CFS and Trauma Recovery

I just had this question from a friend via email, and thought I’d share my answer as an update on how I’m doing:

Have you got anything out of Mickel? I am now onto a new theory that I believe is the key to unlocking us. Have you read DRS Peter Levine, David Berceli… both guys are into Trauma Recovery. Childhood trauma … repression… has locked our fight/flight energy cycle and their are exercises to release it thru shaking/trembling.

The main thing I’ve got out of Mickel is that it’s changed my thinking about what to do when I feel really tired in the afternoons. I used to go lie down. Now, I go out and move my body in some way. I’ve improved to the point where I now exercise regularly and feel no ill effects afterwards; I think being on the adrenal fatigue diet for about 8 months now contributed to this because I remember noticing that I wasn’t so shaky any more before starting Mickel therapy. So my fitness is now improving too; probably faster than my health. I still tense in the head a lot, but I can think straight so that’s not so bad.

I have read Waking The Tiger by Peter Levine, and it made a lot of sense to me. The trauma of growing up hypersensitive in an environment of conflict was heightened for me by my belief that I had to keep my emotions to myself. If I was shaking out of fear, or crying, I would try very hard to suppress it. I can now see that this is the exact opposite of what is needed for the body to recover and avoid internalising the trauma. It makes sense to me that the amygdala and/or hypothalamus could get stuck in this fight-flight-freeze state. I often feel shivers running through my body when doing emotional release work; I have tried to bring them on using somatic experiencing as described in Waking The Tiger, but found the process frustrating. I think moving my body when I feel unwell also helps unlock the tension that’s still stored there.

I feel a bit raw today as I’ve just completed The Hoffman Process, which dives deep into negative patterns learned from parents when we were children. I did it to try and deal with the anxiety that hit me earlier this year; my Mickel therapist said that anxiety was common and indicated that the treatment was working, but I found it very distressing; traumatising in its own right. I identified a heap of negative patterns doing Hoffman, and the ones that led me to suppress emotion seemed particularly relevant to being ill. I was glad my fitness had improved before doing Hoffman because I found it very physically demanding. It’s like all the most intense therapeutic processes you can imagine all crammed into one intense week. I felt a lot of anger towards my mother coming up, but felt stuck when it came to my father. Then finally anger towards my father came up as transference to other course participants in the final half hour of the post-course tutorial. It was too late to do much with in the process, but I’ll be taking up boxing to dig deeper into that.

I figure all this black stuff in the subconscious adds to the anxiety load that triggers the fight-flight-freeze thing but the proof will be in the pudding over the next few months. I’m almost tempted to say I don’t have CFS any more; I just have a lot of tension in my head that makes me tired sometimes. As long as I avoid stressful situations, my flu-like symptoms are quite tolerable… just like having a slightly runny nose.


PS: Just to make all the Aussies jealous, I’m on holidays in Byron Bay for the next week, then headed north to explore Queensland’s east coast. Good times!