Oct 262015
 

 

I’ve received lots of emails about this recently and it’s a recurring theme of conversation with my coaching clients, and so I just thought I’d put my thoughts into a post.

Along with all of these lovely choice phrases, “Why are you so lazy?” or words to that effect, might have been aimed at your recently or during your illness. This hurts…I mean, really, really stings.

Up until about x-days/weeks/months/years ago, you had it all figured out. You had a job/income, you had some form of social life, you were frequently in touch with your family and friends, you could string a sentence together and things were generally pretty good. But now you can’t move- you can’t remember the last time you opened the curtains (never mind went outside), you feel incredibly guilty for not bringing in a salary and you feel as if your friends can’t be bothered with you any more. Now, to top it all off, you’ve got people thinking you’re lazy when you have CFS!

im_not_lazy_im_sick_shirt-p235055099763546669ci54_325

Photo taken from here

Ooooh yep, I hear ya! I’ve had this and all you want to do is scream and shout, and let them know what’s really going on. You’ve told them over and over, but they still don’t get it. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make everything a little bit smoother for yourself and others.

Show them this article. If they still haven’t changed their tune, show them this one or this one. If you still don’t get a flinch out of them after this, ask yourself some serious questions.

+ Know that if you were going to invent an illness, CFS/ME would be it. It’s almost like a crazy junior school Biology project:

Teacher: “Ok, everyone- settle down. Now what I want you to do is work in groups and invent an illness. You must describe it and then present it in front of the class. You have 10 minutes- off you go!”

Student 1: “I know! How about something where you sleep for, like, 22 hours a day- like Sleeping Beauty!!”

Student 2: “Yeah, and you can’t go to work because you’re too busy sleeping and lying in bed and people have to feed you and stuff?!”

Everyone in group: “Yeah, that sounds amazing!!”

See the humour in it- it might just get you through those “I really want to break your arm right now (if I had the energy)” kind of moments.

The dictionary definition of ‘lazy’ is: “averse or disinclined to work, activity, or exertion; indolent.” I have never, EVER met anyone with CFS/ME who is lazy. Most of the people I’ve spoken to are Type A Personality people and we do not do lazy. Perfectionist, yes. Lazy? Nooooo. People relapse with CFS precisely because they are not lazy- that’s half our trouble. We want to contribute to the world, to our lives, and so we push on and then make ourselves worse. Don’t you dare talk to me about laziness….! (Sorry, rant over!)

+ Understand at a cellular level that there is absolutely no way they can understand what you’re going through. No way. People can empathise, but they’ll only know it if they’ve been through it themselves. This might make you feel lonely or disconnected from everyone for a while, but it’s only temporary. Know that they just want to see you better, healthy and happy- ask for their help, even though they don’t understand this craziness. You look fine, so of course, they’re a bit confused (I remember wishing I could’ve broken my arm or something instead of having CFS- at least people can physically see there’s something wrong with you, right?)

+ You are still you. You are still you. You as a person and a beautiful soul have not changed. Your body is just taking some time out, because it needs it. Once you know who you are, and really know it and own it, those lazy comments will bounce right off you.

Smile, suck it up for a bit longer and know ultimately that these comments will stop. People will see how sick you are, not lazy, and will want to help in any way they can. Show them this website, point them to my Facebook page and show people that you’re not the only one going through this ‘laziness epidemic’.

I’d love to hear your comments below- have you ever been accused of being lazy?

Love, not laziness,

Katie    xxx

Sep 152015
 

This post is inspired by the beautiful and revolutionary Danielle LaPorte.

love letterPicture taken from here

A Letter to Chronic Fatigue

Dear CFS, the Love of my life,

You’ve been with me through thick and thin, through good times and some incredibly bad times. I know you’ve been feeling that this was going to happen for a while, but I’m sorry to say that now that time has come. The time has come for me to thank you for all the blessings you have given me and for all the great, great lessons you’ve taught me. You will never know how grateful I am to you for all that you have given me.

You’ve made me scared, frightened, fearful and sick with worry.

You’ve made me feel hopeless, desperate and ashamed.

You’ve made me ache, made my writhe in pain, made me stay up all night, made me sleep until it’s impossible to sleep any more.

You’ve made me doubt myself, doubt my life, doubt my relationships.

You’ve made the possible impossible; the easy, mind-bendingly difficult; the ordinary, an extraordinary task.

But…

You’ve made me listen to the birds again.

You’ve made me watch and listen to the rustle of the tress once more.

You’ve made me realise that I’m pretty unique and goofy, and that’s ok.

You’ve made me appreciate the little things.

You’ve made me cry with gratitude at another day, another opportunity to live life.

You’ve made to give thanks for my amazing fiancé, supportive family and super friends.

You’ve made me realise that my life is here as a gift, and it’s mine to give in the most loving way I can to others, and to myself.

You’ve made me realise I am limitless. I am boundless. I am free.

 

That this world is worth the wait.

 

That people need my gifts.

 

That life is beautiful and glowingly sacred.

 

I am strong because of you. I am in love because of you. I am vulnerable because of you. I am myself because of you.

 

For that, my dear friend, I will always be truly grateful.

 

In love and abundant gratitude,

Katie     xx

Finding M.E.

Aug 162015
 

 

Over the last few weeks and even as I sit here writing this today, change and the realisation that I might  be frightened of change has been staring me right in the face. Even when I’m not looking for it, it keeps on popping up- in blogs posts, in articles on the internet, in my yoga practice, everywhere. Actually, I tell a lie, it hasn’t really been following me around- I’ve been open to accepting it into my life a lot more. This has highlighted where my limitations are- it’s incredibly uncomfortable, but I feel like I’m growing (such a beautiful feeling!) As much as we want to hold onto things around us and certain situations, the world around us and therefore our worlds are in constant, gentle flux.

When you’re ill with something like CFS for so long, there are moments when you’re going to want to play it safe (as in, pretty much most of the time). Who would want to go through relapse and the agony of starting at square one again, right? It’s embarrassing, uncomfortable and it feels like there’s now way out. You’re completely stuck and you’re pushed to the very limits of what you can handle and what you can’t…

…at least that’s what I thought for a while before I hopped on board the change wagon. Once you’re on, it becomes pretty impossible to get off.

This week, I’ve gone gluten-free and ramped up my yoga practice (I seem to have accidentally fallen in love with it, even though I wasn’t particularly mad on it before) Next week, more of the same, more reading, more catching up with friends after being a slight hermit (I blame Australian winters!) and less playing it small.

Would it really be so bad if you bought an audiobook that could change you life and committed to listening to it, instead of just buying it and putting it on the back-burner like you did last time? What’s the worst that could happen? You don’t like what they have to say and switch it off. Nobody got hurt, you saved face and at least you took the first step and tried.

Maybe you want to ditch the coffee and try a green smoothie? Honestly, it’s a completely no-brainer. You don’t have to like it, but you just might. They look disgusting, but they taste pretty flippin’ good, let me tell you.

No marathon running, no switching to a vegan diet overnight- just play it softly. Shift softly. The reality is, you can think about change until you’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day, you’ll still be where you are unless to make the change.

That’s all there is to it. Just try. Be courageous.

(These suggestions probably sound really patronising, but honestly, there was a time in my life when I was so scared of change and of doing something differently, of thinking about things a different way, that I became really, really stuck. Changing my diet or choosing to read different books were terrifying to me at the time. I would hate for the same thing to happen to you.)

Ask someone for help if you’re unsure. They’ll cheer you on as much as they can, with every fiber of their being, trust me. Ask me for help if you’re a bit lost and absolutely friggin’ petrified.  I’ve got you. We’ve got you. You’ve got you.

I just want to leave you with this picture below, which really got me choked a few days ago.

If you want to change, you have to come unstuck.

change picture

Picture and design by the beautiful freshbysian.com

What change can you make today?

Love and evolving,

Katie     xxx

Aug 042015
 

 

As many of you have read in my recovery story, my life as the typical Type-A personality career girl I was destined to be turned out to be completely different from anything I could every imagine. … I just need to stop and pause for a while after writing this- the difference between who I am now and who I was then is just so staggering. Wow.

candleImage taken from here

Having spoken to some of you on a one-to-one basis and having experienced all this myself, many of you are probably wondering how to move on from the past and how to cope with losing who you once were. Your body and mind want to hang on to what they know is safe- they want you to stay small, keep you in a bubble and protect you from more pain, and to be honest, when you’re feeling so vulnerable, feeling protected and secure is often what you instinctively want to do. You know what happened in the past, and you managed to get through it, so it’s comforting just to think about it some more. I know why it’s so difficult- in all honesty, you don’t really want to let go. There’s a vain glimmer of hope somewhere at the back of your mind that if you just keep thinking about what life was like before that you’ll somehow be able to relive it. That the sights, smells, colours and natural physical vitality you once felt come flooding back to you almost as quickly as you became sick, and you’ll wake up from this horrible nightmare that’s swallowed you and your life.

Acknowledging the Changes

My first realisation that I have to grieve some parts of my life wasn’t when I went to hospital, or was clawing along the walls trying to make it to the bathroom as you might think- it was when I came home just before Christmas and I had to deal with my school friends. We’d all just gone our separate ways to start University and the inevitable ‘I haven’t seen you for 3 months- isn’t Uni amazing?!’ pub meet-up had been in the calendar for months. My friends got in touch with me, not knowing I’d been ill, to arrange this night out. Thinking I just had the flu, they kept ringing me over the next few days. The calls then became sporadic ‘what’s the point, you’re probably not coming anyway’ texts…and then they just stopped altogether. Forever…

I was hurt, I mean really hurt. It wouldn’t have killed them to come and see me- I mean, it wasn’t like I was going anywhere, right? This really upset me for a few days, but one day, after I had no more tears left, I just melted into acceptance. How could they even begin to know what was going on with me? How could I even entertain having them in my life when I’m so ill? It’s not their fault- they did try to involve me. This had to be someone’s way of letting me know that I just need to be alone for a while.

Losing my friends and ‘grieving this loss’ however was just the first thing I had to let go of and forgive myself and the circumstances for. I came to grieve the loss of my freshers year at Uni, the loss of my physical strength and enjoyment of exercising, the loss of my thoughts which were seemingly always being carried away by someone else (they can’t have been thoughts that belonged to me.) I had to mourn the loss of my dream career, the loss of my independence, the loss of choice, fun and spontaneity, and more importantly, the loss of life.

Changing Emotions

I went through a period of being beyond angry- I just could not accept that things were going to be this way. I had to ‘wake-up’ from this soon, surely? I was angry with my parents, when all they’d done was care for me and made sure I was ok. I was angry with my friends for having abandoned me and for living out their Uni years in the way that I should’ve been.

I was angry with this stupid, stupid illness, but most of all, I was cripplingly angry with myself.

How to Accept Changes

Forgiveness became a vital part of my acceptance process- I have done a lot of forgiveness work, and I mean, a lot. It doesn’t have to be hard or dark or emotionally fraught. For me in fact, I always felt incredible lightness and clarity after doing it. It’s not the type of thing that can just be done or said once (there’s a lot of emotion to wade through), but it gets easier. You don’t feel as though you’re carrying so much anger around in your body, you might notice that you get in an extra half an hour of sleep than you normally would or just feel ‘different’.

After this comes the acceptance part. Oooooh boy. This is not easy, especially when every instinct in your body tells you that all you have to do is get on with things and you’ll snap out of it any day now. You want to get more medication, do more exercise and get on with your 9-5 careers- anything to show your body who’s in charge and that you’re really not that sick, honestly. But the truth is, as you probably know already, that this is the fastest way to relapse I know and shows that you’re really not listening to your body.

grieving-quote-1

Image taken from here

So, how can you move through all this?

Go easy on yourself. Write one of these. Do this. And this. Have fun. Love being in bed- you certainly won’t be able to do this as much when you’re healed and running around like a lunatic. Make friends with your illness- understand it and be kind to it. Be completely indulgent and go gaga for self-love.

Please know that for every little thing you have to lose, get angry with, forgive, accept and move on from, that there is something else bigger, more beautiful and more dazzling waiting for us at the other end. It cannot be any other way. For every tear, there’s a smile just waiting. For every heartache, there’s something just around the corner that’ll make your heart burst with joy. For every missed opportunity, there’s another one with your name engraved onto it in huge gold letters. For every ying, there’s a yang- this is how our world is balanced and maintained.

Think about how flippin’ great it’s all going to be. It doesn’t have to be great right now, but trust that one day it will be, and more than you could ever possibly know. More than I could ever possibly put into words or convey to you. There’s just love and it’s all for you.

Turn your loss into your greatest teacher and your heartache into outrageous courage.

Love and patience,

Katie   xx

Jul 222015
 

 

To round off this amazing week of chakra exploration, I just thought I’d go through each of the chakras and give you all some insights as to what I uncovered about my emotions and the symptoms I was feeling in my body. When I started exploring energetic healing, I was about 85% of the way to full health, but the work I did through energetic healing, together with some really uncomfortable, sometimes confronting personal work, brought me up to 100% and beyond. Energetic healing would bring me up to about 90% on the days I had it, but I had to go the other 10% of it on my own. I’m still learning about the mind-body connection everyday, but am so pleased to know intuitively that I am healed of CFS and that it’s never coming back.

chakra

Image taken from here

Let me go through each chakra individually and see if anything resonates with you.

Chronic Fatigue and Chakras

Root Chakra (Chakra 1 / Red) – Represents feeling ‘rooted’ or grounded, represent our foundation and stability

Although I always felt as though I was someone who had both feet firmly planted on the ground, I realised very quickly that my root chakra wasn’t reflecting this belief. There were a few things behind this imbalance. When as I was ill with CFS and when I would relapse, I was constantly worried about money. Even though I was incredibly lucky to be supported during my illness, I was always petrified that one day, the rug would be pulled out from under me and that I’d have to force myself into work for security and stability. If you’d seen me back then, you’d know that there was no way I was well enough to do this, so I had to change my thinking.

Instead of being petrified that the money was going to run out, I decided to be grateful for the money we had and that I was fortunate enough to be looked after. I trusted that the money would appear and that the universe would provide security, strength and stability for me. Meditation and yoga have really, really helped me with this.

Sacral Chakra (Chakra Two / Orange) – Represents creativity, sex and your ability to accept new relationships/situations into your life

I’ve always been an incredibly creative person. I come from a long line of fiercely creative and independent people, so I figured that my sacral chakra would be fine. The truth is, this is often my most troublesome chakra, and it still is when I go for treatments today.

My creative outlet used to come through music- singing, playing the piano, improvising, absolutely anything related to music and I was there. However, after I made certain decisions in my life, this area kind of shut down- I had minimal creative expression, and we all need this to remember the playfulness and joy in our lives. This translated through hormonal imbalances and incredibly painful periods. I also found that I wasn’t as adventurous or open-minded as I had been and that accepting new perspectives or opinions in my life was incredibly difficult. After energetic healing however, I found that I was able to open my heart and thoughts a bit more, and was therefore able to sing again, and enjoy the process without hanging on to the outcome or worrying about what others thought of me.

Solar Plexus (Chakra Three / Yellow) – Represents confidence, thoughts and feelings, and our ability to be in control of our lives

When I’ve spoken to healers and therapists, they’ve said that everyone has chakra 3 issues. When I was very ill, I wasn’t really eating so much, so my 3rd chakra was completely undernourished. Even when my diet improved, I still found that I had digestive issues and that I’d often have an upset stomach.

The 3rd chakra is our seat of power. It takes in all our nourishment and therefore keeps our immune system and our bodily functions strong and in working order. If our solar plexus chakra is out, we know immediately because there’s something not quite right with our digestive system. I also noticed my stomach was bloated and upset when I was going through stress or an emotional time, as if my body was not ‘digesting’ new information or new situations properly. Your liver also forms part of the 3rd chakra system, so the fact that I was holding lots of anger meant that my liver wasn’t always functioning and detoxing as well as it should (having jaundice after glandular fever when I was 21 was a huge indicator that chakra 3 was out of whack!)

If you’re having digestive issues, ask yourself whether there’s anything in your life you still need to accept. Are you still struggling your way through your illness and putting up a fight?

Heart Chakra (Chakra 4 – Green) – Represents our ability to love and be loved, to enjoy what we love

Having always thought that I had time for others and that I was an outgoing, bubbly person, I was incredibly surprised to find that my heart, to a certain extent, was blocked through anxieties and stresses I had gone through in the past. Surely after years of questioning and trying to live my life it would be ok by now?

Sadly not, as I’d been keeping my heart closed to avoid getting hurt again, to protect myself and to avoid diving into anything I loved, just in case it was taken away from me. It was safer that way, no? Even though, I was head-over-heels in love, this was the only glimmer of green light shining through my heart chakra. The pains I used to get between my shoulder blades was the back of my heart trying to heal (honestly, when was the last time you thought about the back of your heart?!)

The heart is a powerful, beautiful energy centre that keeps us going, pumps blood round our body and keeps us in the now. When we’re excited, our hearts jump- when we’re nervous, our hearts go into override. Our hearts intuitively know all.

Throat Chakra (Chakra 5 – Blue) – Represents our ability to communicate clearly and to speak our truth

Throat chakra + stifled passion for singing = major 5th chakra issues!

Aside from not singing as much as my soul or spirit would like me to, lots of forgotten throat chakra issues made themselves known to me during my sessions. When I was explaining past experiences, my throat would clam up, go dry and I’d cough like a mad woman. I had trouble admitting that I wasn’t ok, and that everything hadn’t been going as well as I’d let everyone believe. I was very much brought up to believe that parents were hugely important (which of course they are!), and I saw my parents as authority figures to be obeyed for a lot of my life, rather than realising they were family and just wanted the best for me. I found it to incredibly difficult to speak up, often not even bothering because I didn’t want to argue, or I knew what their answer would be.

Although this didn’t manifest physically, I felt deflated, alone and unheard, like my opinions and thoughts counted for nothing. Where in your life do you know you should speak up and get honest? Are you really being heard by others?

Third Eye Chakra (Chakra 6 – Indigo) – Represents our ability to see the big picture, inner knowing, insight and vision

I think out of all 7 chakras, this is the one that I’m having a great relationship with at the moment and that I’m coming to trust more and more. Over the last few years, I’ve become very intuitive and seem to have an ability to read between the lines. I’ll often the hint that what someone’s saying isn’t exactly what’s going or that there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

This can, however, by a bad thing, especially if you’re feeling vulnerable, paranoid and you’re really concerned about what others think of you. In my younger years, I’m sure my third eye chakra was completely overactive- I worried so much about what others thought of me and seemed to suffer a lot from Impostor Syndrome, especially when I first started my working life.

I am now much more secure in my feeling sense and in my emotional intelligence, and see it as a gift rather than as something I have to dumb down or keep quiet about. I’m absolutely intrigued to see where my 6th chakra takes me- woohoo!

Crown Chakra (Chakra 7 – Violet) – Represents our ability to connect fully with our spiritual selves

Up until about 4 years ago, I had no interest in spirituality, yoga, self-knowledge or exploring our place in the universe. I was brought up Catholic and went to church, well, religiously(!), but decided at the age of 16 that there were things that I had to figure out for myself. Chakra 7 has been my constant guide and companion now for the last 4 years and I’m completely in awe of it. Having forgotten about it, or not accepted it for so long, getting to know it is a constant thrill and learning journey. I love knowing what the universe throws into play and what I’m guided to do and seek on a daily basis. I know therefore, that my crown chakra is balanced, clear and in working order. This is not to say that it always is, but I’m very easily able to bring myself back into my innate spirituality and accept the messages and gifts the Divine has for me.

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So, there we have it! The last in this week’s series of chakra posts! I really hope you’ve enjoyed them my darling. Chakras and the whole realm of energetic healing are a constant sources of fascination for me and I learn something new about them whenever I dive into another book or article. Consider working with the chakras and incorporating this knowledge into your own life- it doesn’t involve huge changes or financial sacrifices, and who knows what you’ll discover?!

Love and energetic healing,

Katie      xx

My favourite chakra cleanse meditationbelinda davidson

Jul 152015
 

I’ve never considered myself to be a dishonest person. I’ve never told lies, and I don’t make a habit of it. When you look at the concept of honesty really closely, you’ll see that for most people, it means not being dishonest with other people. You don’t want to upset or disappoint someone else, you want to cover up for the fact that you don’t want to do something, you make over-elaborate excuses. Everyone does it and society, unfortunately, is full of it.

But have you ever stopped and thought about how honest you’re being with yourself? As ‘woo-woo’ as it sounds, this was one of the hardest things for me to deal with and it still challenges me every day. Having said that, getting honest with yourself in CFS is one of the most liberating stages on your journey.

TypographicFolio-14

Picture taken from here

I’ve always been incredibly independent, fiercely and stubbornly so, so having to move back in with my parents when I was 18 after my diagnosis was beyond all comprehension at the time. It was embarrassing, irritating and made me feel so small and defeated. My parents are two of the most wonderful people in the world, but taking this huge step was such a blow for me. Being reliant on them was even worse.

When I felt strong enough to go out, or even just go to the supermarket with my parents, I saw it as a huge achievement. I’d made it, there was no going back. I’d get stronger every day and then I’d be back to normal…until I woke up the morning realising that all my energy had been zapped in that one afternoon, leaving me with an empty tank once more. I know you know what I’m talking about- you want to use the slightest amount of energy when you’ve got it, not build up your reserves and take your time. Here is where I had to get really honest with myself. I had to pace it. I had to reserve my energy and work with it. I had to have faith.

This was a very long process. I’ve lost count of the number of times I said I was feeling fine to do something, when in fact I knew I was going to regret it the next day. My body begged me not to bother this time, but just to wait a day or two.

Here’s the thing. You have to honour yourself and be honest with yourself, especially in the early stages of recovery. You owe it to yourself and your life. If you know that saying ‘yes’ to the girly shopping trip (hours of walking  and waiting around, chatting, trying on clothes) will leave you feel wiped out the next day, ask yourself if you should really do it. This doesn’t mean abandoning meeting people all together. Maybe you could meet for a lovely green juice in a cafe in the morning, and then let them get on with it. It’s heartbreaking, I know, but even more heartbreaking is the ultimate realisation that you are not looking after or honouring the most important being in your life. You.

There’ll never be another one. You. Are. Essential. You. Are. Divine.

I still struggle with this today, and have made many mistakes by letting my ego get the better of me. I’ve taken full-time jobs when I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be able to handle it and would barely be able to manage part-time. I’ve come home exhausted and barely able to speak, knowing that I should’ve listened to the warning signs and not gone to meet people after work. These actions were usually generated by what other people might/might not think of me if I did/didn’t do something. Dishonesty is a form of fear, and man, was I frightened. Just remember, the people that matter will only care about you and want what’s best for you.

You have to be honest with yourself so you can be honest with others. 

I’m still working on this, and it’s hard and humiliating, but ultimately humbling. You need to prioritise yourself. I used to be terrible at this, but I’m getting a little better, day by day.

Love your vulnerability. Love being true to yourself. Let everything else fall away.

You.

Love-yourself-first1

Picture taken from here

Love and sincerity,

Katie   x

Jul 102015
 
brain fog

 

The whole concept of Brain Fog really touches a nerve with me. I’ve never felt so weak and powerless as when I was having a ‘Brain Fog Day’. I felt as is everything I’d ever learned at school had somehow vanished and that all my brain cells had magically disappeared. I felt like a complete idiot- why am I getting my words mixed up? Why can’t I concentrate for 2 minutes? How do I treat Brain Fog? Even if your body is having a good day, you can often be left with this horrible, numb feeling in your head. For me, it felt like there was a big heavy grey cloud around my brain, that’s the only way I can describe it.

brain fog

Photograph taken from here

What causes Brain Fog?

Although the exact causes are unknown, contributing factors include:

  • A lack of sleep or disruptions to your sleep cycle
  • If you’re experiencing pain, you might be mentally distracted by this for a prolonged period, which triggers a ‘numb’ feeling
  • Abnormal blood flow to the head
  • Depression
  • Interactions with medication

What are the Symptoms of Brain Fog?

For anyone who isn’t clear on what Brain Fog is, some of the symptoms include:

  • Becoming easily confused
  • Lack of ability to concentrate
  • Lack of ability to multi-task due to lack of concentration
  • Inability to recall words during a sentence (this was the main one for me!), forgetting why you started the sentence or mixing words around and not noticing
  • Short term memory problems
  • Inability to carry out simple calculations or mathematical problems
  • Losing things and not being able to find them, as you usually would
  • Becoming easily lost and disoriented in places you usually know well

Brain Fog generally tends to get worse when you are anxious, worried, rushed or dealing with too much information at once. It can also occur when you’re dealing with sensory overload, for example, too many bright lights or too much noise. I used to get completely overwhelmed in shopping centres and supermarkets, and would feel panicky and closed in. Once this had happened a few times, my parents knew to only offer to take me shopping to get me out of the house if they knew it was going to be quiet.

Help! I’m fed up of this! How can I Treat Brain Fog?

Luckily there are some things you can do to treat brain fog and go easy on yourself if you wake up and realise you’re having a ‘Brain Fog Day':

  1. Recognise that today is a Brain Fog Day and sink into it. Don’t try and fight it, relax into it and let it go. Work within your limits, take regular time out and don’t get mad at yourself. Be patient and keep things simple. If you have to, tell people you’re having ‘one of those days’- they’ll appreciate and respect your honesty.
  2. Drink as much fresh, filtered (if possible) water as you can. Sometimes, you might just be dehydrated. I constantly forgot to drink enough water when I was ill, it just seemed like too much effort. Water is incredibly important for our brain and bodies. You need to stay hydrated before you are thirsty- by the time you feel thirsty, it’s too late.
  3. Avoid caffeine or energy drinks. It’s so tempting to just grab a coffee to alleviate Brain Fog and feeling tired, even just for a moment, but you’ll feel worse later on, and maybe even into the next day. Do it gradually, don’t go cold turkey all at once, but cutting out caffeine was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
  4. Get enough sleep. Sleeping for at least 8 hours is crucial. However, and I know this is so difficult to keep to if you’ve got CFS, don’t sleep too much or rely too much on sleeping tablets. You don’t want to do anything that’ll make you feel more Brain Fog the next day. Read this article for more bedtime tips.
  5. Eat a nutritious diet, or if your appetite is a bit patchy, take a good multivitamin. Juices and smoothies can also really help when your appetite isn’t there, as well as these easy recipes. Your brain and body function on the nutrients you give it- let them thrive!

I hope these tips help you in some way. I know how terrible Brain Fog can feel and how much of a step back you think you’ve taken when you’re feeling like this. Know this this is your body’s way of healing and respect what it’s telling you. Once you accept this, you Brain Fog will lift as quickly as it arrived.

Love and lucidity,

Katie     xxx

 

Apr 182015
 

 

One of the hardest things I had to do during my recovery and illness was explain my symptoms to people and the reasons I couldn’t do everyday things. On the surface, if you see someone with CFS, unless they’re in hospital or in bed, they don’t really look ill. This was one of the hardest things for me to get my head around and it used to really, really frustrate me when people said, “Oh, but you look great! What’s the matter with you?!”. With hindsight, I’ve come to understand that people express concern in different ways and to love that about others. But for those times when you really haven’t got the energy to speak or string sentences together, here is what you can show or give others to help explain your symptoms and situation:

CFS is an overwhelming, confusing and isolating illness which is debilitating, frustrating and feels never-ending.

Symptoms of CFS

Some symptoms of CFS include (but are not limited to!):

Tiredness

The clue is in the name, but it’s definitely more than “I’ve had a long day at work- please leave me alone” tiredness. Imagine having the worst hangover you could ever fathom, combined with flu and malaria, every single day. This is just a pinch of what people with CFS live with on a daily basis.

Feeling wiped out after a simple task

Putting clothes into the washing machine or picking up the vacuum cleaner used to be my biggest triggers. When I get inside my head too much, I clean, so I always went to cleaning when I needed to ‘do something’ (ie. aside from staying in bed and feeling useless). Despite my best intentions, I would usually end up back in bed or on the sofa breathless about a minute later.

Not being able to sleep

Now, hold on a second. Surely, if you’ve got CFS, sleep should be no problem for you! What’s going on?! Chronic insomnia and horrendous sleeping patterns are also major symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At my worst, I slept for about 22 hours a day on and off, and often I would wake up at 11pm, read until 2am, sleep for 20 minutes, then be up again until 7am. Then, when everyone else was getting up to start their day, I’d be about to sleep properly. This kind of pattern takes months to crack and get back on schedule, but to a greater extent, you really can’t help it. Imagine this every day for months or years, and you can see how frustrating it could be.

Pain, headaches and muscle aches

All over your body. I remember even moving my fingers and toes at one stage was practically impossible and incredibly painful. It’s scary and it’s real.

Unable to cope with light or slight noises

I became hyper sensitive to noise especially. Even the slightest noise would send my nervous system into a panic that I found it difficult to calm down from. This might sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t. I could stand some light coming through my curtains, but found it easier to rest with the covers over my head. Light interference always used to cause unbearable headaches and migraines. Hence, busy shopping centres and supermarkets had to be avoided.

head-in-hands-sculptureBeautiful head-in-hands sculpture-taken from here

Intermittent flu-like symptoms

Lowered immune system, fever, being unable to regulate your temperature, swollen glands, allergic reactions to things you used to be fine with, dizziness, the list goes on…

‘Brain-fog’ and other neurological symptoms

On a really bad day, I used to slur my words (so much so I apparently sounded drunk), forget really simple and usually memorable bits of information, forget vocabulary, experience balance problems, ringing in the ears, and so it continues.

Click here for more on brain fog.

Everyone is different, but for me, these were the worst symptoms. For a more extensive list, please visit ME CFS Australia’s website. Even now, if I haven’t been looking after myself properly, I very occasionally slur my words at night, but that rarely happens. As soon as it does, I know I have to slow things down and put myself first.

Please feel free to share your main symptoms in the comments below. It might feel sometimes like you’re alone, but you’re never alone. Please become part of our community through the Facebook page and we can help each other.

Love and rest,

Katie

Click here for more on diagnosing CFS and click here for some advice on dealing with doctors.

Apr 132015
 

 

angerImage taken from here

This is a post I never really thought I’d write, but I’ve been called to write it after numerous emails from readers and questions from clients.

“How can I move on to loving and accepting my illness and myself when I’m so angry with my body and for the way things have turned out?”

I hear you. I hear you big time. Anger and CFS have played a huge part in my healing, but I had to admit that I was angry first and foremost (which is often the hardest part).

If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself during this whole process of recovering from CFS, it’s how to manage anger and accept it as a normal part of every life. In my family, as in many families, I was told that anger was a bad thing. You weren’t allowed to be angry and you definitely weren’t allowed to express  your anger. This might be a part of the ‘British stiff upper lip’ character trait, but I know it doesn’t just apply to those from UK. Losing your temper or getting revved up in any kind of way is considered negative, ugly and ultimately is seen to reflect badly on you as a person.

angerArtwork taken from here

So, what do you do? You have 2 choices- 1) Let it out despite what people think or 2) Swallow it and don’t say anything.

Number 2 seems like a fairly easy option- it’s the least offensive and confrontational. But….it’s also the most toxic. Anger, like shame, lingers, creeps and builds up, causing a variety of illness and symptoms within the body if it is not released. For example, I was hospitalised with jaundice after I had Glandular Fever, which in energetic terms, is a clear sign of holding on to anger and feeling resentful.

Of course you’re angry that you got sick, of course there are days when you could scream out loud because you are so angry at the situation you’re in. My advice to you is:

LET IT OUT!

For the sake of your future health and wellbeing, do what you have to do to feel and express you anger. Recognise where in your body you feel the anger and let it pass.

* Hit a pillow

* Write your feelings down on paper, in a journal or a diary

* Stamp your feet

* Shout along to you favourite song

* Exercise if you can

* Tell someone (in a loving way without shouting) how you really feel, whether it’s about them, you or the situation you’re in- be honest

* Let yourself cry (and I mean really cry)

Expressing anger is a loving and non-offensive way for some people can take  a lot of practise, but it is possible, and it is the best thing you can do for your emotional and physical health. Once you realise that anger is just another emotion and has the same weight as happiness, for example, you begin to accept and almost welcome it into your life. It’s an incredible opportunity for growth, self-realisation and most importantly, honesty.

What are you angry about and how can you express it lovingly?

Love and authenticity,

Katie   xx

 

Apr 092015
 

 

Before I really get into this post, let me just say that diet-wise, I’m as quinoa, chia seed-obsessed as the next person. I’m constantly looking for creative vegan recipes and attempting to experiment in the kitchen. I’m a smoothie and juice guzzlin’ gal who has gained a bit of reputation among her friends as being ‘the one with the hippie diet’, so food, more specifically, healthy, organic, fresh and outrageously nutritious food, is incredibly important to me. I discovered this way of eating as part of my own healing journey, and I’ve never looked back. It gives me energy and it just works for me and my day-to-day life.

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up this in this huge dietary wellness craze that’s sweeping the internet and our high streets. As confusing and baffling as it can be sometimes, (what in the world is macqui again?!), it can only be a good thing. People want to know what’s in their food, where it comes from and how they can get the most nutrients from what they eat- amen to that!

fruit smile

Photo taken from here

However, we also need to be mindful about what we’re thinking as well as what we’re putting into our mouths. Filling ourselves with healthy food is amazing, but if our minds are all over the place and full of rubbish, then some of our good work in eating like a green vegan goddess can go to waste. Here are a few examples of why healthy eating is only part of the battle…

Some Examples of the Mind/Body Battle

  • You look at yourself in the mirror and become convinced that you’ve gained a few pounds. You decide to stick to salads this week. However, every time you see a salad, you remember why you’re eating it in the first place and feel terrible about yourself. The self-loathing attitude drags you down and wipes out all the good work you’ve done nutritionally this week. You should be patting yourself on the back, not putting your body under further stress through anxiety and depression.
  • You accidentally eat a Tim-Tam at work when no-one’s looking (click here to read all about Tim-Tams if you’re not from Australia!) You therefore beat yourself up for the rest of the day and berate yourself for ‘falling off the wagon.’
  • You’re trying to cut down on your coffee intake, but you really fancy one on the way to work. You enjoy the first mouthful, but feel like you’ve let yourself down after that. The rest of the cup makes you feel angry with yourself and like a bit of a failure.
  • You’re trying really hard to cut down on sugar when a colleague offers cake around the office for her birthday. You really don’t want a piece, but you take one anyway to be polite. You end up eating the whole thing and secretly resenting your colleague for offering it to you- doesn’t she know you’re trying really hard?! You feel bitter and right back where you started again (but damn, that cake tasted good!)
  • You keep reading about all this people who went vegan and changed their lives, but you’d still really like to eat meat once in a while. You go vegan, but then your body calls out for meat, so you go for it. You feel sick to the stomach with anger and disappointment after your’ve eaten.

Do any of these sound familiar?

If you’re going to start a new healthy eating habits that you want to continue for years to come, you have to make it easy on yourself. You also have to make sure that you’re eating in a way that suits your lifestyle and body, not just because it worked for someone in a magazine (read this amazing article for more on this) If you’re eating like an angel, but your thoughts make you feel like the devil, it’s time to reassess your attitude to how to think and feel about food. Your thoughts, like your food, should compliment each others- here are a few ways to make it happen.

food swaps

Photo taken from here

How to Find a Balance

  • Going cold turkey is not for everyone. I did it with coffee and got the worst headache I’ve ever had two days in. What got rid of the headache? You guessed it…! Ask for support or right down a plan of how you’re going to do it. Just add in two smoothies a week- easy! Then next week, maybe you could add another one in- done! Before you know it you’re whipping up two a day!
  • Just focus on one thing at a time- becoming a yoga master/salad guru/meditation teacher/juice queen all on Monday and from this Monday on is hard work even typing it! Things will come up- you might not be able to get to yoga on Thursday, and that’s ok- there are plenty more classes on the timetable. The world didn’t stop and you managed to go on Tuesday anyway- good for you.
  • If you want to eat that Tim-Tam or treat, just go for it, but make sure it’s from a place of love and not guilt. The minute you feel guilty about eating it, your mind has flipped on the ‘I hate myself’ switch again (My other half is very partial to a Tim-Tam every now and then, and of course I’ve had a sneaky one when no-one’s looking! Not very often, but always from a place of enjoyment and because it brings me joy). This goes for you as well if you’re trying to cut down on junk food, for example, or you want to do the Meat-Free Mondays thing in your house, but you can’t manage it. Having a takeaway or giving in to a steak does not make you a bad person- don’t let what you want to enjoy that evening make you feel that way. It’s only food after all.
  • Experiment with finding the diet that suits you and your body- warning: this might take some time! Some people might not do very well on a vegan or raw food diet, some people can handle a bit gluten- everyone’s different. Have fun being creative and find out what works for your body and your energy levels.

If you’re eating food out of guilt, resentment, loathing, worry or self-hatred, your thoughts are not in alignment with the food you are putting into your mouth. Emotions such as these creates imbalances in the body and if not released can lead to illness and that ‘yucky’ feeling. Either choose a different thought or choose a different food- the choice is up to you. If you want to indulge, do it, but enjoy it wholeheartedly if you do. Healthy living is a practise and change doesn’t often happen overnight- love and respect yourself enough to choose food and thoughts full of goodness that will brighten your day, and you’ll enjoy it for life.

Love and living,

Katie    xx

Apr 082015
 

 

I was incredibly honoured recently to be able to attend a talk in Sydney with His Holiness, The Dalai Lama on his recent tour of Australia. I instinctively knew that there was something he had to say that would relate to CFS and that I could bring back to you. Scribbling notes in my little notebook in the dark while he was talking was such a thrill and I’d love to share with you all some of my insights into how his message relates so clearly to CFS/ME and to our individual and collective journeys.

The one thing I was left with above all else after the event was the incredible spirit, kindness and love radiating from this amazing man. He is incredibly witty, has an amazing sense of humour (click here for further proof!), but most of all he truly speaks from his heart, unafraid of what anyone might think or of other people’s agendas. His message is one of love for all, and he sees himself not as any kind of Guru or anointed messenger , but as a simple Buddhist monk. His humility and kindness of spirit were seen through the whole talk in the way he interacted with everyone around him. He truly is an incredibly special human being and I’m eternally grateful to have been able to hear him speak in person.

dalai laughing

Photograph of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, taken from here

4 Lessons from The Dalai Lama

Lesson 1:

Everyone wants to be happy with no problems at all in their lives, but people create their own problems- they become a “slave of emotion”. Wow- this was definitely me throughout my illness, even towards the end when I knew it was all coming to an end. I kept obsessing about my health, and made my fearful thoughts into self-fulfilling prophecies. If you’re constantly thinking about CFS and all the ‘what ifs’ that play a huge part in it, then you end up being caught in a vicious circle that it’s incredibly hard to get out of. I know, I know- how the hell are you supposed to think about anything else when you’re feeling like this, right? You need to get out of your head and into your heart. Meditation is also amazing (trust me, I know people talk about meditation all the time, but it really is unbeatable).

Move away from the fear that you’re going to get worse if you go for a walk outside when you feel like it. Get someone to go with you- what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll come back to bed and give yourself a huge pat on the back, or you’ll get outside, discover that it’s too much and come back inside. Most of all, if you take these steps, you’re ever closer to cracking that fear barrier- what’s stopping you? 

Lesson 2:

Relating to lesson 1, check in with your emotions frequently- are you actually causing negative emotions by beating yourself up about your illness? Are you being too hard on yourself? CFS is an illness where I’ve found to my detriment that the more you fight it and deny what is, the worse it gets. Acceptance is key. Mindfulness is key.

Lesson 3:

“Your happiness is my happiness. Your suffering is my suffering”- I wish I’d heard this when I was very ill and to a certain extent, took my anger out on my family and friends. All they wanted was for me to be happy, healthy and well. At the time, I interpreted it as them not accepting my illness and accusing me of being lazy. Cut your loved ones some slack, cut yourself some slack. As The Dalai Lama says, “Do not let anger develop- this is the real meaning of forgiveness“.

*(This is also the main reason I set up this website, so you can connect with others in a similar position to you and know that we share our dark times. You are not alone.)*

Lesson 4:

“Fear eats away at the immune system”- wow. This is something we all need to hear right now. When your body is in a perpetual state of fear, there is no room for love and your health suffers. Most of the time, you are not doing this consciously- your illness was not deliberately and consciously brought on by you. But perhaps the fear that led you into CFS caused your immune system to suffer and not let your body do its job properly. It’s far from easy, but learning to lean in to love and away from fear, is a life practice, but one that will reward you greatly.

dalai

Photograph taken from here

Let me know what you thought about these lessons- did any of them ring true for you? Comment below!

Leaning into love, Katie    xxx

Mar 202015
 

 

As many of you know from my Facebook page, I decided a few weeks ago to try going Gluten Free. There wasn’t any particular motivation around this aside from the fact that a friend encouraged me to try it for a week just to see what happened, as she’s been gluten-free for a while. I thought it’d also be great to encourage me to think a bit more creatively about meals and to be more mindful about my food. If you’ve been following my newsletter as well, you’ll know that I felt so great after week one, that I decided to keep on going with it!

gluten-bread-caution

Image taken from MindBodyGreen

Many of you have probably heard or read things about gluten, and “Does Gluten Free Help CFS?” is one the questions I get asked on a regular basis? It seems as though in every article I’ve written recently (such as this one for MindBodyGreen), someone mentions the link between CFS and gluten. I must admit, I hadn’t really looked into it too much while I was ill, and many of you might be wondering why I’m bothering to write this in the first place if I’m completely healed, right?! Well, sometimes, it’s good just to mix things up a bit. I do sometimes experience digestive issues, especially when stressed, so I thought going gluten-free would be a good way to monitor my digestive system and general wellbeing.

What the hell is gluten?

Gluten is the substance found in cereal grains that basically makes bread doughy and elastic-y- the gluten is the protein part of the grain. Although gluten can very sneakily be found hiding in many unsuspecting things (seriously, this article is scary!), wheat (also in the form of rye, barley,bulgar, spelt and durum – pasta!) is probably the main culprit. It’s incredibly surprising if you actually look at labels to see how much gluten or gluten-containing things are hidden in things we eat- seriously, after a few weeks of cooking gluten-free, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about! Things like chocolate, soy sauce and even vitamin pills seem to be riddled with the stuff.

What are the symptoms?

Funnily enough, many of them seem to be exactly the same as those that CFS/Fibro sufferers get! (Lovely!) Often, there might be more skin rashes or digestive issues if you have gluten troubles, but this is why it’s so hard to recognise. Click here for more information on symptoms and complications.

What does the research say?

As it stands (as with so many things in the CFS/Fibro arena), the small amount of research done suggests that there isn’t any clear overlap between celiac disease – the autoimmune disorder caused by gluten- and CFS/Fibromyaglia. Some people have claimed that cutting out gluten alone was enough to get rid of their symptoms completely, whereas some people say it really didn’t make that much difference to them. However, only 1% of the population have an incredibly severe reaction to gluten, so you can probably breath easy.

The gluten thing on further research is all a bit complicated. Lots of people have food sensitivities which come with their own host of symptoms or which can make CFS/Fibro symptoms worse. Some people might even have been misdiagnosed as having CFS when they actually have a severe gluten intolerance.

gluten

Image taken from here

So, what can I do about it?

If you’re not sure whether you’re intolerant to gluten or whether it’s worth investigating further with your doctor, keep a food diary for about 3 weeks. Do you notice your symptoms flair up the morning after you’ve had pasta for your evening meal? Do you feel incredibly sleepy and dozy after eating bread? Do you have digestive issues or discomfort after eating gluten? (If you have IBS, then it’s possible than gluten might makes things a little worse for example. Also, consider whether or not your IBS is a possible gluten sensitivity.) Write it all down and play around with things a little bit. If you can see a clear pattern, maybe it’s worth requesting an allergy test from your doctor. Unfortunately, if you’re severely gluten-intolerant, you can’t just do it 95% of the time- it’s an all or nothing job, as your symptoms will return and you’ll feel ill again.

What can I eat if I’m going gluten-free?

There are actually a few options, but triple-check the labels on things! Anything with flour in it, such as cakes, sauces and dough/pastry bases, also contain gluten. As I mentioned in this article, things like quinoa are supposed to be gluten-free, but aren’t as squeaky clean as most people first thought! (Boo!) Also, I found that some of the gluten-free substitutes just tasted absolutely awful. I found going to health food shops to buy gluten free bread and pasta a lot better in terms of taste and nutrients. You can eat:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • lentils, rice, quinoa (in theory!) and legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • dairy products and eggs
  • lean meat and fish

However, always make sure you look on the labels of things if they say ‘gluten-free’. Gluten-free is a huge health craze at the moment, and even though the products might be free from gluten, there are sometimes lots of nasty chemicals and additives thrown in instead!

The Results of my Gluten-Free Experiment

After about 2-3 days, I didn’t feel as bloated as I sometimes used to and my stomach felt a lot calmer, like it didn’t have a huge stone in it. I didn’t have many stomach upsets, but I once accidentally ate a wrap made from wheat, and I really felt the difference afterwards! Going GF makes my stomach feel a lot lighter and even though I’m not gluten-intolerant, I definitely think cutting back on gluten is going to benefit me. So…I’m sticking with it!

So, over to you! Have you heard the reports about CFS/Fibromyalgia and gluten? Have you tried going gluten-free yourself? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Love and light,

Katie    xx

Mar 112015
 

dont-give-upPicture taken from here

How to Deal with a Diagnosis of CFS

I will be forever grateful to the doctor who actually diagnosed my condition and got to the bottom of what was happening during such a confusing time for both my family and myself. When he gave us his opinion, something inside me clicked. Having initially thought it was leukaemia (probably due to low white blood cell count), he then examined the bloods again and altered his decision.

I think if you can find a doctor who is sympathetic towards CFS/ME, let alone diagnoses it, you’re doing very well. Every doctor I’ve met since then, whether for CFS-related things or not, with the exception of one, has dismissed my condition and immediately demanded that I had more blood tests. I made the mistake of having more tests a few years ago, even though I knew for a fact my bloods would be absolutely fine. Cue my doctor telling me that I’d probably get over it in a week or so, and me feeling just as confused, tired and down as when I’d first been diagnosed.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some amazing doctors and specialists out there who are experts in their field and work incredibly hard to help hundreds of people recover. I’m not here to badmouth the medical profession. I lived in a tiny village in England, so my access to these people was limited. I therefore had to do something about my condition myself.

At the time of writing, there is no test for CFS. Basically, the doctors have to rule out everything before coming to that conclusion…and I mean, everything. I had ECGs, brain scans, chest x-rays, you name it. Nothing, nada, zilch. It was quite a scary time for everyone, but I think I was so tired from being dragged from appointment to appointment that I could barely even think about what was happening. The diagnosis didn’t really alter what was happening in my everyday life, and because there was no treatment as such, everything just went back to the way if was. My parents didn’t really know what to do, so just tried to make me eat and get me out and about. I was prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, but held on to the prescription for months and never used it. Something kept telling me that this wasn’t the answer for me. My Dad persuaded me to go on the anti-depressants- I lasted a month, felt the same, so came off them.

The truth about being diagnosed with CFS is that even though you now have a label and something that you can attribute your symptoms to, you still feel stuck. The key is trying different things, which unfortunately, takes quite a while. I think it took me about 3 years to really get a handle on thing. You can ask another doctor for a second opinion, you can treat symptoms individually (ie. headaches) and visit the doctor this way, you can explore alternative therapies, you can read books or you can alter your diet.

I hope in this blog I will be able to show you some things that have worked for me. I have decided however to add a disclaimer to the website, because even though these methods worked for me, they may not work for you. For example, I’ve always been vegetarian (since the age of 6- it caused quite a stir at primary school!, so meat does not play a part in my diet. However, you might need this for your recovery, and you should be open to including certain things in your diet.

I have every faith in your healing and your body’s ability to heal. It is up to you to know it and believe it.

Love,

Katie xx

For more on doctors and CFS diagnosis, click here.

For more on how healthy eating is only part of the battle(!), click here.