The Secrets to Healing from ME/CFS

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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

 

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10 Things I Learned From Facing My Emotions

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The past month or so has been challenging. I have been trying tirelessly to get back on my feet after appendicitis but somehow, it has been more of a mission than I thought it would be. Having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and knowing how sensitive my body was, I expected that it would take time to heal, perhaps longer than the norm. For once in my life it was a beautiful feeling to understand exactly what was going on and what I needed to do. But, it has been quite the adventure.

First I had to deal with the fact that my body had just had major surgery for the first time. As you can imagine this came with its fair share of fear and anxiety both before and after the event. Then, I had to accept the fact that my CFS recovery had to be temporarily put on hold for yet another spanner in the works. I’ll be honest, that made me feel pretty defeated. Finally, I was feeling in really good place with my recovery and then WHAM! the Universe sent me this surprise. On top of all of this, in my already emotional fragile state, I had to deal with the frustration, anger, sadness that came with it. I’m a pretty strong, positive person, but my gosh has this been a lot of difficult stuff to take on. Did I mention that I was trying to get back on top of Uni work as well? Yes, another load to add on.

It’s funny though. The first couple of weeks I actually felt really good. Yes, I was dealing with more physical limitations then usual but I still felt in alignment with my healing. Then gradually over the past few weeks and with a few big events, symptoms have started to show- increased mental fatigue, concentration issues, increased fatigue, depression and anxiety (particularly social anxiety). As I do in these states I go out into what I like to call ‘Freak Out Mode’- What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? What am I not doing? Do I need to try this? Am I getting worse? If I wasn’t already exhausted enough, these just add to the mix.

While I have been actively trying to eliminate these thoughts from my mindset (yes on top of everything else), being alone with these and my own emotions has brought some pretty insightful lessons. You see, for many years all of these feelings were masked by anti-depressants, but now for the first time in my life I have the opportunity to tackle these, my deep-rooted emotions about childhood, teenage years and my experience with CFS and despite the pain they are bringing, the breakthroughs are so much more beautiful. These feelings and limiting beliefs have held me back for so long and now I feel I am really getting to the crux of it.

In doing so I know I’ve withdrawn myself a lot. From friends, from the world, from life. I’m just so in my head trying to figure these things out, trying to work through them that the world is just too much for me right now. Like I said to somebody the other day, I almost feel like I want to go into hibernation, perhaps in a cute little cottage in a secluded place, just to make sense of things. Deep down, I know I am going through this incredible transformation and right now, I’m stuck in the middle between the person I used to be and the person I am becoming. But all I want to do is go into the deepest part of myself to figure this out and then emerge, like a beautiful butterfly, as the new happy me with clarity and energy and a heart full of love. This in between part is not a pleasant place to be and I don’t want to play this game of tug-a-war anymore. I just want to fast-forward to the good bits but I know that as painful as it is, I need to learn to feel my emotions, understand them and transform my mind, body and spirit to align with the authentic, new me.

It’s still an ongoing process and quite honestly the uncertainty of not knowing how long it will take is frustrating. I want it to be over yesterday but I realise that life is not that simple. Deeply-rooted emotions and beliefs will take time to unravel and challenge and I must learn to accept that. Like CFS, healing is a journey and I know through experiencing and confronting both I will emerge a more enlightened, fulfilled and energised person. Right now, I must instead embrace the lessons I am learning and trust in the Universe and my Spirit Guides to guide me through this revolution.

THE LESSONS

  1. We are always changing- From one day to the next, we are a different person. Every day we are learning new lessons, having new life experiences which are helping us to grow exponentially. The good days, the bad days, each day is filling us with thoughts and emotions that we must embrace as lessons or take as growth. Change is an inevitable yet beautiful part of life.
  2. We are spiritual beings having a human experience- Wow how crazy is this thought?! The idea that our spirit is the driving force and our body is just a vessel that supports it. In itself, this emphasises the importance of spirituality. Whether you believe in God, the Universe, Scientology or fairies and unicorns, our belief in something is what enhances our lives. Like our bodies, our spirits must be nurtured, loved and supported so that we can provide it with a magical experience that will transcend into our next lives. Personally, I’m a huge believer in the Universe, Angels and Spirit Guides and know that they are supporting my healing and spiritual awakening to help me in fulfilling my purpose and learning valuable lessons to take to the afterlife.
  3. Feeling your emotions is essential- For 10 years of my life, my emotions were suppressed due to the masking effect of anti-depressants. Instead of dealing with the challenges of life, I sailed through life like it was all butterflies and rainbows. Truth is, life can be frikon hard and feeling the emotions that come with it are natural. Unfortunately, we live in a society now where feeling emotions, particularly negative emotions is seen as a sign of weakness or ineptitude. Instead, we act faux-positive, putting on a smiling front, running away from our problems or even worse, resorting to drugs and alcohol to escape it. Emotions- sad, happy, depressed, anxious, angry- they are all part of the human experience and they come to us as signs that something needs to be addressed. They are an inward response to catalyse an outward experience hence it is essential to work through them to find out what is causing it, feel it and figure out how to respond. This is my current reality multiplied. Like a kid learning to walk for the first time it is like I am learning to understand and navigate my emotions. At the end of the day, emotions are what make us both human and vulnerable.
  4. Transformation is hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel- I can vouch for that- transformation is frikon hard. Right now, my mind, body and spirit are all transforming and it feels like there is total havoc going on in my body. I’m depressed a lot of the time as I keep thinking about where I have been in the past with my life and my recovery and at the same time ridiculously anxious about my future. There is a war between the me I used to be and the me I want to become. As I’ve come to realise, this is all part of the healing process and while in the past I would have given up or tried some quick fix solution, this time I need to ride it out.
  5. We are all facing similar challenges- I used to think that what I was feeling was unique and that nobody else shared the same emotions. Well with what I have been going through I have had no choice to open up to people about my experiences and what I’ve had found is that I’m not alone. So many people are fighting similar battles and in sharing and exchanging our stories, I have actually found myself developing stronger, more meaningful bonds. For someone who used to bottle things inside, this has been a huge relief and area of growth during this whole experience. Now I know its okay to talk about it.
  6. Healing is simpler than we think- Let me tell you, for the past 4 years I have been suffering from CFS I have been inundated with advice from people about how to get better. Detoxes, tablets, nutritional programs, supplements, you name it, it was recommended to me. Desperate for an escape from the pain and suffering of this illness, I tried as much of it as I could. Not surprisingly, none of them worked. You see what my body truly needed was realignment and re-balancing. For years I had neglected it and had subjected it to crazy levels of stress and this illness was the catalyst for change. As I now realise, healing comes in the form of slowing down, employing natural healing mechanisms, listening to my intuition and aligning my mind and body. Healing is going to take time, but now I realise the components, I’m half way there.
  7. Working through emotions is key to healing- Yes, that’s right. Emotions are often linked to underlying behaviors and limiting beliefs and through addressing these, we unlock the power of healing. Emotions, behaviours and beliefs that no longer serve us can hinder our recovery and if we take time to slowly sift through the negative ones, we can find that light at the end of the tunnel. For me, this has been an ongoing process and one that has really brought some clarity. Sure, its meant a lot of time in isolation, hiding from the world but I’m learning to navigate through actually feeling emotions for the first time in ten years, working through them and transforming them to positive ones, all while managing CFS recovery. Ultimately, these are contributing to my recovery but the more phenomenal thing is I’m slowly but surely healing from both CFS and depression.
  8. Tapping is an amazing tool- If you haven’t tried tapping, you need to get on that bandwagon. I was first introduced to tapping about a year and a half ago from a friend following the demise of a fling with a girl. I was having a really difficult time and naturally that had impacted on my CFS, flaring symptoms and causing heightened depression and anxiety. While I tried it a couple times, I didn’t really see many results so I gave up. However, after reading Gala Darling’s book Radical Self Love, I was inspired to give it another shot. And my goodness have I seen some results. I’ve tapped about depression, fatigue, self-love, anger, anxiety and social anxiety and in all respects, I’ve seen symptoms and emotions alleviate. Like anything, it doesn’t instantly mean these things disappear but over time, managing them becomes easier and easier and I am certain that in time, negative emotions will be limited and positive emotions absolutely unlimited in my mind.
  9. Self-love is crucial- You better believe it. Coming from a former self-hating individual, self-love has been the main theme of my growth over the past 4 years. Like recovery, it hasn’t been a linear process but it is often correlated with my state of recovery and levels of happiness. When I’m feeling like shit and unhappy, naturally I find it hard to love myself. But this year, learning to accept myself and finally, without medication, understand my body’s capabilities and limitations, its become a massive challenge. For years I resisted to accept the full extent of my limitations because I loved myself as that energetic, vibrant and excitable human I was and couldn’t love the more tired, less energized and lethargic version of me. While its been super hard, I’ve had no choice to accept it this year as I realised that in doing so, it was the only way I could move forward. I didn’t think I could love myself on the days where I couldn’t move from bed or do my hair or the days I couldn’t have a conversation but slowly and surely I realised I am still the same wonderful, amazing, kind human regardless. I’m not perfect but I can happily say I love myself and my life just the way it is- and I know that is only going to blossom more as my healing continues.
  10. The things that made you sick will not heal you- When I first heard this comment, it suddenly clicked. For years I was trying so hard to get better, using my Type-A, overly ambitious personality and striving to excel in every treatment I tried. Instead of stopping, resting and let my body do its own thing, I kept looking for that quick fix cure so I could get this illness out of the way and go back to living my buller-to-gate lifestyle. Well how wrong I was. In fact what I needed to heal was completely the opposite. I had to stop looking for solutions because the answers were inside me, not outside me. My body was tired and needed rest, love and support to re-balance, not more strain. After all, it was this that made me sick in the first place. It took a while for this to sink in but now I’m clear with my boundaries, rest without guilt, listen to my body and treat it with kindness and most importantly keep my expectations low and love for myself high. I knew that this involved facing my emotions and learning to live with them rather than fight against them. It also meant learning to work with Chronic Fatigue rather than continuing the war against it. Illness comes to us to bring lessons and this is by far one of the most valuable lessons I have learned to date. And now, I feel myself, my health and my life transforming.

So there you have it. Who would have thought facing such feelings could bring such insight! Its challenging, difficult and at times, soul crushing but knowing that working through these deeply vested emotions is contributing to my healing process brings great relief. I am sensitive and I feel deeply although I know emotions are part of the human experience so now I am embrace them and the beauty they bring. Anger, sadness, frustration, fear and disappointment, I slowly release them and replace them with happiness, joy, excitement and love. This I know is the powerful force I need to heal.

Sending love to you all on your healing journey

– teaghan lee

11 Lessons I Learned in My Relapse

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It’s been a while since I’ve written. I guess the past 6 months I’ve been facing some pretty intense emotions, particularly in the past month, and I just haven’t felt the urge to write. But here I am, back doing what makes my heart sing.

Six months ago, I was on a role. I seemed to be well and truly on the road to recovery. I was back studying full-time, socialising, working out at the gym and just feeling like a normal, happy human. I was actually starting to feel like myself again and it felt amazing!

In my usual type A personality style, my impatience started to get the better of me. I got a taste of this vibrant, restored me and I wanted it entirely and now. I’d always been someone in active pursuit of my recovery forever trying new things, experimenting with new treatments and trying out supplements that were supposed to help with the fatigue and other CFS symptoms. At the time though, the only supplements I was taking were a cheap-ish magnesium supplement and my anti-depressants. It surprised me how amazing I felt just keeping things this simple. I had taken high grade naturopathic supplements but this crappy little magnesium supplement I bought in Woolies was my saviour. I had never felt better!

Sure I would still have my bad days and still had a bit of bloating. But these were happening less regularly. But as I started to get more frustrated with the bloating, I was led to a Chinese Doctor to help with my symptoms. I felt relieved when she assured me that she could ‘cure’ my CFS. All my wildest dreams had come true! It felt like Christmas.

For 3-4 months during this treatment I felt great. I felt more energetic, more bubbly, and more like the happy vibrant me I knew. I was back to my limitless life, able to exercise, socialise and do things without restrictions. But something was amidst. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it so thinking it was just the effects of the treatment, I pushed through.

Fast forward 6 months, and here I am trying to recover from possibly the worst relapse I have had. I’m used to setbacks and during my 3.5 year recovery, I have had 2 major relapses. But this one takes the cake. It felt like I was back to where I started again, like I had hit rock bottom. It hasn’t helped that I decided to go off anti-depressants that I had been on for ten years too.

As I looked back in hindsight, I can so clearly see what I did wrong. I know that my body is sensitive to changes, especially multiple at once and that is just what I did. I started the chinese medicine treatment, went off anti-depressants, moved house multiple times and then back to Melbourne and started my final year of Uni at a completely new uni. On top of this, I started having small amounts of caffeine, started drinking more alcohol then usual and just doing way too much. All this while my body was trying to heal with the treatment and balance itself out after coming off the meds. It’s no wonder I had a relapse! But when your living in the moment, enjoying your supposed recovery, you don’t think about these things. The keys to CFS recovery are simplicity, pacing and nurturing your body- I neglected all three. And I dealt with the aftermath.

CFS is so unforgiving. If you do too much, you pay for it after. But if you do too much progressively and push through, you end up crashing hard. This is my current situation. And this relapse on top of my body learning to balance itself without synthetic serotonin has been bloody challenging, let me tell you. Namely in the past month, I have had moments where I have felt like running away and at times, even committing suicide because it has all just become too much. But then I remember, the valuable lessons I have learned in this experience, this relapse. And they make it all worth it.

THE LESSONS

  1. It’s okay to rest- For so long I fought this. I thought rest was giving in to this illness and if I rested, I would fall into its trap. Truth is, rest is one of the best things you can do with CFS. And pushing through just makes things worse. It took me 3.5 years to realise this, but never late then never right?
  2. Listen to your body- Your body is pretty intelligent and when something isn’t right or it needs something, it will tell you. For me, my body was telling me I need to stop and rest. Of course, my type A personality refused to listen and consequently, I ended up back here. But now, I am more in tune in with my body and actually follow what its telling me. Sure, some days I still think “body, what the hell are you doing?” but at least I have a somewhat better understanding of most things.
  3. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness- In the past few months, I’ve opened up to people like I’ve never opened up before. I’ve been able to write about it and post about it on Instagram, but actually talking to people about my challenges with chronic and mental illness was always difficult. I even took it to the next level recently featuring my story in a book and interview called the Fear to Freedom project. And you know what, all of these have been cathartic for me. Sharing my experiences has not only helped with my healing process, but it has also helped others.
  4. I am not my illness- I’ll admit, for the past few months CFS and mental illness has consumed. I’ve found myself constantly thinking about it, talking about it and feeling like it has become ingrained in my identity. I’ve always been positive about my recovery, and separated myself and the CFS and depression but I got stuck in this downward spiral and negativity and let it take control. And yes, many times I almost gave up hope of recovery for both of them. So I decided that enough was enough. I let the tears flow until there were no more, reached out for help and shut down the pity party because I realised I can’t move forward when I’m stuck in a rut. I’m grateful that I am back on the road to being me again.
  5. It’s okay to reach out for help- Some challenges are just too difficult to face on our own. I thought after coming off anti-depressants, I could deal with the aftermath on my own. And then I thought I could deal with this huge relapse on my own. I thought I was strong enough and reaching out to others would make me seem weak. I’ve always thought that way. But depression and CFS, particularly relapses of both, you cannot face on your own. So I reached out in every way I could- to friends, to family, to my Doctor, to specialists and at very difficult times to Lifeline and Beyond Blue. And you know what I’m actually pretty proud of myself for doing that because it shows that I have grown. Reaching out is hard but even in my most difficult times, when I’m a sobbing mess on the floor I’ve managed to talk and ask for help. That’s a pretty huge step!
  6. Assertiveness is crucial to recovery- I’ve always been a very easy-going, relaxed kind of person and a good communicator but let me tell you assertiveness is not one of my strengths. I am able to figure out what I want and what I need but communicating that to others has been tough. In the early days of CFS, I would just do everything people wanted me to do- attend events, socialise, etc. And then I would pay for it with a setback and a flare in symptoms later. Well, that was getting me nowhere. But with the severe flare in symptoms of late, I’ve had to learn to be more upfront with people about my energy. Sometimes I’m too tired to do things, sometimes I can do things but to a limited capacity and somethings I can only do for a limited time and communicating that to others is okay. My recovery is always number one priority.
  7. I’m not a failure because I went backwards- When this relapse first began, I fought it with all my might. I didn’t want to believe that the energetic, positive person that had come back was slowly disappearing again. I did not want to believe that I was relapsing. I didn’t want to believe that all the hard work I had put in to get better, all the money I had spent was a waste. I believe it is this kind of thinking that worsened the severity of the relapse. If I had just accepted it for what it is, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this bad. But here I am and there is no going back now. All I can do is be kind to myself, be grateful for the lessons I have learned and continue to work on moving forward.
  8. I’m not any less of a person because of these conditions- When I finally figured out what was happening with my health, that it had declined, I was distraught. I was feeling so good and finally thought I was ready to date again and to socialise as  a ‘normal’ person and then this setback happened. I felt defeated. I thought to myself- ‘Who would want to be friends with someone who can’t do much with them?’ or ‘Who would want to date somebody who is unwell’. So I shut myself off from everyone and everything. I fell deeper and deeper into the black hole of depression. It didn’t help that I had tried to date a few times and had failed miserably. But what I eventually realised (particularly in the past week) is that I am actually an amazing person and the right people will stay in my life regardless of what hardships I am facing. But most significantly I realised that as much as it would be nice to have a special someone, I just can’t commit myself wholly while my energy is so focused on getting better. I’ve never been one to half-ass things, particularly dating. So while I work through this recovery, I am just happy to have beautiful, supportive friends who instill me the love and support I need.
  9. You must be kind to yourself- I have always been super critical of myself. It is one of my greatest downfalls. I have high expectations and am a self-confessed former perfectionist. But lately, and under the instructions of my Doctor and Psychologist, I have had to gently let those walls down. Sure, I’ve learned to love myself a whole lot more over the past few years, but nothing prepares you for the anger and frustration you feel towards yourself when you realise you could have avoided this difficult time. So now, I’ve had to slowly and elegantly learn to reframe my thoughts and essentially, tell that hardass, mean voice in my head where to stick it. When your own mind is constantly beating you up, it doesn’t really get you far in life. And while post anti-depressants this cruel voice has been even more prominent, I’m learning to be a lot gentler on myself. It’s okay if I had to defer exams for Uni, say no to things or stay in bed all morning to restore my body. I’m still frikon awesome.
  10. Putting yourself first is essential- During my whole experience with CFS, I’ve learned the importance of putting myself and my needs first. As somebody that has always put others first, I guess that is part of the reason I ended up where I am. Well it wasn’t until about 1 year ago, that I actually put that into practice after a breakup. But now, I need to put myself first more then ever. Sure, I’m a huge believer that helping others, helps yourself. This is why I love listening to people and friends going through rough times, why I offer my support to those who need it and why I volunteer. It is why I plan to work in the mental health sector. But to achieve these things and to get back on track, me and my health need to be first priority. Sometimes I have to say no, miss out on things or take time out to focus on my mental and physical health and that is totally okay. Because the more I do that now, the more I will be able to do in the future.
  11. There are greater powers supporting you- I’ve become deeply spiritual on this journey of recovery but with this recent relapse, this has become even deeper. After fighting so many things, I have uncovered the power of the Universe and connected to my guardian angels. Did you know that we all have angels that are constantly with us? Now mind you I am not religious in any shape or form but after reading this book about Angels and feeling their presence, my eyes have been opened. I have asked them for help with simple things during this relapse, and low and behold help has been granted. The most beautiful thing is I have asked for both their and the Universe’s help in this recovery, and some incredible gifts have been sent my way. I know it won’t happen overnight, but knowing I have my Angel’s and the Universe’s love and support makes me feel so confident about restored health.

Honestly, I think I could go on all day about the lessons that both CFS and this difficult period of depression and anxiety have taught me, but to me these are the most important ones. It hasn’t been easy but I do know one thing- recovery is imminent. And I tell you what I’m going to kick ass until I get there!

If you are having a rough time with your mental or physical health, I truly hope they help you!

But to you just remember- take it one day at a time. Baby steps will get you there. And don’t forget to celebrate those small wins along the way!

Together lets make 2018 the year of recovery and magic!

Much love and big, gentle hugs

– the Soulful Wanderer

Sinking Into The Ocean Bed

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Is this what rock bottom feels like? When you have fallen so far you have reached the bottom of the ocean. There is nothing left in you and you are finding it hard to breathe. So you just sit at the ocean’s bed waiting for it to take you to that other place.

Right now, I’m listening to the same song on repeat. I may not be literally sitting at the bottom of the ocean, but the ocean is flowing out of me. The tears keep coming and just will not stop. The song is telling me to rise up but I just can’t help feeling like I just keep falling.

I feel like there is just no point in me being here any more. Why keep breathing when you feel like you don’t belong here? Everyone keeps telling me I have so many great things in my life, that there are people doing worse than me. I keep telling myself to stop feeling so sorry for myself. But I can’t numb this pain. I can’t stop these tears from flowing.

I had such a beautiful week last week visiting my family and friends, you would think I would be on such a high, exuding happiness. The truth is though I am now dealing with the aftermath of exhausting too much energy and drinking alcohol. And as I’m already well aware CFS and Depression are the worst possible combination, and adding alcohol to the mix doesn’t help.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if somebody had a magic wand that could make this physical and mental pain go away. That would be a perfect world. This is my reality right now though and I need to accept that.

10 years of medication and I expected it to be smooth sailing now that I am off them. But this is harder than I ever comprehended. I feel like I have a week of good days and then a week where I am just an absolute mess and falling apart. I feel like I am losing my mind entirely.

I’m trying to be kind to myself, trying to understand that my body is just re-balancing. After 10 years having my serotonin regulated by medication, it is going to take time to adjust and start producing its own. I can’t help but feel like maybe this wasn’t a good time to do so. Trying to manage recovery from Chronic Fatigue and dealing with the severe depression, anxiety and mood swings is just all becoming too much.

Today, I felt like dying. I wanted the car to veer off the road and hit me on my morning walk. I wanted to take that whole pack of panadol that lie in front of me. I wanted to jump from the balcony that stood outside my window. I wanted to die, and I didn’t think anyone would care. The darkness had encapsulated me, the voices telling me how worthless I was and how I would never amount to anything.

But I am still here. I am writing this with a beating heart and oxygen still in my veins. Because as much as I don’t want to be in this world anymore, what would hurt me more would be seeing my family and friends suffer. I’m just so tired of fighting this fight, of constantly retraining my thoughts and trying to transform them into positive but giving up is the easy way out.

I’ve run from things all my life- opportunities, jobs, people, myself. And look where that got me- right back where I started. Everything was taken away from me so I was faced with the rawness of life. But in this I also found out what is important in it- love for yourself, others and the simple things. Even if on days like today I find it hard to appreciate those things.

I don’t want to keep spinning on this merry-go-round. I just want things to be back to the way they were before. My biggest fear is that I will never find my feet again and that I will be forever trapped in this web of darkness. I’m not this person- this sad, disheveled mess with no zest for life and lost ability to communicate with those I love. I am happy, positive, outgoing and passionate about life. I want that girl back.

She was here last week, even despite the background presence of those voices. But now those negative voices have taken over and I feel consumed with sadness and grief. I have no joy for the things I usually did. I cannot face people or smile or laugh like I usually do. Despite that, I managed to still go for my walk today. Considering I could have stayed in bed all day, I was pretty proud of that achievement.

I keep telling myself things will get better. The optimistic voice in me keeps trying to sneak in and dominate the overbearing negative self talk. My body is finding its balance, its new normal. Be patient, be kind the best you can. It is taking all my strength to fight this battle, these two battles. It certainly is challenging when your physical and mental health are out of alignment. It is like a set of scales that no matter what you put on each end, they just don’t balance.

I’m just trying to take it day by day. Days like today when it hurts to be in my head, like I need to escape it, I just want to write off. But these days, the greatest learning of all occurs. On these days, I am lead right back here to write about it and through my words, find the little lessons. That’s what life is about right?

I may be at breaking point and wanting to run away from everything- the support of my family, my friends, the place I live, Uni but what will that ever achieve. If I keep running, I’ll just keep using up all my energy. And right now, energy conservation is what matters most as my body and mind are fighting for stability, balance and most importantly, my life.

Once again words and music have saved me and I can breathe again. I am slowly rising from the ocean’s depths, my oxygen tank full of love and hope. I got through today, and that was a victory but I have no doubts there will be more days like this. Hopefully, they will be less painful and emotional.

I will rise up with all that I have. And move mountains.

Depression will never win.

– the Soulful Wanderer

 

The Art of Acceptance

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So I know I said previously that I refused to give up, but truth is, the time has come.

I’m so exhausted of trying to fight for my health. I’m so tired of having to think about every little bit of energy expenditure. I’m fed up with having to strategise my whole life. I am just done with trying to keep up with others or the life I once had. I am done with trying to be so positive and optimistic all the time. I’m just done. I can’t be at war with myself anymore.

My adrenal glands, that I thought were well healed are now back to burnout stage. I’ve been trying everything to heal them and restore my energy but perhaps in my efforts to do so, I have just worsened the situation. I feel like I just don’t know how to help myself anymore.

The past five days all I have done is cry. I cry as I mourn the person I was four years ago before my world came crashing down. I cry for the life I want but can’t have. I cry because I feel lonely and helpless. I cry because I fear for my future. I try not to because I know there are people suffering worse than I am. But in these moments my tears feel justified.

Being 29, having a debilitating illness, no secure job and still living with my mum was not exactly the picturesque plan I had for my life. I had hoped to be living in my own place, perhaps with a partner and running my own business in between travelling the world. But I guess life doesn’t always go according to plan.

My Doctor told me yesterday I have to start accepting what is. Just when I thought I was on the road to recovery, it seems CFS has come back or just worsened. I told her I was frustrated, fed up, tired of fighting. Her response- stop fighting. Stop trying to be so ambitious in your recovery. Your mind and body is at it’s limits and it needs you to love and nourish it. You need to accept that this is your normal for now.

My heart broke in that moment. I’d been denying for so long that things had worsened, just thinking that it was perhaps just the effects post anti-depressants. On the bad days, which seemed to be happening more regularly I would tell myself to stop being so lazy thinking I was just in fact unmotivated. To a degree, I think the chemical changes in my brain have impacted the status quo but they are not entirely responsible. My body needs more TLC.

I know that this starts with me learning to be less critical of myself and lowering my expectations. I have always been someone to set the bar high and if I wasn’t achieving at that level, well than it just wasn’t good enough. But it is this mentality that got me sick in the first place. My expectations need to change although it is challenging when such high expectations are ingrained in your personality.

Well I guess with acceptance, these changes will come. So here it is- I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and it has worsened. It seems I have more lessons to learn. This is not forever. Just for now until I make some changes and love myself more and my mind and body follow. Things are going to have to slow down for a little bit while I go back to the beginning of everything. Back to the basics and simplicity.

I accept that some days will be horrible and symptoms will be in the full form- debilitating fatigue keeping me housebound, severe brain fog preventing socialising and depression. On these days, having a shower and eating breakfast is a huge achievement. I accept that some days will be mediocre and I’ll be able to go for my walk, socialise with ease and do normal daily tasks with ease. I accept that some days will be great and I will feel ‘normal’ again but I cannot be fooled by these days. If I do too much on these days I know that I end up back on the horrible day again.

I know that I need to just take one day at a time and stop worrying about things or criticising myself for not being there. My life is different to others so I cannot compare to what they have. I need to reverse the picture- how would these people that have so much feel if everything was taken away from them. Their health, their job, their finances, some of their relationships. I’m sure things would be different then. I guess we cannot compare ourselves to others when we are all experiencing different things in life.

This whole experience has made me realise the insignificance of material things. To have your body turn on you makes you realise that in the grand scheme of things, stuff just doesn’t matter. It is the simple things that hold meaning- the flowers and trees, sunshine, the ocean, love from family and friends and most importantly, love and kindness for yourself. In addition to health, these are the most valuable assets in life.

I used to want the top job, the wealth, the superficial relationships, the latest fashions. These are the things I strived for. Then when Chronic Fatigue came along all of that faded. These days, I strive for inner peace and a deeper level of happiness. I stop to smell the flowers. I sit by the ocean for hours just listening to the waves and feeling the sand beneath my feet. I transcend to somewhere deep in the Universe when I meditate. I aspire for a life far from the mayhem of the city where I can live in the quiet of nature and the peace of the ocean.

So yes, my life has changed far beyond what I ever thought possible. While I am entirely grateful for the lessons and experiences CFS has brought me, I did think that my active fight for recovery would bring it closer. However the recent backward leap has proved this untrue. So I have made a vow to myself- I will stop fighting so hard and just take it day by day. Acceptance, as it seems, is the answer.

I have to let this illness take it’s full course as clearly it is here to make some changes to my life and has some unfinished business. I have realised that no amount of treatment will speed up or intervention by me will change this. My body needs to heal in its own time. The least I can do is accept what is happening so that I can take action to support it to the best of my ability. How do I do this? The answer is simple- rest, relax and restore. Rest my body when it needs it, relax my mind and nourish it with positive thoughts, use restorative exercise. These things plus self love will be crucial in progressing forward.

Thank you Universe for blessing me with this gift and the lessons. I will stop fighting it now and accept what is. From this point forth, I will accept who I am now. And with that weight lifted, finally I will be free.

Sending love to all my fellow invisible illness warriors ❤

– the Soulful Wanderer.

 

 

 

Why I Will Never Give Up

 

amanda+joaquim (29)After the past three days, I honestly don’t know how I have gotten through. This has quite possibly been the worst crash in a while. All catalyzed by me trying to be somebody who I am not. Or more specifically, no longer am. I was me trying to be the old me.

Sometimes I just want to be normal. I think I am. But truth is the way I live my life is a lot different from others. And at times that can be challenging to accept. I know it won’t be like this forever, but for now it has to be. That old me is a figment of my imagination.

For the past 6 months or so, I have been having treatment in the form of Chinese Medicine for Chronic Fatigue. Like everything I try, it seems to work great at first. But then after a while it’s like my body protests and tells it to just fuck off. As you can imagine, this is very frustrating.

In fact this whole illness can be frustrating. You think you are making great progress and then bam, you have a huge setback. It is forever two steps forward and one step back. Some days it will feel like there is nothing wrong with you and you feel on top of the world. But other times, like the past few days it actually feels like a steam train has come and run you over.

The alarm clock goes off but you cannot move from your bed. You can barely eat. Conversations are a struggle. Showering is a struggle. You cannot do any form of work or uni work. The very thought of doing anything exhausts you. No this is not laziness. Nobody chooses this life. This is CFS on the worst days. You just cannot deal with your life.

If I am being completely honest, it has taken every part of me to get through the past few days. It’s like this spiral effect. I feel incredibly fatigued, which makes me feel depressed and anxious about my life and my future. Will I ever be able to work a full time job and have a proper career? Will I ever be able to date again? Will I ever get my complete independence back? Will I ever be the energetic, clear-thinking me ever again?

But then I remind myself- the future for all of us is uncertain. None of us know what is in store. And if I just keep thinking about what is going to happen tomorrow, I will never enjoy today. I will never be able to use the present effectively to maximize my recovery. I will be forever living for tomorrow instead of making progress today.

There are people out there that have things so much worse than me. People dying of cancer or with family members who have or are dying from cancer. People with worse cases of ME CFS. People going through extreme poverty or famine. So I feel guilty when I just feel so depressed. I am grateful for the life I have and yes it could be much worse. But on the bad days, you can’t help but feel sorry for yourself. And feel like your life is unfair.

The difference is, while I grieve for a little at times, I will NEVER let myself live in this state forever. I am focused on working towards things that help others because I believe that when we have purpose and give back, our lives have more meaning. It can just be disappointing at times when you work so hard on yourself and your health and it all just gets thrown back in your face.

The worst part for me is letting others down. I make commitments that when I am feeling energetic, I can quite easily fulfill. Although, when I have these bad days, I realise that I have over-committed.  I have a bad habit of doing this. I guess you could just say that I am optimistic and every time I feel good, I think that I am on the mend. CFS can be horribly cruel though and torture you like that. You think it is teasing you with the feeling of being recovered, but it is just the cycle of boom and bust. That roller-coaster ride.

So I’ve had my three days of being bed-ridden, binge watching Netflix, surviving on Vegemite on toast and barely being able to move. I’ve cried to my Mum multiple times at how unfair life is, vented to my friends who kindly listen and essentially shut myself off from the rest of the world. So where do I go now?

The way I see it, I always have a choice. I have a choice to keep going on like this, getting in this cycle of camping out in my bed and feeling sorry for myself, letting life pass me by. Or I can do something about it. I can make the decision to, no matter what, make tomorrow a better day. Even if it is just getting out of bed. Even just sitting in the sun. Tomorrow will be a better day.

I may have gone backwards and may have to strip things back to basics once again. And on top of that, I may have made some unfortunate realisations this week that tugged my heart strings. But everything is going to be okay. I will be okay and I will continue to get better.

There is no time for sadness or expending my energy on things that don’t contribute to my recovery. No distractions. No dating. Right now, it’s all about me. I need to be selfish. Right now is about becoming the healthiest, happiest version of me. I have had a taste and now I want more. I deserve more. I’m made for more.

This happened to test my strength, to help me grow. So I am going to grow. I am going to use all my strength. I am going to beat this. I will never give up!

Sometimes all it takes is some good music, a good cry and writing to make you see things in perspective. I’m glad I can see things clearly now and know the path set out for me, even when brain fog tries to cloud it.

I know there are still things I need to work on. I’ll get there. Life is a journey of self-work and personal development. But hopefully taking more time for me will help with that. It has already been a year, surely another year or two can’t hurt.

If along the way I find someone who appreciates me for me and the journey I am going on then great. But I am not actively going to pursue dating because I know right now, I can’t give myself 100% to someone when I am working so hard on myself. Friendships are adequate for now.

So back I go on this journey to recovery despite the little hump in the road. I will tap into every piece of strength and love I have within me. Because I know I will recover. If I know anything in this world it is that!

Even if I have to leave uni until next year, leave all my commitments behind and just spend my days building myself back up. If that is what has to happen, then so be it. But I will never be a victim, always a fighter, fighting for her life back.

I will never give up.

And neither should you.

– the Soulful Wanderer

 

The Meaning of Life

So yesterday I received some sad news. News that I knew had been coming for a while, but I guess was just not ready to face. My Pop, who has been quite ill for many years is approaching the end of his days. In fact, there are only a matter of hours of his life left, according to Doctors.

 

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I know I wasn’t that close to him. He was always a very strong, stubborn kind of man who was difficult to crack. But at the end of the day he is still my witty, brave pop, George and I will care for him deeply up until his very last breath.

I feel somewhat guilty feeling emotional. I had let the relationship drift with my Nan and Pop after the separation of my parents many years ago. I guess in some ways I had felt torn and that they wouldn’t except me as a young, gay woman. Now I realise I should have been the bigger person and reached out more.

In the past few years, I have truly realised the value of family. The moments when I could barely move from my bed or cook myself food or the days when the tears would just stream from my face like waterfalls, my family were there for me. In some ways, I think Chronic Fatigue and Depression were inflicted upon me to make me see just how important family really are.

Yes in hindsight, I wish this had happened sooner but I guess previously I was just too caught up in my own self-centered behaviour. The things that have happened to me have made me a more humble, grateful human being and for that I am eternally thankful. It has made me see clarity and the meaning of life and those in it.

Life is teeming with lessons. Little nuggets of gold that make us understand our reason for existence, shape who we are and provide us with direction for our future. In hearing of George’s final stages, I know that this one is to teach me the value of life and living it to the full.

George in his 80 years of life, I know has achieved great things. Living in the beautiful country side, raising 3 children, being married to my beautiful Nan for many years and having lifelong friendships. At the end of your days, I guess it is these things that matter. How much money you have in the bank, how much you excelled in your career or the little things like what brands you wore or how much you worked out, they just become redundant.

I do truly hope that as George lays there, waiting for the Universe to come and capture his soul, that he revels in happiness at the life he has lived. For a life with regret on your deathbed is possibly one of the saddest things. In fact, it is my worst fear.

As an activist for life, I truly believe in making every day count. Spreading love and kindness, embracing the little things and not sweating the small stuff. Personally, I have no time to worry about what other people think or impressing others when there is so much life to be lived and happiness to spread. You learn to see things from a different perspective when you have faced a debilitating illness or seen those around you suffer and approach death. These things, they change you.

While George’s strength and resilience have been nothing short of amazing, having conquered several bypass surgeries, cancer and various other health issues, I hope he knows that despite our lack of closeness he still had a huge impact on my life. His strength inspired me to stay strong through my illness and push through the dark days and like him, use humour to lighten the difficulties we face in life.

As the tears well up, I know I must be strong because those closer to him are suffering more. My Aunties, My Nan and my brothers, sisters and cousins, but most importantly my Dad who does not like to reveal his emotions openly. It is for these people that I need to be a rock and pillar of support.

In the midst of my tearful preparation to say goodbye, as I tend to do, I want to convey this message- live your life the way you want. Don’t live for others or try and conform to the stereotypes of how life should be lived. Just make it your own and follow your own path. Get married at 40 or don’t get married at all. Travel the world instead of having kids. Be a nomad rather than buying a house and living your life to pay off a mortgage. Quit your job to volunteer in Africa. There is no ‘set’ criteria for living your life so do whatever the bloody hell you want. Life is too short to live on someone else’s or society’s terms.

George, thank you for all the fond memories you gave me. The nights playing cards over the dining table, watching golf much to my despair and lightening the mood with your dry sense of humour. I will cherish these forever. I hope that when your time comes to pass on to the next world, it is peaceful and enlightening.

There will all be a day when we experience the same fate, so please I hope you make sure that every day, every moment counts. Life is too beautiful of a gift to not ensure that.

Sending love to all of those who need it right now

-the Soulful Wanderer

The Unknown

Chapter

 

I  hate this, I really hate this sometimes.

Honestly, I have been working so hard to get myself back to a balanced life. Eating healthy, doing yoga and working out at the gym, practicing gratitude and positive affirmations, meditating and reading books and listening to audiobooks on self-development, as well as giving myself a whole heap of self-love, so why is it that I feel so horrible today?

All I want right now is a life of normality. To wake up and jump out of bed full of energy, go out and hustle working on my business and just smash through university getting the best results I can. I want to go out a socialise, making a whole heap of friends and hang out with them regularly like other people too. I want to train like a beast at the gym working towards my six pack and get super fit again so that I can compete in marathons and cycle. Is it so much to ask for my body to cooperate with me to help me achieve these desires?

Days like today though I feel as though normality is never going to happen for me. I know it will but it just seems so far in the future. I am trying to be present and just embrace the moment but it can be difficult when you feel as though you are going to be stuck in this state of fatigue, cloudiness and depression forever.

Yesterday I felt so horrible that after picking Eve up from school, I literally walked into the Doctor and almost collapsed. After crying most of the day I was just at breaking point and could not take this anymore. I try not to play the victim, but what is happening in my body is certainly making me feel like one. I feel a though I have lost all control.

The Doctor seemed to think that in addition to this being a setback, things had been amplified by some stomach issues. As he provided me with a diagnosis, a small part of me started to think that perhaps this was the issue all along and that in fixing this, the fatigue, cloudiness and depression would become obsolete. However, today has proved otherwise.

Trust me, I am not usually this negative and I apologise to those people reading and my own mind for being this way. I’m usually quite capable of lifting myself back up. Today is just being extra challenging.

Usually, when I feel this way and I cannot lift my spirits, my mum is the one who is there and always has been to support me. It’s times like this I realise how much I depended on her to help me get through these rough times and not having her here is proving incredibly difficult. I miss her and her positive energy beyond words.

She is not here though and I do not want to bother her nor anyone with my concerns or emotions so instead I turn to a full block of chocolate and Mad Men to try and make me feel better. What I really would like is someone to just make it all go away, but I know that is not possible much to my demise.

I just still don’t understand why this continues to endure so much pain and suffering upon me. Surely I have been through enough already and learned the lessons it was sent to teach me so why cannot it just leave me alone? I’m trying so hard to be strong but I feel like I am just going to crumble.

It hurts to look on Facebook and Instagram, everyone living this fabulous life travelling the world and accomplishing all their goals. Meanwhile, I am just here watching Netflix in bed and barely able to walk 15 minutes to the shops to get a chai latte. I want to be happy for others, and I am, but it is so hard to just watch the world keep spinning while you are stuck, not going anywhere.

I try to reframe my negative thoughts, as I usually do with such grace and ease. ‘You are going to be like this forever’- No you are not Teaghan, this is just today and it will pass. ‘You will never be able to achieve your goals’- Yes you will Teaghan, just get through this setback and you will come out the other side better for it. ‘You will never find happiness’- Yes you will because you are a wonderful person and worthy of so much.

Usually I can make these new thoughts stick, believing them with my whole heart and mine. Today, they are being a bit stubborn when it comes to sinking in, almost like I am forcing myself to believe them and their truth. I guess that’s what happens when you are feeling down and critical on yourself.

I know that I got myself to this point. I forced myself to overdo it by living this type-A overachiever lifestyle, an implication of living in today’s current fast-paced culture, but surely the blame and self criticism needs to stop. It is what it is, I am aware of why I got to where I am now I need to focus on indulging myself in all of the love in the world to get me to the place of complete recovery, a place I know I am well on the way to achieving despite today.

Anxiety and depression over my inability to achieve what I want to today, the fact that my body is in a state of protest and my dull thoughts are all things happening now, but not forever. I may not be able to go to Uni nor wander far from bed today, on account of this setback and issues with new supplements but things will get better. Tomorrow is a new day.

So what can I do today to make myself feel better? Well besides divulging a whole block of dark chocolate and laying on my bum all day, I may treat myself to a nice bath, enjoy a nice healthy dinner (tofu stir fry) and just focus on restoring my energy before tomorrow.

One thing I do need to learn though is to stop criticizing myself on days like today. I am human, my body is healing and I need to love it, not be angry or frustrated at it. This setback is telling me that I need to make some changes and that I am overdoing it in some respect so I need to tone it down a bit. This one I believe was caused by alcohol (from mardi gras), changing some supplements, some emotional moments and of course doing too much as a result of these supplements. One thing I have realised and mum keeps reiterating this too is that I need to keep things simple. Too much medication, supplements and complication overwhelms my body and disconnects me from the universal force, from being grounded. I need to take it back to basics.

Every time I try new things my body hates it. It becomes overly sensitive, cloudy and difficult and rejects whatever I am doing. Then I get frustrated because I don’t understand what is going on, what is happening inside me, and I get angry at myself for making changes. This just becomes a vicious cycle.

What I need to learn is accept setbacks, not to try and fight them with supplements, etc to get through. I am going to have them so just understand that it is an opportunity to rest and restore, not push harder. That is what got me sick in the first place. I guess the good thing is that they are becoming less regular but they are also becoming more intense. I feel like CFS is a this condition that starts off really bad, then has up and downs in between and like most things ends with a bang. Well I hope this is the case anyway because right now it feels like how I felt in the beginning, when my whole world was falling apart. Only difference is, now I am doing it alone.

I know this is making me the best version of me and putting me on the right path, it is just hard to see sometimes. I try and think of people who are doing a lot worse then me, because I know there are many people out there. I guess sometimes I can’t help getting absorbed in my own crap but I am trying hard to see the bigger picture. Things will be okay.

Instead of being anxious about what could happen or what lies ahead I will just choose to make today as great as I can, despite what has been happening. I choose my thoughts and my thoughts become my reality so I need to make them as wonderful and positive as I can. This is the only way I will heal.

Today was rough, but tonight I will not let things get to me. As we speak I am playing Florence and the Machine in between practicing and recording positive affirmations and already I feel like my spirit has been lifted. I love that these things and writing can help me achieve that, in addition to the wonderful people in my life.

One day I will be me again. Today is now and tomorrow is unknown, so I will choose to live in the now and not worry about the future that lies ahead. I have to just trust in myself, my body and the Universe that things will get better, because I know they will. They definitely will.

This is just one chapter of the book that we aren’t even halfway through.

I’m just going to enjoy this chapter for now.

Happy Reading!

-the Soulful Wanderer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Japanese Wonderland

 

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Today, after a week of incredible up’s and down’s I escaped to Japan.

Okay, so obviously it wasn’t the real Japan, but it was an incredible taste of the beautiful culture and scenery that Japan offers and a great warm up for my plans to travel there next year.

This is the Japanese Gardens, a beautiful cultural space that surrounds an art gallery and cultural centre in the heart of East Gosford.

I may not be able to financially or physically get to Japan just as yet but this experience was just breathtaking, being surrounded by so much natural beauty it was visually overwhelming. In the best possible way of course.

The gorgeous water painted in lillie pads, koi fish swimming calmly while ducks wandered peacefully on the waters edge. It was like a painting but one that I was a part of.

Everything about this place calmed me, putting aside all of the thoughts that had overwhelmed me the entire week. The stress of uni and business, the sadness over some unexpected, yet somewhat expected news and the yearning for some me time, this was the perfect remedy. Being one with nature, with the animals in a space that was full of beauty and wonder.

As I embraced every moment, every sight, nothing else mattered. Just the astounding wonderfulness of the world we live in.

Life may be full of highs and lows, moments of happiness and moments of sadness, but when we just stop to enjoy the present, none of those emotions can grasp us. The Power of Now by Eckart Toll has helped me comprehend that. The past is the past, the future is in the future, so take life for what it is now in this moment and just love it with all of your being.

In this moment today, while standing amongst the Japanese wonderland, I was able to do just that. Not only was I astonished by the beauty that surrounded me but I was amazed how much listening to the incredible book had helped me. I wasn’t anxiously looking ahead or sadly looking back, I was just so incredibly happy in that now.

Every day, in every moment I am writing the story of my life. I just want to make it a masterpiece that I will look back on one day as the soul-searching journey that defined me. This is why I choose to live in the moment and just make every moment beautiful.

Wherever you are, Japan or far away, just know that you have a choice. Do you want to live for then, now or later. I know what I choose and my life is greater for it.

Live in the moment, for the moment. You won’t regret it.

– the Soulful Wanderer

 

How I Conquered Chronic Fatigue and Now, I am Conquering the World

 

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THE MANIFESTATION

In our lives, each one of us is faced with hardships and challenges that act to test us, teach us and set us on the right path.

For me, the biggest obstacle I faced, the one that absolutely transformed my life and set me on the journey I am on today came in the form of an debilitating illness called Chronic Fatigue.

Like a bolt of lightening, this illness struck me down approximately 3 years ago and from what it seemed, entirely out of the blue. After years of pushing myself to the limit, working multiple jobs, studying, socialising and training at the gym, the exhaustion and fatigue hit me like a tonne of bricks and turned my life upside down.

At the time when it happened, my life was going swimmingly. I had just completed my Personal Training course, was working at Vision Personal Training while building my own fitness business, working at a shoe store and trying to maintain my strict fitness regime.

Then, over the course of a few weeks I began to notice changes in my body. I became increasingly fatigued, unable to workout or work at my usual capacity and struggled to get through a typical day. My thoughts became cloudy and overwhelmed my mind, making it hard to communicate or articulate with others. I began to feel consistently bloated, unable to stomach my usual foods and my immune system just kept crashing, with a sore throat and flu coming on regularly. I was so tired, I craved sugar and carbohydrates all the time just to try and make it through whatever I was doing. My muscles ached and I felt depressed, anxious and just all round horrible.

At first I had no idea what was going on and the worst thoughts came to mind. I worried I had cancer or was dying, and endless doctors visits and blood tests with no avail did not help ease my concerns. Having suffered from depression previously, the Doctors and I began to fear that a bad episode of depression had come on. It didn’t make sense though when everything in my life had been going so fantastic.

After after a month or so, the mental and physical fatigue became so bad that I had to quit my job as a Personal Trainer, my job working in retail and put University studies on hold. I couldn’t train anymore, socialise or even work. I lost my financial independence, my zest for life and as a result, my will to live. In hindsight, the decision to move to away from my family to Melbourne with my then partner in the middle of it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. I needed my family and support more than ever.

THE UNVEILING

For 6 months following the onset, I was pretty much passed between Doctors and Specialists trying to figure out what was going on with my body. I was frustrated, even more worried and desperate for answers! So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I began researching my symptoms, using Dr Google to try and diagnose myself in light of my Doctor’s being able to do so. Eventually I found something that seemed to line up with all of my symptoms- Adrenal and Chronic Fatigue. Unfortunately though there was no known cure or treatment.

I approached my doctor with my findings, hoping it would bring us closer to answers. I desperately wanted an outcome, but at the same time I hoped it would be something that was treatable, unlike the illnesses I had come across.

Surprisingly, my Doctor heard out my findings and decided to refer me to a Rheumatologist, particularly after a test result came back showing some kind of inflammation. Finally we were getting somewhere!

After three or four months of visiting the Rheumatologist, having a ridiculous amount of tests and blood tests and forking out huge amounts of money, I was finally given a ‘tentative’ diagnosis, Fibromyaligia. Through the process of elimination, this was the final outcome.

I thought I would be relieved after all of this, but in fact I became much more depressed. The Rheumatologist gave me a fact sheet on Fibromyalgia which pretty much outlined what was to be my future. I would not be able to work, barely be able to socialise and exercise, well you could count that out. I was told that as this condition was treatable and incurable, I would be stuck with this lack of mental and physical energy forever. The diagnosis was then confirmed as Chronic Fatigue by a head Professor of Immunology, which didn’t make matters any better.

From there, I spiralled out of control a bit. I swear, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a loving partner and wonderful family, I would have just ended my life then and there. What was the point in living a life where I couldn’t even actually live? I began feeling sorry for myself and isolated myself even more from the world and those around me.

THE TURNING POINT

Then one day, something clicked inside me. I don’t know where it came from or what brought it on, but I decided that I could not let this illness dictate my life anymore. I had always been a strong, fighting personality who refused to give up, so why would I give up now? This girl was going to fight!

That began my mission to recover. I tried everything I could, read up on everything and essentially educated myself on healing and health remedies. I tried a nutritional program, a detox program, consulted two Naturopaths, a psychologist and an Exercise physiologist and enquired about various other programs to help. Everyone around me seemed to know someone who had had Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia that cured it from this and that and provided me with endless suggestions. I was overwhelmed with possibilities for a cure or treatment.

After 2.5 years of struggling with the mental and physical exhaustion and periods of up’s and down’s, it wasn’t until 6 months ago in October last year I really started to see myself progress. Other people and myself had given me the hope I needed to recover and I knew that it was a possibility, but it wasn’t until the resignation of another job and a break up from my partner of 3 years I realised what the answer was: me.

All this time, I had been depending on others and their infinite wisdom to help me get better but little did I realise that the only person who could heal me was me. I was giving all the power to others when instead I should have been giving the power to myself to make things better.

After all the work I had done, this was the point I decided that I would be accountable for my fatigue. I had caused it so why couldn’t I allow myself the power to eliminate it? The answer was that I could.

I began listening to self-development podcasts, something I had done in the past without purpose, but now with a drive to heal myself, they became even more crucial. I started reading every self development book I could get my hands on, listened to as many Youtube videos as possible and began to set intentions, practice gratitude and retrain my thoughts through the power of positive affirmations. If I was going to embark on this process of self development and healing, I was going to give it my all.

THE PRESENT

Now, 6 months on from making this decision and 3 years after the onset of Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue (whatever fatigue I have), I am feeling more optimistic, happier and healthier than ever. My energy has been restored to approximately 80%, in comparison to the 20% or so I had at the beginning, my thoughts are clearer and my muscle pain, depression and anxiety are almost obsolete.

In the process of my recovery, I decided that while my main focus was healing, working a ‘traditional’ job was not going to be a good fit for me. I wanted to focus as much energy on getting better as possible and if I was going to earn some kind of income, wanted it to be in a manner that could correspond with this goal. This was the moment I decided to embark on the journey of creating my own job, a job that fit in with my recovery.

These days, in between working out at the gym 3-4 days a week, yoga and bike riding, my main focus is working on several opportunities that will enable me to build a career that I love and can travel the world doing and help others do the same.

This whole experience has completely transformed my philosophy on life and if there is one take-away from all of it, it is that life is the greatest gift and should be enjoyed to the full. Sure I didn’t have a deadly or life-threatening illness, but it was one that really limited my capacity to enjoy the life I had.

By almost losing that and being exposed to the potential life I could have had if I had refused to give up, I have completely reformulated my whole perspective. No longer do I want to let other’s dictate my life, my health or wealth, only I am capable of making that decision.

Therefore, I choose to live a life where my days are filled with gratitude, happiness and adventure. I strive to learn new things and teach myself in order to better my life, my business opportunities and in time that of others. My goal is to create and invest in multiple businesses so that I can focus on self development and travelling the world. My biggest ambition however is to help others live the life of their dreams so they avoid burning themselves into the ground, trying to keep up with the current way of life like I did. I wouldn’t wish this illness upon anyone and if I can help prevent that in anyway, my mission on earth would be accomplished.

THE LESSONS

We were not born to work a 9-5 highly stressful job where our value is exchanged for a petty salary nor were were made to live a life of unhappiness. Depression and anxiety levels are increasing and we are becoming a sicker, more miserable society. So let’s work together to make a change.

We were only given one life, so let us choose how we live it. If you don’t like your job, quit it. If you want to travel the world, do it. If you love someone, tell the them. Whatever you want, you can make it happen. Think it, visualise it and send it out to the Universe for it to take care of.

We are only limited by our own beliefs. The possibilities of this world are endless if we just believe in ourselves and our own capabilities.

I had a bad experience, one that came from limiting beliefs and lack of self- love and I turned it completely on it’s head to make it the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Believe me when I say this- YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

You are a leader in your life, not the victim. You are accountable and in control so stand strong and make a change.

I will be here for you to guide you through it and to provide you with self-development, health and fitness advice that I have used on my own journey but ultimately it is you who decides how you use it.

I hope my story is a testament of what we as humans can achieve in this world and inspires you to take action to do the same. Trust me though, this is only the beginning for me. The first chapter of my novel.

Make this your first chapter to. It all begins right here, right now. You are the driving force.

Look forward to inspiring, motivating and working with you all.

Together we can take on the world. Alone, we are unstoppable.

– the Soulful Wanderer