Emotional health and it’s impact on M.E, Fibromyalgia and CFS

Can your emotions make you sick?

When someone we know is unwell, we ask “how are you feeling?”.  As we leave, we may pass on a hope that they will “feel better soon”.  These everyday phrases show the intimate link between health and emotions.  At some instinctive level, we understand that physical health includes emotional health.  If we believed that our health was purely physical, perhaps our question would be “what are your symptoms?” or we would pass on a hope that their “symptoms will lessen soon”.

We are emotional beings.

We experience the world around us through touch, taste, sound, smell and sight.  At a conscious and subconscious level, we link emotions to these sensual experiences.  The memories that come back to us when we hear a piece of music, walk into a kitchen, bite into a childhood snack or touch a beautifully soft scarf show us how strong the link is between the sensual experience and emotion.  The feelings that we experience may be good or bad.  Either way, our emotions and sensual experiences have an impact on us.

Th link between the two was brought home to me when I was pregnant with our first daughter.  I can remember walking past a bakery and breathing in all the aromas wafting out through the door.  The smell I had always associated with yumminess triggered my morning sickness and left me feeling queasy instead of comforted.  I was really confused by the reaction, so much so that 22 years on, I can still recall its impact on me!

The link with physical health

How comfortable are you with the idea that the experiences we have in life, and their emotional counterparts, can contribute to physical illness?  What if our experiences repeatedly trigger difficult, challenging or scary emotions rather than comforting, happy or uplifting emotions?  How well can our body cope?

My experience of working with clients who have chronic fatigue conditions such as M.E, Fibromyalgia and CFS is of two things:

– There are usually multiple challenging emotional experiences. These might include things like:

  • bereavements
  • loss of job
  • difficult relationships or friendships
  • feeling like an outsider who never quite fitted in
  • difficult childhood or teenage years
  • trauma
  • surgical complications

– The body has not been able to cope and this has triggered some form of failsafe/shutdown mode.

My experience is that emotional experiences are absolutely, 100% contributing to physical illness.

It’s all in your mind…

Emotional Health and M.E.
Emotional health play a part in M.E, Fibromyalgia and CFS

I am not suggesting that chronic fatigue conditions are all in the mind! Far from it.  I know there are physical elements.  This is demonstrated by how quickly my clients’ physical health improves when they work with a specialist practitioner nutritional therapist such as my colleague, Kerry Munson who runs Think Wellness.  I also know that tackling the physical side on its own does not lead to sustained good health.  It is vital to work on the emotional side as well in order to prevent re-lapses.

The work I do with my clients is all around helping them to move forward.  Sometimes to move forward you need to understand what’s happened in the past by looking at some of the emotional experiences. It’s a bit like drawing a giant dot to dot picture.

We find connections between experiences in the past, the beliefs and values that those experiences have generated, the feelings that existed at that time and how these have all come together in the present situation.  This awareness of what was then allows choice about the shape of what is to come in the future.

Peeled many onions recently?!

Therapists often talk about peeling the layers of an onion as a metaphor for the work that we do in order to support a client. We humans are extraordinarily complex emotional beings.  We have a subconscious that protects us from all manner of difficulties and danger.  It is not realistic to expect to be able to solve complicated conditions like chronic fatigue within a short space of time. The peeling of the onion allows time for the emotional discoveries to be absorbed and understood, examined and decided upon. This unpicking of events is a journey of self-discovery.  There is immense benefit in terms of self-confidence and self-belief through going through this process. In some ways, to try and shortcut this journey results in missed opportunity for learning and is likely to lead to relapse and re-occurrence of the conditions.

We are emotional beings
Embrace our uniqueness

We are all wonderfully unqiue individuals who all have wonderfully unique experiences throughout our lives.  No two people experience an event exactly the same way, therefore no two people are likely experience the same emotional impact.  For this reason, I do not believe that there is a single, one stop cure for M.E, Fibromyalgia or CFS.

I do however believe that we can follow a process to enable recovery.  There is a proven process – The Chrysalis Effect Online Recovery Programme – that has been developed over the past 10 years by people who HAVE recovered from M.E, Fibromyalgia and from CFS.  The approach is tailored to meet each client’s specific requirements, to peel back the layers in the right order for them.

How the process works

The process starts with assessing the 8 key areas to review what’s going on currently in each of those areas.  From this analysis, we work back to understand the values, beliefs and emotions that are underpinning what’s going on in the present. We combine this with looking forward to what my clients want to achieve in the future. This combination of understanding the past and gaining clarity over the future has a phenomenal impact on emotional health and physical wellbeing.

This is not as simple as “thinking yourself better”.  It’s much deeper and much harder work than that. It’s why individuals that complete the recovery process come out of it with so much self-confidence and self-belief.

If you are prepared to accept that emotions impact your physical health, you are not reliant on a (as yet undiscovered) physical cure.

Your emotions and experiences are not set in stone.  How you choose to interpret them, how you choose to let them shape you can be altered.  You have the power to change them.  This in turn means you have the power to change your chronic fatigue condition.

How amazing would that be?

I find it mind-blowingly positive and hopeful.  It means that you can chose not to be the victim of your circumstances but can instead be the boss.

Instead of feeling hopeless about a diagnosis that is “long term” and “incurable”, there is a route to recovery that puts you in charge.  Better yet, it’s a route that other people have taken and have got their lives back as a result of following the process.

If you or someone you know has a chronic fatigue condition and has an inkling that there is emotional ‘stuff’ sitting in the background that could be contributing towards ill health, then please get in touch with me – link to Contact page.  I offer a free 30 minute health profile review which allows you the chance to find out more about what I do so you can decide whether or not it’s of interest to you.

Making Change Happen: from knowing to believing

Making change happen is hard…not going to lie to you!  I have spent the last 20 (ish) years losing weight.  I have, on occasion, actually lost some of that weight, only to have it pile back on again when I wasn’t looking!

When you know, you KNOW

I know it’s perfectly possible to lose weight.  Over the years I have watched friends, and read about celebrities, who have successfully done this.  It’s one thing knowing that losing weight is a theoretical possibility. It’s another thing entirely to KNOW, with absolute certainty, that I can lose weight.

I couldn’t quite translate other people’s success in losing weight into something that I could achieve.  My past history had shown that I was basically rubbish at it.   Weight loss was what other people achieved, not something I could actually do.

30 day healthy eating challenge

In September I completed a 30 day healthy eating challenge working with my friend Joanne Bibby of Joanne Bibby, Live Life Well.  I had met Joanne earlier in the year and had been following her Live Life Well page on Facebook.  Joanne posts a lot of photos of her meals – they look so scrummy!  We got talking about recipes and food generally and I was really interested in trying out some of these healthy meals.

30 Day Chellenge
Joanne Bibby Live Life Well

Over the past couple of years my diet has been changing.  I have reduced down my dairy and gluten consumption and felt better for it.  Joanne asked if I would like to work with her to help me make more changes to my eating habits.  The 30 day healthy eating plan was only a part of the work we did with regular calls, information sharing and check-in points.  I kept a record of my weight and measurements as well as writing down what I had eaten each day.

Ta-dah!!

By the end of the 30 days, I had lost 8lbs. This isn’t an earth-shatteringly huge amount, but it has been a life changing amount.  I haven’t been this weight for 8 years.  I was thrilled, but also a little sceptical – been there, done that, got all of the weight back!!

October came  and went.  We had a week off work, a couple of weekends away plus 3 really hectic weeks.  Joanne and I stayed in touch, just checking in once a week.  I think I was testing out whether or not the weight would stay lost!  My weight did move up, but only by 2lbs. I ended the month back down to the 8lbs off.

This thing that other people had succeeded at was now mine too! Something clicked inside my head.  Instead of knowing on an intellectual level that it was possible for me to lose weight and keep it off, I now knew at an internal level that it was something I could do. I had made change happen.

It felt very, very different.

My experience had shifted something within me.  I don’t think it would have shifted if I hadn’t made a decision to work with Joanne on the 30 day healthy eating plan. By deciding to tackle the weight problem differently I have achieved something I really did not believe I could do.  I focused on eating really tasty food that met my low carb, low sugar, low gluten requirements.  As a result, I have eaten some fabulous meals, found a new bunch of recipes and had the knock-on bonus of losing weight.

I have restarted the 30 day healthy eating plan to keep me focused and consolidate the good habits learnt in September.  I hope that I will also lose more weight.  That hope now comes with a belief that I can make further change happen.  And it feels gooood!

Making change happen

So what made the difference?

  • Working with Joanne helped to keep me focused. Her encouragement and unquestioning faith in her process helped me to succeed.
  • Information and a plan meant I wasn’t doing this blind. There was a plan to work to, something that others had used to achieve their goals with

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because I want you to know that it’s possible to make change happen when you put all of the right ingredients together (pun intended!)  For me, those ingredients were when I

  • Had a desire for something in my life to be different. I wanted to learn how to cook the food that Joanne was eating!
  • Was prepared to do something to change an element of my life. I wanted to eat more healthily.
  • Had support from someone who knew about the things I wanted to change. Joanne lives this day in and day out, so who better to work with?
  • Was willing to stick with it and take a long-term view. I have carried this extra weight for 20 years so knew it was going to take some time to change that.
  • Want to take the first step. I had to start somewhere and chatting with Joanne helped me to take the first step.

Unfinished masterpiece

Work in Progress
I am still a work in progress

I am still a “work in progress”. I have no idea exactly how this is going to turn out but what I absolutely, totally, positively and most definitely do know now is that I CAN do it.

My experiences over the past couple of months have made me appreciate how tricky it may be for anyone with a chronic fatigue illness to believe that it would be possible for them to get their life back.

For most people, the prognosis given for M.E, Fibromyalgia and CFS will probably have included he words “long term”, “chronic” and “incurable”.  They may have heard about others who have regained their health and are living a full and active life.  But perhaps, like me, they do not believe it is something that they can actually achieve.

Recipe for success

If we mix all of the right ingredients together, just like I did to lose weight, it is possible to make change happen. You need to:

  • Have a desire to lead a different life
  • Be prepared to do something to change elements of your life
  • Have support from someone who knows about the things you want to change
  • Be willing to stick with it and take a long-term view
  • Want to take the first step.

Taking the first step is always the hardest part of the journey.  For someone with M.E, Fibromyalgia or CFS, the first step is to complete an Online Health Profile.  It’s a quick and easy way of gathering the details of your symptoms and health history ready for your complimentary 30 minute Health Profile Review.

Online Health Profile

So, what will make a difference for you?

  • Working with me. I am an Accredited Chrysalis Effect Practitioner who has chosen to specialise in chronic fatigue.  I will help you with support, encouragement and unquestioning faith in our processed to support you in making change happen.
  • Information and a plan – There is a plan that has been tried and tested by many over the past 10 years. It works. There is also plenty of information and a fabulous support network in our online Facebook forum.
RY Logo
Green Reconnecting You logo

Are you ready to make change happen?   Take that first step and get in touch with me by email, by Facebook or LinkedIn.

To connect with Joanne to find out how she can help you develop healthy eating habits and lose weight, get in touch via Facebook or LinkedIn.