep is a big thing for me. I love going to Carrs Park in Wilmslow with the kids, it’s so beautiful in Cheshire that I can’t see myself ever moving from here. We looked at a house in Dubai, but that will be just for holidays!”

As she steps away from reality TV, Tanya focuses on her wellness business, which takes women on a path of self-discovery and growth. “I absolutely love taking women stuck in a rut and transforming their lives. I have been a life coach for 12 years, and the buzz I get from this programme is amazing. I’ve always struggled to feel ‘normal’ – my mind is like a whizzing top! I want other people to feel good especially now I’m back on track.”


Share this Article

Written by
Must Read

You May Also Like

Did you know you can now buy or subscribe to our printed issues?


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to our monthly newsletter to find out what’s on your local area, exclusive competitions, the latest launches and much more!

Select the areas you want to hear about