My Steps to Wellness

I will start by saying that I do not profess to have a cure, because what works for one person may not necessarily work for others. What I can say is that the process I followed has worked for me. I’m not 100% back to the me I was before I was struck down by Glandular Fever, leaving me with myalgic encephalopathy and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), as well as fibromyalgia—but I am functioning again. I am able to look after myself, take care of my home, look after my grandchildren, and look forward to progressing even more—stepping back into a full-time life!

It is very rare that I suffer with intense pain now, and when I do, I can almost always point to a reason for it, like pushing myself too much by overdoing things in a short period of time. I can now wash, dry, and style my hair! May sound simple, but when you’ve been in a place where you are so fatigued, in pain, with stiff joints, etc., that trying to hold a hair dryer up is just impossible, it becomes so satisfying to be able to do it!

In the few years after becoming ill back in 2010, I went with what the doctors were telling me. They were doctors, after all, so they would be able to make me better, surely! I followed all of the advice, tried various prescription medications, had psychotherapy, talk therapy, CBT, GET, etc. You know the drill, right?

My body rejected most of the medications I was given. I had become sensitive to so many things, then I realized that certain foods affected me. For example, I’ve eaten a cheese and tomato sandwich, something I enjoy and have been fine with in the past, and it felt like my mouth was on fire! I found I couldn’t tolerate alcohol, pr anything fizzy or sugary. They all triggered severe reactions: nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, and severe pain throughout my entire body.

I started researching online, looking up and reading anything I could find on ME/CFS and fibromyalgia. I looked at nutrition studies to find out what foods I should be eating and what I should be avoiding. I talked with others who were living with these conditions. I experimented with natural herbal remedies such as red maca and ashwagandha and even a fibro supplement I bought online. All with varying success. The red maca had me feeling like my old self within three days of taking it, but I only lasted five months before I had a major crash!

Of course, it is important to consult your doctor before trying any supplement!

I gave up on the idea of doctors helping me and carried on in my search to find my own answers on how to get my health back. The hardest part was being able to afford to try all the natural and alternative remedies. I’d lost my job, so money was limited.

It has taken me eight years to get to this point in my life, where I am managing my conditions very well and am able to enjoy life again. I live alone and manage to do everything myself. I also travel, and I’ve even worked and volunteered abroad! I never gave up hope. I just didn’t realize all those years ago that I didn’t have the space to heal. I didn’t have the correct advice or tools, either. I’ve had to search and find those for myself, and I can’t tell you how enlightening and uplifting it was when everything finally fell into place. I realized that you have to approach things holistically, and you need the space away from your own environment to find the focus to do that.

The areas to focus on in order to begin healing are:

  1. Your environment: Work, home, family, stresses, responsibilities, friends/social circle
  2. Underlying factors: Historic or recent trauma, fears, pitfalls, beliefs
  3. Nutrition: You’ve heard the saying “You are what you eat.” Look at what you eat and drink!
  4. Medication: Help or a hindrance? Do you have any sensitivities? Record the effects, finding what works for you.
  5. Exercise: What can you do to keep moving, improve circulation, etc.?

It is so easy to get stuck in your illness; to feel lost, forgotten, useless; to lose all hope of ever recovering. This in itself puts more stress on you and keeps you in a constant negative pattern of hopelessness. You might think you’ve tried everything, and there’s nothing left to try. But is that true? Are you willing to try something new? What do you have to lose?

Start today by keeping a record of everything you put in your body, including the quantity and time of day. Include the activities you do—everything from getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, eating, and moving. Grade how you’re feeling from day to day on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being the worst). Record your symptoms, your moods, your everything!

When looking at environmental factors, I’m talking about anything or anyone who is draining, brings negativity, or is hampering your progress in any way. Eliminating these things from you life will help greatly. You just don’t need those extra stresses right now. If it is a person, explain to them that you need to focus on you right now so are trying to stay away from anything that may be upsetting or stressful.

I know how hard it can be to deal with all of the above, especially when you are stuck in your own environment, unable to escape the everyday tasks and stresses. I know what it’s like to be too busy focusing on everything and everyone else and neglecting yourself! You really need to be “away from it all”—you know that feeling when you’re miles away on holiday and home, and regular life seems so far away? That’s where you need to be to begin your journey to wellness.

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About the Author | C. M.

C.M. is a warrior who's battled ME/CFS/fibromyalgia for eight years before finding her way to wellness through her own research and holistic approach.

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