Helen Hansen's Blog

Inspirational and education posts for you and your family

My struggle and victory with fibromyalgia and CFS

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I had been struggling with adrenal fatigue, widespread pain, stiffness, sleep issues and brain fog for many years prior. I had learned to live with it but when it worsened after moving house I found myself bedridden.

I could barely move from aching muscles, I would crawl to the bathroom in agony. Light and voices irritated me so I stayed in the room with the curtains and door closed. I was exhausted yet I couldn’t sleep. Frustration set in and then despair. One day my five year old asked me,”Mommy, when are you going to die?” That was my wake-up call. I knew I had to do something.

I journeyed from doctor to specialist, each time expecting news of a fatal disease. Each time the results were the same, “You’re fine”. Inside I was screaming, I’m not fine, can’t you see? Finally, thousands of rands later, I arrived at a cardiologist. I was having heart palpitations and severe dizziness and a previous specialist had referred the cardiologist. When this wonderful man told me my heart was fine I felt like crying. By now I just wanted direction. He continued to explain I had fibromyalgia. He said the best help would be alternative treatments.

I cannot describe the immense relief I felt at now being able to name and begin to understand my condition. I had been pleasantly surprised that the cardiologist had suggested holistic therapies and so I dug into my self-help books of which I had many.

I convinced my husband and my mother that I needed to be alone to ‘sort myself out’ and so they assisted me to check into a nearby chalet facing the sea. During the day I would sit in the sun and journal and at night my husband would bring me dinner. Primarily my journaling was focused on gratitude. I waded through all scenarios from my past which I perceived as hurtful or negative whether I had been on the receiving or giving end. I found many, many reasons to be thankful for each situation.

After one week I returned home. My son asked me “Are you better now?” I certainly had improved from ten days prior. Now I could be in daylight without escaping into darkness, I could tolerate moderate sounds and I was able to sleep for more than two hours at a stretch. I still had physical pain, tension and fatigue but I suddenly saw the proverbial light which gave me the strength to carry on every day.

A gratitude journal is an interesting piece of work. What transpires as one notices and writes down ones observations is an awareness of self. I began to become aware of how busy my mind was and I acknowledged that my thoughts played a large role in my perception of situations. I needed to do something about my thoughts.

My next step was practicing the art of stilling my mind. Of course one cannot delete one’s thoughts entirely but you can learn to manage them. Everyday I practiced mind management by sitting still and looking at one blade of grass for one to two hours. It was one of the most challenging exercises I have ever done. I knew I had to pursue it, I knew this was my key. After three months I realised I was no longer having to force myself to sit still and focus, it had become part of my routine, part of who I was every day, without me noticing. To this day I have not skipped one day of meditation.

During those three months I slowly gained more strength and was able to do simple tasks again such as cooking meals. In my fourth month of recovery I began assisting my husband with his business on a part time basis. I was still spending a large part of my day focused on healing and restoring my energy but I was feeling useful now that I was once more contributing to the financial pot. My recovery continued steadily for the next three years. Every now and then a disruption would occur such as a robbery or another household move and this would send me flying back into the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

The benefit of all these traumatic experiences was that each time I deepened my meditation practice. During the times of quietened thoughts, a heightened awareness would arise, resulting in the development of new self-healing processes which I would use with myself and my family. My toolbox began to overflow with powerful and effective techniques.

Eventually I was strong enough to start sharing my processes with others who also needed to heal. I held workshops at my home and then workshops at larger venues. I studied part time courses such as Birth into Being, the Path Method, Kinesiology, amongst others. All the while I was still working part time for my husbands business. I had more energy than ever before.  In 2016 I began practicing as a full time holistic psychology practitioner.  Occasionally I notice hints of fibromyalgia wanting to creep back in but I quickly nip it.  I know what works.  The biggest value to my life has been lifestyle change and this is what keeps me on track and living the life I desire.  

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