ME and FM
Chronic Fatigue & Pain Related Illnesses
(Updated 25/6/2013 please ensure you see the pain video below)
(Updated 15/9/2013 National Fibromyalgia Association point to same cause)
People who have CFS, M.E. or Fibromyalgia all share the same attributes that they are the opposite of lazy! In fact their “driven” personal quality, in my opinion is at the root of all their conditions.
If you have a chronic fatigue or pain related illness these are my personal thoughts on how you understanding it might help you on the journey to rid yourself of it. It relates to two years of dedicated study and working with clients with ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia.
So here is my theory and to remove all doubt I will state straight away that people with chronic fatigue and pain are neither lazy nor is it “all in their heads”. In fact despite all sufferers having different symptoms and levels of incapacity you are united in one thing – your story of how it started and progressed. Every single one of you regularly pushed yourself to your physical and mental capacity. You are the exact opposite of lazy, hence your understandable frustration and sensitivity to people thinking you are or that you bring it on yourself. It was these matching stories and my experience of dealing with various physical illnesses through talking therapies that led me to discover the way I think the illness started and therefore my interest as to how someone could be helped to recover. I have now been in touch with many people studying these illnesses who all have very similar theories and now the National Fibromyalgia Association seems to be on the same lines (further details below).
See if this is your story!
You are likely to be a highly driven person and have always pushed yourself to the limit, often more than your body can cope with, often with a greater concern for looking after others than yourself. It all starts with one or more of the following; a viral infection, vaccination, severe stress or a traumatic accident/incident (the trigger). Several weeks later when you anticipate you should be feeling better, you now have the illness that gives you the chronic fatigue and pain symptoms. This continues for many years, if not for life, whilst you become more and more frustrated by lack of diagnosis, answers or remedies. You may even accumulate more illnesses as your immune system overloads. At some point you will feel so low for so long that your internal voice will keep repeating a phrase that reflects the terrible thought that you are never going to recover. As you rarely look poorly you also have the issue of not only feeling very ill but having to convince others that you are. Their comments are far from helpful and are in total opposition to the driven person you know you are. This adds to the pressure and continues the downward spiral. At times you may be lucky enough to feel a bit better but whilst playing catch up with life you find it is the fatigue and pain that catches up!
I have checked this story out on many ME and Fibromyalgia forums and have yet to find anyone this story does not fit. The fact that no two people have the same set of symptoms or degree of debility is why no cure has been found so far and is why pharmaceutical companies will not invest in research. However it is the lack of the same symptoms and the fact that only the stories match that led me to my conclusion.
My train of thought!
We all have an excellent survival mechanism that is run by the same processing system that controls all your bodily parts and functions. I believe that in order to protect you in a situation of severe overload it shuts you down. Not just a trip switch it actually carefully shuts you down in the best way for YOU to ensure your immobility and even dampens your mental capacity. This is to conserve energy to recover from whatever initial trigger occurred and to stop you from doing further damage (in the same way doctors put people in a coma to recover from head injuries). It stays like that until it is convinced you won’t carry on in the same “driven” way. Unfortunately “driven” is your nature and the more you fight the illness the more it thinks you need to be immobilised, hence why this goes on for years or you never recover!
Pain and Fatigue are natures way to stop you, as is brain fog and blurred vision (so you can’t even watch TV). Your survival mechanism actually could not have done better for you, thanks to its totally unique blend of symptoms designed especially for stopping you! Whilst that was a great defence at the time, stopping you from possibly fatal consequences, it is now the protective shield you are pinned under!
It is no coincidence that many of your symptoms will be similar to stress related illnesses such as: bowel problems, fatigue, brain fog, changing vision, autoimmune problems and unwarranted pain. This is because you are now constantly in a stressed state, being in a situation you have no control over.
Pain is a message to us to stop what we are doing and concentrate on getting “fixed”. The greater the perceived damage the greater the pain level to ensure you do all that is necessary. It is my conclusion that your pain will continue whilst it is thought necessary by your instinctual processes. The pain will only go when it feels safe that you will NOT keep pushing yourself to the limit. You cannot fight this illness. it will make it worse!
Update 15/9/2013 – click here for the original full article
“According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, within the last decade perspective has shifted from thinking about it as a rheumatologic or autoimmune disorder to now primarily involving the central nervous system. Essentially, the brain, based on what it knows about a person’s life, makes a conscious decision to defend the person, and to defend them, it calls upon several body systems, especially nerves, to protect. ”It’s more of a nervous system sensitivity issue, a hypersensitivity. It can affect multiple systems.”". This appears to agree with my findings.
The video below describes pain in both technical and simplistic terms and far more eloquently than I can, please watch before reading on.
The video backs up my theory that pain is there for a protective reason and he also states that the level of pain is deliberately made so intense that “you cannot do anything else”. He goes on to state that long term pain spreads, becomes more intense and you become more sensitive to it. Even if you don’t agree with his concepts I think you should recognise that in your condition, particularly those of you with Fibromyalgia.
If you recognise yourself in the story and in the above description of pain intensifying and spreading then I have good news for you. If not then you are not ready for what I am about to suggest.
The good news
The “Protective State” you are in can only continue whilst it thinks it is doing the right thing for you. You can get in touch with that part of the brain and reason with it. You cannot however lie to it (it knows your deepest thoughts)! You will only recover when you accept a new way of being and doing. You will have to learn to let go, realise there are many things you cannot control, that others can do things, that you can’t run everything, that saying NO is a good thing, that your life has to come first. You cannot try to fool it that you are a changed person if you are not.
To “turn off” the hold of the illness, is quite a simple process. However it will not “turn off” if it still thinks it is necessary for your survival. You have to convince it you have changed and if you get excited and overdo things as you start to recover it will quickly come back on and debilitate you again! In short, no change = no change!
These are my own personal views and you can provide your own. I appreciate your positive and helpful feedback towards a better understanding of these debilitating illnesses. Disclaimer
If you wish to share this information please feel free to use the buttons at the bottom of the page. Please do not extract text as I want to avoid misunderstanding and protect those with these illnesses from insensitive material that may appear out of context.
“Whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you will always be proved right”. – Henry Ford
Thanks for taking the time to read this, Steven
Should you wish to discuss how I might be able to help please feel free to contact me.
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