Have you been given a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), otherwise known as M.E.? Do you know someone who has the condition? Are you keen to learn about a form of therapy that may help to alleviate the symptoms of the condition? If so, please read on to discover my personal CFS journey and my discovery of some light at the end of the tunnel.
The journey begins
A little over two years ago I was diagnosed with post-viral chronic fatigue. I was recovering from a serious bout of flu that had struck on Christmas Day, resulting in a nasty chest infection that was hard to shift. I had no idea what it meant for me at the time and yet I almost certainly thought it would be short-lived and, while pretty inconvenient, just part of the process of recovering from what had been a rather unpleasant illness.
For anyone who doesn’t know very much about chronic fatigue syndrome, also commonly known as M.E., it’s ‘a long-term (chronic) fluctuating illness that causes symptoms affecting many body systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems.’ (Source: Action for M.E.) I experienced symptoms such as debilitating exhaustion, a sore throat and glands, brain-fog, low mood, poor sleep and sore, bleeding gums, to name but a few.
Find out more about M.E. here: What is M.E.?
So, what happened next? Well, I did what most people would do. I went home and read up on the condition; I sought out alternative therapists and therapies, I altered my diet and I rested, waiting for it to pass. And so I waited…and waited…and waited… Yes, there was an improvement and, yes, I was able to slowly go back to a vague sense of ‘normality’, but fatigue was never very far away and my days and, sometimes, hours, had to be planned carefully so that I could avoid the debilitating ‘crashes’ that I experienced when I overdid it.
As the weeks and months went by, it became clearer and clearer to me that the initial onset of fatigue was not quite as clear cut as I first thought. There is no doubt in my mind that the flu virus I caught at Christmas was the trigger point, but the reality was that, prior to that time, I had been under immense, chronic stress for a sustained period of time in both my personal and professional life and I had literally ‘burned out’*. Sound familiar? Leading up to the trigger point, I had been experiencing low mood, extreme exhaustion, night sweats, night-waking and other symptoms that can easily be mistaken for the early menopause when you are a female in your 40s. However, symptoms associated with the menopause are very much like those related to chronic stress and it was this critical factor that had been missed.
The stress in my life remained high and I knew that I needed to find a way to address that in order to embark on a journey towards recovery. I started to realise that the way I was thinking was really unhelpful and that it was a way of thinking that I had adopted since childhood. I classified myself, amongst other things, as a worrier, a perfectionist, sensitive and a people pleaser. As a result, I would over analyse every word I said or every word spoken to me. I would do things because I thought it might please others or, at least, avoid criticism from others. If I wanted to do something that might be disapproved of, I hid it or didn’t speak about it.
So, what did I do to change my patterns of thinking that had been engrained in my brain for over 40 years? I embarked on a series of sessions of solution focused hypnotherapy. I had no idea at the time that it would be so ground-breakingly life-changing for me. So, what happened?
Well, first of all, I learned the basics of how the brain works and how conditions like anxiety and depression can be created. I also discovered the critical function of sleep and could see not only some of the reasons my sleep was so disturbed, but also some of the mental and physical impact of my disturbed sleep patterns. In terms of the way I was thinking, I learned how to break the negative thinking tendency and how to focus on the positives in life. I started to view even seemingly challenging situations in a positive light! My relationships with others improved as a result of understanding that they had a brain similar to mine and they would potentially react to stress in a similar way to myself. As a result, my parenting style has changed and the knock on effect is that my children are happier.
Astonishingly, just six months after I started my treatment, I started training as a hypnotherapist myself, which has led me to pursue a career that I love. I am now a qualified solution focused clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist: a title I am proud of.
I will be honest, I recognise that CFS is a complex illness and the fatigue hasn’t completely gone, but I now have control over it rather than it controlling me. I lead a relatively full and varied life, loving each day and appreciating all that I am and all that I have (not in a materialistic way I might add). I am not my ‘illness’ and refuse to be defined by it. In fact, I am grateful for having experienced something so intense that made me re-evaluate what life is really all about and helped me to improve the way I live every day.
How might solution focused hypnotherapy help you or a loved one?
In summary, some of the key ways solution focused hypnotherapy helped me to reduce some of the symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome are as follows:
- Helped me to focus on the positives in life, thereby reducing stress and anxiety
- Improved my immune system function by reducing cortisol levels
- Aided better sleep by reducing my ‘stress bucket’ (where we store negative thoughts)
- Relaxed tense, tired muscles through use of a relaxation CD and the positive impact on the nervous system
- Helped me to focus on what I was able to do rather than what I was not able to do though positive thinking
- Promoted an ability to live in the moment rather than constantly looking back or trying to predict the future.
What can you do next?
If you have chronic fatigue syndrome, I would strongly recommend that you embark on a course of solution focused hypnotherapy. The advantage of coming to me as a practitioner is the fact that I have direct experience of the condition and can empathise with the situation you are in. Details of how to contact me are further down the page or visit my website at https://www.hypnotherapywiltshire.co.uk
I know all too well the dramatic impact CFS can have on your life and those of your loved ones, and will be able to help you to relax and to take back control of your thinking and your life. I am not promising a cure for CFS; it is a complex illness that baffles even some of the most eminent doctors medical scientists. However, I will work with you to help alleviate some of your symptoms so that you can lead a more fulfilling life.
You can contact me via my mobile: 07900 685337 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow/engage with me on Facebook: https://facebook.com/hypnotherapywiltshire and Twitter: https://twitter.com/SoniaDiIorio
I look forward to hearing from you.
Please note: I know that when your are experiencing an exacerbation of symptoms, travel can be extremely challenging so please find a solution focused hypnotherapist near you via the website for the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapists: https://afsfh.com/register/
* There are numerous ways that the onset of CFS can come about and this blog purely cites my own personal experience.