Behind the Mask

I’ve been really struggling this month, pretending to the outside world that all is well. I am not struggling with chronic pain, but I am struggling with my health. When suffering with Fibromyalgia it can mask other things, so when I feel a bit unwell, I put it down to Fibro and dismiss it. This has resulted in yet another battle I am fighting against ‘holistic versus modern medicine’.

I had another session on the Crystal Healing Bed at Lupton this month, I think they forgot about me so I was on a bit longer than usual and although I did cough a few times, I was left feeling very invigorated with a zest for life. So much so that I even gave a new dance fitness class a go, and discovered the joys of Zumba, I loved it. Knowing I needed to pace myself after completing a vigorous form of exercise, I decided to give my weekly yoga practice a miss. I felt good the following day, apart from an annoying cough that I have had since October.

Towards the end of the week, I was finding myself wheezier and the cough keeping me awake at night. So I made that call to the doctor, I even started apologising for calling them and said I feel a bit of a fraud, as I don’t really feel ill, I just have this annoying cough and its causing some pain when I take a breath in. Turns out the doctor I saw thought I had pleurisy, so given antibiotics to take and rest.
Not one to take antibiotics, I was anxious as to how they were going to impact on my body. I felt a whole lot worse, I started to actually feel and believe I was ill. The mind is so very powerful.
I felt sorry for myself and lying around resting, meant not doing anything. I should have gone to have my monthly gong bath, but felt too unwell as my cough seemed to have become worse since visiting the doctor.

A week later, I still had the cough so returned to the doctor, this time sent for a chest x-ray and given a short course of steroids. Expecting the steroids to kick in and the cough to ease, I couldn’t have expected the reaction I had, on the first day of taking them; I thought my blood was boiling, I had a massive pulse in my neck and could feel the blood pumping down into my legs. I took to my yoga bolster, and put my legs up in the air in a supported shoulder stand and gave my body some long gentle breaths until I felt calm and grounded again.

Having had antibiotics, steroids a chest x-ray that shows nothing sinister. The doctor seems to be at a loss, so I’m now waiting to have some blood taken. In the meantime I have been battling with fighting this holistically and the intervention of modern medicine.

I went for healing this week and whilst receiving my treatment, the healer working with me started to cough, I however did not for the whole session I lay there and at the end I felt a lot lighter, my energy had shifted, my wheezing eased.

I am a strong believer that we all have the ability to heal ourselves, but when your energy levels are so low, it ok to ask for help. That help can come in the form of holistic therapy healing or with medical intervention.
Thinking back, our ancestors must have asked for help and advice and would maybe have visited the local shaman or wise person, who using their skills and knowledge would have prescribed a medicine made from natural ingredients or a ritual to carry out to rid you of your disease.

I think it is about balance, the battle I have going on is of my own making.  It is important for me to live by the values that are important to me and my lifestyle. I don’t pretend to be someone who is pure and perfect and living this wonderful holistic dream. This is part of my journey and I have free will to make choices about how I treat my health. If I decide that modern medicine and holistic therapy can work together to help heal my body; then so be it…….

“Remove the mask, and be that magical, beautiful, genuine, and not quite perfect person, you really are”

 

 

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The Power of saying NO

I had just returned from a whistle-stop trip to Italy, which I knew would be a challenge as traveling and in particular flying can be tiring, at the best of times, but with a fibro body, you need to be able to pace yourself and avoid stress.
In the past I have been a very nervous flier often gripping the seat or arm of the adjacent passenger. Lucky for them, I have been managing my stress and fear, I managed to remain calm even when we hit some turbulence on the way home, it was all good, I practiced my yoga breath and used it as a form of mediation, at one point I thought we had already landed when the undercarriage went down. TRE (trauma release exercises) have definitely contributed to my body’s ability to reduce the stress meaning, no pain.

On my return home, I did not feel well enough to go out for a walk with my husband and the dog. I knew I needed to sleep. I was not feeling any pain, just extreme tiredness and I knew going for a walk would make me feel worse. So Dog and husband went for a walk without me, I slept. I felt better. Result, all I had to do was say ‘No’ there was not an explanation required.

‘No’ is a complete sentence, it does not require a justification. It is the most empowering sentence that you can ever use. At first you feel guilty for saying it and try to explain your rationale. It’s even harder with friends and family, they give you a look, you then end up backing down, and agreeing to something that you don’t want to do, that can often impact your mind, body and spirit.

The result that this can have on your health can be catastrophic. I have learnt from experience, it is not easy to say ‘No’, but once you start it does get easier.

I have always been quite easy going and happy to go along with things, and even though I might not want to do something, rather than say so, I have gone along with it for fear of upsetting anyone, and in the process made myself feel ill and then complained that I wish I hadn’t done it.

Living with a chronic pain condition requires you to pace yourself……….easier said than done, particularly when you are having a good time and feel better. In the early days of my diagnoses, I did not think it possible that I would ever have good days and feel well. If I wanted to something special, like going for a night out, I knew that I would have to weigh up the fact that I would feel really poorly for 3 or 4 days after the night out. It was always worth it, but then sometimes you have a really good day and do more as you feel well and then the next day you have a relapse.
I thought I was invincible and everyone kept telling me to pace myself, I thought I knew best, then burn out!

A couple of years ago, I was walking with a stick, sometimes I didn’t need it, on the days when I had paced myself. They were good days. Then I would do a bit more than I should have done, the pacing went out of the window and the stick started to became an indication of a good or bad day. As Fibro is a hidden illness, on stick days friends, family and colleagues could tell it was a bad day. However on good days, because I didn’t have my stick, some people got the impression I was well. They did not realise the effort that I had gone to, to walk without a stick.

It still takes a lot of determination and I still have to make sacrifices and battle with my body to ensure that I use effective pacing, to stay pain and medication free. Learning to stay ‘NO’ has been the biggest tool in my Holistic healing journey, sometimes it has been really hard and difficult, not to justify why I am saying No.

I like Bruce Campbell’s description of The Energy Envelope

To use the idea of the energy envelope, think of your situation as having three elements. The first is your available energy. This is the energy you have to accomplish things. It is limited and is replenished by rest and food. The second is your expended energy, the energy you lose through physical, mental and emotional exertion.

The third is your symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, pain, and so on. In this view, if you expend more energy than you have available, you will intensify your symptoms. This is called living outside the energy envelope. An alternative is living inside the energy envelope.

If you keep your expended energy within the limits of your available energy, you have a chance to reduce symptoms, and over time may be able to expand your limits.

Life is not a rehearsal, this is it! Why waste your time doing something you really don’t want to do. Take control of your life. Learn to say NO and start living inside Your Energy Envelope.

Recently everyone has been telling me I look so well; I feel amazing but it takes a lot of effort and I continue to attend my weekly yoga practice, my monthly gong baths, I fill my life with people who make me laugh and smile and avoid the energy vampires (those people who leave me feeling worn out, as they feed off my energy to make themselves feel better). Sometimes you need to be selfish if you want to get your life back.

Try saying NO, it could really be the starting point to your own empowerment.