Posts Tagged ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’

Are You Bitter Because of How Your Chronic Illness has Affected Your Life?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

I recently received an unsettling email from a woman who has lived with Myalgic Encephalopathy / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 25 years. Kathleen, as I’ll call her, wanted to know if I could help her.

The reason Kathleen’s email was unsettling was because she referred to a blog post I wrote last summer in which I basically asked my readers to imagine watching a movie where the protagonist had the same illness and was dealing with the same challenges that they were (here’s the link to that post). But instead of writing, as others who have contacted me about that post have written, that it was helpful, she said that if the protagonist has been wrongly accused or imprisoned, she identifies with them, but if not, not only does she not have any compassion for them, but she is happy when they fail.

She went on to say that that is how bitter not being able to be a mother or to have a successful career has made her, and added that while she would never do it, she sometimes has fantasies of killing people who are leading normal lives.

While what Kathleen wrote was unsettling, my heart goes out to her. When she became sick,she was working on a Ph.D. in psychology and felt very optimistic about her future. And then after almost 3 years of doing everything she could to regain her health, and getting some of it back, an accidental exposure to pesticides caused a relapse and even more symptoms, from which she has never recovered.

From what she wrote, I think Kathleen was talking about her reaction to watching real movies. But in my previous blog post, I was asking my readers to IMAGINE watching a movie in which the protagonist had the same illness and challenges they did. And if I have a chance to talk to Kathleen, I will suggest that she do that.

But while I didn’t say so in the previous post, I will be very clear with her that while imagining watching a movie like that is almost always very helpful and healing, it is not easy to do. To the contrary, it be very difficult and emotionally painful.

That’s why when I work with people, I give them several tools, strategies, and suggestions, and not just that one. If you’re interested, you can learn about several of those other strategies in my free E-Course: Learn How to Raise Your Energy – and Your Spirit – in Just 21 Days.

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Tom Robinson, who has a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) himself, helps people with chronic illnesses meet their many challenges and then find and follow a path to happiness and fulfillment.

Doing Different Things to Try to Get Well

Monday, April 30th, 2012

When we have a chronic illness, we often try every thing we can think of to get better. Unfortunately, some of the things we try provide little or no improvement. For example, I went on a very strict and difficult to follow diet for almost a year. Some of my Crohn’s disease symptoms quickly and miraculously went away, only to come back a few weeks later even though I continued to adhere to the diet.

Other things we try can and sometimes do provide really good results. A client with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) whom I’ll call Dave went on a special diet for two years. On top of that, he did yoga for one and a half to two hours a day.

His efforts paid off: on a scale of 1 to 10, his health went from a 5 to an 8 and his energy went from a 5 to a 9! He felt great about what he had accomplished, and justifiably so.

However, doing yoga every day took up an awful lot of his free time. And preparing the food for his diet also took a lot of time and took a lot of work as well. So much that he became resentful and angry because of all the time he needed to spend to stay healthy and stopped doing yoga and following the special diet. Predictably, his health and energy levels went back to 5’s.

It’s easy to see why Dave would feel resentful about his situation. But at the same time, he actually had a choice about whether or not to do those things and how much time to spend doing them. To help him see that choice, I asked if it would make sense for him to establish a three weeks on, one week off schedule. We both knew that his symptoms would probably get worse during his week off, but then they would get better again when he resumed his yoga and diet regimen.

From my question, Dave realized that his regimen didn’t need to be all or nothing, and that it was completely up to him to decide how much time and effort to devote to it. That realization dramatically reduced the stress he was experiencing and the resentment and anger he was feeling.

As I write this, he is still deciding what to do. When he makes his decision, I know it will be the right one for him.

One final comment: Dave is taking responsibility for his health, which is what I strongly encourage everyone to do. But I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting or recommending that change the amount of medications you’re taking or do anything that is against your doctor’s orders. You should discuss all changes like that with your doctor first.