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Oct 132015

This post is dedicated to the lovely and fabulous Sonia- I hope it helps in some way, my darling.

Recently, I’ve been receiving lots of emails about why I decided to call my blog ‘Conquering Fear Spiritually – CFS’. You all know that the reason I started blogging was to support CFS sufferers in their journey and recovery and build up a community, but there’s also another big reason.

I realised last year, and have been having random realisations ever since, that my illness may well have been triggered by fear. I know this probably sounds like absolute rubbish, but please hear me out. Around the time I came down with ME/CFS, there were a lot of crazy things happening in my life. On looking back at this event, I can pinpoint almost to the date exactly when I became ill with CFS and in the same vain, when I felt I had more-or-less recovered from it. Unfortunately, the period of recovery spans about 10 years, but please remember that everyone is different and everyone has their own specific needs during recovery.


My CFS Recovery Story

I was always one of those people at school who was involved in everything. A straight ‘A’ student, homework always in on time, member of the athletics and netball teams, member of the choir, orchestra, chamber choir, member of the debating team, school play, school council- you name it, I was probably involved. I often look back at this time and feel absolutely baffled by the amount of time and energy I must have been using, but I never thought about it. However, when I was 17/18, I had a constant colds. My nose was dripping, I had a scratchy throat (not so great for a singer) and never felt completely well. My English Literature teacher convinced me to try some echinacea tablets and I have to say they did the job. But the moment I stopped taking them (apparently, you’re only supposed to use them for a few weeks at a time), I was right back to square one.

Another incredibly emotional and stressful experience of my life was when I was choosing what to do at University. Music was my favourite subject, I loved singing, I love playing instruments, I loved Music history- Music was my life. This was always what I was going to go on to do and all my friends knew this. When I spoke to my parents about it though, my choice wasn’t welcomed as openly as I’d thought it would be. In the interests of wanting to ensure my security, my parents thought that studying French and German (another of my passions) would open up more avenues for employment. After debating with them about this, and realising that not only did I not want to teach Music, but generally had no clue about what I’d do with it, I decided to go with languages. However, I knew deep down, that music was my calling. I knew it. I actually think my parents knew it too, but wanted me to be financially secure and have employment opportunities.

So I applied for Languages and pushed all thoughts of studying Music to the back of my mind. I still performed, but I’d resigned myself to the fact that Languages would be the safer choice. The summer after I finished school, I kept blacking-out, ended up in hospital on drips (in Italy!), had terrible insomnia, had low blood sugar and was generally pretty unwell. To be honest, I think my body was done-in. But I kept going, because when you’re just about to start a new life experience at University and all your school friends are doing the same, that’s what you do.

3 months into my course, I woke up one morning and literally couldn’t move. No finger twitches, no toe movement- nothing. I couldn’t even open my eyes. Passing it off as flu, I stayed where I was for the day, thinking that I’d be better in the morning. The next morning came however and I was the same. This happened for weeks, and I genuinely thought I was going mad. I truly believed that something had flicked in my brain and I needed counselling or help of some kind.

When I was forced to leave Uni because I couldn’t go to class and was incredibly ill, I went home with my parents. The day they came to pick me up, I was still lying in bed. I’d barely managed to pack and I was so ashamed to be leaving. Little by little, over the next few months, my Mum got me a job in her school on reception two days a week and I was so proud of myself for managing two days.

Fast forward a few months and I went back to Uni- a fresh start. I managed to attend about 40% of my classes in the first year, but it got better in the second year. I refused help from the disability office due to my never-ending need to prove my independence. I was pretty pleased with how things were progressing, I made some great friends, but then at the end of my 2nd year, I came home for the summer only to contract Glandular Fever. This was so bad that I had to be hospitalised and I supposed to be spending a year abroad in France in a few weeks’ time. I was so excited and was madly determined to get there.

I’m so pleased to say that I did, and went into 4th year raring to go, attending 100% of my classes. I thought I’d left CFS behind me, until I started working as a high school teacher. I was so completely involved in my work that I forget to take care of myself. I would have barely nothing to eat for dinner because I was working, had lunch on the run, did no exercise and found myself ill and off work with CFS…again.

After this I knew I had to change my agenda a little bit. I still taught but did some casual work, meaning I could sleep in in the morning and work in the afternoon. This really suited my body and this is when I really learned how to listen to my needs and put myself first.

Why I was scared

After lots of soul-searching, here is a list of the reasons I think my illness was triggered by fear in the Autumn of 2001:

* I didn’t choose Music or didn’t stand up for myself because I was frightened of disappointing my parents.

* I was frightened to follow my passion because I didn’t know what career to expect at the end of it and wanted to do the sensible thing

* I didn’t take any time out to recover from colds and flu when I was 17/18 because I was frightened of falling behind, frightened of what my teachers and classmates would think, and frightened that anything I’d miss in class would suddenly appear on the exam, and I’d fail it. Because I didn’t take time out, my immune system was shattered and I was therefore more vulnerable to CFS and flu.

* I was frightened to take time out for fear of being/appearing selfish or letting people down.

* I was petrified of what people thought of me after I had to come home from Uni and didn’t want to be branded a failure.

* In my early career, I was frightened of what my students and colleagues thought of me, and was constantly paranoid that I was a terrible teacher.

* I was terrified after University that I’d missed the boat with the Music thing and could never get it back, so anything that wasn’t Music made me feel drained, angry and resentful (ie. pretty much my whole teaching career to date).

* I used to focus far too much on the past- what if I’d done…..?, I should’ve…., How can I change my situation? 

* Ulimately, I was terrified of being me. Absolutely terrified. Would anyone like me? Would anyone accept me? Who was I without Music and my story of CFS? Most importantly though, I was petrified of being ill. I avoided going out with friends, just in case I got ill, sabotaged job opportunities in case I got ill, didn’t go to yoga in case I got ill, didn’t want to go to bed too late in case I got ill. Ironically, I was in perfect health this whole time, but was living a half-life and was virtually stuck because of self-limiting, seemingly ridiculous fear.


Picture taken from here

For years, this has been my story and I’ve finally let it go. You are not your illness. The past is just a story, and once you realise this, you can move forward with your life. As soon as I realised that I had the power to control my own journey, my healing rapidly sped up, and I began to live a pretty much normal life again.

I now focus on the present moment as much as possible. Looking back at the past with regret is in many ways useless, as you cna’t change it. I am so, so grateful for my past experiences and my illness. I am completely comfortable with myself and my life choices. I still have wobbly moments (I’m only human!), but generally I’m happier than I’ve ever been…as me.

Now: My fiancé and I moved from the UK to Australia just over two years ago and we’ve never been happier. My thirst for knowledge on all thing spiritual has led me to where I am today and I’ve learned so much recently. My health has been much improved by sessions of Energetic Healing (which I’ll tell you about next week) and I can honestly say, I love my life. I don’t think about illness, and therefore I do not attract it. I still teach, but rather than worrying about what others think of me or the fact that ‘it’s not Music’, I focus on what I can do for others

A Word of Advice

The process of healing for me has taken a lot of work, 10 years worth of work. Everyone has to follow their own path, take each day at a time and do what is right for them. If you are following medical treatment, please keep going with it- I am not a doctor and just because I realised that fear was rooted in my illness doesn’t mean that it will be the same for you. I have written this post in the hope that you might be able to reflect on your own experiences and share in mine. Recovery takes work and it is not easy. I still have days when I have to step back and realise that going to visit someone (for example) might be a bit much for me today. Be patient with yourself and love yourself every day, the good bits and the bad bits.

I hope this has helped you in some way. I’d love to hear your comments below.

Love and many blessings,

Katie     xxx


  34 Responses to “Conquering Fear Spiritually- My CFS Recovery Story”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I just finished writing a post about control and fear on my “Beyond the Cloth” blog. I recently read an article that mentioned the same thing about fear leading to illness. When fear sets in, it creates a domino effect of so many other issues. I am glad to know that you are doing good now. As I’ve grown spiritually, I realized just how much fear and rejection had dictated my life. I was kind of in shock. Because to overcome it requires the ability to actually stop in your tracks and redirect one’s thought processes. And you are so right that the time of recovery differs per person, but however long, it is very much possible!

    • I love the way you use the term ‘domino’ effect- this sums it up completely! I think for a long time I was in shock as well- my body was definitely in shock. It definitely requires overcoming negative thoughts and redirecting them in a more positive direction. Thank you so much- will definitely look up your article!

      Thanks so much, Katie xxx

  2. oh. my. goodness. there is something so familiar in all you say. i’ve known for years i had CFS, but never ever have i read this take on it. i am much older than you and have had different experiences, but some of your fears are just so close to my own. i must take some time and think on this…i can’t wait to peek through your blog for other things you have done to control your symptoms…can’t wait! thanks for an insightful post. happy to find your blog via the purpose fairy.

    • Thank you so, so much for your reply. I really hope you find something useful in my blog- it’s still quite new, but I hope it enables people to see CFS in a different light. Like us on Facebook, so you can keep up-to-date with new posts- I’d love to hear your feedback! Let me know if there are any posts you’d like me to write.

      Katie xx

      • i would love to read a bit about the part nutrition ( or the change in nutrition) has played in your recovery. sugar, gluten, etc. i often read how helpful exercise is and yet that is an area i find particularly difficult as for me, it just seems to tire me out, defeating the purpose, so i would love to read about that as well. i find your articles well thought out, written and researched!

  3. absolutely! i would love to read your thoughts on nutrition and exercise and how they have played a role in your recovery. what changes have you made? exercise is difficult as it just tires me out which seems to defeat the purpose….can’t wait to continue reading your articles which i find well written and researched.

  4. Thank you Katie for your openness and honesty. You are Spirit in a human vessel that you chose. Its not your buisness what anyone else thinks of you, its only your buisness what you think of you. Katie,you have come a long way and should be proud of yourself. I am 62 this year and have been on and still on a beautiful journey, I am an Energy Healer, thanks to me and the Universe, my past like yours was so full of fear, and today I am a fearless warrior. Thank you again.
    Infinite Love and Gratitude………..

    • Hi Christine- thank you so, so much for your comment and encouraging words. You sound like a beautiful and loving healer- your clients are so lucky to have you. Thanks again Christine! Katie xx

  5. I can so relate to your story, although no where near your success in recovery or career I realize that my cfs and fibro are affected much by stress and so have began taking time for me by meditation and yoga at home. I also see that diet and weather and attitude play a huge role in my flares so really trying to manage it better. I am fifty but mom to a nine year old and she keeps me going, I have raised her alone as her dad de died it was not for him and took off four months shy of her birth so healing from that took time but I managed. I have been dating the same man since she was two but because of his marriage ending in divorce and having three older children who have been conditioned by there mother that I am the bad girlfriend stealing there fathers time and attention they are not very kind to me and almost seem resentful of my dAughter so they make no attempt of being,a sister to her or a relationship to us other than when they come for a dinner that I prepare and only a t as if our home is there fathers. I have made a decision to leave and rent a place for me and my daughter rather than stay and feel the stress of all of this and also after eight years I see that if something happens to there dad it is me and my daughter that will be out. My hope is to be content in me to love my little girl as she is a lovely child and very bright I hope to get certified in healing and get back in to all of the things that I love so much such as aromatherapy eft juicing and even want to take up painting, I have always lived by what others thought and judged me with including my own family in all its dysfunction, coming from an alcoholic father and a mother who blamed everything on me from a very young age I have finally been able to let some of my past go and look forward to a brighter future, thank you for such an inspiring story.

    • Hi Cindy- thank you so, so much for sharing your story with me- I feel incredibly honoured. I’m absolutely over the moon that you are doing things that you love in order to heal- our pasts can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean they have to affect our present. It’s not always easy, but it definitely sounds as though you’re on the right path and stronger because of your struggles. Your little girl sounds absolutely gorgeous- pour all of your love into her, and it’ll come back to you a million times over.

      Have a beautiful day Cindy- please look after yourself, you’re so, so worth it. Thank you again for sharing your story.

      Love, Katie xx

  6. Katie…I have to chuckle as I rejoice with you in your discovery and your health improvements…and because I believe your message about fear roots. I get you Katie! I believe with all my heart we are a triune being. Spirit, Soul (emotions, mind and will) and body). One affects the other. My journey with CFS has been about 8 years. I do see progress as the “bouts” with it are fewer. I too am a teacher and never fails, come time for a break, instead of running to have fun or go on vacation, my body usually falls apart and I spend the break re-cooperating. Last summer I spent almost all summer “down”..physically and emotionally. Grant it I have been through some large stress issues near the top of the “stress chart”. Several…not one. I’ve kinda known that Fear is the root…and fear of the approval of others and what they think and fears from the past. I get it! My beliefs are that Christ (not the religiously portrayed one, but the real awesome, cool, intelligent, artistic, loves sinners, living Jesus) paid for all my imperfections and loves me deeply. My spirit is brand new…but still dealing with this mind and body.
    Grant it…He is leading me along in my healing process, and have come soooooo sooo soo far, I’m aiming for the completion. Tired of being sick and tired! You get it. Going through a rough time now (its summer) body collapsed…and sometimes get mad at myself that here I am again. THen fear rooted thoughts bombard me and makes me realize…this is more than a physical thing. I’ve faced my fears for the most part, and learning how to “let go” as you so wisely put it. Learning techniques how to do that is another story. I’m believing for my victory and working on resting and “self” this summer, changed to a clean diet and doing light exercise. Done it before but believing this is the turn around for life this time. Thanks for your awesome post. Sorry you went through it but nice to know there is someone out there who has been through it, “gets it”, and on her way to total freedom. Keep up the good work at just “being sweet you”. I love in the Bible where it says…By unmerited free favor you have been saved from darkness, not of works lest anyone should boast, but it is the FREE gift of God, eternal life through Jesus Christ”. Found in Ephesians. I need to learn to REST!! and just be me…limitations and imperfections and all. You are an awesome woman. I hope you play music of some kind for yourself. Thank you so much for sharing your journey to wellness. More, more, more to you!!!!!! Debbie/ Florida :)

    • Wow Debbie- my heart was leaping as I read your comment. I know all too well that feeling of teaching and having to spend at least half (but usually all!) of the holidays recovering from the stress of the term just gone. (Nobody really gets this about teaching and think that we just moan all the time even though ‘the holidays in teaching are great’!(!) ) I truly believe that when I stopped doing what I supposed to do (i.e. teaching) and focussed on what I wanted to do during my free time, that’s when my body would ‘detox’ energetically and cause me to be ill during my holidays. It was always a shock to the system, and I hated the feeling of not being able to use my holidays well because I was ill.

      I’m so, so glad that you’re on your way up and I truly believe that one day soon, you’ll be like me, and living your life, not just normally, but at 110% again and better than ever. Wishing you all the best in your recovery- please email me ( if you’d ever like to chat further.

      Thank you so much again Debbie- have a beautiful day!

      Katie xx

      • Hi Katie and Debbie, you have no idea how much your posts have lifted me. I’ve been ill with CFS for over 20 years, quite severely affected most of the time and very severely some of the time. I’m never free from it but I’m positive. I love Jesus too! I was the same at first believing it all to be physical but since I lost my lovely mum last year and suffered terrible physical symptoms from three severe anxiety attacks I now think it’s a combination. I’ve always struggling with fear too and not wanting to let anyone down. I was a nurse and worked with glandular fever for moths going home and collapsing to the floor with my coat and bag still on my back. I got so il that it affected my liver and eventually I couldn’t carry on due to total collapse. Once diagnosed I felt I had permission to stop. How stupid! I was never the same after GF and suffered many illness for the 11 years following. I got weaker after each problem and after my 2 children but instead of thinking about my body as a temple I ate rubbish , and pushed myself with exercise thinking I was unfit until I totally collapsed with CFS. Always so hard on myself. Always wanting everyone else to be happy regardless of how it affected my health. I’m now timing and using a heart monitor and am eating v healthily, though restricted (no sugar, gluten, dairy, tea, coffee). God is our healer but as you say it’s up to us to take proper care of ourselves and to like ourselves and not be too hard on ourselves. Thank you, lovely ladies, for your posts and God bless. If you could email me I would love that. Much love Christine (Chris) xxx

    • Hi Debbie, wow! You’re story is so like mine. I love Jesus too but feel so bad for being fearful. This illness (CFS/me) sucks the life out of us but we must keep trusting! I’m so hard on myself, always wanting others to be happy regardless of the cost to my health. I’m sick now of hearing how people have got well and have tried all their suggestions that haven’t worked for me. I’m on a v healthy diet with no treats and using a timer and heart rate monitor to pace myself. So would love a miracle but god obviously has more to teach me. He knows what we all need. God bless you! Thanks for sharing! X Chris (Christine)

  7. The problem is that fear defines most people. Many people choose safe career paths, are afraid to make waves, etc. We’re all about looking good in the eyes of our family and peers. Most of humanity takes the safe again and again even if doing so makes them feel upset, angry, frustrated, angry etc. That’s the human condition.

    I get that conquering your fears was very helpful and I do associate ME/CFS with increased; I think Gupta is correct in that, at least for me. (When I feel healthier my fear is less…) The question for me is why, off all the people running from their authentic selves,, you got sick?

    • Hi Cort- great question, thank you for asking it.

      It’s true that fear defines many people and that it’s often easier to play it safe. I think the reason I got sick was because turning against my authentic self at the age of 18 was absolutely unthinkable for me at the time. I was so sure about what I was going to be doing, and then all of a sudden I turned my back on myself and was heading in a completely unknown direction. I think this in some way put my body into extreme shock or stress-mode, and when I continued to ignore this, I became very, very sick. Maybe some people can handle stress better than others, but I really didn’t cope with this shock at all.

      Thank you again for commenting, Cort,

      • That’s just made me realise! All my life I wanted to be a teacher then at age 11 my dad, who was a teacher, had a severe breakdown and I overheard my mum saying to him it was his job that had made him ill. I remember panicking and thinking I didn’t want to be like that and from that day turned against teaching but never felt I knew what I wanted to do. I ended up nursing but caught glandular fever on the ent ward. I worked with it until collapse and diagnosis which gave me permission to rest. I was so ill it affected my liver and nervous system and I’ve not been the same since. The CFS followed 11 years later after many health problems which 1 on top of the other weakened my body more and more until I couldn’t carry on. This is such a lightbulb moment! Thank you. I’m a Christian. How did you stop and change your thinking? God bless Chris x

  8. ‘Be patient with yourself and love yourself every day, the good bits and the bad bits.’ i heart this!

  9. Thanks for this post. I just found your blog. I have adrenal burnout too and I was like you as a teen and all the way until about 38 years old! Then I finally crashed completely although the signs had been there since I was 8 years old. I look forward to exploring your site and really love all of the positive resources I’ve found so far. Thanks!!

  10. Hi Katie
    A good share – well done. I couldn’t agree more. I am now releasing a book called “I AM”… from fear to Freedom – (chronic fatigue was a call for self-love) I know chronic fear was present long before the fatigue turned up. The fear of God, life, love, what if. I was afraid of the power I had within – I wanted to be different and to shine but was afraid to do that too. Holding myself back, struggling against life and the inner war against self is what really left me sick and very tired. Now at 61 years of age, the launch of my book feels like the launch of who I really am. Sharing my very personal life with the public feels as if it was the last hurdle of fear I had to overcome to cross that fine line to freedom.

    Thank you again. Marie Brunger

  11. I’m writing this with tears streaming down my face. I’ve been struggling with vague, chronic issues for over five years. In the last two years those complaints “organized” themselves in such a way that I began to identify them as CFS. My response was to panic, withdraw, worry, obsess — what if I’m never better? What if I can’t do the things I love any more? What if I can’t be the grandmother I want to be? What if my husband feels like a prisoner of my “illness”? What if the people who admire me for my strength, vitality, and humor don’t understand? What if they think I’m a chronic malingerer? What if I let everybody in my life down? The “what ifs” go on and on.

    Like you, I’m a lifelong achiever, performing to the standards of others, intent on excelling in what I “must” do and “should” do. I was a competitive athlete into my 30’s. When I married and had kids rather late, I took that competitive drive into marriage and parenting. I would be the best partner, the best mom, the best homemaker, the best employee. I was constantly measuring myself, and anxious about falling short.

    When a very stressful period involving one of my children began almost ten years ago, I fell into a chronic, daily struggle with anxiety. Anxiety became my overriding animating characteristic. The fact that I was physically and mentally strong enabled me to hide my struggles for a number of years, even from myself. But even after the triggering stressors were eliminated, I continued to live in constant anxiety. Over the last five years I’ve had a succession of debilitating physical episodes, culminating in chronic fatigue, weakness, and pain. My children are grown and doing well in their lives, we have a more-than-comfortable life and income, with the opportunity to travel and just enjoy life. And I feel worse than ever.

    In my typical way, I set about to learn what to do to “fix” myself: What to eat, what supplements to take, what exercises to do, to get better. Of late, I’ve felt that I’m in a swirling vortex of “expert” advice, but nothing I’ve learned or done has resonated with me, or made me better. In fact, my physical state is declining.

    Over the last week, I’ve felt the need to cry — really sob — periodically. I’m not a “cry-er” (unless you count films, or even TV commercials, involving small children and animals!), so this is unusual. And with that crying I’ve had the overriding thought: “I’m afraid, I’m afraid”, with absolutely nothing to pin that fear to.

    This morning I googled “fear CFS” and your blog was the first hit on my search. My tears now are tears of relief and release. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m 63 years old, and still continuously amazed at the “accidental intersections” in my life which have turned out to be truly instructive and enlightening. I believe my “stumbling” on your blog was one of those.

    Vicky Green

    • Vicky, thank you so much for being here, my love, and for taking the time to write such a heartfelt comment. I’m sure a lot of readers can identify with the ‘what-ifs’, and when I was very sick, these certainly seemed to cloud my thoughts more than I was willing to admit. I’m still definitely a ‘what-if’ person, but have come to stop these spirals before they start. After a while, and I’m sure you can relate to this, they can drain and deplete you more than the illness itself.

      You might be interested to read two posts I wrote, one on wellness overload and the other on deciding whether you should read CFS medical articles or not. I realised long before my recovery that these article left me feeling more confused and anxious than ever, but everyone is different.

      My new book, ‘Finding M.E.’, is also available on Amazon, which might be of some interest to you. It’s not really a ‘how to’ book, but more of a personal story with lots of little lessons.

      Thank you again, my darling- sending you so much love.

      Katie xxx

  12. Thank you Katie. This is a complete mirror image of my life. We must be soul sisters. I have suffered for the past 25 years. I too am a teacher for all the wrong reasons – to make parents happy, to gain respect, status to my life etc etc. Pregnant and had to get married – terrified of reactions if I didn’t. Chronic people pleaser- terrified of what people think of me, overly nice to people I didn’t even like. Sound familiar anyone?????

  13. Hi Katie I just found this blog.
    I’ll have to read more of the posts,
    but one really hit me now.
    I am a music teacher burnout, from 3 months and the last weeks feeling the Fatigue more heavy.
    I listened to Louise Hay for many years and I also picked up some old energy healing mp3 and books, finding it helping already.

    I read this in your post:
    “I was terrified after University that I’d missed the boat with the Music thing and could never get it back, so anything that wasn’t Music made me feel drained, angry and resentful (ie. pretty much my whole teaching career to date).”

    For me, I chose music but the years at music academy crushed me, maybe for fear reason o guess, 15-20 years ago.
    I still ended up teaching and more and more this feeling came:
    Anything that IS Music is making me drained, angry, resentful and I feel invaded.
    And then it’s not such a perfect situation to be the Music “hero” teacher with 20 different classes and a band. .

    I am realising my burnout and fatigue symptoms probably come part from this.
    And so I know I have to work on it to get well.
    I can’t wait to get well and get started with yoga, after being just to tired for it for years.
    And being outdoors with my kids and run and dance with them.

    Thx writing for your story.

    Mariah, Norway

    • Hi Maria- thank you so, so much for sharing your story. I can relate to being the ‘hero’ teacher so well and there are times when I still find myself stepping into that role. One day, you will do yoga and be outdoors with your children, I know it.

      Take care, my love- xxx

  14. Hello Katie, I’ve been ill 20 years with CFS. I’m housebound and need a wheelchair when out. I have most of the symptoms. I truly think you have a point. I’ve always wanted to make people happy even at the cost of my health and once I start a thing I can’t stop until it’s done. I worked through illness (glandular fever) to not let anyone down and I couldn’t stand to think anyone thought I was weak. I’m I Christian and love the lord and hate to feel I’m letting him down. I have had many illnesses, exposure to ddt and lindane, miscarriages, pre eclampsia . postnatal depression etc but always an underlying fear. I’m finally managing the illness a bit better and not crashing all the time as I’m trying hard not to push myself for others. I wish I could speak to you. God bless. Christine

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