Why I Fixed My Broken Vacuum Cleaner

One of the principles that I learnt during my brief experience of Mickel Therapy a few years back was that it is important to stay on top of things in order to avoid feeling any more overwhelmed than we already do by being ill. Having an accumulation of small unresolved life stressors can add up to create stress and tension in our nervous systems. That’s why it’s helpful to make a judicious list of “outstanding issues” that we want to address and whittle it down over time.

I say “judicious” because most people with CFS tend to take on too much, and and up feeling overwhelmed with the familiar feeling that there is “not enough time”. We don’t really trust in the process of life and have bought into the idea that the more we do, the more stuff we can have and the happier we will be.

The truth is that time is indeed limited and we need to choose what to focus on in our lives generally. But when I got sick a whole bunch of things that were actually important to me started to fall by the way side.

Now that I’ve whittled my “outstanding issues list” down to virtually nothing, it’s important to stay on top of things to prevent that feeling of overwhelm from coming back.

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My Visit to the Dentist

Warning: this post may contain graphic depictions of bodily fluids.

I’ve been slowly working through all the things that I put off because I’ve been sick, to reduce my sense of overwhelm. One of the things that I’ve been putting off for a long time, is going to the dentist to have a regular checkup and clean.

Three things prompted this: the first was simply that I haven’t been to the dentist in many years even before I became ill almost seven years ago, and I certainly haven’t been since.

Secondly, my gums of started to bleed during brushing lately and that bothers me.

Thirdly, the tension headache that I have most of the time tends to move around and often settles in my teeth, either on my upper jaw, my lower jaw or both at the same time. It occurred to me that the symptoms that I have in my head could be related to toothache or gum disease, and I have also heard theories relating migraines and even CFS to dental or orthodontic work; so I thought I should probably check that out.

Going to the dentist has never felt like much fun for me, so I was feeling pretty anxious. My previous experience of dentists had always been pretty painful, and they keep reminding me that the evil guy in The Little Shop of Horrors who chose to be a dentist so he could inflict pain on other people.

I felt like this guy
I felt like this guy

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Focus focus focus

Well I had a really interesting weekend at a Toastmasters district conference here in Sydney. I was particularly inspired by two world champions of public speaking who attended, and it reignited my enthusiasm for the whole public speaking thing. One of the places I feel in my element is in front of people, making them laugh and inspiring them with some sort of message, and I’d love to turn this into a career.

I feel frustrated that I’ve hit a road-block when it comes to feeling ill all the time. I don’t really feel like I can just sit here and wait for it to pass, because I have no idea how long that’s going to take. On the other hand, I get overwhelmed when I think about what I need to do in order to get where I want to go, especially when I can only head there at 50% speed. Sometimes I think a lack of focus and direction are just adding to my sense of fatigue, since it’s easier to feel depressed and hopeless when I’m not “heading somewhere”. Yeah, I know our sense of self-worth is supposed to be innate rather than based on our achievements and contributions to others; but I do feel a whole lot better when I’m making a difference in the world than when I’m not. Problem is when I push myself too hard into overwhelm, I end up resentful of the whole goddam situation and of other people – even though it’s not their fault.

I went to acting practise last night, which wasn’t a brilliant idea given that I was tired after the conference, which only ended that afternoon. But I do really enjoy it, and it did give me a lift. The weird thing about this fatigue is that it makes life very un-enjoyable on the one hand, yet imposes a limitation that reminds me just how much I do enjoy many aspects of life which are currently closed off to me. I wanna hang around so I can enjoy them again in the future, and I have to focus and prioritise which ones I can do right now since I can’t do them all.

I woke up feeling a bit wrecked this morning; maybe a 4/10. I took some Sudafed and that should get me up to about 6/10, which ought to be enough for me to head to this afternoon’s class. Anything about about a 5 is relatively functional.

I want to pursue a career as a communicator/comedian/writer, but it’s going to take time. Of course I want it now now now. Since starting the Gupta programme I’d been thinking “I’ll put that off until I’m better”; but I’m not so sure that’s a good idea since it leaves me feeling even more stuck and I have no idea when that’s going to be. It’s a matter of balancing the stress I feel from “not going anywhere” against the stress I feel from pushing myself too hard when I’m ill.

I’m going to drop one of the acting classes I’m doing next term, and take up a camera class instead, so I can get comfortable in front of a lens. It should also allow me to restructure my week so that I have time to prepare some speeches for Toastmasters too, which will get me back on track with the public speaking. Meanwhile, I think I’ll be living on Sudafed for the time being…

Avoiding Overwhelm

I just watched Session 7, on awareness of stress patterns; which seems very relevant to me. I constantly seem to be on the verge of overwhelm, reminding myself to back off a bit and take things easy. Part of me keeps shouting “But I don’t want to! Yes, there’s a lot to do, but I want to go out and do it!”. Yet when I commit to something and end up feeling overwhelmed, I stop caring and just want to give up. Then I feel bad about not caring any more, and wish I could give a damn.

I made my usual mistake of having an afternoon lie down yesterday, because I was feeling really exhausted after coming home from acting class. Woke up after an hour or so feeling absolutely wretched; I just never usually feel that bad. Then I dragged my sorry ass to my Toastmasters committee meeting last night, where a headache gradually got worse and worse. I’m torn because part of me wants to contribute more, part of me wants to be doing something professional where I get paid, and part of me just wants to rest and get better. I made resting and getting better my goal for 2010, so for the time being, it’s got to be the winner.

I’m reading a really interesting book at the moment called The Sedona Method, which describes a way of releasing emotions which is a little similar to the basis for Soften and Flow, and should calm the amygdala. I’ll comment more about it when I’ve finished, but it looks very interesting. I’d be interested if anyone else has used this method for releasing anxiety or other emotions associated with CFS.

After having a lousy headachey night last night, I’m spending the day relaxing, watching Session 7 on the DVD, reading the book I just mentioned and doing some washing, before meeting up with a very sweet and attractive girl from my acting class for coffee this afternoon. Nothing like pretty girl to boost a young-at-heart man’s energy levels!

PS: If you’re in Australia, there is a show on ABC tonight entitled Stress: Portrait of a Killer which looks worth catching.

Anxiety and Overwhelm

I felt anxious in acting class today, and somewhat overwhelmed. Felt a bit pissed off with life and the whole emotional struggle thing. I still have a backlog of email to read & answer from my meditation retreat, and an overdue book report to write. Plus I haven’t seen my family in eons. My tendency is always to take on too much; it’s like an addiction!

Things got pretty heated during my exercise in class, and I got to have a bit of a yell, which was quite cathartic. Afterwards when the teacher critiqued me, he said I wasn’t taking things personally enough; I wasn’t being effected by what was said to me. Makes sense really, what with all the bottling up of emotion and everything. One of the girls in class came up to me afterwards and asked if I was OK, saying I looked upset after my exercise. Felt upset too. That was kind; one of the things about hanging out with a bunch of creative types who are working on their emotional awareness is that you get to meet some really caring people.

I’m back to watching the Gupta DVD’s again. I watched the first one again yesterday, and I could relate really strongly to it; perhaps even more so than last time. I think he’s hit the nail on the head. I’m pretty sure I don’t feel as exhausted as I used to.

I’m playing guitar this afternoon with a friend from my old guitar class. Then it’s off to Toastmasters tonight. Three things in one day… what, am I crazy? I’m taking tomorrow to catch up on my email. And that book report. And some rest. And remind me to listen to the meditation CD again. And…