The Secrets to Healing from ME/CFS

amanda+joaquim (48)

It’s been a little while since I have written, but tonight, for the first time in a long time, I am feeling inspired. I have been so consumed with my healing journey and accomplishing my goals that I have neglected my true passion: writing. So here I am, emptying my soul into words.

As I have delved deeper into the world of recovery, my world has expanded. I have learned more about self-healing and self-love than ever before, developing a deeper understanding of the power of our minds, bodies and of course, myself. I will admit it has been a very intrinsic, lonely journey but also one that has greatly helped me to move forward and find greater happiness in my life. Naturally, it has also come with its fair share of challenges.

To heal myself I had to strip everything back to the core and focus on the simple things. The supplements I was depending on that gave me mismatched energy, the constant pushing and crashing that coincided with my Type A personality and my limiting beliefs that told me I was not good enough as I was- I had to let go of it all. From the roots I began, rebuilding myself with a healthy, nutritious diet, meditation, graded restorative movement, pacing, self-love practices and extensive psychology and mindset coaching. I had a vague understanding of these essential components, but it wasn’t until I established my core baselines for various activities that I could re-establish and rebuild my energy and health.

Trust me, this sounds a lot easier than it is. I have always been someone who has high expectations and was always striving to be the best at everything; a classic perfectionist and overachiever. I had to be the best salesperson when I worked in retail, the best student when I studied at Uni, the best personal trainer when I began that career path, the best girlfriend when I dated someone- anything less was unsatisfactory. And as a result, I burnt myself out. And this meant I had to retrain all of these beliefs and behaviors in order to become a calmer, more centered version of me and quite frankly chill the f*** out. Perfectionism= exhaustion.

Over the past four years of being unwell, officially three years if you count since the point of diagnosis, I’ve learned, with a little help from specialists that it was these traits that I needed to change. For me, they were part of who I was, and trying to change the qualities that define you, it is no easy feat. Despite all of the psychology and coaching I have had, I still struggle with the ‘old’ version of me popping up every now and again. Sure, I have grown to become a much more relaxed, content version of me, and the old me has been upgraded time and time again as I have grown, but an element of her will always be there. And it is that part that proves challenging.

Yes, I have changed immensely in the past four years. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much growth and transformation in my entire life, so much so, I don’t even recognise the old me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I completely love this new version of me, but the hard part is when people that knew you before expect you to be the same. I know I don’t have to fulfill their expectations, but the pressure is always there. I am still haunted by the distant memory of me. But I know the behaviours that made me sick will never help me heal.

The other obstacle I faced: limiting beliefs. These stem from old, ingrained beliefs but also new, super fun ones that have popped up through out being unwell. Nobody will like me if I stand up for my own needs, I am worthless because I am unwell, I am worthless because I am not working, nobody will love me for who I am now, people don’t like me, I am ugly, I am fat. These are just a through of the repeated thoughts (because that’s what beliefs are) that regular visit my ever-active mind. And these sea of thoughts definitely don’t make life any easier.

Of course these beliefs don’t go away over night- they are still to this day a work in progress. I think without them, we aren’t human. But little by little I plug away at retraining my mind to think differently. I am unwell- so what! I am proactive in my recovery and that’s what matters. People won’t like me for being assertive- bullshit! Communicating my needs is empowering and quite frankly, I don’t give a shit if people don’t respond positively. I am a different person- amazing! Now I attract the right people into my life instead of the wrong ones. People don’t like me- lies! Well of course, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but hey, they are just not my tribe! The ones that love me matter.

Now being that I am not working and consequently have limited resources, I have had to be innovative in challenging these thoughts. Of course coaching and psychology sessions are amazingly helpful but they are only useful if I employ the strategies provided and formulate ways to help myself. Cue some amazing tools and a hell of a lot of reading and books- Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), Reiki, Angel Guidance, visualisation, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and affirmations (hello Louise Hay). Oh and did I mention, a hell of a lot of self love. Loaded with this arsenal of goodies, there is no stopping this girl and her healing!

Sure, I am not perfect. I may be employing a lot of tools and resources but I still over-do it at times, over-commit and have moments where the exhaustion and overwhelm are unbearable. In these moments I remind myself of three things- I am only human, this illness is unpredictable and healing is not a straight line, it’s a roller-coaster. Chronic Fatigue (or Adrenal Fatigue or whatever the hell is happening inside my body) is so multifaceted and mysterious and full of very ugly symptoms (debilitating fatigue, brain fog, bloating, food and chemical sensitivities, muscle pain, depression, anxiety, hot/cold intolerance, electrolyte imbalance, nutritional deficiencies) that impact greatly on everyday life, so slip ups and setbacks are all part of the package. The secret is to embrace these as lessons, not failures, and to use these to aid the achievement of my desired outcome- abundant health and limitless energy.

So the question is, where to from here? Well, as much as I wish this process would just fast forward and be over already, I am learning to embrace the journey and slowly ride out the waves. Previously, as in a year ago, I was doing WAYYYY too much and still partaking in some pretty bad habits and thought patterns, which was definitely not helping the process. Whereas now, I have learned that to step forward requires giant leaps back- one of the biggest lessons I have reluctantly learnt! Instead of having a million goals I want to achieve- start my own business, find my soulmate, find a house, find a job, get my dream physique- they have been condensed. Now my goals are simple- heal from this dis-ease within my body using the specified strategies and tools and finish my University degree in Marketing and Commerce.

This change in itself demonstrates how much I have grown. The overachiever in me always had a million goals and action plans but overwhelm would often prevent me from following through with them. The solution- simplifying things. By having only two main goals, I have been able to concentrate my energy on what truly matters and work harder at reaching my desired results. The world tries to feed us more, but the answer is always less. I know what I want and I will wait patiently for it as I know the rest will come in time. After all, I can’t achieve any of my other major goals if these two are not achieved first.

Seriously, I could go on all day about the challenges and consequential blessings and the spiritual awakening that this illness has brought. But really, we all have our own life experiences and journeys, and nobody wants to be consumed by that of someone else. The point of this rant is simple- to share with you some tools that have helped me in the hope that they may potentially make a difference in your self-healing or recovery journey, or even life. How you use it is completely up to you.

So to recap, the things that have helped me (and could help you) tremendously are:

  • Recognising and challenging limiting beliefs, thoughts and behaviours
  • Employing a wide array of self-healing techniques, because lets be honest, we don’t need millions of dollars to rebuild our bodies when we all have the power to heal ourselves. Some include ACT, EFT (tapping), NLP, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness, deep-breathing, Reiki and affirmations
  • Harnessing the power of the big 5- high-quality nutrition, regular meditation practices, pacing your energy, graded-restorative movement and self-love
  • Embracing the help of others- psychologists, coaches, specialists, alternative health practitioners, family and friends- it takes a team to heal
  • Being assertive and communicating your needs and boundaries with others
  • Doing things you love and that bring you joy every damn day- taking yourself on dates, going for a walk in nature, singing, watching stand up comedy on Netflix, cooking- do what makes your heart sing
  • Tapping into the power of the Universe and your Spiritual guidance. Without getting to hippie on you, lets just say there is a divine power out there that has your back and is passionately guiding you. Angels and Spirit Guides are here to serve you- ask for their help and work with them, your higher self and the omnipresent power of the Universe to help you heal and become the best version of you (more info on this in the next post)
  • Listen to your body- rest when you are tired, recognise the signs before they turn into symptoms and keep your mind and body in alignment. Synchronicity=harmony.

Take it from me, this definitely isn’t easy. CFS recovery is a full-time job! So be kind to yourself, embrace the journey and use the support network you have. You, your health and your happiness are the most important things in this world and in time, they will all be yours. Trust in the process my friend- it may be a bumpy ride but you are the one who will come out on top. And it will be the greatest victory you have ever achieved. So don’t give up and stay strong- we’ve got this!

Big love ❤

– teaghan lee