I got an email today from a reader of this blog who could relate to my story. They asked how I was, whether parental conflict issues from childhood were common in CFS, and said they were having trouble thinking of the Gupta Programme as a 100% cure. Here’s my response:
Thanks for your message. I’m glad you found my blog helpful. I woke up feeling pretty tired this morning, as usual, and played my guitar for a while before going back to bed for some meditation. I ended up falling asleep, and woke up feeling worse. I lay there thinking “Well, if I feel tired, perhaps I really do just need to rest”. Gets pretty boring kinda quick though.
In the absence of any better theory, I’m pretty convinced that the underlying cause of CFS is emotional stress, and there’s nothing like parental conflict in childhood to set you up for that. It left me with some pretty deeply rooted fear, and a sense that the world was a dangerous place to be in. Throw in a God who lets you go to hell to suffer for all eternity if you do, say, or believe the wrong thing, and it’s little wonder I’m anxious. I don’t think the link is just co-incidental. Ashok’s theory about the amygdala getting stuck in fight-or-flight mode makes sense to me.
I’ve only been on the Gupta programme for about 2 months. It feels like longer! I keep reminding myself to do Stop-Stop-Stop when I have negative thoughts, but I get lazy. Yes, and I too wonder sometimes whether it is all really working or not, and that causes me more stress. I start thinking “what’s the point? It probably won’t work anyway”, and worrying about whether I’ll actually be well at the end of the 6 months. I’ve always been skeptical of the whole emotional-issues-causing-physical-illness thing, but here I am with nowhere else to go so I’m giving it my best shot. I came across some recent medical papers on the Internet talking about a “psychogenic cough”, so it seems chronic stress can cause coughing symptoms. It doesn’t seem like a huge gap from that to full-on flu-like symptoms of CFS.
Nevertheless, I keep getting distracted with thoughts of “What do I really want to do with my life?”, and wanting to be out earning money and feeling like I’m “getting somewhere”. Starting the acting course has made that a little easier, as I feel like I’m a student again back at uni or something, which gives me a reprieve from pressuring myself to be working. Plus I just got an unexpectedly large inheritance from a pseudo-aunty which will keep me going for at least a year without digging into my savings. I really feel for people with CFS who are struggling to make ends meet; that’s just got to put even more stress on them.
I’ve had years of therapy even before getting CFS, and I’m looking at other avenues for unlocking emotional repression that I think probably helps fuel the amygdala stress cycle. So I’m also doing an acting course based on the Meisner technique of getting in touch with your emotions and learning to express them authentically, which another friend of mine with similar symptoms to CFS put me onto. It’s very obvious during the practise sessions that I’m pent up and there are emotional areas I just don’t seem to go into. I see other students struggling with the same thing, and the teacher’s comment is: “We’ll fix that”. I find it really encouraging when other students tell me they can relate to where I’m at, and have since moved on to feeling more free. It gives me hope. They may not have the physical symptoms, but they know what it’s like to be stuck in self-consciousness and emotional repression. Looking back, I was feeling stressed out and desperate for several years before my physical symptoms hit.
I’m glad you’re finding the programme helpful; it reminds me to stick at it. I’ve come across a few people on the forum who seemed to tail off it because they got bored or distracted, even though they acknowledge that it was helping them. Don’t give up! Keep in touch and let me know how you go down the track.