We are not our diagnosis

I’ve found The Sedona Method of “letting go” helpful in dealing with my stress and anxiety about feeling ill for so long. I use it on and off on a daily basis, especially when I feel myself getting anxious about things not being the way that I want them to be. What we resist persists, and I definitely maximise my suffering when I focus on how things aren’t the way I’d like them to be. Resisting causes stress, and stress compromises our immune system. So whether CFS turns out to be purely stress-related or due to some infectious agent or immune system problem, dealing with the stress and emotional stuff that illness brings up is bound to help.

Check out this video from the author of The Sedona Method talking about how we aren’t our diagnosis:

XMRV and where I’m at

There’s some more research out confirming the association between XMRV and CFS. It’s sounding more plausible to me, although I’ve no idea how I would have picked up XMRV. I wonder if it’s possible to get tested for it, out here in far-flung Australia. Even if I was positive, there’s no recommended treatment yet… so for the time being, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing; which is basically getting on with my life instead of waiting around till I feel well.

I’m encouraged by the news that a friend from my CFS support group has joined a gym. I’ve been working out lightly with weights for a few days, and now that my arms don’t ache like buggery, I seem to be doing OK with the exercise. My insomnia lately has been pretty bad, and that’s been bugging me.

I recently realised that the way to make your dreams come true is to help others to make theirs come true, so I’m going to put more attention into that from now on. It also leaves me less time to focus on not-feeling-well. I still do the odd Stop-Stop-Stop from Gupta’s programme, and listen to the meditation CD occasionally but it’s been a couple of months since I did it hard-core. I’ve been using the Sedona Method release process more than Stop-Stop-Stop.

Tonight is my last night as President of my Toastmasters Club, which means I can focus on my speaking career instead of club leadership. I’m still battling with anxiety at times, but it seems to go away when I get some form of emotional release which is happening more and more often what with my acting classes, and when I’m totally preoccupied with something else. That means I actually feel less anxious when I’m public-speaking or performing, because I don’t have time to think about not feeling well! Weird.

What a weekend!

In the beginning…

The story of last weekend really begins on Friday evening. A bit before then in fact, when two girls from my acting class Vanessa and Monique, both expressed interest in coming with me to a psychodrama introductory evening on Friday night. I thought “Great, be good to have their company”, and I particularly like Monique.

I rang Vanessa Friday to confirm the details, and she said “You’re gonna hate me, but I’m having a girly spa party instead because my parents are away. Wanna come?”. I was already committed to the psychodrama evening, so I said no; but I could come later. A girly spa party did sound a bit like one of my wildest fantasies, especially if costumes were, or became, optional. I checked with Monique, and she was still in for psychodrama.


I rock up at psychodrama, and Monique is running late. So late, that she never makes it. “Looks like it wasn’t meant to be” (she’s very spiritual). I can’t help but be a bit disappointed, and I work on letting that go… albeit ineffectually.

In the first psychodrama exercise, one of the women in the group role plays going out to dinner with her family and her husband, who don’t get along. The facilitator has the rest of us play various roles including tables, and food on a buffet. I was a creme brulee. It gave the woman involved the opportunity to see what it was like for her husband and family in the situation, and role-play reconciling them. Afterwards we had a sharing session where I revealed my envy at her ability to show great excitement at being able to eat lobster from buffet. Which made me the target for exercise two…

In my exercise, the facilitator had me use other members of the group to portray the fear that I feel about being embarrassed; the shame that holds me back from being myself and being free to express emotions like excitement freely. The fear was a screaming mass of people, standing on chairs and yelling wildly. They were overpowering. Then this was contrasted against the part of me which is able to express myself freely, played by one of the other men I chose from the group; it was small and crouched on the ground. I asked it to get up, and play a bigger role in my life. The facilitator had me swap roles with the small-me, and give me the opportunity to express it’s fear at the possibility of getting hurt. In the end it stood up, we gave it some backing from other people nicked from the overwhelming fear, and the two of us hugged for a while. I felt kind of sad and mildly relieved, as the fear of what other people think and the resulting inhibitions it gives me is like a massive weight on my back.

We did a few more exercises in the group, and each time I found myself moved by what was going on for the other participants, even when the drama wasn’t about my story directly. I left thinking “I could use more of this”, wondering when to fit it in to my schedule without overwhelming me.

The Party

Then I headed over to Vanessa’s party, which was in full swing by the time I got there. There was a bong on the table, and a bunch of people guys and girls lounging about in the spa. Vanessa had given me the distinct impression that it would be girls-only aside from her boyfriend Justin, who she suggested I could bond with. She’s a very loud and insecure girl, and has broadcasted the fact that he cheated on her, widely. Justin and I talked for a while, and he seemed like a friendly enough guy. He’d obviously done a lot of drugs. Not just that evening either, I don’t think.

Eventually there was room in the spa for me to jump in. I’m always really reserved about jumping in at pool or spa parties. I seem to have a really wide personal space exclusion zone, and end up just feeling overwhelmed; while pretending I’m not. One of the girls drank too much, vomited and passed out. Meanwhile another girl who I really liked from class was being toyed with by one of the guys in the spa, and she was totally falling for it. By the end of the evening they were kissing, and in fact all the guys had paired up with a girl… except for me. I kept telling myself not to feel bad about this,… but I really did. It totally triggered my “Why aren’t any of the girls interested in me?” insecurity, which turns out to run extremely deep. Yeah, I know it’s because I’m withdrawn and inexpressive. “Robotic”, to use a term I hear a lot in acting class referring to me. I hate that. And that’s why I hate myself… but fuck it’s hard to change. Being the only guy in the spa not kissing a girl felt just weird, so I jumped out, got changed, and went home. I didn’t even say goodbye to the host Vanessa, as she and Justin were upstairs in the bedroom by this stage. No thanks, I wasn’t keen on walking in on that.

So I went home feeling like shit. Upset. Unhappy. Beating myself up. I tried using the Sedona Method techniques to let go of the emotion behind it, but to no avail. I just hate being trapped in this inhibited personality. Nothing I try to break out of it seems to work as quickly as I’d like. It’s like chipping away slooooowly. Yet other guys just act like pricks, and they get the girls. Yeah, I know that’s how it works, but it pisses me off. When I got home I played guitar for an hour or so; it’s the only thing that seems to sooth my hurt feelings. Went to bed about 3am and couldn’t get to sleep.


Saturday was a complete wipe-out. I was exhausted and felt dreadful. Got up every few hours to eat something, and then went back to bed. By evening I was still feeling wretched. I was supposed to go to a farewell for two friends I met at dancing, who are headed overseas. Really didn’t feel in the mood for another party, and I figured it would be kinda painful since dancing was one of the greatest joys in my life which I had to give up when I got CFS. So I was in two minds. I didn’t really feel like another party; at least there wouldn’t be a spa scene at this one though. But the point was moot because I was just too frigging exhausted anyway. So I went back to bed and fell asleep. Got up about midnight and played guitar until 3am, then went back to bed. I just can’t sleep for 24 hours straight regardless of how exhausted I feel. I need to get up and do stuff in order to fall back to sleep again later.

Sunday’s Date

Sunday I woke up feeling reasonable. My emotions had settled down a bit by then, and I logged on to some internet dating sites. Turns out Sunday is the day to meet women online; all the girls who’ve spent yet-another-lonely-Saturday-night decide to take matters into their own hands and hit the Internet on Sunday morning. I ended up chatting to two girls, one named Alyshia was keen to meet up for lunch. She says she’s very sensitive, and was quite brave to ask me out to lunch. I would have asked her, but I had a reunion that afternoon for a personal development course so initially I thought we wouldn’t have time, but when she asked me I decided to just go for it anyway. We had lunch at a cafe, and she obviously enjoyed meeting me; said I had a great sense of humour, and we laughed and joked like old friends. Alyshia is quite artistic and interesting. We seemed to click, and I went off to my reunion feeling quite good.

The Reunion

The reunion was a good opportunity to catch up with some really great, loving people I had met before, including the friend that recommended the acting course to me. He’s still struggling with chronic fatigue symptoms too, and all the bullshit that goes along with it. He seems pretty happy though; he sees it as part of his journey of self-discovery. I remarked at the reunion that when I’m in a good mood, I can be optimistic about it, but when I’m in a bad mood, I wonder whether life is worth living and fantasise about ways of killing myself… none of which are even remotely feasible because I don’t want to hurt the people I care about. Plus there are so many things I want to do still; just wish I felt well enough to do them!

Girls… again!

I chatted online to Alyshia in the evening. She asked me why I was so into the whole exploration of emotions thing, and I admitted to having a family which doesn’t express emotions well, and CFS. She seemed understanding. I think we’ll catch up again. She even inadvertantly gave me an idea for my class activity to use today.

The way I feel about my life always seems to reflect what’s going on between me and the women in my life at the time. I hate the way my moods are so at the mercy of other people. It’s no wonder I feel anxious when people are in my comfort zone. I’m slowly learning to be more reactive through acting class. It’s a struggle to avoid pushing myself into overwhelm by taking on too much; pretty much everything I do is aimed at dealing with my illness and whatever underlying emotional stuff might be driving it.

Anyway, I’m glad that weekend is over. I feel OK today; not too exhausted, nor particularly upset. I’ll be seeing Vanessa & co in class today, so that’s going to be interesting. I’m not really in the mood. We’ll see how I feel when I get there. Think I’ll go play a bit of guitar, have breakfast and then head off to class. Thanks for listening.

PS: Do you like the new theme on the website?

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.