It's been 3 months today since I started the Gupta programme. It seems to be helping. I just sent an email to a reader who's about to start, and here are some suggestions from it:
I think the trick is that when you have an increase in energy... don't do more activity than what you've been doing! Give your body the chance to recover instead. Easier said than done though. It will take some time to get started on the programme. Don't watch more than one session a day; it's important not to stress yourself out with the program. They cover this in Session 1. There's also a follow-up DVD, but you won't need it until you've been doing the programme for at least a few weeks.
As far as I'm aware, the damage done by being in permanent fight-or-flight mode is recoverable. I haven't seen anything to suggest that CFS sufferers age more quickly than anyone else. So once the adrenaline is switched off, you recover back to how you normally feel at whatever age; but your fitness will be shot because you stopped exercising. That's recoverable too though; just don't dive in too quickly to exercising again. You want to be really sure that you're health is better first before working on your fitness.
I tried changing my diet, but never saw any difference with anything I did. Except that when I did the Liver Cleansing Diet and totally upped my fruit and vegetable intake, I had particularly flowing bowel movements! I eat a bit healthier now that I did before CFS, but I don't really watch what I eat that much. I've gone non-dairy since starting the Gupta programme because I wanted to do everything he recommended. Going non-dairy before never made any discernible difference to me though. I think it's stress related rather than diet related, with the proviso that a bad diet exacerbates stress and probably has a negative effect on the condition.
Alcohol makes me feel really whacked. I never did respond really well to it; just made me woozy and hard to focus my eyes, rather than uninhibited. Now I avoid it almost completely. The occasional red when I'm out socialising, or chocolate liqueur when I'm feeling rebellious is it. I avoid all exercise. I'll go for a walk with a friend, but avoid getting my heart rate up. I'll put energy into getting my fitness back when my health is back. I lowered my food intake to compensate so I don't put weight on. I was going to the gym 3x per week, and dancing every other night when I got ill.
I've been on the Gupta programme for 3 months today. I have 3 months to go until the minimum recommended 6 months. I seem to be getting a bit better; mainly less tense. I'm hoping that means my body is starting to recover, and I'll be less tired. I'm also axing some commitments that have been causing me extra stress, even though I quite enjoyed them when I felt OK. Doing too much pushes me into overwhelm, where things I normally enjoy suddenly become stressful and unpleasant.
I did a scene in acting class tonight, where we're encouraged to base our scenario on something true that affects us in our lives. In mine, I was going on a road trip because I was going stir-crazy sitting at home being ill. The teacher asked what was wrong, and I slightly-reluctantly said I'd had Chronic Fatigue for two years. He asked "God, how do you deal with that?" and my answer was something along the lines of: "I'm not!"
I think all this stuff is linked, and my new life of creativity since ditching my Engineering career is an important part of being OK with who I'm meant to be. In addition to Gupta, I'm also doing an acting course which is helping me break out of holding my emotions in, including anger. It's not meant to be therapy, but it is very therapeutic. I'm also going to explore psychodrama as another way of finding expression for my anger. And I'm working on even better social skills to lessen my social anxiety; I don't think we're built to work in isolation, and there's only so far you can get with inward-looking therapy. At the end of the day, we need to be able to relate to other people in order to stay psychologically, mentally, and, as it turns out, physically healthy. The more I learn about and experience mental health problems, the more I see the link to emotional repression. It just makes me want to scream. 😉
I've been getting some great feedback on my writing here on this blog and elsewhere; I have a dream of being a professional writer. Or musician. Or comedian. Or public speaker. Indecision! I suspect the whole amygdala thing is at the root of that. Or at least, that's my current excuse!
I'm looking forward to the big pagan festival this weekend, and a bit of down time. Plus catching up with a friend or two. Should be good. If anyone else with CFS wants to chat on Skype any time, my address is graham.a.stoney . I often find talking to other sufferers really encouraging. It's so good not having to explain what you're going through; you just need to pick the ones who still have a positive outlook about the whole thing. We're out there!