A Central Strategy for Recovery
Given that during my 6+ years of illness, I never met any person either with ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia, let alone one that had recovered from it, I never would have imagined that I could speak to so many people that recovered from this terrible illness.
And yet, almost every week now I meet someone that recovered. Whilst many of these interviews may not get published for various reasons including that some don’t feel comfortable sharing their personal story publically, the lessons I learn from these are nonetheless profound, even after everything I have already learned and experienced myself.
One thing that amazes me, is that many of these recovered people don’t really understand how and why they recovered, although they attribute their recoveries to many different strategies. Whilst it is obvious what has happened in their journey in the context of the explanation I give in the video series and in the book CFS Unravelled, these people often only get an instinct for what is actually going on as they complete their recoveries.
And so I wondered, how can some of these people recover from Fibromyalgia and/or ME/CFS, when they didn’t even know WHAT really causes the illness or HOW it really perpetuates? Yes, their journey and strategies and success makes sense, but how did THEY stumble into these recoveries given their lack of understanding of the pathogenesis of the illness?
Well, the answer is a common theme that keeps coming through, clearly so powerful, that I felt compelled to share it in this blog, despite the risk of being misunderstood or confusing people who are not yet fully familiar with my explanation for the root cause of the illness (please request the videos if you have not already done so).
First let me warn you that those looking for the quick fix cure will be disappointed. This is not a magic strategy, rather it is their attitude and their approach that is the key factor in so many successful recoveries. I am not sure if that is the best way to describe it, but basically what I keep seeing people do is EVERYTHING they can think of to recover, including a variety of diet and mind/body strategies. And they do this CONSISTENTLY. It is a single-mindedness and commitment to keep going and add to their strategies until they get the results they seek.
Now before I say anything, let me just say that whilst I was sick, that last paragraph would have probably made me scream and start typing an angry comment!!!
But those of you already on your path that have already learned how the illness works, will be much more open to this wisdom than I was. Either way, let me explain.
First of all, my response would have been “change of diet and mind/body strategies??? – What the???”. “How could stuff like that make any difference when we are clearly so physically ill? After all, our symptoms are not imagined!”
Well, that’s where the explanation of the root dysfunction of Fibromyalgia/ME/CFS is so important, it suddenly puts all the strategies that people use to feel better into a context that makes sense, regardless of whether they are physical treatments or psychological or mind/body strategies – they all affect the root dysfunction.
Whilst it may not make sense until you understand the root dysfunction and how the illness perpetuates, most would agree that it makes sense to simply look at the evidence of what actually works. If you look at the vast majority of recoveries on the net, whether on cfsunravelled.com, on YouTube, on health forums, or in books like Alex Barton’s 50 Recovery Stories, you will see the mind/body and diet connection repeated over and over again.
However, I know that some people try many of these strategies and still get stuck. So why is that, what is the missing ingredient? Well, it’s usually a combination of not discovering and addressing particular personal triggers of their dysfunction and not applying their healing strategies consistently. That’s where this “ATTITUDE” is so helpful, even for people who don’t understand what is going on.
So this “ATTITUDE” is about continuously adding ANYTHING you find that helps you feel better, regardless of how small the impact.
I know you might feel you have done “everything you can” as well, I know I did and I still failed to make any real progress and just got sicker for years. But what I am talking about is doing EVERYTHING at the same time! If you have read CFS Unravelled, you will see that I referred to this concept when I spoke about the analogy of the houseboat with the different anchors, and how you needed to bring up ALL the anchors to make a shift.
Now, not only does this reduce the pressure on the root dysfunction I describe in the videos, but it also often uncovers these missing or hidden triggers, because it is such an all-encompassing approach.
Lynn articulated this well with her mantra, which I have since then adopted – “Make every choice your best choice!” From what you eat, to who you spend time with, to what you think, to the type of tea you drink and the treatments you have. ANYTHING you do in life, try to make a tiny improvement to move you towards good health.
I keep saying that recovery is a journey, a shift in how we think of the world and our place in it. Well, I must admit that during the years I was sick, I would probably have been infuriated by Lynn’s comments. Here I was, seriously ill and unable to do anything to recover, and someone talks to me about making tiny improvement and what tea I choose – GIVE ME A BREAK!!!
But with the understanding of how the root dysfunction creates all the dysfunctions and symptoms and HOW recovery happens (click here if you haven’t seen the videos yet), this strategy which on the surface has no real direction or relevance suddenly makes sense. It makes more than sense, it is probably the key even for those that are approaching their recovery with a detailed action plan still searching for that final 10% of the puzzle for their own recovery – still trying to identify the major conditioned response that has never identified and interrupted. Most importantly, it is the combination of all these tiny seemingly insignificant actions that contribute to relieve enough pressure on the root mechanism to tip the system back into homeostasis.
Think about this for a moment, if other people can recover without even understanding what is wrong or how their symptoms are triggered and perpetuated, then what are your chances of success WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE if you follow in their footsteps and adopt their “MAKE EVERY CHOICE MY BEST CHOICE ATTITUDE”?
I hope this reinspires not just your recovery actions, but also your commitment to listen to recovery interviews. When you listen to the interviews carefully, you will pick up on the subtle shifts people make and the connection to the root dysfunction and the strategies I describe in the book.
Whilst clearly, we all have the same root dysfunction, even if triggered differently and with some different secondary dysfunctions, the lessons we can learn from each other are profound and powerful ways to accelerate our own recoveries.
So review your action plan and make every choice your best choice!
I Recovered about 75 percent but slipped back then re-read Dan,s book over and over . I realised stress was my major trigger along with poor diet so I worked slowly at changing my attitude towards both and as I did so I continued to improve .
Yes !!!! change anything as long as it feels better and Believe in dan 100 percent . I am now around 90 percent recovered but have a knowing that I will be fully recovered in time .
Great to hear about progress Tom – well done and keep going, I look forward to sharing your story one day! 🙂
This article resonates deeply, Dan. From day 1, my attitude was I need to and I will beat this illness. But there were dark days from that day till I finally recovered. And yes, I did everything – starting with “real things” I read from your book/website like diet changes, supplements, getting the right and understanding medical practitioner (a naturopath in my case) but later including things I previously considered “silly” like Gupta’s amygdala retraining which I believe got me over an important hump. I recall feeling so silly standing in my living room following the video training but yet… Read more »
Good for you Wale – yes, I would never have been open to the things I did during my recovery, let alone the Gupta programme, without this understanding. Contact me if you would like to share your recovery story now! 🙂
I have to agree that this is true. I got sick back in Dec 2013, and was one of the worst cases I have ever heard about. I was completely unable to sit or stand, I had seizure-like attacks constantly, I could not type, I was sometimes unresponsive although I could hear people speaking to me I was just unable to respond. I got worse until about April 2014 when I finally turned a corner. At that point I started to be able to type a little bit and I saw one of Dan’s videos, although I didn’t totally get… Read more »
Hi Lisa, thanks for your comments – yes, it can be overwhelming to do ANYTHING when we are that sick, I remember going to toilet, showering and eating was an ordeal at times, let alone all the other things required. But little steps add up over time and as you get better, you do more. So keep going Lisa – you are in the danger zone where people stop because they feel better and then they have relapses and more flare ups – the key is to keep goign until you are really well again – don’t settle for getting… Read more »
After 17 years of CFS I had a massive relapse with the same symptoms you described (neurological)….nobody knew what was going on….as it turns out it was a frightening expression of the illness after many month of emotional stess…..the Gupta Programme helped get me out of it once I realized what was wrong and also check out all new sites that was not around when I was looking for answers like this one. I am a lot better now but need more time and effort for further improvements.
Louise, I’m sorry to hear you had a relapse. What a great thing that you realized what was happening, though, and were able to do something about it. I am also doing the Gupta Programme, and it has definitely helped. I have a ways to go yet, but taking it day by day. Take care , you will get to the other side of this in time.
It has been a long journey, but worthwhile. I had to first address the emotional baggage but was so grateful for recovery, diagnosed with PTSD. Yes, it is all related and I have done it without much medications though my doctor follows my progress. It’s finally putting yourself first, getting to know YOU, making the best of choices for you. When your intuition is telling you a treatment is hurting and not helping, stop and follow another path. I am happier today because of CFS, making me stop and seek help.
Thanks for your comment Patti. Have you made a full recovery yet?
Recovery? I don’t believe so, but we all have our challenges..I also had a whiplash injury when I became ill with mono and dx’d with CFS, and was literally tongue-tied with the fatigue,which was helped with massage therapy. Yoga keeps the core muscles strong. Along the way, I have been dx’d with arthritis, deg. disc. disease, spinal stenosis, along with cfs and fms, but I am functioning very well. I use supplements, no meds, hot epsom salt baths, keep physically and socially active. Having a dog especially helps with exercise and staying motivated. Helping others is extremely beneficial. With age… Read more »
Absolutely spot on. It’s a single-minded determination to beat the odds and come out on top. If I had listened to the “medical” advice I was being given, instead of to my body, I would still be down. It’s mind/body/spirit in its truest sense fuelled by pure, clean, nutritious food. No holds barred.
Glad it resonated with you. Nothing like experience in life to give us conviction!
All it takes ..is everything!
Great stories Dan, keep em coming. 🙂
Thanks for your comment Ket.
would you explain this a little more: >…you are in the danger zone where people stop because they feel better and then they have relapses and more flare ups…< that is exactly my experience! every time I get better und the body wants to behave normally (doing more, talking more,…) strong relapses come! thank you 🙂
Hi Sarah The problem is twofold. First, when people make progress they often stop using the strategies that allowed them to do so as they lose motivation and are ‘happy’ with how things are. It is key to follow through until you experience a full and robust recovery. Secondly, simply reducing stressors is not the answer. As you point out, as soona s you re-introduce them flare ups come back. So avoidance is only a band-aid solution. The key is to retrain the nervous system to behave normally so that we can engage in these activities without flare ups. You… Read more »
thank you, that helps a lot to understand better what happens! I think it is time to not avoid any more the stressors but learn to deal with them without bad relapses. I think I will use some techniques to calm down the nervous system WHILE dealing with the stressors, not afterwards because then it is too late, but at the time when the nervous system starts to overreact.
Sarah, yes, resetting the ANS is key, and it must be done in a daily basis, and in several ways, which are covered in Dan’s program. When you are doing the program and making progress toward recovery you can begin to think of a relapse as”information” rather than a setback. It becomes almost like a game of this if we, where there may be two steps forward and then a half step back, but you begin to better understand why, and what to do before and after, and when the recovery momentum builds you have to remain vigilant, to keep… Read more »
Hi Dan, Thanks a lot for this article and all the help you give us! I’ve read cfs unravelled and found it to be very helpful and now I’m putting together my own action plan. But there’s still one question I’d like to ask you. It’s amazing to see all these people in the interviews who recovered from seemingly severe CFS etc. But, as somebody with a rather “light” version of cfs it’s still a bit hard for me to understand why it seems to be so hard for ME to recover from cfs when other people with much worse… Read more »
Surprisingly, severity isn’t really the biggest factor. In my experience, more severely ill people sometimes do better because they tend to be more motivated to do whatever needs to be done to recover. In fact, I think you poignantly pointed that out in your comment – you ‘haven’t yet done everything at the same time.’ This is why ANS REWIRE focusses so much on the virtual coaching side, to help you to move forward. The differences in severity have to do with how the illness has progressed, so this often depends on what further stressors people experience and the choices… Read more »
Thank you so much! Your work gives my faith back. And strength. Also brings me out of my isolation as I see so many other people experienced similar. So, I might be on the right track.
I would like to thank you for the information in your book. It makes sense of this illness. I have had CFS for 7 years now and am on a plateau….do more and I take a step backward! I did decide to have a massage to see if it would help, I hold a lot of tenson in my jaw shoulders and neck. Interestingly, I had a build up of lactic acid pressing on the vagal nerve! Felt much more relaxed afterward and hope this will help me stay in the PNS for longer. I am sure there must be… Read more »
Glad it resonated.
You may also find the 4 free intro lessons of ANS REWIRE helpful. 😉