Time to Rest

This year I’m taking my cue from nature and taking time to really rest. Of course, I rest all the time, interspersing activities with rest, and taking time each weekend to rest for longer, but it’s rare I take an extended rest until I’m forced to.

In some respects this rest isn’t entirely voluntary either: I caught a cold a few weeks ago and, as always, it has knocked me out. So I’ve already had to cut back considerably. But, instead of resenting, that I’m trying to embrace it. Winter is the season for burrowing down, turning inward, rest and renewal. So as from today, the Winter Solstice, I’m embracing rest for two weeks.

We always have a quiet Christmas – there are no people within a 2k radius and we have only loose plans, so there won’t be any external demands. Instead there will be resting and reading, a little knitting and no blogging – in fact part of my rest is cutting back hugely on internet time – so this is my last post until 2018.

Whatever you celebrate – if you celebrate- at this time of year, I hope it is all you wish for!

Love

Sarah

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Ever Wanted To Run Away to The Woods?

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Dan Neuffer, author of CFS Unravelled says it’s actually common for sufferers of ME/CFS to want to go and live like a hermit in the woods. I don’t know how true this is generally but it’s certainly true for me. I’m never happier than on my own amongst the trees – especially on a frosty bright autumn day. I would love to live amongst trees, but I haven’t found a way yet.

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So I indulge this love as often as I have the energy by visiting local woodlands. Even without knowledge of the Japanese research which shows ‘Forest Bathing’ is highly beneficial to the human immune system, I know that being amongst the trees is good for my health.

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It turns out that access to a forest is directly beneficial to the part of the brain called the  amygdala as well. That means it’s also extremely good for stress, and for normalising the stress response – something people with ME/CFS definitely need. According to a new study from the  Max Planck Institute, people who live near forests have physiologically healthier amygdala structures than those who don’t.

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As my husband would tell you, I have been saying for years that we have created human environments which are as detrimental to us as they are to the natural environment and the other creatures which live in it.

Seems I’m right.

It also seems that people with ME/CFS may also have very good instincts about what we need for our own healing too. The environment we live in can shape our brain structure and function so if you, like me, believe this is a Neurological disease, then ensuring we are in an environment that supports our health is a fundamental step toward better health. We may not be able to actually live in the woods, but spending as much time as we can amongst the trees, walking and sitting and simply being, is definitely worth our consideration.

love

Sarah

You Can’t Beat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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An extremely old illustration – around 2007 I think!

The medical model sees illness as an aberrance of nature which must be conquered. We don’t heal, we beat; we don’t cure, we destroy. No matter the disease, from cancer to the common cold, the rhetoric we encounter is that of war. Illness or injury is seen as an enemy, and over and over it is drilled into us that we must not let the enemy win!

This approach simply doesn’t work with ME/CFS – or Fibromyalgia for that matter – as I know only too well. And as far as I’m concerned it’s not a useful approach for healing any illness, but that’s too big a topic for me to get into, here. If you have CFS or one of the several similar illnesses you no doubt already know, or are in the process of learning, that approaching your illness as if it were an enemy only makes you sicker.

You cannot beat CFS.

I still believe it can be healed, or if not improved. Mine has certainly improved, though my journey is an up and down one, but it gets best when I treat it as a teacher, not an enemy. If I listen to my body, my health gets better. I need to pay attention to what I do, what I eat, where I go and how often and then I need to listen to what my body tells me – and act on it.

If I am out, and I start to feel fatigued, or I get a faint hint of a sore throat (my usual warning sign) I need to go home immediately.

If my stomach is giving me trouble, or my skin breaks out I need to check my diet.

If I feel tense or overwhelmed I need to rest and be honest with myself about how often I’m meditating.

I can do many things, I just need to ensure I let other things go when there’s an outing ahead, or a holiday.

Above all I need to protect myself, to care for myself and my now highly sensitised body: I carry earplugs wherever I go – if the noise gets too much I put them in. Ditto sunglasses and a face mask. I don’t always like to wear these things, and frankly it takes courage to wear the mask, but this  layer of protection is my armour, to borrow from the rhetoric of war, but it isn’t battle armour, it is protection. I don’t need to fight – and anyway, I simply don’t have the energy to spare.

love

Sarah

Let’s Talk Supplements

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I keep my nuts in an airtight container in the fridge – The Omega 3 also lives in there, too.

To be perfectly honest I’m not really a fan of supplements – there’s the fact that people are starving elsewhere in the word, or surviving on an inadequate diet whilst we in the West worry that our plentifully available and enormous variety of foods somehow aren’t quite ‘up there’ nutritionally.  And really, given what’s available to us in the developed world, if we aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals our bodies need, then supplements are simply not the solution.

Given the above for a long time I rejected supplements even though I have CFS, but as I learned more about this disease, what it does to the gut and how that affects what we absorb nutritionally, I came to see that they are useful and I now take several. And I do feel a benefit, so I thought I’d share them here – and why I take them of course.

Just as an aside – I have shared many times my belief that CFS is a disease caused by trauma and/or stress and I continue to believe that, but that stress and trauma cause a lot of changes in the body and brain which affect how we absorb nutrients, so I’ve come to the conclusion that for me at least, I need to tackle healing from both an amotional and a physical level at the same time.

Vitamin D3 1000IU daily. This is an ‘optimal’ dose – some prefer to take much higher doses and I have tried that, but it made no more difference than taking the 1000IU. And when you take a very high dose of one vitamin or mineral you run the risk of upsetting the levels of others in your system. Vitamin D is of course the ‘sunshine’ vitamin and most of us in the Northern Hemisphere don’t get enough – unless we  eat a lot of fish and eggs! Taking it really impacts my overall energy.

I really notice the difference when I don’t take D3, and if you were to take only one supplement I think D3 is a strong contender. It’s a fat soluble vitamin so I always take it when I’m eating something fatty. You can buy it in a carrier of sunflower oil now but I do not recommend this as the sunflower oil has been heat extracted and this causes the formation of toxic compounds.

Magnesium Citrate 200mg Magnesium is involved in something like 800 different processes in the body, not least is muscle relaxation and as an adjunct to that, bowel movements! In the UK the DRA is 400mg and I used to take that, but now I find I only need 200mg a day. How do I know? Well if you take too much it has a laxative effect!

People with CFS have been found to be consistently low in Magnesium so I highly recommend it. You can also take Epsom salt baths to both relax your muscles and of course increase your magnesium levels at the same time.

Vitamin C 1000mcg with Bioflavonoids again this is an ‘optimal dose’ – too much is counter productive and can cause indigestion and iron overload. Vitamin C is also involved in many processes, but I take it to support my immune system and I hope, reduce the inflammation levels in my body.

Vitamin B Complex CFS is a neurological disease so I need all the brain vitamins I can get. I really do feel this helps me a lot actually and lately I’ve felt like my memory is improving again. Highly recommended – I take a complex because I wanted to reduce the number of tablets I take.

Omega 3 Fish Oil 1,000mg  I take two capsules a day. Another I highly recommend, especially if you are vegetarian (you can get Algae based Omega 3) or have spent much of your life swilling down vegetable and seed based oils. Most of us in the West consume far too much Omega 6 and nowhere near enough 3. I started taking it because my of stomach issues and now I wouldn’t be without it. Your microbiome will love you if you start this one.

Finally I take two Brazils* a day! Okay, not your traditional supplement, but Brazil nuts are full of Selenium and two a day will keep your levels up nicely. Far more tasty than a supplement too. If you misss a few days just eat a handful to catch up. Selenium is another mineral which tends to be low in people with CFS, and if, like me, you are postmenopausal then it is doubly important to make sure you get this mineral regularly.

The above feels like a lot to me, and I certainly wouldn’t want to take any more. Most I have taken for several years now, and I feel they support me so I continue. The Vitamin C is a more recent additionm and the jury is still out on that one. And to be honest I’m not really sure how I will measure results, especially with everything else I do.

Do you take any supplements? Any recommendations? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Love,

Sarah

*I’m trying to lose weight at the moment so my consumption of nuts is minimal and I therefore don’t soak the brazils. But if nuts are a regular part of your diet I highly recommend soaking them beforehand if you don’t already.

No, I haven’t given up blogging!

Though it’s been a long time. But you can guess why I’ve been absent, I’m sure. Fortunately I am feeling better again and I have a few posts up my sleeve, but I just wanted to pop in and say hello to break the ice, as it were.

I have spent the last few weeks thinking a lot about minimalism, simplification and consumption. Then there’s diet, supplements and health, the flow or otherwise of creativity, more about Dressing Your Truth, Energy Profiling and Living Your Truth and the pros and cons of getting involved in something like that (a clash of values, mostly).

I’m also in and out of reading an excellent but phenomenally dense book called, The Master and His EmissaryUsing my brain again has felt really good, actually, and even made me add going back to Uni and finally doing a Phd to my little book of ideas (I get a lot of ideas and fleeting fancies, as well as temporary obsessions – I find writing them down helps me manage any tendencies to get carried away).

Finally I’ve also been thinking about the future and what I want to do with it. Life ticks away at an alarming pace, I find!

I will see you soon. In the meantime here’s an illustrated outline of the book I mentioned, above.

So Why Do CFS Sufferers Get Cognitive Symptoms?

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Man in an Orange Sweater, Sarah Fincham 2017, mixed media on paper, 8 x 8″

I sincerely doubt I am the first to make the connections which just fired in my brain this morning, but I’m also sure I won’t be the last, so I wanted to share my small but significant aha moment. I’ve also got some ideas for both helping calm the stress response, and reducing cognitive symptoms.

You’ll know if you’ve been here before that I believe that stressors are what cause ME/CFS, and that the illness itself is an out of balance, dysfunctional Autonomic Nervous System. We swing between over arousal (tired but wired, pushing through, keeping going with no rest) and underarousal (total fatigue, brain fog, no energy, flu like symptoms)*

And you probably already have at least some understanding of what happens when the body is stressed and we go into fight, flight, or freeze: blood is diverted from the pre-frontal cortex, the digestive and reproductive systems, we stop thinking and start reacting, our muscles are pumped with blood and our heart rate goes up. Our senses are enhanced, and everything is on full alert.

And this is why we get cognitive symptoms: we actually have less blood flow¹ to the prefrontal cortex overall, and I believe this is a result of our dysfunctional ANS.Because it is dysfunctional, blood flow does not return to the prefrontal cortex as it should, following arousal.

But what to do? Well I found that my cognitive symptoms, which were severe in 2015, improved within two weeks of practising Yoga Nidra – so starting a Nidra practise will likely help! But why? Because it calms us. And that’s what we need, to calm our fraught vulnerable systems which have been chronically overstimulated. To give our ANS a chance to rebalance itself and relearn to direct blood back to our prefrontal cortex: the thinking, conscious part of our brain.

Unfortunately one of the reasons a lot of us struggle with meditation when we have CFS is because our minds race so much and we have high levels of anxiety, due to the illness. I had this, plus intrusive imagery. Well meaning, experienced, meditators say that everyone has monkey mind and I know that’s true, but for us, it is monkey mind x 100, and that can make some meditation styles undoable.

That’s why I tried Yoga Nidra myself – because I could not cope with what happened when I tried meditation styles I’d used prior to my illness. I think Yoga Nidra has another advantage though – it also takes us into a deeply relaxed state very easily and this is exactly what those of us with CFS/ME need.

However we also need short-term strategies for daily stress management: symptom tracking can help with this, as we begin to identify what triggered our symptoms and what we were doing or thinking prior to worsening. But we also need tools to deal with stress in the moment, because in my experience so far people who develop CFS do not know how to self soothe and have few resources for dealing with stress or other less pleasant feelings, coupled with a tendency to push through limitations.

So the first step is to pay attention to limitations and accept them. Right now, right where we are, we need to practise acceptance. The second thing we need is to learn how to soothe ourselves, to find things which comfort and calm us, and then do them. When my Hyperosmia (heightened sense of smell) was at an all time high the nicest thing I did for myself was introduce things into my environment which smelled good to me. I now use calming essential oils regularly, and burn Tibetan Healing Incense. I found some excellent information about which essential oils to use here. Interestingly my Hyperosmia lessened quite quickly once I began to fill my life with positive olfactory associations.

Sesondly we need to try to bring into awareness our early warning systems – this is a journey I still struggle with: I recently attended an event which was held in our village hall. The acoustics were strange, and the noise level of thirty people talking was deafening. Additionally I needed to eat and had thought there would be something suitable there, but only sugary things were available. I knew I was getting stressed but I didn’t remove myself. Consequently, even though I was only there for an hour, I was so wound up afterwards I picked a row with D on the way home. Not constructive for either of us!

But there are things I, and you can do: one is to simply place your hand on your heart and focus on your heart beat – even better, go somewhere quiet and place one hand on your heart, the other on your forehead and again, focus on your heart beat. Placing a hand on our hearts probably doesn’t need explanation, but why on your forehead? Because, energetically, your hand is an electro-magnet and will draw blood back to the pre-frontal cortex, giving you your power of thought back. If you think energy medicine has no validity, that doesn’t matter – remember we often instinctually put our hands to our foreheads when stressed, so it obviously has a calming effect.

We can also just breathe. Long slow breaths: even better go outside, stand barefoot and breath. Use essential oils, take Rescue Remedy, if it works for you, and finally if you have any suggestions which aren’t mentioned here, please share them. Sharing stories and resources is a powerful healing we can all benefit from.

And what to do when your system was triggered, and you found yourself flooded with adrenaline, and nowhere to release it? Move your body! Do what animals do and quite literally shake it out, pace up and down, dance even. Do whatever you can to use the adrenaline constructively and discharge the response. This should bring on a feeling or relaxation, which is normal and healthy. This may sound weird, but try it, because it really does work. And it’s far better than picking an argument.

There is of course one more thing we can all do: let ourselves off the hook when we don’t do the things which help. The worst stressors are not external, they are internal and beginning to recognise them can transform our experience. But that’s a topic for another post.

Much love,

Sarah

*paradoxically, even when we swing into underarousal some of our stress related functions don’t shut down so we can end up with hyperosmia, photosensitivity and hyperacusis,  for example.

¹Biswal B, Kunwar P, Natelson BH. Cerebral blood flow is reduced in chronic fatigue syndrome as assessed by arterial spin labeling. J Neurol Sci. 2011 Feb 15;301(1-2):9-11. PMID: 21167506

Bodies Are Like Books

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The Last Flight, Sarah Fincham SOLD

I often think I should have the words, ‘Don’t Push The River, pinned to the wall in front of me, together with ‘Take The Path of Least Resistance’. Not only because of my personal tendencies to take the opposite approach, but also because society is constantly telling us to do the opposite:

‘You’ll never feel ready, so just do it now’ (in my experience this is so not true!)

‘Go for it’

‘Obstacles are just lessons’

‘You’ve got to put it out there’

‘Show your work’

‘If not now, then when?’

You know the sort of thing. And I expect for some people they are true. But not me. And I have known this for a long time, but until very recently it has been very hard to listen to the tiny voice inside me, to obey the resistance and not judge it negatively. To wait for the moment when the timing feels just right.

Because resistance is just fear right? But what if it isn’t? What if resistance is just another form of intuition? What if, for me (and maybe for one or two of you, as well), resistance is actually wisdom, telling me when something isn’t for me, or when the timing simply isn’t right?

I wrote here about learning how to listen to the small voice, and I do most of the time now, but the physical resistance I often feel is harder to listen to. I feel it in all sorts of circumstances – maybe I want to buy something but I can’t quite seem to make the decision. Or I think about doing something and I feel a weight in my solar plexus. Partly it’s my own naturally skeptical mind saying I shouldn’t listen, but it’s also all of those messages from the internet – those ‘inspiring’ quotes – interfering with my own personal brand of wisdom.

Learning about Energy Profiling has helped somewhat – if my energy is like a river, then the path of least resistance makes complete sense in terms of my inner guidance: what does water do when it meets an obstacle? It flows around it. And if it can’t do that, it builds up until the pressure is such that it’s greater than the obstacle in its way. Either way, the water flows where it wants to, sooner or later, when conditions and timing are just right.

And clearly, it does not need pushing!

It’s obvious though that this method would not suit everyone. Part of the problem with the world of personal development and all it encompasses is the ‘one size fits all’ mentality which really dominates. Perhaps that’s why so many of us end up with piles of books which we once thought contained the answer – and why so many of us feel like failures when the techniques described don’t work for us.

But they don’t work because they were never written with us in mind in the first place. We need to let go of the belief that it is us that are the problem, and begin to absorb the idea that actually we are our own solutions.

And maybe the place to start is not within the pages of a book at all, or within our own minds, but within the pages of our bodies. To learn how to read them like books:  books written in our own language which make sense, perhaps, only to us.

And the one and only resistance we really do need to go through, is our resistance to understanding our own self knowing, our own intuition, our own wisdom.

Love,

Sarah

 

 

Things People With CFS Have in Common

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Blue Pool, Sarah Fincham, mixed media on panel, 12 x 12″

Writing this post makes me feel a little uncomfortable: many people with ME/CFS hate any suggestion that there is a psychological aspect to CFS. They feel they are being blamed for the illness, or it’s the next best thing to saying ‘It’s all in your head.’ But I am doing neither here, I want to be clear about that. Of course I know CFS is a ‘real’ illness, in my opinion it is related to stress, but it is not psychosomatic. That said there is nothing wrong with psychosomatic illness anyway, that just means something has traumatised you, or is distressing you and you have pushed it out of awareness, or blocked it and it is now causing you a great deal of stress which is manifesting in physical symptoms. If that is happening to someone, it is serious and it does need healing. But it is not what’s happening with ME/CFS.

However, like it or not certain psychological traits or issues are almost universally found amongst people with ME/CFS, and for any recovery to be possible we do need to be honest with ourselves about how these issues present in ourselves. Because left unaddressed they all cause a huge amount of internal stress which helps perpetuate the illness and/or makes it worse:

  1. Perfectionism/holding oneself to impossible to reach standards.
  2. Desire for social acceptance
  3. History of pushing past limits
  4. Driven and/or hardworking
  5. Childhood trauma or stressful childhood environments
  6. Tendency to neuroticism (which is not a trait, but more likely to be the result of stress or trauma in childhood)
  7. Poor stress management skills
  8. Highly Sensitive.
  9. Introversion

Whilst the first seven issues have been identified through various research projects, the last two are based on my own experience and conversations with others who have been diagnosed with CFS/ME.

The first seven issues also have something else in common – shame.

Each of them has a relationship to shame: holding oneself to impossible to reach standards is a defence against shame. Desire for social acceptance (which is of course never fulfilled, if it was we wouldn’t have it) is born of not feeling good enough, which is in turn related to shaming childhood messages. The history of pushing past limits is again born of shame: we don’t feel good enough unless we’re achieving or doing, but because shame is about being, no amount of doing ever compensates. Same with being driven, or hard-working – it’s linked to the perfectionism, too. And childhood trauma or stress causes shame. And poor stress management is born of not being able to soothe oneself. This is common amongst those whose feelings were invalidated as children. And yes, invalidation is shaming too.

Introversion and higher than usual sensitivity on the other hand are inherent traits – the sensitivity, according to Elaine Aaron, is linked to biology and Jung believed Introversion and extraversion to be natural tendencies. And I think most parents would agree with that.

This is purely speculation on my part, but high sensitivity means we tend to feel things deeply, which makes even mild shaming a very intense experience. Our sensitivity to others too, combined with shaming may well be the drivers to developing over achieving, driven, perfectionistic and hard-working tendencies.

The good news is because the first seven issues are developed or acquired rather than inherent, they can be changed. We can learn new ways of being and we can heal the shame.

Now I want to say here really clearly that I don’t think any of the above causes the illness. But I do think they are contributing factors: from childhood we have asked too much of ourselves and for those of my generation and younger we have grown up in a world which has changed at a phenomenal rate, and continues to do so. It is also noisy, bright and over stimulating, full of toxins and just generally a stressful environment for people with higher than average sensitivity. Especially when we don’t know how to manage our stress. And when you put these things together, add in a major stressful event, or toxic exposure, or chronic stress plus a virus, then you have a recipe for illness.

Like I said I don’t think the traits themselves are causal, but they certainly perpetuate the illness and I have had to deal with all of them over the last 12 years, in one way of another. And the really big one has of course been the shame and self loathing.

Doing so hasn’t made me miraculously better. I wish! But it has changed me. And I look back now and see that despite that drive and the ridiculous standards I was always clear that I needed plenty of down time. That for me, a weekend of walks and reading and cups of tea was perfection. I like forests and silence, I have never wanted fame, or cared about having a magnificent career – and for a long time I felt ashamed of this  – but now I can own that, and instead of feeling that was a problem in me, I can see that there is no issue at all there. The kind of life I want is exactly suited to the person I am.

Now as I contemplate my future I’m thinking of a four-hour working day, flexibility during the week and no work at all over weekends, not even an email. I’m thinking of taking a month off in the summer and at least a fortnight at Christmas.

I’m thinking about time to garden, to read, to wander through forests. but most of all I’m thinking about meaning: Meaningful work and meaningful play. Things which are impossible when we are driven by shame and low self-esteem. Things I couldn’t contemplate when I was driving myself to do just one more thing, or beating myself up for failing to be perfect.

Love,

Sarah

 

 

From Self Loathing to Self Love

 

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Fox Contemplating the Rising Moon, Mixed Media on Paper, 30 x 45cm, Sarah Fincham 2016

Until very recently – the last couple of months in fact, I have struggle with self hate. Actually hate isn’t a strong enough word: what I felt was a vitriolic self loathing and utter disgust towards myself.

I was perfectly capable of also recognising positive traits in myself and of seeing good things I had done, but this did not change the fact that my feeling towards myself was self loathing. I would wish I were someone else, berate myself for failing to live up to my potential (utterly oblivious to the fact that non-one can realise their potential if their internal monologue is telling themselves how awful they are constantly).

More mornings than I could ever count, the first thought I had on waking was quite literally, ‘I hate myself’. I did not want to be me. Perhaps it’s needless to say that I have suffered from depression for large chunks of my adult life. And my childhood too. I wrote about one such period here. This post is one of the most read posts on this blog, sadly. I’m glad it helps people who also struggle with this issue, but I’m sad it’s so needed.

I can actually remember the day I first felt spontaneous joy as an adult, it was such a novel feeling. I’m sure I had felt it at times as a child, because no child is born hating themselves, but by the time I was in my twenties I had forgotten what joy felt like. Then it happened, I was cycling to work, the sun was shining and suddenly this feeling burst through me. I feel tearful remembering it. I still hated myself too, but this feeling was a glimpse of another possibility, spurring me on to keep going, keep trying to heal.

All of us on healing journeys get these moments, they are necessary and they increase in frequency the further you travel. But despite that increase in moments of joy over time I continued to feel like I was a despicable person deep down. My self hate was so intense, so total, that I was unable to voice it in therapy. The problem with self loathing like that is it has its own logic which goes something like this: No one else hates themselves like this, so that must mean I’m really as bad as I believe I am, because if I weren’t I wouldn’t hate myself. So I can’t tell my therapist I hate myself, because if I do she will see how awful I am at my core.

And so those of us who need more than anything the gentle mirroring of someone who can really see us, are kept trapped in our own isolated circle of hell.

But I have escaped. It seems miraculous now, perhaps it is, but I have moved from self hate, through choosing myself and into self-love. I am finally happy to be myself. How did this happen? Earlier this year I began working through forgiving everyone who ever hurt me (no, this is not a tale of how forgiveness healed me, but it is a part of it). I began this process by doing a daily ‘Cord Cutting‘ practise for a month. This is something I have done before – I like it because you can see it metaphorically or you can interpret it literally depending on your beliefs. Either way it will work.

I also like it because you cannot force it: if you have unresolved issues with the person and are trying to force forgiveness because you think you ‘should’, or others are telling you it’s necessary, it will simply raise those issues so you can deal with them. Forgiveness cannot be forced and can only happen if we want it to, if we are really ready, and feel it is necessary to us.

And as I was working through my month of cord cutting I also discovered a programme using the Emotional Freedom Technique for CFS. To be honest I had not had much success with EFT in the past and had given up on it, but Kelley’s book was only 99p that week so I thought I’d give it another try. When I decided I was going to heal my CFS I knew I had to be willing to try absolutely anything. So I read the book, I really related to Kelly and her story – she believes CFS is linked to being highly sensitive – and I also liked her approach of listening to the symptoms. This has been invaluable for me, and I will write more about it another time, but for now let’s just say I was persuaded and I signed up for her online course.

Though the course I learned how to use EFT effectively on myself and since then I’ve been working through basically every unresolved issue in my life. Because although I went through the cord cutting I still had a lot of hate and resentment towards those who had hurt me, so I worked through that. And I started working on some very deeply held beliefs about myself.

And as I was doing all of this, something interesting started happening during my daily Yoga Nidra  practise: I  started to feel genuine love for myself flood my body. It didn’t, and still doesn’t happen every time, but it does now happen pretty regularly.

This prompted me to try using EFT on the feelings of self loathing I still had, and I cleared them, just like that.

It took minutes and an entire life to move from self hate to self love.

Since then I have also found DYT, learned more about my nature and become so happy with who I am, I really can’t believe it. I feel pinch myself happy, just simply because I am alive and I’m me. I don’t have to do or be anything to feel it. It is, quite honestly, amazing.

And when shame gets triggered, which it does occasionally of course, it is far less severe, much more easily passed through and it is much more easy to stop any negative self talk before it even starts. I have even been able to post photographs of myself online. My official stance has been I don’t do it because of previous experiences with some unpleasant creepy men. This is true, but there was another, more compelling, reason: I could hardly bear to look at photographs of myself.

The healing I have done over the last few years is deep and profound.

Sometimes, in the past, when the self loathing was really bad and I was in despair, I would wonder if I was going to have to cope with this for the rest of my life. The thought was horrifying. I worked so hard to overcome this, for so many years and progress was slow and at times non-existent. To be free of it is nothing short of miraculous, and I wish it for everyone who is suffering in this way, or in any other.

Much love to you,

Sarah

 

Seems Like I’ve Had CFS my Whole Life

 

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Girl with a Plait, Sarah Fincham, mixed media 22x16cm

I am continuing to reflect on the insights I’ve been getting from learning about Energy Profiling, which I first wrote about here.  What an interesting journey this is turning out to be.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, this is what you need to know for the rest of my post to make sense: There are four types of energy, we are all a mix of all four to different degrees but we all, also have a dominant energy which moves through us. This is not personality, which can be learned and shaped through experience, this is something we are born with, and never fundamentally changes. We do not display all of the characteristics of our dominant type, usually around 60-80%.  We also have a strong secondary type, and here’s where it gets very interesting: if for whatever reason we feel it is not safe to be who we are when we are young, we may bring forward our secondary energy and live from that. Doing so puts us out of balance, however, and our secondary energy may be of a significantly  different level of movement to our dominant, which can cause all kinds of problems.

I am a dominant Type 2, and as such I am sensitive, physically and emotionally, and need a slower pace and plenty of downtime and alone-time. My energy flows like a river, steady and peaceful. (There’s far more to it than that, but I want to keep this post manageable! ) My Secondary energy, however, is Type 1: Type 1 energy is animated, upward and outward, social, random and light.

Can you see the potential issue there? Especially when I realised I started living from my Type 1 energy much of the time as a child and that continued until shortly before I developed CFS.Why did I do this? To try and cope with a world which didn’t welcome my sensitivity; to deal with my job as hair stylist which I found hugely draining; because not all of my feelings were welcome at home. I was supposed to be happy, not sad, or crying. My mother couldn’t even hug me if I cried. And my unhappiness was labelled as ‘moodiness’, an invalidating and shaming term if ever there was one. No doubt there were many other reasons as well – all having their roots in a deep need for acceptance and love, which I felt I simply wasn’t getting as my natural Type.

Of course I was not my Type 1 self all the time, that would have been impossible, instead what I began to notice was that I had two speeds: Fast and Stop.

What is the essence of unmanaged CFS? Stop, definitely – and do-as-much-as-you-can-when-you-have-the-energy at other times: Fast and Stop, Boom and Bust.

I have spent the whole of my adult life swinging from periods of high energy living, which lasted until I collapsed. Often literally. I would ‘breakdown’, giving me the opportunity to go inward, retreat from the world, rest, hide, do the things I was denying myself the rest of the time. And I abused alcohol during this period too. Very badly in my teens and twenties, then gradually tapering off into my mid thirties and finally stopping about 9 years ago when my body just said No. Stop Now.

CFS/ME is characterised by periods of Sympathetic Nervous System over-arousal (extended periods of fight or flight, feeling wired but tired, getting so over excited about good things that you can’t sleep for days), followed by a Parasympathetic slump which can last for months. As I look at this now, and back at my whole life I’m seeing the entire thing as an increasingly rapid swing between boom and bust, until finally I tipped over into illness.

Blimey. I was going to get ill no matter what happened. I’m really glad that in the belief it was solely stress and trauma that caused my illness I have spent a lot of time working on all kinds of unresolved issues, because I feel so much lighter as a result. But.

I am completely convinced now, that this illness is equally a result of how I have lived my adult life – yes trauma has certainly been a causal factor, stress even more so as the way I was living was highly stressful to me. But whether you think Energy Profiling has any validity or not, living as I did, swinging from one extreme to another for years, well I think I was setting myself up for illness. I’m just extremely grateful that the illness which has come is not life threatening. The picture could have been a whole lot bleaker.

And this illness, which like any chronic illness feels at times like a curse, has in fact taught me how to live in a way which honours my sensitivities, my need to spend a lot of time ‘doing nothing’, my need for quiet and my need for a radical self-care practise. None of which I was capable of before. I have also developed a robust spiritual life too, something I yearned for, but could never quite allow myself before. And of course, most vitally of all, it has led me back to myself, to my truth.

I’m acutely aware at the moment though, how this swing between Energy Types still plays out, and how for me, there is an  association between happiness and Type 1 behaviours, and sadness and Type 2 behaviours*, and this is reflected in the swinging back and forth pre-illness too. My breakdowns were all of the emotional kind. The problem was, although they were golden opportunities for change, the self loathing I carried prevented any real change from happening. Even though I always turned towards therapy, I could never go deep enough, so I would go just far enough to recover and then slip back into my old ways.

CFS is basically my Rock Bottom.

I’ll be writing more about all of this soon.

Love, Sarah

* the association is purely down to my experience – these Types are not actually associated with these particular emotions.