Ep 17 - My Battle With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & How It Changed Everything
Today’s chat is around something that is quite personal to me in my wellness journey - the steps took to recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The steps I took to reclaim my health will be relevant to anyone on a wellness journey and certainly to anyone who is looking to change or transform their life, or to get unstuck, which is something I hear from many of the clients that I see in my therapy practice.
Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and more.
Broadcast: June 4, 2021
Here’s a snippet of my recording…
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms.
Chronic fatigue is comprised of a wide range of symptoms and two of those that I had were tiredness and fatigue. The fatigue that someone will feel with chronic fatigue is quite different to the fatigue somebody else would feel. That fatigue can be so debilitating that on my worst days, I couldn't get my hands above my head to wash my hair. I couldn't change the sheets on my bed. I had an activity notebook in order to record everything that I did so that I could track my progress, which my psychologist at the time encouraged me to. Some days it would be hanging things on a washing line, but I wouldn't then have the capacity to take it off. Or it might be that I folded my washing. So the fatigue is extreme, and can have you bedridden for days or weeks.
Inability to cope with stress.
Another symptom is sensory sensitivity. For me, light sensitivity, and definitely sound sensitivity. Having more than one person in the same room at any given time at the height of my illness was challenging. Certainly if there was a radio or television playing at the same time, that would have a marked impact on my energy. Sensitivity to smell. Inability to cope with stress, even tiny amounts of stress, muscle pain, headaches, frequent sore throats, digestive issues, immune issues, inflammatory issues.
I think for those who've had chronic fatigue you'll agree - it is very much a feeling of having all choice taken away from you… Socialising was difficult. Reading a book - I didn't have the concentration to get through a paragraph. I couldn't work, I couldn't exercise – I did about 15 minutes a day when I could. So all of the choices are taken away depending on the severity. It is a really, really challenging illness, particularly if you are someone with very typical personality or character traits associated with chronic fatigue. As my psychologist said when I was diagnosed, “You are the epitome of someone with chronic fatigue - fast talk, fast walk.” And you hear me talking and, you know, I do talk pretty quickly! I tend to do things in my life very quickly, and that was probably one of the reasons that I became unwell. I'll come back to that though, as my inability to stop and pushing through was one of the reasons I became very sick.
The road to recovery…
Looking back now, and this will be hard to hear for somebody with chronic fatigue, who is feeling very unwell - it is one of the best things that ever happened to me. It finally made me stop, it forced me to make choices that I was refusing to make. It forced me to look within. It forced me to listen to my body and to slow down. It forced me to meditate. It forced me to change my diet. Now when I say it forced, I could have chosen to sit in that and been a victim of what was happening around me, but I didn't. But looking back now, it helped me, it supported me to make all of these amazing decisions. Life empowering decisions that then put me on the path that I'm on now and helped lead me onto this path.
It all started through my introduction to an amazing integrative medicine doctor Dr, Dr Iggy Soosay. Dr Soosay is fully committed to getting to the very root cause of what is going on for his patients and that was very evident from the beginning. Also, the testing that he did with me was focused around gut health and diet. I moved to an almost entirely unprocessed and organic whole foods diet, a diet as close to nature as possible - free of sugar, gluten and hidden additives. I really came to understand that what I put on my fork each day was one of the most important decisions I could possibly make for my health.
I removed all toxicity from my environment.
Chemical skin products, makeup, shampoo, candles, room sprays, food preservatives, perfumes, fragrance, cleaning products. I stopped dying my hair with ammonia. I discovered essential oils and swapped out toxic products for DIY products and made my own perfumes and face serum. I finally embraced activities such as meditation and yoga and these activities went on to really help restore my energy and bring stillness and balance back into my life. As an A Type personality, I always pushed things a little bit too far in terms of how often I'd exercise, how long I’d work and I’ve historically found it very difficult to stop. Chronic fatigue gave me the opportunity to slow down enough to do that and find stillness.
Saying No is now my superpower.
I became very good at saying No without apology. You quickly come to realize that without your health, you have nothing. When you can't work, you can't see your friends, you can't exercise, my health became my number one priority and still is. As I was gradually recovering, I was well enough to socialize. In the early days, maybe once a week, maybe twice, just small outings and I paced myself. There would need to be multiple days in between those catch-ups. I just knew that in order to stay vertical and to get better, I had to prioritise my health and be really firm in setting the boundaries that had become paramount to my ongoing good health. I truly think that that chronic fatigue has made my ability to say No one of my superpowers.
What we radiate – we attract.
I was really fearful of never being free of chronic fatigue. I was fearful of never having a normal life. I was fearful of never being good enough to succeed in a new career. I lay around worrying about what would happen if I couldn't get better, not being able to meet somebody and not being able to fall in love, not having a sex life. When you've got chronic fatigue, you do not have the energy for one of those! There was a lot of fear. And there was also this lingering feeling of just not being good enough and needing to please, and there was other stuff holding me back. I had a paralysing fear of public speaking, a feeling of just being stuck. And in that moment, I realized that had to be the next priority: Getting to the bottom of my mindset. I had maintained a fair degree of determination and motivation to get well, but these other things were holding me back. That's when I began to understand the power of energy and mindset. And the notion that what we radiate, we attract. Everything we think, say or feel becomes our reality.
A whole new mindset.
I learned then instead of imagining myself in the future, lying in bed, I should start imagining myself doing star jumps because somebody who's doing star jumps every day must have great energy! So I started imagining my life as I wanted it. But that's also when I started discovering energy healing. I became a Reiki master and I was so grateful to experience this two hour CTC therapy session, of which I’m now a practitioner. It cleared me of all of these programmed patterns of behaviour, these limiting beliefs, these fears in this one session. And then in 8-10 weeks of that particular session, everything I was doing in my business started unfolding and coming about. Like, it was an absolute game changer for me, nailing my mindset.
Positivity is a choice.
For anyone who is on a recovery journey of any kind, do make your mental health, your mindset and your energy a priority - seek out support from experienced practitioners. There is just so much power in changing your mind and living with a great sense of hope and determination. And in recognising just how acidic negative thoughts and a negative mindset is on our body. If you sit in stress and frustration and anger and resentment and sadness, you make yourself sick. But if you can turn all this around and harness it, put it to good use and start sitting in that place of gratitude for the beautiful things you do have in your life and choose to be positive, it is remarkable how quickly things can change and will change for you because your thoughts impact your energy. Thank you for being here.