Guilt; Cultural, Family and Religious Conditioning

I met a new friend with CFS recently who fell ill after breaking up with his girlfriend. He had been living with her for some time when he met another woman with whom he fell more deeply in love. As a result he broke up with his now-ex and started a relationship with the other woman. Although he didn’t cheat on his ex, the timing was rapid and it was a complete shock for her. He had a dilemma: It didn’t feel right for him to stay with her when he really loved someone else, but it didn’t feel good to dump her either given that he still cared about her and she’d done nothing wrong.

While he didn’t regret the choice to leave his ex-girlfriend for the woman he felt more strongly towards, he felt extremely guilty about hurting his ex’s feelings. She was understandably upset and her friends turned on him. The whole thing sounded extremely stressful.

It turns out that we have a lot in common. His day job is working as a software engineer, similar to my old career. He’s also very intelligent, articulate and creative; but in my experience engineers aren’t often well trained in the emotional coping skills required for dealing with stressful life events.

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What I Have Been Dealing With This Week

Stress can make you sick, and being sick all the time is stressful. I can see how that can become self-perpetuating. One of the antidotes to stress is to share what’s going on for us with other people. A burden shared is a burden lightened. This goes against my suck-it-up-boy programming, which is another reason to do it, to break the emotional isolation cycle.

Time For A BreakSo here’s what I’ve been dealing with in the past week:

  • Serious doubt about whether I can pursue comedy right now, given my current physical health situation. I’ve done a couple of open mike gigs lately, and they went well; but I just didn’t enjoy them. I might have to stick to watching comedy for the time being.
  • Having a constant tension headache which sometimes makes my belief that everything is perfect as it is, challenging.
  • Putting my original SELP project on hold because I feel inauthentic, I hate sharing about it, and I feel like I’ve done my old pattern of taking on something that then overwhelms me.
  • Tweeting an offer to register my first paying coaching client saying that I coach people to help them recover from chronic fatigue syndrome, and getting hate tweets in response.
  • Writing a blog article about the impact of hate & criticism from strangers on me, and enjoying some new connections with other people struggling with the same issue.
  • Really enjoying seeing the progress that my existing coaching clients are making.
  • Having one of my coaching clients drop out, and needing to replace them in order to get my coaching qualification by the end of the year.
  • Getting an angry email from a client about something I said during our session.
  • Talking to a new male friend (who I am hoping to recruit as a paying coaching client) about the impact of our families of origin, upbringing and bullying at school; and waking up with a headache the next day. Every time I see or talk in depth about my mother, I end up with a migraine.
  • Putting my feelings on the line by telling a very close friend that I love her, and then feeling super awkward. Telling her I need some time out to let my feelings for her fade. (She has a boyfriend, and lives overseas; so not exactly surprisingly, but I told her because I needed closure one way or another)
  • Attempting to move on emotionally. Meeting other girls, and finding my old panic arising again to stop me in my tracks. Feeling super frustrated with myself over the times my fear blocks me from connecting with other people.
  • Feeling inspired to record some of the music that I play, and even make my own music video.
  • Feeling anxious that Christmas is coming up, and a long-standing conflict with my mother is unresolved.
  • Questioning whether The Landmark Forum is really an emotionally safe environment that I would want to recommend to other sensitive people. The teaching is great, but the way Landmark deals with emotions doesn’t feel safe to me.
  • Having my 30 year high school reunion. I kinda thought I’d have my shit together by Back To The Future day.
  • Feeling emotionally exhausted from all the above.
  • Misplacing my hover board.

What have you been dealing with?

I Continue To Recover… Gradually

It’s been quite a while since I last posted here, as my continued recovery means I have more time and energy to engage in the life that I want, and less desire to talk about how hard recovering from CFS can be. But I get occasional emails from people who have been following this blog asking how I’m doing, so I thought it was time for an update.

My physical symptoms now resemble a fairly mild cold, and the occasional cough. I no longer push myself into stressful situations that make the cough worse, so it doesn’t bug me so much. I still feel a weird sort of tiredness with a background sense of anxiety that varies from mild to moderate. It’s kind of like the tiredness and the anxiety are playing some kind of dance. It might feel like I need a lie down, but going for a leisurely walk along the beach can work just as well. Other times, I really need the lie down and so I take it.

The other weird symptom I have is a tense feeling in my head, which moves around. Right now it’s in my upper jaw and temples. It’s not exactly painful; sometimes it’s just unpleasant, and other times I can be so engrossed in something I’m doing that I don’t notice it. Perhaps it’s boredom and truly disappears when I’m thoughtfully and physically engaged in some task. It seems to get stronger when I’m feeling angry, and turns into a debilitating headache when I’ve been overdoing things… which I take pains now not to do.

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