Wrestling with “not working”

I’ve been really wrestling with this whole six-month-commitment take-a-break don’t-work thing. I don’t want to just sit around idle; in fact, I notice my symptoms more when I’m not doing anything. I have a consulting engineering business which gives me more work than I want to do, if I ask for it; but that sort of work just doesn’t seem to feed the emotional side of my brain any more. Plus I’d like to build a business where I can earn passive income, so I can eventually retire. Being paid by the hour to help other people with projects I don’t care much about doesn’t do that for me.

However, I do enjoy many aspects of the creative stuff that I do, which I’d ultimately like to earn a living from. I’m building a website to sell my first book on attraction and dating, and I quite enjoy recording interviews with experts to build bonus products. It’s sort-of “work”, but I can do it from home, and it’s quite engrossing; meaning I don’t worry about feeling ill. I do still worry about being successful at it mind you; this is a big trap for me. But I’ve been agonising about how to give up doing this stuff when I feel so compelled to work on it all the time. Which I guess means that I really enjoy it. Yeah, I’m probably addicted to the feeling of success, and every time I record a sale or an affiliate sale, I feel hugely motivated to do some more work on it. That’s gotta be better than sitting around feeling ill, worrying about how I’m going to find work that I enjoy again.

So I’m going to lighten up on myself about this. I’m sticking to the 6-month commitment to the program, and to only doing stuff that I enjoy during that time. I’m going to avoid anything that stresses me out as far as possible. But if I really want to do something creative that’s going to earn me money, I’m not going to hold off on the basis that I’m “not supposed to be working”. What I will do is pace myself, not “work” weekends, and take breaks when I’m on the computer so I don’t get sucked back into sitting in front of a screen all day. I’ll work on moderating my craving to be successful. And I’ll be grateful that I’m in a position of working because I want to, rather than because I have to. I can only imagine how hard it must be for people with CFS who can’t support themselves financially without the extra stress of working. So my thoughts go out to you.

I just watched Session 12, the final session of the Gupta programme this morning. It was a good recap. I’m going to go back to session 1 next and keep watching them regularly to keep the motivation up. I haven’t had a really bad day in a couple of weeks now. I went out with my friend Ash last night and stayed out till about 1am playing Band Hero on his PS3. I feel tired today, but not dreadfully so. And I’m learning to dissociate from that tired feeling anyway, as described in Session 12. I’m quietly optimistic; it’s still early days.

If you’re on the programme, drop me a line to let me know how you’re doing so we can support each other.

I’m off to play some guitar and chill out some more…


I feel kinda knackered today. Just woke up really tired. Been doing quite a few Stop-Stop-Stop’s; mainly over symptoms and “Is this treatment working?”

I did lunch today with a girl I met on an online dating site. It was our first meeting. She turned out to be really lovely, and it was quite fun meeting her… but I do find dating stressful, and I wonder whether it’s helping me. Mind you I’m single, and that’s stressful in its own way too. During lunch at one point I felt like I wanted to be sick. I didn’t mention that I’m recovering from CFS to her. I’d like to get to know her better.

I’m only just discovering how to get around the fears that have prevented me from dating the people I’d really like to be spending time with. I suspect these fears have a lot to do with the stress that I experience. The amygdala is the emotional centre of the brain, and it’s hugely involved in the whole dating/relationship thing. I wonder what the best thing to do is: date? Not date? sex? celibacy? There are pros and cons to all.

How to Deal with a Normal Life

Got up feeling pretty well this morning. Read my email, wrote some blog postings, watched a video on internet video marketing. Played some guitar.

I just watched Session 11, How to Deal with a Normal Life. I’ve posted my Happy, Healthy Life worksheet. I could relate a lot to what Ashok said about not rushing all the time, relaxing at the computer, not going for achieve achieve achieve. Probably need more practise at it still!

I feel kinda tired this afternoon, but wouldn’t say it’s exhausting. I’ve been Stop-Stop-Stop’ing quite a bit today. I still get a mild tension feeling, and lots of thoughts about needing to convince or impress other people. I was talking to my sister on MSN, and that often causes me anxiety; I have a nagging feeling that she disapproves of things I do, and find that hard to shake. More material for Stop-Stop-Stop.

The emotional rollercoaster continues

Had a rough night last night emotionally. I had been chatting on MSN to a girl I dated briefly at the end of last year on MSN, and she totally slammed me about the ebook I’ve published on dating and attraction. I kept thinking “That’s your reality, not mine” at the time, letting it just wash over me. But later that evening I got really despondent about it and decided to give up trying to promote it. It’s more important that I get my health back anyway, and it’s just an extra stressor at the moment. Went to bed at 11:30pm feeling despondent, and physically just tired.

Woke up this morning rather early at about 7am. Did the meditation and wellness visualisation.

Then when I checked my email, I found I’d had another sale. That always motivates me. So I did some work on the website, which went quite well. I stopped for lunch at a respectable hour rather than just ploughing through like I used to, and played some guitar. I’m learning a couple of songs for my nieces, for when they get back in a week or so. After finishing “work” for the day, I did the meditation again, and I ended up feeling really positive.

I know I made that 6-month commitment to not work and just do stuff I enjoy, but I actually do enjoy the Internet marketing stuff I’m working on… when I feel like I’m getting results. Fortunately today was one such day. I think it’s important not to push myself when I start feeling tired though, so that’s it for today. I’m off to read a book, grab dinner, and vege out in front of the telly for the rest of the evening.

Excited about getting better

I’m feeling quite excited about the prospect of getting better. Woke up quite early this morning, excited about all the things I want to do when I recover. I could feel my heart racing and the adrenaline pumping as I thought about it all… which really isn’t what I want right now!

I do feel reasonably OK today though. I watched Session 9 on Dealing With Dips. A lot of the material is very relevant to me; I have always been very driven and success-oriented. Exactly the personality type that Ashok describes as being susceptible to the stress-response that causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It’s only a wonder it didn’t hit me earlier.

Even though I’m aware that I do it, I still tend to look to other people for approval, and to external achievements to make me feel good about myself. I’m working on changing that, and it’s fascinating to see the same message coming at me from lots of different directions, including now the retraining programme.

Naturally enough when I think about all the things I want to do when I get better, I want to do them all now, now, NOW! Even if I were 100% immediately, I’d still be feeling that I wanted to get everything accomplished and completed right now today, so I can have all the successful results tomorrow; which isn’t how life works. Hence the need to pace myself and accept that I’m where I’m at today, and there will be plenty of time to do what I want tomorrow. It doesn’t have to all happen in an instant. Even if it did, that instant would immediately be gone; and then I’d just find something else I wanted to do!

I’ve been busily breaking thoughts about my fear over a future career path. If I can get to being more accepting of going -with-the-flow, I think I’ll be a lot less stressed. It all seemed clearer when I was doing Computer Engineering, but I know I don’t want to go back to that. The purpose of a career is to learn about something; in fact, the purpose of life is to learn about stuff I think. I already know enough about computers, and I want to learn more about people, how they tick, and how to be a master at interacting with them. Although I didn’t see it at the time, having a mainstream career was really quite grounding… up until the point when I stopped enjoying it, and it became a burden. Then I moved on, but I do miss the certainty that comes with a mainstream job and career.

I’ve been learning to play Good Riddance by Green Day on my guitar. It pretty much sums up my feelings about CFS. I’ll get myself a video camera and upload a shoot of me playing it onto YouTube for you once I’m feeling a bit more confident about it. I’ll try not to stress out or wait until I can play it perfectly though. Near enough is good enough, especially if it prevents an adrenaline cycle!

Feeling a bit better today

I got a decent sleep last night, and am feeling quite a bit better today. I still have a stuffy head, runny nose and mild cough, but no headache or sore throat. Don’t feel quite so exhausted; I feel more functional that I have in the past week.

Watched Session 8 today on Non-Symptom Thoughts. I could definitely relate to the examples: I’m not good enough, fear of criticism and rejection, and the need for achievement. I’ve collected lots of evidence to back them up too! I can see how these merely add to the stress I feel; and hence to the symptoms. I’ve known about them for a long time, and have done lots of work in therapy to lessen their impact, but there wasn’t a direct connection between them and my health until I came down with CFS. Although they probably were the cause of the migraines I used to get all the time. Anyway, now that I’m ill on a daily basis I guess I’ll be more motivated to break them!

I’ve posted my What Do I Choose? worksheet, along with Achievements I’m Proud Of and Characteristics I Value. Enjoy!

Watched Soften & Flow and Meditations Session

I’ve just watched the Soften & Flow and meditations session. So far so good.

I’ve had some pretty late nights lately. Some I’ve been staying up just for the heck of it, others I couldn’t sleep. I felt really restless the other night after deciding to rewrite the sales page for my e-book, and since I couldn’t get to sleep, I got up at 2am and rewrote it, working through till 6am. I think I’m struggling with the idea of just giving up all “work”; I want to be successful and don’t really want to wait 6 months to recover before doing useful work again. Plus I’m trying all sorts of new ways of earning money because I’m bored of my old Engineering career. The stress of searching for something fulfilling and financially rewarding to do probably isn’t helping; but I wonder if that stress will go away until I start being successful at something new.

I’m finding the prospect of the Hour of Power a bit daunting. I’ve attempted to do morning meditations every day before, and have had difficulty sustaining it. I’ll give it a go with Gupta’s meditation CD each morning and see how that pans out.

I still feel like my head is a bit stuffed, my nose is blocked, and my throat a tiny bit sore. I feel a bit tense, but nowhere near as tense as I did middle of last year. I don’t feel as exhausted as I have in the past few weeks. Whether that’s because I’ve been avoiding all physical activity or due to starting the program, or some combination… I don’t know yet.

Fingers crossed.

Just watched the first retraining session DVD

I felt pretty tired today; just the same as usual. Went to the art gallery with a friend who was visiting me, and then had a lie down in the afternoon. That suited her fine, since she wanted to sleep before going anyway.

Then I watched Session 4 of the recovery programme on DVD, the first of the actual retraining sessions. It makes sense, so far so good. I wonder whether I’ll stay motivated to do it, but that’s the reason for this blog. I’m putting my Negative Thought Diary online instead of in a book; I’ll update it as I go. It might not make sense if you’re not familiar with the programme though!

I’ll practise the technique for the next couple of days, and watch the next session then.

A New Year, A New Start

Well it’s New Year’s Day 2010. I’m down in Canberra staying at my sister’s place. I’ve come down here to get away from my place in Sydney, just in case something in the environment is making me sick. Other neighbours in the building where my unit is have been complaining of damp in the air, and a mould problem. Perhaps the mould spores are making me ill. Three weeks in Canberra while my sister and her family are away on holidays should be long enough to recover from something like that. Mind you I think it’s a long shot; I’ve been away on a lot of long (up to 3 months) road trips since getting ill, and although I feel happier while travelling, I always return home feeling much the same.

A better theory I’m going with is that my illness is essentially stress-related. As I say that, I hear my mother’s voice in my head saying “How could you possibly be suffering from stress! You don’t even have  a job! Don’t be so ridiculous”. Well growing up with a mother like that is probably enough to induce some pretty deep-seated life-long stress, but that’s a topic for another time.

My number 1 priority for 2010 is to get my energy back. While searching for stories of other people who have recovered from CFS, I came across the forums at chronicfatiguetreatments.com, which led me to the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Program. I resonated a lot with what Ashok said about his experience of CFS, and since I feel like I’ve exhausted what medical science has to offer, along with a bunch of increasingly bizarre alternative health treatments, I decided to give it a go.

I just finished watching the first DVD today. The explanation for CFS makes sense to me, and being from an Engineering background, I like things to make logical sense. I know it hasn’t been put to a double-blind trail yet, but I’m willing to give it a go anyway.

I could relate to a lot of what the other ex-sufferers said in their testimonials with similar symptoms like:

  • Recurrent flu-like illnesses in the years before the really chronic illness
  • Persistent cough
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sore throat
  • Overwhelming tiredness, especially after exercise or physical exertion
  • Feeling like my life has been hit-for-six
  • Unable to focus on things I used to be able to
  • Tension and anxiety, especially anxiety about getting better
  • Depression; not right now, but certainly during the past year

Fortunately I don’t have the brain fog or physical some other people report, so I’m grateful for that. All the people on the DVD obviously attribute their significant recovery to this programme, so I feel like I have some hope back. I’ve had a lot of people over the last two years tell me that they could help me, and I feel like none of them ended up really being able to cure me 100%. Perhaps they were stepping-stones along the way, but I hope this time I’m onto something. We’ll see.

Right now I feel average; a bit tired since I haven’t been sleeping well, and a tiny bit tense; but pretty much at the level I’ve been used to. My sister’s family go on holidays tomorrow, so I’ll be on my own for a couple of weeks. I usually live alone and like not having to share my space with idiot flatmates, but I’ve enjoyed having my sisters’ family around. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel when they’re not here.

Please subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a comment if you drop by; it’ll help motivate me to keep posting, and to keep with the programme. Thanks, Graham