Please welcome guest blogger, Karen, from Sofa & the City. You can read her full bio below the post!
I have always believed that it is naive to dismiss the role of the mind in M.E., or in any other illness for that matter. There is a lot of stigma around how M.E. is classified and I don’t doubt that it is a physical illness but does that really mean there isn’t a psychological component? The majority of people I know with M.E. are incredibly driven and determined to get well, spending a huge amount of their limited energy exploring ways of recovering. But we are all human with thoughts and fears around our illness/recovery, some of which become so deeply entrenched when we have been ill for such a long period of time.
I have tried a variety of treatments along the way, physical and psychological: diet, supplements, yoga, meditation, EFT, Lightning Process, The Gupta Amygdala Retraining Programme, The Optimum Health Clinic, relaxation, osteopathy etc etc!! My standard story to others and myself was that I was desperate to get better and couldn’t wait to get back to my career and essentially this was true. However, deep inside I knew that after 6 years of being really unwell and out of the ‘rat race’ the fear of how I would cope when I returned to work was getting bigger and bigger.
I had a long list of treatments I still wanted to try and hypnotherapy was on the list. And I am so glad it eventually made it to the top! As I approached my first session, I tried as hard as I could to be open minded and to be prepared to look deep inside myself for how I could be contributing to the cycle of M.E. This does not mean that M.E. is not a physical illness but it does mean that my thoughts and fears could be playing a part in keeping me ill. I wonder, for example, if after 6 years of being unwell how much the conscious desire and drive to recover has been dented by the self doubt that inevitably creeps in over time, ‘what if I never get better?’.
I’d never really thought about how powerful the subconscious is before I tried hypnotherapy. I am drawn to positive thinking approaches. I believe that the mind is powerful and that with drive and determination we are all able to achieve amazing things. However, your subconscious mind is 30,000 times more powerful than your conscious mind, so for any real personal change to take place, it must take place at the subconscious level. Or as someone said to me a few months ago, you need to speak to ‘The Boss’. (I like the idea that I have a boss, someone who knows better than me, can take control and get things sorted!)
Hypnotherapy has helped me to explore what is holding me back and to reinforce my belief in recovery. It has been really hard. Who wants to own up to their part in their own illness? Not me, that’s for sure! But I have and it has made such a huge difference to my energy that I can’t feel anything but positive about facing my fears. We are such complicated beings I can’t believe the layers of things that have come out of these sessions that have in some way contributed to my continued cycle of M.E.. Hypnotherapy hasn’t been a quick fix (shame…) but it has had a significant impact. Some of the changes are subtle. For example, I am more relaxed, kinder to myself and worry less. With M.E. it can often feel like the body is not working properly, physically, mentally and emotionally. Things that I used to take in my stride now knock me. And as with all illness, stress can really exacerbate the M.E. symptoms. So maybe, it is really not all that surprising that hypnotherapy has had such a powerful effect.
I have also been doing some self hypnosis Cds at home. They are so relaxing and uplifting. After hypnotherapy I feel like I can take on the world and I love that feeling. (I’m not sure how you take on the world from the sofa…but hey.) I also like the idea of having energy building time whilst addressing an ‘issue’. What a productive use of time and as a ‘Type A’ I like that!
Of course, I’m not saying that all physical symptoms can be relieved by hypnotherapy. I am just saying that when you are so unwell it is really hard to not have self limiting thoughts. The seed of self doubt can be very powerful. So, I intend to carry on speaking to the ‘Boss’ and keep reigniting my faith in recovery (and if I can sort a few other things along the way, even better!)
I have been living with M.E./CFS for the last 6 years. I have always wanted to write a blog but it has just been another ‘thing’ on a long list of ‘things’ that I wasn’t well enough to do! I have been feeling better recently. I am a long way from 100% but I am feeling well enough to write a blog….woohoo!! Writing is my therapy, it is my way of making sense of the last 6 years, it is my way of celebrating that I am moving forward. I was going to have a party but I think a blog will be better. I can’t drink much anyway, I’m not good at staying up late and I can do my blog from the sofa. See a blog is a better fit! ‘Sofa and the City…’: Living with M.E. but still totally fabulous!!
I am 39 (God, how did that happen??) and live in a city centre apartment in Nottingham with my wonderful husband. For more thoughts from the sofa visit me at: ‘Sofa and the City…’
More information on hypnotherapy
My hypnotherapy sessions are with a lovely lady called Julie Saunders. Her approach is very empathetic, tailored specifically to my needs, well thought through and effective. Her website is: surfingthesubconscious.com or for more general information on hypnotherapy see: National Council for Hypnotherapy.