I became extremely sleepy in September 2014, I have been told I was living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) aka Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME).
In December 2014, I couldn’t walk to the end of the road or take a hot shower without needing to sleep for a day or two to recover. My body constantly ached, I was weak, I couldn’t hold a comprehensive conversation, my memory halved, I had to move back home and live with my parents and I couldn’t work.
Since then, I have been holistically rehabilitating myself through not just yoga and Pilates, but researching body systems, testing, reading published medical journals and working with the most amazing, professional people. I can now work full time and I want to share everything I have learnt and continue to learn about this debilitating disease so that I can help others to avoid, understand and overcome not just CFS but Fatigue itself too, everyone is tired these days!
I am not back to 100% Charlette yet but I’d say i’m 95% Charlette, and considering that most CFS sufferers never recover, I must be doing something right. When you look at CFS success stories, they average at eight years recovery. I wasn’t up for that!
Not only is my holistic CFS rehabilitation giving me back my life, it has also cured Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which I had for many years before the CFS started.
It’s been the biggest journey of my life and knowing where to start was hard, but it’s always a good idea to start from the beginning…
What actually is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME?
The NHS quite simply describe it as: “Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes persistent fatigue (exhaustion) that affects everyday life and doesn’t go away with sleep or rest.”
They don’t have an awful lot of information and advice to offer and describe all advice as ‘theory’. Slightly worrying, considering they also think that 250,000 people in the UK have it.
Luckily, I know a bit about it from first hand experience and I’m going to share this with you.
So, let’s start again..
What actually is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME? (take 2)
There is no difference between CFS and ME and everybody’s symptoms will vary. Symptoms include all or some of the following:
Aches and pains in joints and muscles
Difficulty sleeping (sleep/ wake cycle disrupted)
Muscles weakness and pain
Lack of sex drive
You could have fatigue plus none, some or all of these other symptoms and be considered a CFS patient.
Once you have CFS/ME you have it for life, right?
Wrong. Wrong. WRONG!
If you go to your western Doctor for treatment, then it’s very likely you will receive none. The only thing my Doctor suggested I do was start anti-depressive medication. I wasn’t depressed, so I found this advice baffling.
Depression can be present with CFS, but it is SYMPTOM and not a cause and therefor will go away if we treat the CFS.
So why do they recommend anti-depressive medication?
Honestly, I think it is because they know so little about CFS so they don’t actually know what to do.
Western medicine saves lives. I have the utmost respect for that, but I personally see it as a disease care system and not a health care system. In my view, health care should treat underlying causes and not only symptoms. Plus, with western medicine and fancy drugs, most symptoms can be lessened (which is not necessarily a treatment) but they ALL come with a risk of a series of new symptoms to match. Believe me I know, last year I took exams to understand medications and learnt about comorbidity as a result of common medication and it really shocked me.
So what can be done?
We need to work out exactly why your body is behaving in this way and then we can undo the process and get you back to your normal self. I make it sound simple, and in some cases, is really is! But you do have to put in the investigative work and may need to invest in some tests and good holistic advice.
I have tried a huge amount of holistic treatment therapies to assist my healing and I will be explaining the benefits and my experience of each of these in future posts, but the one thing that has been the true backbone of my recovery is Functional Medicine. I was fortunate enough to find an incredible Functional Medicine Practitioner in Sarah Bayley and here’s how she explains
“Functional Medicine uses simple home lab tests to look in great detail at how well the body is working.
Any imbalances that are found are then treated naturopathically with nutrition and lifestyle changes to strengthen and heal the whole system.
It is used to explore the root causes of illness” www.SaraBayley.com
CFS isn’t really a term used in Functional Medicine because the cocktail of symptoms (personal to the individual) will make suggestions to the functioning of body systems and treatment will unfold from there.. I.e. they wouldn’t put everyone with CFS on the same treatment plan.
For this reason, if you think you have CFS or you don’t but you want to feel sprightly and full of life and energy then you should learn a bit about the body and then listen to your body. Tune in. You know your body better than anyone else does (really, you do)!