It wasn’t all in my head!
Before I was diagnosed by my GP with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I went for endless blood tests to find out what could potentially be causing my ill health. What did show up in standard medical blood tests was low B12 and positive antinuclear factor. The positive antinuclear factor I realised afterwards was a good thing as it meant that my GP didn’t think I had an illness that was all in my head! A gastroenterologist said the good news is that nothing has showed up you just have a bit of IBS. At this stage I felt disillusioned by the standard medical approach. Ok so I was left with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue but I needed answers as to what was causing my long list of symptoms like muscular pain in legs, arms and back, headaches, digestive problems, poor liver function, fatigue unrelieved by rest, nausea, sensitivities to light and sound.
The medical professionals didn’t have the answers
Chronic fatigue is just a name for a list of symptoms. My GP acknowledge that he didn’t have all the answers and that I was best to look at alternative approaches. There was nothing he could do for me only give the occasional B12 injection and certify time off work to try and regain my stamina.
When I was at my lowest point of ill health in 2008, I had to take a year off work to try and give my body some time to heal. On most days I had about 2 hours of energy when I could get off the couch and do a few things. Thankfully I had my parents to fall back on, you could say they “watered and fed” me for the year so at least I didn’t have to worry about how I could find the energy to get to the shops and cook. On better days after resting more I could get out and about and meet friends for a drink (had to be caffeine and alcohol free as these drinks no longer agreed with me – my body was simply allergic to toxins of any kind as my liver function was poor) or do some research on how to recover. But then after these days of physical or mental exertion my body would crash immediately and back I went to lying on that couch again.
The moments of stillness that brought a new vision
On those days of no energy, no stamina or strength in my body to get up and what I did have plenty of was time to lie still and reflect and eventually my mind did go still. Back then I didn’t even realise it but I was naturally going into a meditative state. When I look back in the years before this I was quite the opposite, I never stopped. Always doing and always thinking. So lying there on that couch and staring at the four walls I began to form a vision of my new healthy self and believe that recovery was possible. I also remember a doctor asking me if I had hope of recovery, I see now why he asked that question. It’s those with hope and belief that have a much higher chance of recovery. The hope gets you through those bad days, it makes you seek out help, it gets you to move forward, to ask questions, to never give up.
Avoid the negative stories
If you have been given a label for an illness by a trusted medical professional, the first thing we do now in our world of technology is search for the term on the internet. Unfortunately what is found mostly are the worse doom and gloom stories. I was given a label for my illness and it was called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E.”. But this list was a name for a list of symptoms and I realised over time the best approach was to not attach myself to this label but to search for and find the root cause to them.
The challenging thing about having a label such as CFS is the lack of understanding of the illness. Ok so it wasn’t an illness that was terminal, but it was affecting my quality of life and the ability to do things that we take for granted like work full time, a clear mind to make decisions, energy to exercise, socialise and do the shopping. The medical profession say there is no cure, there is a lack of scientific evidence behind treatments to help recovery, and there is a lack of empathy and general understanding towards the illness as the person who has it can often look well on the outside – the illness is invisible. So why am I saying all this, it is because when you have lack of understanding, no immediate answers, then this is the time when it is so important to have belief that recovery is possible. It’s ignoring the negative stories from someone who has battled the illness for years and not recovered, ignoring advice that you have to accept it and learn to live with the illness. Instead believe that recovery is possible and you will attract all that is good to help make it happen.
“Belief” is how you find the way
I remember the days when all the hard work I put in to recovering would result in weeks of good health but then I would go back to my old ways and ill health would kick in again. What kept me going on those days that I faced setbacks? It was my determination to get up again, put the negative thoughts like “I have to live with this illness for the rest of my life”, “I will never be able to work full time” to the back of my mind and get on with life, creating a new vision and dream for my future and believing that recovery was possible. I didn’t know how long it was going to take but I believed that I would recover. It took 7 years for my health to recover fully and everyday now I’m thankful for my good health. I don’t take it for granted anymore and the journey gave me more confidence to follow my dreams, listen to my intuition and take risks.
So if you are facing a health challenge that is having an impact on your quality of life, I hope that my blog posts will encourage you to take action, to move forward, to ask questions, to make lifestyle changes, and have hope that recovery is possible.
If you want success in any area of your life be it health, wealth, happiness then this poem is one to remember!
The man who thinks he can [Walter D Wintle]
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost a cinch that you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can!