I spent two years of my life in bed with Chronic Fatigue, or ME, as it is more commonly known by in the UK.
I went from being a highly active, bright and bubbly 16 year old, to being laid low in bed with an illness that couldn’t be figured out.
My spiral into ill health will sound very familiar to those of you who have ME/CFS or know someone who has it; I became ill with a virus that knocked me out for 10 days, I slowly got a bit better and engaged in my life again, I quickly got ill again and was laid low. I got a bit better and tried to re-engage with life again. I quickly got ill and was laid low for longer. This cycle went on for weeks until I simply wasn’t getting out of bed at all.
There were no times in the day, week or month when I felt like I had the energy to even have a conversation with a parent or sibling. Coming down stairs involved me bumping down on my bum as, even when lying in bed, my legs were jelly and I didn’t have the muscle strength to make it down the stairs. I barely ate, and often fell asleep with my head on the table. I was constantly in pain around my heart and through my veins. If I did try to walk I would often simply pass out, waking at some time later to drag myself back to bed.
No social life, school life, sports life (I was competing with horse riding, swimming, running and shooting at an international level at that point), no family life, I didn’t have the mental acuity to read, any lights or noise would make me so dizzy that everything would spin so no television or radio. For weeks at a time I didn’t sleep and then for weeks at a time all I did was sleep. Life simply didn’t function for me for over 2 years.’ Yes’, the doctors said, ‘ME. There’s no cure, she’ll either get over it or she won’t. Does she need antidepressants? ’ A pretty grim diagnosis for a 16 year old.
My wonderful parents started hunting out anything that could help me; massage, aromatherapy, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, allergy testing, nutritional changes. But really, nothing much helped. I was in a place where very little could activate my physical, emotional, spiritual and cognitional systems to start to heal and rebuild.
Finding my way back to health and deep vitality was one of the longest journeys of my life and brought me lessons along the way that I still listen to and nourish each day. The last time I had any experience of ME was nearly 20 years ago and I don’t hesitate to say that, after two intense years of ill-health and then a few more years of recovery, I came fully though my experience with that illness. It is no longer any part of me. I have vast reserves of strength, vitality and health and use them to the full in a busy life that involves being a part of wonderful (and very busy) family, a full time private practice, teaching, writing, speaking, dreaming, horse-riding, keeping bees, walking and having fun!
More in the next blog
With love, Prune