Published on December 23, 2020 by Dan Neuffer
Last updated on December 23, 2020 by Dan Neuffer

4 comments

Luke shares what CBT for CFS had to do with his recovery

Vera Wilhelmsen suffered with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 3 out of 6 years of being ill with ME/CFS.

We speak about the interaction of her complex PTSD with her ME/CFS and how she recovered from both in parallel.

Here is her severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome recovery interview where she details the approach that worked for her.

Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page!

Transcript:

Dan Neuffer: Severe chronic fatigue syndrome or severe myalgic encephalomyelitis – sometimes, when people get diagnosed, they hear about these stories where people end up being very severely ill, and it can be quite scary. We’ve got to remember that most people are not going to experience this kind of thing, but some of us – including myself – have experienced very severe symptoms and been in a severe state.

We can wonder, “How is it possible to recover?”

Now, if you don’t have severe chronic fatigue syndrome or severe myalgic encephalomyelitis, I suggest that you skip this interview but, if it is something that you’re dealing with, then this interview could be one of the most inspirational ones for you.

When we are bedridden with MECFS, you can feel really helpful. You can feel unresourceful and very vulnerable. It can be very difficult to think, “How can I possibly move forward? How can I help myself? How can things change if there’s nothing I can do?” But it’s interesting. There ’s always something we can do. In fact, even nothing is something when we do it the right way.

  

This wonderful interview is a great story of recovery from severe chronic fatigue syndrome with Vera.

Vera shares how she coped and how she took some bold steps, how she pushed through her difficulties with even being able to communicate or take information in from people – whether that be audio or video or seeing anyone face to face – and how she progressed and took some very big and bold steps.

Vera showed an amazing amount of courage. I hope you are inspired, and I hope you gain some powerful insights about how to recover from severe chronic fatigue syndrome.

I am very excited to share another recovery interview. Today, I am speaking with Vera from Norway.

Hi Vera! How is it going?

Vera: Hi. Good! How are you?

Dan: Yeah, I’m great! It’s lovely we managed to connect via the internet – I think, on Instagram.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: You popped up on my sphere because I noticed you were doing a lot of positive advocacy work, spreading the positive messages about CFS and ME, and your personal experience. You were actually ill for a number of years. Is that right?

Vera: Yeah. Like, seriously ill, bedbound for three years, but the decline was maybe six years.

Dan: Six years. Okay.

Vera: Or like three years before three years. Six years altogether, I would say.

Dan: Okay. So, three years before bedbound, three years bedbound, and then three years after bedbound?

Vera: No, three years before bedbound, three years bedbound, recovered.

Dan: Okay. So, let’s start at the beginning. I mean, what happened? Were you always healthy and fit before you started to get ill? Or did it come on slowly? Did it come on quickly? What happened?

Vera’s health before the onset of severe CFS (severe ME)

Vera: Well, I’ve never been, like, struggling with my health before that, but I always had, like, little things  – like a lot of eczema, acne. In high school, I was always getting a lot of tendonitis and inflammation in my muscles.

Looking back, it all makes sense because I was under a lot of stress back then as well, but my health deteriorated to another level in my 20’s. At 20, that was when the decline began, and I began having a lot of stomach issues, digestive issues, and I got diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome the year I started university. So, it was a mess. And then, I was just trying to survive university and just trying to function while basically not digesting anything. That went on for three years until I collapsed.

Dan: Three years. When you’re saying you weren’t able to digest anything, I mean, can you tell us a bit more about what that was like? I mean, were you hungry all the time? Were you able to eat foods? What was happening?

Vera: I mean that I wasn’t able to eat without having pain. Yeah, that gives you a really complicated relationship with food. Like, “I need food. I am hungry, but this will give  me bloating and horrible pain and nausea.”

Dan: Where was the pain?

Vera: Mostly like the large intestine, I would say – like bloating, pain, cramping. It was really painful to sit in classes – hard to sit down. So, I would excuse myself and go and stand in the bathroom and breathe. Yeah, it was really hard to focus.

Dan: That’s not the life of a 20-year-old at university that we aim for, is it?

Vera: No.

Dan: What had happened leading up to that? Did anything happen in the 12 to 18 months before these symptoms came on?

Vera gut symptoms leading up to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Vera: I was travelling when my stomach really deteriorated. I was in Brazil for three months, and that’s where I really started having trouble. But now, looking back at it, I won’t say that traveling caused it. I would say stress caused it.

I hadn’t yet come to this realization at the time, but I grew up in psychological abuse, and there was so much pressure on me to achieve and to become an engineer. And so, I think that when I was beginning university, the stress really ramped up because I was like, “Okay. Now, I have to do it. My whole life has been leading up to this.” It felt like life or death that I became an engineer.

Dan: Well, why was there so much pressure to do that?

Vera: I don’t know. I think it was – that’s a really hard question. Why I was fed this? Because, in psychological abuse, there’s an expression called the “double bind” and it means you’re, like, put in this trap that says like, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” So, I was told that, “If you don’t become an engineer, you will suffer, you will starve, you will get sick, divorced,” – all the bad things that can happen to a family or a person were because they didn’t have a lot of education, basically.

This put the fear of God in me, so I thought that, if I didn’t become an engineer, I would struggle to survive, basically. But, as I started university, my parents seemed displeased and didn’t want to hear about it. If I told them about some good results, they would get this displeased face.

Dan: Did you ask them why they were showing a displeased face?

Vera: No.

Dan: Well, why do you think they were displeased?

Vera: I think it was because they basically didn’t want me to succeed or to surpass them in success or in happiness, basically. It’s what I realized later.

Dan: Yeah, it’s difficult. Many parents have good intentions, but we all have our own baggage. Sometimes, we’re not very good at not placing that onto the next generation.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: Perhaps you see it differently.

Vera: I also think some parents don’t have good intentions as well.

Dan: Yeah?

Vera: That’s my experience.

Dan: That’s your experience.

Vera: It’s extremely confusing, yeah.

Dan: No, I understand.

So, you studied, you started getting irritable bowel syndrome, pain, bloating. Did you have any other symptoms?

The neurological and other ME/CFS symptoms leading up to Vera becoming bedbound with severe ME/CFS

Vera: Yes, my skin problems also worsened around the time my digestion worsened which makes a lot of sense. I also felt a lot of brain fog. I couldn’t focus. I remember I would just read the same lines over and over again in my textbooks. It didn’t stick.

Dan: You couldn’t understand.

Vera: I couldn’t process it or understand, yeah.

I also felt hot – like, hot flashes; a little dizzy, not a lot, but just like this low-grade dizziness. It was like I didn’t feel grounded and in my body.

Dan: Did the symptoms keep growing and changing over those first three years before you become bedbound? Was there fatigue from the very beginning? Or did it just grow? How was that?

Vera: I feel like these symptoms that I just mentioned were pretty constant until, like, three years. And then, it just rapidly grew worse. I would say I felt a lot more hot, I was sweating all the time – even when it was cold. I felt more dizzy, and the fatigue, I feel like it came over a summer, but nothing, like, special happened. I think it was more, like, since I had been in this state for so long, I had reached a new state of depletion and deterioration.

Dan: It’s pretty tough going when you’re feeling that sick.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: It takes it out of you, doesn’t it?

So, did you get a diagnosis then of CFS or ME at any stage?

Vera: Yes, but two years into being bedbound was when I got the diagnosis.

Dan: Wow. So, what were the doctors saying there? Did they say, “All these symptoms come from irritable bowel syndrome”?

Vera: They weren’t really saying anything, actually. It was more like, “We can’t find anything.”

One doctor even said, “For me, you could run a marathon tomorrow. I don’t care.” It was extremely frustrating. I felt like no one was really concerned about this 23-year-old who couldn’t go to university and couldn’t walk, basically.

After those first three years, I got new symptoms – very neurological symptoms. The examination in the healthcare system was very neurologically focused. I started to lose function in my feet first. I couldn’t really walk. I could only limp. My feet felt so weird. They felt extremely heavy and light at the same time. When I closed my eyes, I couldn’t tell where they were in space. I couldn’t straighten my knees. I couldn’t stand up straight. If I tried, I would shake. So, I was walking in these, like, squats – limping and squatting.

After a few months, it happened in my hands as well. My hands were clenched in fists for, like, two years. I couldn’t use them, and there was a lot of pain as well – like, electric shocks going up and down my nerves.

I was examined for MS – like, nerve tissue deterioration, all those things – but they couldn’t find anything. When they couldn’t find anything, they just said, “I don’t know,” and there was no help or treatment. I was just left to myself, basically.

Vera diagnosed with ME/CFS and her severe bedbound stage starts

Dan: Did they then diagnose you with CFS or ME after all that when they ruled out the other things?

Vera: Yes. First, they said, like, post-viral fatigue. And then, six months later or something, I got the CFS.

Dan: And you were bedbound at this stage?

Vera: Yes.

Dan: So, before the diagnosis, what were you thinking? What’s going through your mind? I mean, that’s obviously a pretty extreme experience.

Vera: First, I was thinking, “Did I get a bug in Brazil? Has it been eating me for years now?” or “Do I have this low-grade infection?” But they couldn’t find any weird bugs or infections. And then, I truly believed I was going to become paralysed. I truly believed my nervous system was, like, deteriorating.

Dan: Because it was!

Vera: And I wasn’t getting any treatment.

Dan: You know, obviously, it’s getting worse and worse.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: It’s not like you’re imagining it.

Vera: Yeah.

So, I thought I would end up bedbound or best in a wheelchair. I thought I never would have function in my hands and fingers again. I also had trouble moving my eyes. My eyes felt stiff. It was hard to move them to the side. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this. This was how I felt when I was bedbound. It was extreme fatigue, but it was also I just couldn’t walk. I couldn’t move, yeah. It was just like this psychological torture for years, yeah.

Dan: So, how do you hang on mentally? How did you hang on through those times?

Vera: I feel like you kind of dissociate – is that the word? Yeah, you’re kind of not there. You kind of just go away in your mind.

Vera’s lifeline to help her get out of severe ME/CFS

Dan: And where do you go to?

Vera: Mostly, I’d try to sleep and just not be awake. Yeah, it was horrible. If I didn’t have the internet, I don’t know if I would have survived because listening to audio books – like, my eyes hurt, so it was hard to watch a lot of YouTube, but I listened to YouTube videos and that kept me alive, basically.

Dan: Like escapism?

Vera: Yeah, but also the things that I learnt on YouTube accumulated into my recovery. It started as an escape but ended up being like a life raft.

Dan: What kind of things did you listen to?

Vera: I discovered self-help for the first time. That really planted seeds within me that you can actually change your life and you can actually grow and heal and discover yourself and get to know yourself. That was exactly what I needed.

I was watching a lot of Lavendaire on YouTube. She has a lot of journaling prompts and stuff which is really nice, and she has a podcast, and a guest on that podcast had a story that ended up changing my life that led to me trying the treatment that ended up in my recovery. It was like a chain of events that I’m so grateful for.

Dan: It’s amazing. You know, you can’t move, you feel so sick. It’s hard to cope. You’re in that bed in that room, and we can feel like we’re trapped, can’t we? But, when we have some sort of a window to the outside, and we have the power of our mind to do something – even if it’s a little something – even if that little something doesn’t even necessarily fix anything, it can lead to something that can fix something. Or maybe make things just a little bit better, yeah?

Vera: Yes.

Dan: As I talk to people when they’re in these dire situations, you know, we make these projections. I mean, like you were thinking, “Okay. I’m never going to walk. I’m never going to get my life back. I’m going to be in a wheelchair or bedbound.” You know, all of this is conjecture. It’s not fact. It’s a possibility, but it’s not a fact.

It’s important, I think, to remember in these moments that what’s going on through our mind is not a fact. It feels like a fact because it’s happening right now, but it doesn’t mean that’s our future, is it? I love how you just escapism and you found your life after, it’s fantastic!

Now, what was everyone else around you saying? I mean, did you have any close friends?

Vera: Yes, I kind of lost touch with most people at that time because I was just – answering messages and stuff was just too much for me. So, I did go a long time with only texting friends twice a year. I was extremely isolated because I didn’t want to set off any of the neurological symptoms, so I tried to not have as much notifications and input, basically. I wanted to be in control of all the noises.

Dan: Your stimulus.

Vera: Yes, the stimulus.

Dan: Everyone who’s got it knows what you’re talking about. We all know what you’re talking about.

And so, at this stage, obviously, you’re very poorly. You’re bedbound. You’ve still got, presumably, the gut symptoms. You’ve got the brain fog. You’ve got severe fatigue, and you’ve got the difficulty with, presumably, lights and sounds in general?

Vera: Yes, the sound was worse.

Dan: What about smells?

Vera: I didn’t really have a problem with smell.

Dan: Okay. Did you have any other symptoms? Any other cardiac symptoms – palpitations? Did you develop POTS or anything like that?

Vera explains what life with severe ME/CFS is like and treatments she tried

Vera: I don’t think I had POTS, but towards the end of my bedbound period – which was, like, the worst – I lost a lot of weight and I got the heart palpitation.

Dan: Did you notice that certain foods were setting you off more than others? Did you try any diets?

Vera: Yes, I was on the low-FODMAP diet for a long time if you’ve heard of that.

Dan: Did it help?

Vera: Yeah, a little, but not fully. It was the best thing I tried before Ayurveda which is what worked. I also tried keto diet but, yeah, that made me very dizzy and my blood sugar just went too low.

Dan: Were you living with your parents at the time?

Vera: Yes.

Dan: So, how was that? Were they looking after you?

Vera: Yeah, but I was very careful not to ask for more than the absolute necessities. Every time I was out of bed for ten minutes, my mum would start talking about what my peers were doing and how they were succeeding, and it was just horrible.

Dan: It doesn’t sound like there was much understanding for what you were going through.

Vera: No.

Dan: What about your dad?

Vera: No, I think I only had eye contact with him two times in my entire life. He doesn’t talk. He’s in his own world. There was no support or love.

Dan: No nurturing.

Vera: Nor a relaxing atmosphere. I was walking on eggshells – extremely walking on eggshells.

Dan: That’s not great. I think anyone who knows what it’s like to walk on eggshells can relate to that, but I think anyone who knows what it’s like to have CFS/ME recognizes that that’s like walking on eggshells on top of a volcano.

Vera: Yes, I felt like I was constantly drowning, and everything was unstable.

Dan: We’re going to talk about, obviously, your turning point. You already mentioned how – I can never say the word – Ayurveda played a part in that. Before we launch into that, I want to talk a little bit about this whole thing about  being so helpless, so vulnerable, so unsupported. You know, other people who are supported, they don’t feel supported because, even with the best support, it doesn’t necessarily change, and people don’t understand what you’re going through, so sometimes people are trying to be kind, and it’s almost worst than being left alone. Like, there’d be some people who’d be jealous of being left and not spoken to, do you know what I mean? It’s funny. There are different types of pain out there. But the point is it all seems so hopeless, you know.

Just take us on a journey. How do you get out of this when everything keeps getting worse and keeps getting worse? You can’t take the stimulation. I mean, how do you move forward a little bit? Tell your story. You’re in bed. You haven’t gone anywhere. You can’t talk – well, you can talk, but you can’t have people talking to you.

Vera: Yeah, exactly.

Dan: How do you get out of that?

Vera’s education to lead her out of severe ME/CFS

Vera: Well, I had to push myself and push through some symptoms to read books and get some new input and new information because, if you change nothing, nothing will change, right? Because I tried to rest my way out of it, but that didn’t really work. Maybe it would have worked if I was in an environment where I could truly rest – which I wasn’t, so maybe rest works. I don’t know.

Dan: Yeah, there’s a big difference between rest and lying down in bed all day. They are not the same thing.

Vera: Yeah, I was lying down, but in constant panic. Sometimes, I would just get this strong gut instinct that I need to read this book or watch this video, and I just followed those instincts and that’s where I found the answers.

Dan: What would happen afterwards? Would you pay for your efforts with flare-ups and worsening?

Vera: Yes, definitely. If I read a book, I would get a huge headache. Maybe the next day or the day after, I can read some more. It was horrible but, over time, these books and these videos on different subjects accumulated into my recovery.

Dan: Did you find that it changed you psychologically – to be able to read something, to give you some strength?

Vera: Definitely.

Vera Watched Videos about Trauma and Meditation; then she experienced the internal healing process

Dan: What were the books that you found were the biggest uplifting moments? What were the early books? What gave you the idea that you could possibly do something? I mean, you mentioned, obviously, you listened to one podcast, but can you sort of share any other experiences?

Vera: I started watching videos on trauma – on how to heal from trauma. I guess I had this knowing that, at some in my life, I would have to work through the emotional trauma I’d been put through, and I just got so interested in this, and I remember reading The Completion Process by Teal Swan. Like, if you feel your feelings, they actually go away like you’re clearing them out. If you avoid feeling and remembering, then you will just carry it along with you and it will fester in you. I was just like, “This makes so much sense!”

When I was in bed – excuse me – I was trying to begin this internal healing process, but it was too early because I was still being traumatized. Like, there’s no point in trying to heal while you’re still being stabbed, you know, but like everything I learnt about this, I’ve been doing now after I’ve recovered, and it has changed my life, and is still changing my life.

I kind of discovered meditation and what that can do for you. I slowly began changing my mindset into, like, “Yeah, my life is like destroyed right now, but maybe it’s happening for a reason. Maybe it’s happening for me. Maye it’s like a clearing so that new things can grow,” and it really has been that way, and I started to look at symptoms – like, “This symptom is trying to tell me something, and when I learn what that is, it will go away,” and that is so true. Everything I learnt and realized, I started feeling better.

My body was screaming at me and I started to, instead of going to the doctors and getting them to tell me what was going on with me, I tried to figure it out myself instead and listen and look for lessons and messages. That really made it so much easier. Suddenly, instead of feeling stuck, I felt like I was on this journey. Yeah, that really helped me to look at it that way.

Dan: Because it’s empowering. Once you are involved in the process, it’s empowering, isn’t it? You’re doing something, and there will be some kind of change, and that means you have some power. So, what were those things? What were the things you realized? What were the meanings of certain symptoms? What did you actually do? I mean, you did the meditation, you did the learning, but what else did you actually do and how did that translate into a change in your symptoms?

Vera uses Ayurveda treatments that kickstart to her physical recovery from severe ME/CFS

Vera: What I actually did on the physical level was Ayurveda which is the traditional health system of India. I know that sounds really weird, but I have been researching what was going on in my stomach for a while. When I heard about Ayurveda, I felt like I was someone new – the pieces I was missing – like, “This is what I’ve been looking for all this time!”

All these connections in your body and learning Ayurveda also made it so much easier to understand the symptoms. Now I know that, if I eat a lot of vinegar, then I will feel hot and get eczema. And so, I was beginning to look for these little connections.

I first heard about Ayurveda in the Spring of 2018. That was one year before my recovery. I thought I would have to go to India to get treatment, and that wasn’t possible at all, of course. And so, I just read The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda really fast. I pushed through the headaches and everything because I just knew there was something here. I tried to implement things here and there.

Dan: Like what kind of things?

Vera Explains the connection of her digestive issues and Ayurveda treatments for ME/CFS

Vera: Like not eating when you aren’t hungry. They tell you your digestion is kind of like a cooking pot. We cook in batches. If the previous meal is being cooked right now and assimilated, don’t put any fresh food on top of it that disturbs the last meal – things like that. When you take care of this digestive fire, it brings up your energy, brings up your immunity.

Instead of eating cold or iced food and drinks – that’s like putting ice cubes on a fire, you know? I started to drink lukewarm water to help my digestion instead of cold water – little things like that – and I began to notice that eating very dry food – which I was constantly eating bread, cereal, salads – that increases the dryness. You take on the quality of the food. That leads to constipation, bloating, dry skin. So, I’ve switched to eating cooked and warm and mushy foods, and that helped.

Dan: Because people talk a lot about this, and they have so many ideas and thoughts and everyone disagrees when it comes to diet and what’s good for you, right?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: One of the things I think that people have to recognize is that there isn’t one answer here.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: The answer that you really seek is what’s good for you as opposed to what’s good for everyone and what’s good for you right at this moment, yeah?

Vera: Yes, and that’s what Ayurveda takes into account. There’s no one diet. What state of balance or imbalance are you in right now? What is your body type that is underlying in all of this? What’s the season right now and how is that affecting our bodies?

Right now, it’s Fall, and it’s getting very dry, and we are also getting dry. So, to counteract that, Ayurveda recommends eating more soups and stews in the Fall to not get so constipated because I had severe constipation when I was bedbound. This also leads to more anxiety and nervous system symptoms because—

Dan: Because the gut is directly connected to the nervous system, right?

Vera explains the procedure of Panchakarma treatment for ME/CFS with the help of her Ayurvedic practitioner

Vera: Yeah, and you are, like, lacking fats and moisture and insulation in your nervous system. It’s so simple, but so genius, but it feels hard to see. Like, I noticed little changes – like, my skin became better – but the fatigue was still very strong, but I actually found an Ayurvedic practitioner in my city, in the middle of nowhere, Norway, that had just moved here two years ago.

She came to my house. On the first consultation, she told me – not that long ago – that she remembers that, and I was having trouble sitting up and looking at her. My eyes couldn’t focus. I was just, like, swaying and my eyes were, like, blurry, but she came to my house together with this Indian doctor which we Skyped with who is a doctor in Western medicine and Ayurveda. Designed treatment for me.

Dan: What was that treatment?

Vera: It’s called Panchakarma. That means “five actions” in Sanskrit. They have five major treatments and tools to choose from, depending on the case. So, I didn’t do all the five. I did three. Also, herbs. So, yeah, I’ll start from the beginning.

Panchakarma is a very gentle and mild kind of a cleanse. There might be a little bit of fasting in there, but not like the fast that we know in the west now where there’s five days. An Ayurvedic fast will look more like two days of eating soup with spices. It’s gentle.

So, I did lymph massage with herbal oils and sweating in steam. The first two days, I didn’t sweat. But, after two days, I started sweating again. I hadn’t in a long while. Yeah, I was really out of balance.

Dan: So, where did you go to sweat?

Vera: Usually, you go to the clinic. You first get the massage, and then you sit in this box which we improvised in my house. I was sitting in a bathtub with a shower curtain and she has this steamer. It worked. I also did – this is going to sound really weird, but – herbalised oil enemas because I had such severe constipation for many years. Also, herbalise oil up the sinuses because, in Ayurveda, they believe the sinuses are like the door to the brain – for calming the nervous system and stuff.

Also, for the duration of the treatment, I was eating only rice and lentils with spices – really easy to digest. It didn’t give me any bloating or fatigue. I just felt so energised, suddenly, after the meals because I could actually digest it.

Dan: Literally only rice and lentils?

Vera: Yes, with spices.

Dan: At least it would taste of something with the spices.

Vera: Yes, like turmeric and lime and cilantro.

And so, this was from the 21st of January 2019 to the 15th of February 2019. On the 10th of February, I was taking the bus. I did the rest of the treatment at the clinic downtown.

Vera dramatic ME/CFS recovery using Ayurveda

Dan: After six weeks?

Vera: After ten days.

Dan: Oh, ten days!

Vera: I went from bedbound to out in the world in, like, ten days.

Dan: Wow! Okay! Sorry, I thought you said from the beginning of January, did you say?

Vera: Yes, it started in January, and ended up in February, so it was 16 days altogether of this treatment.

Dan: Wow! You must have been like, “This is so weird.”

Vera: Yeah. Like, my anxiety was through the roof – being out in the world. All the people, all the noises, all the visual stimuli, but my energy was there. I didn’t have any muscles. I was super skinny and felt see-through, but I didn’t feel fatigued, so I actually got a little pain in my legs because I suddenly started walking so much, and I had to pace myself. My energy was there, but my body hadn’t caught up, and this all comes down to digestion.

Dan: So, I mean, you’re out of the house, but that’s a long way from being healthy and normal again, so I imagine the story didn’t end after ten days.

Vera: No.

Dan: Where does it go from there? What percentage functioning do you think you were? I mean, obviously, huge – let’s not discount it. I mean, from bedbound to being able to get on the bus, that’s huge. We’re going virtually from zero percent functioning – one percent functioning or whatever you want to call it, five percent functioning to—

Vera: Minus 20.

Dan: Yeah, minus 20 to maybe what? 20 or 30 percent functioning? Is that what you would say?

Vera: Yeah. Like, 40 maybe? Like, I wasn’t working or anything, but I was seeing friends and I was cooking more.

Dan: Yeah.

Vera: Yeah, living life.

Dan: What did you do then? You mentioned meditation. Had you already been doing the meditation at this stage?

Vera starts the rejuvenation and rebuilding phase in Ayurveda to help her gain weight

Vera: Yes, but it was really hard being in that panicky bedbound state, so I wouldn’t say I was going into deep meditative states. I mostly did guided meditations on YouTube, listening to them because it did help me a relax a little.

So, yeah, after I was suddenly catapulted into the world again, I started this rejuvenation and rebuilding phase in Ayurveda. I was taking herbs for – I don’t know – six months to help me gain weight. Just to support and rebuild my body after having indigestion for so long because nothing works when you don’t adjust. I was eating, like, ghee, clarified butter, and just trying to gain weight.

Dan: What was your diet like? After the rice and lentils, where do you go from there?

Vera Explains the details of her diet transition from bedbound and after bedbound

Vera: I actually kept eating that for a while because I was so scared that I would go back if I ate something else. Looking back, I ate that for too long, and it made me a little skinny. But I began living more Ayurvedically. Like, I do eat meat now, and pretty normal food. I know I can digest it now. I eat it when I’m truly hungry. Like, I know I can handle it, and I don’t eat heavy foods late at night when the digestive fire is lower.

I would say I also always eat the heaviest meal for lunch because that’s when the fire is the strongest, and that’s where you kind of need the energy the most as well, so I would say I eat dinner foods for lunch, and I still do. Often, more like vegetarian food for dinner. That’s kind of what I try to do.

Dan: I see where you are now, and I see where you were there, but I’m curious – how did you transition? Like I said, rice and lentils, and now you’re eating, as you described, a balanced diet of all kinds of foods – you know, mindful about when you eat and all this but, presumably, the eating of vegetables, meats, all kinds of foods now.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: Fruits.

Vera: Yeah, fruits.

Dan: How did you go from rice and lentils to a normal diet in essence? Well, “normal” is a strong word. I mean, there’s a lot of normal out there that’s really not normal, but you know what I mean – a range of foods.

Vera: Yeah. Like, I had learnt that bloating and pain often came from undercooked food – basically, too raw, too hard to digest. So, I began eating, like, cooked fruits before I ate the fruits.

Dan: Was this the low-FODMAP foods that you were eating at first?

Vera: No.

Dan: When you transitioned, I’m kind of curious, what’s the first meal? You eat rice and lentils. What’s the first thing you eat, and then what do you eat after that? It’s obviously a little while ago, so if I’m asking this too specific, that’s okay, but there’s people who are curious, you know.

Vera: I think I began with soups and porridge stuff – cooked the right way.

Dan: Yes.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: So, soups with vegetables?

Vera: Yeah. Or, like, sweet potato soup. And then, I just started trying things, and I noticed that, when I did eat a salad, I did get bloating again. But if the salad was more cooked – there’s grains in it and not just raw vegetables – then it’s fine. Then, I don’t get bloating. It’s like those little adjustments that you kind of learn with Ayurveda.

Since I was more in balance and more in line with my body type, I could begin eating for my body type. I’m kind of like the “fire” body type. It’s called “pitta.” I easily get oily red skin, acid reflux, and I don’t feel well in the sun. That’s a body type. And so, I do best with reducing spices and vinegar and ketchup and all those things and eating a lot of vegetables and grapes and sweet fruits, yeah.

I noticed I can tell how much better my skin is. This pitta pacifying diet it’s called.

Dan: And these are the foods, if you think about it, that your ancestors would have been eating, right? In Norway.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: Right? If you go back, even just not long – I mean, I’m not talking about 5,000 years, but even if we go back 500 years, right?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: So, even very recently, I mean, I don’t think they were eating spicy curries with vinegar chips, you know.

Vera Explains the important distinctions for the Ayurveda

Vera: Exactly. I’ve really been going back to more of the traditional way of eating in Norway because I’m built for milk and vegetables and grapes, and that’s when I feel my best and my skin is the best.

Dan: People should really listen now to what you’re saying. I think the real message here is what’s best for you? What’s best for Vera, right? Because – I’m telling you – there’d be thousands and thousands of people that fell off the chair when you mentioned milk as being good for you.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: You know, opinions are lovely. We all have opinions, but facts are what count. If those foods help you, then anyone else’s opinion, who cares? Do you know what I mean?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: There is a great power in experimenting and listening to seeing what happens.

Vera: Yes, and that’s what I love about Ayurveda is that it kind of gives you, if you’re not used to listening to these subtle signals from your body, they give you a blueprint to follow first, and then you take over and do it yourself because I’ve always had this instinct that I don’t like ketchup. I don’t like sour things. It makes my skin itch. Now, it’s like, “Oh, that’s why!” and there’s no “Milk is bad. Wheat is bad.” It’s more like, “Milk is good for this body type, taken in this way, in this season. Wheat is good for this body type, and maybe not so much for this one.” There’s no one diet. It’s supposed to tailor this individualized diet for you.

Dan: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Okay. You’re making some progress. You’re eating more and more normal food and, presumably, symptoms are abating – your fatigue and other symptoms. What about the stimulus, neurological symptoms? What about the weird walking symptoms, the leg-straightening symptoms, the hands?

Vera: Oh, yeah.

Dan: You know, I mean, there are so many symptoms, right? I mean, how did the symptoms peter off over time and what else did you do?

Vera’s recovery from the neurological symptoms of severe ME/CFS

Vera: Okay. So, the fatigue I would say disappeared in that February 2019.

Dan: That quickly?

Vera: And the neurological – yeah, the fatigue was gone, but the neurological symptoms came and went, and that’s when I started to see the pattern that they only came when I was around my parents, when I was stressed or scared. So, yeah, I began to notice that that’s the only times I had headaches and I could sometimes lose feeling in my hands and feet when I was around them because I was extremely walking on eggshells – very scared.

And so, in June 2019, I finally cut contact with them, unfortunately.

Dan: But how? You were living with them. So, you just moved out?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: I mean, that can’t be easy. I mean, financially. Are you working? How did you do this?

Vera: I was getting a sum of money every month from the government – for being out of work and being sick. Since I had basically only been in bed, I has saved up a lot of this, but I was terrified, and I didn’t feel ready to move at all. But, suddenly, this one morning, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I just realized like my head felt so much clearer as well, and I just suddenly realized, “Okay. I have to deal with this because they aren’t changing. They won’t treat me any better. I’ve tried a million times to, like, advocate for better treatment, you know, and they won’t listen, and they won’t change. It’s time to set some boundaries.”

I just broke down one morning, and I just started crying, and I packed some things, put it on my bike, and I biked away – like, seriously. It was like in a movie or something.

Dan: And where did you go?

Vera: I went to my sibling first. And then, I found an apartment – like, one and a half weeks later – which I rent, so it was definitely not like a smooth transition, but it was overdue and necessary.

Dan: That’s me giving you a high five through the internet.

Vera: Thank you.

Dan: Yes, that’s awesome.

Vera: Oh.

Dan: Awesome.

Vera: I realized.

Dan: Because we’re so vulnerable, because I would imagine – and correct me if I’m wrong here – I would imagine that your self-confidence and your self-esteem is so low that you don’t even know what those words mean at this stage.

Vera: No.

Dan: And to take something upon yourself – like, trying to stand on your own two feet – when, not so long ago, you literally couldn’t stand on your own two feet.

Vera: Yeah, just like three months earlier.

Dan: You know, regardless of the unhealthy dynamic in the home, there were people feeding you.

Vera: Yes.

Dan: What are you thinking going out on your own? I mean, have you got a backup plan? Or are you feeling very confident that you’re not going to go back to that physical state? Are you not scared?

Vera: I felt pretty safe that, since I was now living Ayurvedically and eating this way, that I was pretty safe in my health. Even though the stress was insane, I knew I wouldn’t go back to that level again because I couldn’t – how do I explain this? I couldn’t reach that level of indigestion again with the things I knew now, and I knew that that indigestion led to that level of fatigue. It was like, “Okay. I know I won’t get that sick at least.”

But, yeah, I had no plan, I had no confidence, and I was scared to death, but I had to. I couldn’t stay because I knew I would get sick again – like, gradually deteriorate again – and I’d just, like, done so much for my body.

Dan: Yeah, all that work, you couldn’t let it go to waste, so you took the leap.

Let me just take a side path for a moment. You know, these symptoms are physically hard to deal with, right? The thing when we are struggling to taking the stimulation, and you can feel the stress in your body – the electricity and all of this just going on – and, you know, all these thing. You know that, when you are getting the stimulation, how it’s going to make it even worse, and then you can deal with it even less, right?

Vera: Yes.

Dan: So, we get pretty scared of our symptoms. We get scared of the stimulation. We get scared of everything.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: And you’re taking this, and you have this dramatic improvement after these ten days. Was all the fear gone at that stage? Did you feel different about your symptoms? I mean, tell me how that journey progressed, and at what stage? What are you thinking? Are you doing anything mentally or emotionally?

Vera details how she overcame anxiety and trauma related to severe ME/CFS

Vera: Yeah, I was scared to death of stimulus still. It made me very anxious to go outside and meet people and talk. I was scared to, like, talk to friends for two hours, but it was kind of like exposure therapy. You do it and it triggers you, but then you see that you’re okay. You survive and then it gets a little bit easier the next time until you feel relaxed while doing it.

Dan: But what about if it wasn’t okay? What about if you got triggered and you felt it and you felt worse the next day? What are you thinking now? What are you doing?

Vera: Yeah, I was very afraid that I would get these crashes and I would have to pay for energy spent, and getting so triggered by stimuli that I would get so anxious that I would feel pain, but I did still feel some of those things that I got so anxious that my whole body was so tense that it was painful the next day because I had been so tense.

I was just in pure survival mode at this point. I was just getting through the day, and I woke up the next morning, and I could function, and I could cook, and I could do it. It feels very like gradual expansion of my life – what I could do. I was scared to death for every expansion – like, going to the grocery store. I was shaking, but I guess I kind of accepted being anxious and did it anyway.

Yeah, exposure therapy does work.

Dan: I really appreciate what you’re saying, and I understand what you’re going through, and I’ve seen this many times, but I want to take you to the moment where things are not going well – you know, when you moved out and you did something and it was too much and you’re having a setback. What are you thinking? “Oh, my god, it’s all going to come back now.”

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: And how do you deal with that? And what about the symptoms? The symptoms that come out, what are you doing? You’re noticing the symptoms. How did you react?

Vera: I felt like I was on very shaky ground at this time. Sometimes, I got so anxious that I passed out. The time after I moved out, I remember I blacked out once a day or something – for a few weeks. It was extreme times, but I had learnt a lot of meditation and stuff at this point, so I was just like, “Okay. I’m going to sit down and breathe until I feel better.” I was just letting all the feelings come, and I journaled like crazy. I journaled until my hand cramped up. It feels like this flood of repressed emotions was coming up, and I knew I had to feel it and release it. And so, I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, and just tried to not escape the fear and the pain.

Yeah, I don’t know if that answered the question.

Dan: Yeah, it’s great. I mean, tell me about the journaling. What does that mean? Because, you know, there’s different things, isn’t it? We can habituate an emotion – like, “Oh, I’m always scared.” People kind of feel a little scared forever. They’re always feeling anxious or they’re always worried or whatever the emotion is, and there is something – there is a need for us to break that habit or that behaviour.

But, at the same point – and you alluded to this earlier – it’s not healthy to suppress emotions. If they’re suppressed, then it’s just going to fester, and they’ll just keep coming up, so we’ve got to feel them. We’ve got to let them out, but we don’t want to make a sport out of it, right?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: You know, it’s interesting. You’re letting yourself feel the emotions and you’re saying, “Okay. Well, this is how it is right now. There’s this bad stuff going on, and I’m feeling the emotions,” and you’re accepting it, right? That was the word you used – acceptance. I think you said acceptance. Maybe I just interpreted it that way.

Vera: Yeah, I tried to.

Dan: Yeah, because I think you said, “This is how it is.” But then, the journaling, what are you doing? How are you journaling? What does that mean – that word “journaling” – and how does it change how you look at things?

Vera: It’s more like raw journaling. Just give the feeling a voice. Just write, “Oh, my god! Oh, my god! Oh, my god! I’m going to die! What if this happens?” I don’t write an essay. It’s like a stream – a stream of consciousness.

Dan: So, instead of having the thoughts, we’re putting those very words that are going through our mind onto paper, right?

Vera: Yeah, and that kind of releases them, and then you look at them, and it’s easier to see that maybe this isn’t fully true. Every time I write down “fear,” I am like, “Hmm. No. Is it really that bad? Will this really happen?” Also, I’ve also heard this from others that, after doing that Panchakarma, all of these repressed memories come up and feelings because the body has been reset and it’s so clean and your mind is clear, so that’s when you begin an even deeper cleanse. I was just writing down everything – like, traumas that I had repressed – and it was so validating to see it on paper.

Dan: Does it make you look at the experience differently? Because, obviously, when you’re going through it in your head and you’re remembering it through the eyes perhaps even of a younger person when you’re getting the trauma or more recently, you’re looking through your own eyes in your head, right? Now, you’re writing it in a journal, and there you’re looking at what you said or saw or felt. How did that change your experience of that trauma?

Vera: Oh, completely changed it, but it worked even if I wasn’t writing it down. But, if I just went back into the memory instead of like, “No, I don’t want to think about that,” when I re-examined it as an adult, it released so much shame and blame that I had taken upon myself because, as kids, we take on the blame for everything because no one else is taking it, so you kind of have to. I could see the situation with fresh eyes, and it was so healing, and I let the emotions come up. Yeah, I can remember the same things now, but there’s no emotional charge attached to the memory. The memory has just become a memory instead of trauma because it has been processed.

Dan: Because it has a different meaning now.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: It’s a different perspective.

Vera: It’s reassigned meaning.

Dan: Yeah, it’s a different perspective because, before, the perspective was you’re in there, this is happening, and you’re feeling these things, and you’re blaming yourself maybe or taking responsibility or whatever. Now, you relive it, you let out the emotion, you maybe even write it down, and you look at it and you go, “Hey, this isn’t my fault!”

Vera: Yeah, this actually had nothing to do with me because we do assign meanings, and meanings become beliefs about yourself. I used to believe I always said the wrong things. Everything I say is stupid. My laugh is stupid. I always do and say the wrong things. I can’t trust myself or my instincts. But, when I looked at it in a new way, it’s like, “No, I didn’t say anything wrong. I was just being myself, and I was just being a child. It didn’t have anything to do with me. It had everything to do with the adults,” or the other children or peers or something. They were just projecting their inner struggles onto me. I was just there.

Dan: Listen, everything you say makes awesome sense, but how does somebody go from not knowing about any of this to suddenly knowing this truth and using it to transform themselves? I mean, who were your mentors? Who were your teachers? Where did you learn this? How can someone follow in your footsteps with this wisdom that you’re sharing here?

Vera: Yeah, I’m trying to condense it to something.

Dan: Because it’s not one book, is it? It’s not one podcast.

Vera: Yeah, but I would say The Completion Process book by Teal Swan was like the foundation. And then, I have developed my own methods and just journaled and kept doing it and realized what worked.

Dan: Did you get some help with journaling? Did you come across how that can be used?

Vera: No.

Dan: It was just your own process that developed?

Vera: Yes.

Dan: Okay.

Vera: I think I kind of based it on if you’ve heard the term “morning pages” like when you just wake up in the morning and you just write down whatever is on your mind. If you don’t know what to write, you just write, “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.” And then, suddenly, something comes up. It’s like that. It’s just whatever comes up.

If I have a difficult emotion, I try to describe it, where it is. “I feel this pressure here and here.” And then, suddenly, a memory comes up, and then I write. There’s no method. It’s just write what I think and feel.

Dan: Like an instinct. Follow your instinct.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: Maybe not so cerebral. Maybe more just letting go of the control of the process.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: Let the process lead you.

Vera: Yeah, like trying to release and let it flow out of you, not analyse so much. That’s right. You can analyse after you have done the release. Or you often have realizations as you do it. Maybe you realize, “Oh, that’s why I used to love singing, but now I can’t, and I think it’s stupid because of this memory.” It comes up naturally. Yeah, just write.

Dan: So, you’re doing these amazing things and you’re healing from the trauma and you’re building your own life. I mean, how long does it take for you once you moved out? You moved out what – three months after you had your first treatment? Is that right?

Vera: Yeah, like two and a half.

Dan: Two and a half months. And then, you’re doing this work on your own, this trauma. You’re trying to reintegrate, pacing yourself as you integrate yourself in society and shopping and people and all of this, and you’re doing this trauma work on your own. You’re still working with a practitioner, yes?

Vera: Yeah, but not so much at this time. We’re still keeping in touch.

Dan: How long does it take until you’re fully well? Did you do anything else along the way?

Vera final journey out of severe ME/CFS and complex PTSD

Vera: I started taking extra shifts in June at my old job. I worked two to three days a week until November where I got hired. I work a 70-percent job now.

Dan: Okay.

Vera: While, in my free time, I’m trying to build up my YouTube channel and stuff.

Dan: Yeah, you’re working full-time in essence.

Vera: Yeah, like more than full-time, but it gives me energy.

Dan: So, it took about a year to fully recover, would you say?

Vera: I’d say six months, maybe. Yeah, because I was feeling strong, but I was having a lot of anxiety and healing from complex PTSD which I’m still doing, but I don’t really count that fully as part of the chronic fatigue recovery.

Dan: So, you’re saying six months for the symptoms to abate, but you’re still dealing with anxiety and the PTSD?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: And so, how long was it then until most of that was resolved? I mean, obviously, maybe you’re still dealing with it somewhat now, but would you say in total it was 12 months? 18 months?

Vera: Until I felt a lot better, do you mean?

Dan: Yes, with the trauma and the anxiety.

Vera: With the trauma, yeah, I would say a year. This spring, I started feeling better.

Dan: Yeah, cool.

Vera: And that’s when I began. That’s when I uploaded my first video as well.

Dan: Do you think that, at this stage your physical well-being had still continued to improve? Is that six months to recover? But I’m thinking between six months and 12 months physically that there was still a bigger improvement?

Vera: Yeah, and I feel like there’s still physical improvement coming, but I was fully functioning last fall.

Dan: So, there’s a difference between not being sick and being fully vital, isn’t there?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: So, we get out of being sick, but we still continue to improve. Many people tell me that they end up being 120 percent recovered, you know, because they go, “I’m fully recovered,” but then later they’re feeling better.

Vera: Yeah, I’m still getting better, I’d say, because the more emotions I release and the less anxiety I have, the better – even better – my digestion becomes and the more energy I have.

Dan: Enjoy life.

Vera: Complex PTSD is exhausting, and it takes up a lot of time – being anxious. Somehow, two hours have gone by and you’re like, “Where did they go?” and you’ve just been anxious. Yeah, I feel like my life is still expanding and blossoming.

Dan: Awesome. In terms of the physical recovery, was there anything in addition to the Ayurveda? Was there anything else that you did?

Vera: No, that was what I did.

Dan: And then, for the anxiety and PTSD, you mentioned that journaling and expressing the emotions. Was there anything else? The meditation, yes?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: Was there anything else that you did? Did you get any help from a therapist or anything like that?

Vera: Yeah, I did – from October 2019. I feel like what has worked the most is the things I’ve done for myself – releasing the emotions and just feeling the triggers. But the most important thing I learnt from the therapist was avoidance is upkeeping of PTSD. We were very aligned with our philosophies. If you avoid the feelings, if you avoid triggering situations, you will continue to have the anxiety. So, she really pushed me to go to grocery stores that I was afraid of going to because I didn’t want to meet my parents, et cetera. She was like, “You have to go there and take the risk and feel the anxiety and stay there until you feel better,” and it worked. I can move around the city as I want now. I’m not afraid – or as much as I used to be, yeah.

Dan: You know, obviously, that’s an awesome, inspiring story. I hope people are really listening to what it’s like when you’re unsupported because so many people go, “Yeah, I could do this if I was only supported, but I don’t have the support. I don’t have the magic husband or the magic parents or blah blah blah.” So often, I see people with and without these resources, and many people have told me with the resources, “Yes, that really helped me. It made it so much easier. I don’t know I could have done it without them.” But the more people I speak to, I can’t help but wonder if, at the end of the day, when it comes to the crunch, the buck stops with you, you know?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: The buck stops with you, and you are the person that’s at the central of all of this.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: Whilst that makes it really difficult, it also gives you the power.

Vera: Yeah, it’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s overwhelming, but it’s also liberating, and you are the captain of your own ship – and your health ship! If you had the best doctor in the world, they would still be like a side character in your movie.

Dan: Yeah.

Vera: When you claw your way out of a situation like this – basically on your own – you build true confidence, and that’s why I think I’ve been able to handle all these personal attacks and gaslighting from family members and stuff – because I know I can trust myself. I know I can do things and I can trust my instinct and my intuition now. If I feel like your behaviour is wrong, then I will set boundaries against you. I just feel like I am in myself now.

Dan: Yes, because we all have different voices in our head. We all have the voice of fear, the voice of doubt, the voice of uncertainty about ourselves. “Maybe I am this. Maybe I am that. Maybe they’re right.” You see people sometimes who are very confident in life, and we might even say they’re wrong – that they’re delusional. What I would go to say is that, in a way, we’re all delusional because our reality is something that we experience on the inside. It’s not really about the facts always, yes? I mean, of course, you know, I’m not trying to discount your experience and the facts of your experience, but as an example, I can pretty much guarantee you that your parents see that interaction between you and them completely different, yes?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: And so, when we go through all of this, we have to listen to that voice that serves us, isn’t it?

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: That’s really what it’s about. It’s a choice, isn’t it?

Vera: Yeah, and I actually worked a lot on sorting through the voices in my head. That sounds crazy, but we all have them, and they come from our parents, teachers, society – a lot of different voices. I worked really hard this past year on finding which one is mine and which one is trauma. The journaling has really strengthened my own voice. I also check in with my body now and see how I feel because the gut feeling is a lot more trustworthy than the thoughts and analysing your way to an answer.

Dan: Because you don’t know which voice that is.

Vera: Yeah! So, using the gut feeling to your advantage. If you’re analysing a relationship – like, “But, yeah, we’ve known each other for so long, and yadda yadda yadda…” – if you listen, how do you feel when you think about that person? If that is not good then, yeah, that’s your answer.

Dan: Yeah, the instinct. You know, instinct is so powerful. They say a woman’s instinct is even more powerful.

Vera: Yeah.

Dan: For sure!

Vera: Yeah, maybe.

Dan: Yeah, those are really wise words. But, you know, we try to think our way out of it, don’t we? Out of these problems. So many people who have these challenges become the experts at all of this. They know about everything, but it’s not about knowing or analysing. It’s about doing. You know, I think I really love how you tell your story about the persistence. You must have been really persistent with feeling the emotion, facing your fears, writing it down, interpreting it, rethinking it. I mean, that’s tough work, but here’s the thing – what is the alternative?

Vera: Yeah, staying stuck.

Dan: Staying stuck.

Vera: Staying in pain. Like, it’s hard work, but it’s harder to not do it. It really is.

Dan: Yeah.

Vera: Can I just mention one more thing?

Dan: Please.

Vera discusses the foundation of education for recovery from ME/CFS & complex PTSD

Vera: Books that really are also part of the foundation here in my story. It was actually decluttering and doing the KonMari, if you’ve heard about that – the Japanese decluttering method – when you’re supposed to hold something in your hands and connect to how you feel about it and that’s how you make the decisions. When I first did that, that was before I became bedbound, and that really planted a seed that has grown. And so, I would say this is foundational in my recovery and in my life change and transformation because that’s the first time I realized, “Whoa! I have no idea what I’m feeling! I don’t know how to make my own decisions, and I’m just so disconnected to myself and so confused.” And so, decluttering was really like a practice in connecting to myself. I felt like I had no identity and not with outside things – like style and I don’t know what I like. I just wear whatever keeps me the safest – like, less criticized, you know? Through decluttering, I could really see a pattern. “Oh! This is my style!” It just made me feel so much more connected to myself, so I did decluttering before I was bedbound, and it led me to the internal decluttering as well and questioning everything. Does this hobby spark joy? No, it feels like an obligation, struggle. I really began to connect to what I actually feel, and that is how you build a happy life – by doing things that make you feel happy.

Dan: It’s about learning to trust yourself and your own opinions.

Vera: Yes.

Dan: What an awesome method to tap into gaining confidence, isn’t it? It’s really by gaining confidence. Who am I? What do I think? If you can listen to it about a weird little statue that you have – whether you should toss it or keep it – it’s like a decision-making muscle.

Vera: Yes.

Dan: Every time you enact it, you kind of go, “Okay. Well, it appears I have a voice!”

Vera: Yes, and when you clear out everything that isn’t you, you are left with you, and you can see yourself so much more clearly – who you are, what you like, what you want – in that space you have cleared out which takes probably time and space in your house. Fill it with something that truly sparks joy.

Vera’s dreams for life after severe ME/CFS & complex PTSD

Dan: Yeah, thank you for sharing. That is such an awesome experience and story.

Let me ask you two things. The first thing is what does the future hold for Vera?

Vera: Well, long-term, my dream is to be an Ayurvedic practitioner which – I forgot to say – this past year, I have studied Ayurveda on the weekends. I’m finished with my first year.

Dan: Well done.

Vera: But I have three more left. Thank you. So, that’s my long-term dream.

Before that, I would love to coach recovery from psychological abuse and building up your identity and finding who you are and strengthening your inner voice. That’s kind of what I’m working on now.

Dan: Fantastic.

Vera: I would love to write books and make workbooks with journaling prompts that kind of take you through the process that I’ve been through. Yeah, that’s my dream.

Dan: Fantastic.

Vera: I would also love to get a cat.

Dan: I love how you placed those two things together. That’s awesome.

Thank you very much. Thank you very much for sharing your awesome, inspiring story. We’ll make sure we put a link underneath so people can find your YouTube channel and your website. I wish you all the best with your studies and your new life!

Vera: Thank you so much for having me!

Dan: Yeah.

Vera: Yes, I’m sending everyone who watches this so much love, hope, strength, inspiration, and just remember that there are very tiny answers along the way that build like a snowball. Just plant good seeds and give it time. Follow your instinct.

Dan: Such wise words! Thank you very much, Vera!

Vera: Thank you so much!

You can learn more about how Vera now supports others with ME/CFS on her website.

Here are more ME/CFS recovery interviews for you to enjoy!



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Nicola

I thought this woman was brilliant, so clear, so open. Can you give her contact/blog details etc?

Adalberto Caraballo

Amazing you gave me a little hope 🙌🙌

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