Category Archives: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

You don’t have to be battle ready: A conversation

LittleGirlSkippingI’m a huge proponent of counseling.  I’ve been in therapy most of my life and wished that my family had been too.  But I was the lone ranger who left the fold, got college educated and beyond and who dove into therapy, resurfacing periodically but always diving back for more.

I’ve had many therapists through the years, as my needs have changed, moving on when the time was right when I had learned as much as I could with a particular practitioner.  I’ve had some rotten ones too. Except now, they only get a session or two before I know its a bad fit. I’m sufficiently couch broken.

Right now, I’m in that sweet spot of a great fit.  A woman who is intuitive, approachable, caring and funny.  I have a great time in our sessions, laughing as much as I cry through my profound revelations.  She understands my extreme sensitivity to the world and has taught me skills to survive and thrive in that world based fully on who I am.  DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, is what I’m learning, with amazing results I might add.  

During this weeks session, we discuss mindfulness and the state of being present to which I tell her I’m doing just okay with the concept.  Not great but OK.  I’m not unique in possessing a brain that goes at warp speed.  My mind is whirring constantly; topics I want to write on, chores that need completion, causes that need my attention, a world that needs me to save it. And worst of all, I’m a ruminator.  I have to chew and chew on something, regurgitate it back up, poke at it and begin chewing on it some more.  And let me tell you, that is exhausting.  The tugging tendencies are so strong and constant even though my therapist has been teaching me to cultivate mindfulness and stillness for over a year now.  Understanding these concepts, I’m slowly gaining some control over my mind which is a really good thing.  I continue to practice it day by day, hour by hour.  

I’m explaining to Cathy that I need to make a plan for the rest of my summer.  I feel better with an agenda having given time and thought to my future needs.  I tell her how much more in control of my life I feel when I’ve explored my options, weighed them out and know what lies ahead.  She listens but quickly replies,  “You don’t have to be battle ready”.  

I pause for a moment, thinking I know what she’s said and go back to my diatribe of explaining my need for a plan.  She repeats herself, “You don’t have to be battle ready”.  Ok, now I need to stop and see what this “battle ready” thing is that she’s repeated to me twice.  I tell her to please explain that to me because I don’t see that an absence of a plan is good for me.  How could I function without it?

I tear up immediately and she gently explains that traumatized children learned survival by knowing their surroundings at all times.  Attempting to detect threats to their safety, they take their cues from the moods of others, the time of day, seasons of the year (fill in the blank here with your own).  These children don’t get to relax and trust how a safe world evolves, they must be hyper vigilant constantly to survive.

We have visited this topic often, its a big one for me.  My tendencies are still so strong to be alert to my surroundings and feel the need to exert that compulsion toward creating a predictably safe future agenda.  I’m a contantly-looking-over-your-shoulder ,waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop kind of person.  

I love that she is helping me deprogram.  She notices my behavior even when I’m arguing that I’m not exhibiting the behavior.  She is helping me notice and understand the neurological wiring that was changed long ago when I experienced long-term trauma.  The survival reflex learned in childhood is still alive and operating.  But as she continues, I don’t need it now.  I don’t have to be battle ready all the time.  I can relax and let my body relax.  

I love these words and this concept.  They feel soft and fuzzy.  It isn’t new to me but bears repeating often.  A new pattern must be developed in my thinking that relieves me of the knee jerk reaction to grab my sword from my sheath and be prepared for battle.  I’m so ready for a reprieve.  I think its why I started crying when she explained it again.  It’s like music to my ears to hear that I actually, finally, once and for all can put down my weapon and still feel safe.  

Suggested Reading: An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread

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would i still be a part of your world…

There is a huge conflict going on inside of me, one that I’ve been denying on many levels for months now.

The anxiety is so huge that there isn’t enough medication, alcohol, or busyness to tame it.  There is a world that beckons me, one that I can’t/won’t/don’t know how to become one with.  Its there in my dreams, its there in my waking thoughts and with me throughout my day, no matter who I’m talking to or what activity I’m attempting  to do.  I smell things when no one else does.  I see shadows out of my periphery constantly.  Any random person’s energy can send me all over the place, reducing me to tears in minutes or set my heart singing with joy.  There are times when I am certain that I am going crazy or are at least partly there already.

Phrases keep cycling through my mind and shadowing my daily activities.  Undoubtedly put there by my higher power, a scrolling ticker-tape message…                           “you are afraid of your spiritual gifts“….“let go and receive”  

Does one really hear sentences from the divine?  Do messages come through like that really?  Complete sentences plopped into your thinking?  Does the divine feel a relentless yet benevolent desire to alert a person to their gifts or journey in a way that they won’t let up for anything?  And more importantly, does a physical body become ill when you don’t live according to your true destiny and path?

The messages coming through the natural world are increasing too.  More hawks swooping over me. Deer peeking out of the bushes when I’m in silent meditation.  Hummingbirds hovering in front of me and looking me in the eye.  Coyotes howling… all grab my attention immediately but what are they saying?  What is with this barrage of information?  I get that its the cosmic “Hey, look at me” but to what?  What am I supposed to get that I’m NOT getting?

I’ve accepted the label of “emotionally sensitive” given to me by therapists, immediate family, friends and those in the healing and mystical arts.  I can live with that.  But even that label is seriously understated.

I now know and acknowledge that I feel things 1000 percent harder than most, maybe more.  It can be a wonderful yet paralyzing gift if there is no one to show or explain to you about the enormity of the feeling you are having.  My world rocks like I’m on a ship being cast about at sea.  I seek answers from those around me and my closest friends get weird questions from me all the time.  Did you feel that person’s sadness/fear/joy?  Do you smell a campfire/skunk/Old Spice/beauty salon smell/cigars, etc?  Or, we need to leave this place, the energy is choking/suffocating/heavy with sadness.  My poor husband and daughter are used to it but frankly, we’ve all thought I’m about to teeter over the edge at times.

But the thought that brings one of my biggest sense of fear and can immediately send me into an anxiety attack of epic proportion is…Will I be totally ostracized when I allow myself to succumb to this beautiful, alternative, spiritual world?

Our media driven-pop culture-capitalist worshipping world we live in is dictated by norms….outward appearance, job, which church one attends(not if), the house one lives in.  I don’t find our world to be a place where our gentleness is admired, where one looks at your heart first, a greeting to inquire of whether you have a spiritual practice or how do you find your peace.

Apparently, I am looking for that place as much as it is looking for me.  But I know I’m still blocking it somehow, wondering and feeling deep anguish over this one central thought.

Would I still be a part of your world if I allowed myself to be fully who I am?   Authentically, beautifully and blissfully weird?

Recommended Links:  Let your freak flag fly….http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ruthless-Compassion-Institute/121541431101


the letters in my life….

Recently my life has been a world salad.

My family and I have recently been throwing around letters of treatment modalities combined with prospective and already assigned diagnosis.  In an effort to be an well informed consumer as well as keeping our minds and hearts open to whatever ensures that our family and I are getting the most help, we’ve tried many therapies.  Some more interesting and helpful than others, we’ve journeyed down the road full of letters and abbreviations designed to add brevity to a complex and confusing situation.

These recent conversations in our home were very timely accented by a thread on Facebook where Terri, owner at Bone Sigh Arts, asked  her audience what therapies helped the women survivors….I feel compelled as always, to help my fellow woman survivor and this is a partial list from that thread with some of my own thrown in…

  • EFT ~ Emotional Freedom Technique ~ Gary Craig
  • NAET ~ Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique ~ created by Dr. Devi Nambudripad
  • DBT ~ Dialectic Behavior Therapy ~ created by Marsha Linehan
  • Energy Medicine ~  created by Donna Eden
  • Herbal remedies for physical and emotional conditions
  • EMDR ~ Eye Movement Desensitivation Response
  • IB ~ Inner Bonding ~ created by Margaret Paul 
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Cranial-Sacral Therapy ~ John Upledger

Homeopathy, acupuncture, massage therapy and the list goes on of top notch healing modalities….

Now here are some of the letters attached to me….SA (sexual abuse) survivor, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), DID (disassociative identity disorder) , CFIDS (chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome), LD (Lyme disease), EBV (Epstein-Barr) and the recently suggested but not confirmed BPD (borderline personality disorder).

I prefer to think that these letters will set me free instead of inducing more confusion although the process of maneuvering through them can be confusing.  I am putting this post mostly for reference, there aren’t any conclusions here.  I have found that the technique is as almost as good as the practitioner.  For example, my NAET practitioner is excellent.  She is kind, intuitive and skilled out the whazoo.   The woman who did EMDR for me was just okay and I didn’t pursue working with her.  One has to follow their instincts strongly here and find a practitioner that you can trust implicitly when doing this type of work.

Next week, I begin working with a woman (who was a fabulous fit by the way) who will be teaching me DBT.  It’s high success rate makes it not only a perfect technique for those with BPD but for many less labeled individuals.  We begin our work even without the controversial label of BPD which actually is one reason I agreed to see her.  She isn’t interested in the diagnosis just the outcome.  That sealed the deal for me.

Just to cover all the bases and to shut some people in my life up, I saw my MD/psychiatrist who yawned and scratched his face when I told him of my plans to start DBT and did he think I had BPD.  He didn’t really answer me but asked me if I had a firm, concrete plan for my suicide to which I replied no.  He handed me some anti-depressant samples and told me to come back in a month.  My answers hadn’t compelled him to jump to any conclusions nor hospitalize me.  I can’t say that I was disappointed by his lack of conclusion because it was pretty much the way I saw it too.  His apathy may have done me a favor.

That doesn’t mean I don’t know that things are amiss with me sometimes.  One can’t go through this type of trauma and not come out with swiss cheese for a brain on occasion. My family and I have been through times of hell that forced growth and compassion on us whether we liked it or not.  DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) has as one of its cornerstones the concept of radical acceptance which I immediately latched on to.  It feels really kind to learn to accept myself for exactly as I am and because of what I have been through.  What a beautiful thought to understand the strengths and limitations brought to me by this situation, accept it and go on to be the best person I can be.  And of course, my hope that my family and friends also learn the concept of radical acceptance but its not required for my success.

And by the way, this work takes time.  One of the mantras that I hear over and over from sensitive practitioners and support people is that it took a lifetime for us to get this way so be patient with the recovery.  Its so true for me that being gentle with myself has been one of the most important approaches to these life changing therapies that I would place very near the top.  That and a good dog.

This post touches on many, many topics.  Digest them slowly, stay informed and be gentle with yourself.  Otherwise you may find yourself drowning in word salad.


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