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After that I felt unwell through three years of university studies, before everything came to a head after an exam in the autumn of 2017. I was diagnosed with ME in December 2017. I was 22 years old.
It upset me when people asked if maybe the problem was in my head.
Some days I sat on the bathroom floor for hours before I could muster the strength to brush my teeth
I had never felt worse. I was physically and mentally exhausted – all the time. My head and muscles were aching, and I was often dizzy and nauseous. I had bouts of inexplicable fever and felt cold all the time. Some days I sat on the bathroom floor for hours before I could muster the strength to brush my teeth. The whole thing happened very suddenly, and I had to suspend my studies. Some days were better than others, but most of the time I was in bed.
Interaction between head and body
I was deeply hurt by comments to the effect that I should try to think more positively, or not to let a diagnosis stop me. That maybe I should try to get out a bit more. To me, it was just the same as being told that I was imagining the whole thing. I desperately wanted someone to understand me. I myself was never in doubt that my body was ill, and I still have no doubts about that.
I myself was never in doubt that my body was ill, and I still have no doubts about that
It was only as I learnt more about, and not least accepted, the interaction between my head and my body, that some progress was made. Someone happened to the book Vekk meg når det er over (Wake me when it is over). This happened shortly after my diagnosis in 2017, and I applied to do a course soon afterwards. I had heard about the Lightning Process before, but had more or less brushed it aside when I understood that it was based on mental processes. But the story in the book was believable. I registered for a course and attended in February 2018. This was an important turning point for me.
Rapid recovery with mental techniques
At the Lightning Process course, we learnt how structures and connections in the brain can be changed through mental training techniques. This way one can influence pain signals, for instance, even those that lead to what we feel are “genuine” physical symptoms. By replacing negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones, we can help the body to heal itself. It is all based on neuroscience and is of course best explained by the experts in this field.
After three days of the course I spent a whole hour going for a walk. I wept for joy!
I improved rapidly, much faster than expected! After three days of the course I spent a whole hour going for a walk. I wept for joy! And rather than going to bed with pain afterwards, I could repeat my walk the following day. Today, six months after the course, my life is good again, and I have ventured out on my first long journey overseas. I can exercise, be social and spend my energy on things I enjoy. I still have some challenges, but with the toolbox I now have at my disposal, I am better equipped than ever to overcome them.
My body put the brakes on
It is only now that it’s over, that I am closer to an understanding of what happened to me, and how I could become as ill as I really was. I had endured years of stress and painful thoughts that led to a body out of balance. Before getting ME, I had periods of what I felt was depression, anxiety and finally burnout. My body tried in various ways to tell me that something was wrong, but I did not understand. In the end it put all the brakes on. If I had known then what I know now, I might have avoided that major breakdown.
I’m writing this in the hope that it might make someone reconsider therapies based on mental processes
Months of my life vanished because of ME. For some people, their entire life vanishes. I’m writing this in the hope that it might make someone reconsider therapies based on mental processes. I understand that it can be hard to set aside principles you have set up because you so desperately want to be believed. However, even though ME cannot be proven by means of a biomarker, it does not mean the patient isn’t physically ill. And when mental therapies work, it does not mean that you haven’t been ill.
This text was first published (in Norwegian) on Recovery Norway’s Facebook page in 2018. The woman who wrote it was then 23 years old. The picture is genuine.