Recovery Norway does not make any claims about how many can get well from strategies like the ones our members have used, although we do think they are evidence that it is possible. We do acknowledge stories of people who have experienced worsening symptoms after such strategies too, and we think this is one reason for doing more research.
The year was 2015. I was a very active 24-year-old girl, with a full-time job and workouts. I had the life I loved. Then, however, my body began not to cooperate in everything I wanted to do. I was not under any strain, not at work, nor at home or among my friends. I had a great life.
I think I had noticed feeling more tired than I used to, but I kept going as before. After all, I wasn’t ill, was I? Until one day when I couldn’t get out of bed. I just couldn’t. Would I, who had never been absent from work, have to call them and say I was ill!? Because I felt tired? I was a YES person – I was dutiful, loved work, loved lots of work! I was quick and efficient, and I often worked faster than others, because I enjoyed it. But now I have learnt that this approach won’t do in the long run, and it is perfectly fine to slow down so that my body doesn’t stress when it is not necessary. Perhaps I pushed myself too hard at that time? Perhaps my body was fed up with so much activity and so little rest? I don’t know. I had had mononucleosis at some point between 2012 and 2015, as blood tests in 2012 showed no trace of it, while blood tests in 2015 showed that I had had it. I cannot remember noticing it myself.
It felt awful to call them at work and say I would be on sick leave for a long time. It was so hard because the reason was fatigue. They only knew me as a lively and active girl at work; not as the one who went to bed as soon as she got home in order to cope with the next day at work. However! I decided early on that I didn’t care. I didn’t care if other people learnt the truth and knew why I didn’t participate in things any longer. I was open about it, so most people knew. I had enough with myself and the fear of remaining like this for years and years. I didn’t waste much energy on what others might think, but focused on myself and what I could do to recover.
I was given two weeks’ sick leave and expected to be fully fit after two weeks off. But those two weeks turned into 18 months. I was tired; I was worn out. I couldn’t get out of the house, was unable to spend time with friends, work out or cook. Sometimes brushing my teeth felt like a marathon.
This couldn’t possibly be happening to me. I had heard about ME patients and had a girlfriend who had been ill for eight years, lying in bed. I googled the internet like crazy and was terrified! There seemed to be no hope for such patients. I tried everything, changed my diet, tried alternative therapies, followed all the advice I could find out there. But I was still just as worn out, and I still had all those symptoms.
My doctor investigated me for everything, but found nothing wrong, either mentally or physically. The doctor asked if they should send me to Oslo to be examined for ME? I absolutely refused that diagnosis, so I said no, even though I knew that would probably be the next step.
Then one day my sister handed me a book, “Vekk meg når det er over” (Wake me when it is over). I read it and cried, for it was just like reading about myself! But the author had recovered!! I googled her and found that she was running the same course in Oslo as she described in her book.
I also asked my girlfriend to read it. She had heard so much criticism, so she was very much against it. She felt it was not a mental disorder. I asked, what have you got to lose? What if it works? Mental disorder or not, the objective is in any case to get well, isn’t it? Look at all those who have recovered!
We both went to a course not long afterwards. My girlfriend, who had been declared disabled and needed a home help at the age of 28, improved rapidly and became almost totally well in the course of a few weeks/months. The recovery didn’t happen that fast for me, and I had to fight my wish to compare myself to her. But I made use of what I had learnt, focused on myself. I, too, would recover! Slowly but surely I was able to do more and more. I used what I had learnt, even if I didn’t always feel any improvement. I did it, though.
I learnt about neurons and paths created in the brain, nerve signals that are emitted when you for instance see, feel, or smell something. They can be messed up and send the wrong signals, or signals that relate to a conviction you have. I was for example convinced that if I wore tight trousers, I would get a burning sensation and feel pins and needles in my legs. It happened every time. But when I thought that these signals from my brain were wrong, and I just ignored any symptoms that came, said “Stop!” every time and focused on something else … after a few weeks I forgot to think about it. I didn’t notice any symptoms and wore tight trousers again. I worked that way on various convictions I had had that if I do such and such, this or that will happen. It did happen, of course, but it was not normal, so I stopped myself, said “Stop!” out loud and then changed my focus. To begin with it happened frequently, and then a bit further apart every time. I believe it worked because I had already read a bit about the human brain, and I had read a great many stories from Lightning Process courses where people had recovered. That was my motivation. And then I looked at my friend who was recovering a lot faster than I did. At the same time I saw the improvement in myself and gained confidence from my own experiences.
A few months later I started working again, in a 50% position.
I went on sick leave in April 2015, did an LP course in January 2016, started working in March 2016. My nursing studies began in August 2016. I became a social being again, had the energy to go shopping, go for walks, live a little more. It was two steps forward and one back, but the general direction was always forward. The hardest thing was not to abandon faith and hope on those days when I felt tired and the symptoms hit me again. To begin with I was afraid – afraid it wouldn’t work, afraid I had suffered a relapse. The practicioner taught me not to worry about that. I accepted the feelings when they came, but focused on what was good and kept thinking that it’s just my body being confused. And then the trouble stopped! I handled every event with symptom this way, worked on my thought patterns and turned my focus away from the symptoms. My periods of fatigue and symptoms became shorter, and they were further and further apart. Now I might notice them once or twice a year, but they don’t bother me any more. I know they will only last a short time and then I will be back to normal again.
From everything I learnt at the course, I now understand how my brain works and how my body reacts according to thought patterns. I am no longer afraid of symptoms, or a few days of tiredness, because I know it will pass! The fear of symptoms makes them much worse, stronger, they last longer and steal all the focus. At least that was how it was for me. I got more tired because the fear stole all my focus, and I felt anxious all the time while I was waiting to get better. The fear aggravated my symptoms. Now that the fear doesn’t bother me, my symptoms are much weaker, and I don’t pay much attention to them because I focus on other things. During a period when I might previously have been scared and thought “Help, here we go again”, I might now just think “Oh well, hello, hello,” and then my thoughts immediately go somewhere else.
I did the LP course in 2016 and started full-time nursing studies that same year. I completed a demanding course of studies with a lot of practice and a part-time job on the side. I currently have a full-time position as a nurse in a hectic emergency ward where we work three shifts. That means I also work nights! That would have been unthinkable before. I pinch myself and can hardly believe it is true. If it hadn’t been for the LP course, I don’t know where I would have been today. It has helped me, got me off social security and into a life that I LOVE! My recovery wasn’t super-fast to begin with, but I didn’t give up in spite of some difficulties to start with. Now it has given me my life back!