Showing posts from January, 2013

Chronic fatigue - measuring activity

Those lucky normal people in the world get up, do what they fancy, get a bit tired, have a rest, do something else. Not so for this chronic fatigue sufferer - everything needs to balanced and measured to make sure it won't "do me in". Initially, this seemed like a difficult task - that's when I did pacing for a long while - using my acceptable baseline as a reference point. Now things have moved on a bit and I have a reasonably flexible approach to my morning and lunchtime activities. However, I still need to be careful - it's still quite easy to over commit and get a bit wiped out.

Here's what I find useful:

- I keep a log of my activities using METs and a pedometer - a pedometer is highly useful device as it tells you what you have actually been doing
- activities that stretch me can have an effect three days later (so called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS))
- activities that involve an increased heart rate situation have a greater impact, so I like to…

Guided meditation to gladden the mind

Attitude is one of those things that is so ingrained in our minds that it is difficult to imagine that is there at all. After all, how we see and respond to the world is because that's how the world is. This is further complicated by the fact that our views are self reinforcing - the world is miserable because we see misery everywhere - and because soceity reinforces a harsh view point through media and marketing (these messages are then further pushed at us by the people around us).

Luckily, we are able to change our deep, automatic view of life but it happens as if by magic. We kind of reprogram our automatic thoughts by focusing on positive things and feeling generally friendly within ourselves. So, this then is what this meditation is all about. It make take a few listens, but eventually you'll hear these thoughts informing your attitude and point of view. It will build a positive voice within the mind.

Try to think without contracting a muscle

Tricky, isn't it?

Catch the first thought of the day

Here is something that I like to do more often than not. The moment when we wake up is quite an interesting one. We move from a seemingly unconscious state to a more wakeful state when we are thinking and controlling operations. The transition from one to the other can be a useful time to catch ourselves 'before we start being who we are'. Occasionally, we wake up and we feel as if there is no-one there; a kind of empty, thoughtless wakefulness. Then, an urge kicks in to remember who we are and the thoughts begin. Try to catch these first thoughts; what are they about, where do they come from, why do we buy into them so easily? At what point do we become lost? Don't be afraid of the thoughtless gap - keep it open as long you can.

Chronic fatigue and the problem with deconditioning

Here's my graphical attempt to explain it.

This seems to be what is happening with me.

 We start out with some underlying illness that knocks us for six. It lasts for a long time. We try to deal with it but we can't, and so we reduce our activity (to very little). We become physically deconditioned. Perhaps the illness wears off (there is no way of measuring this unfortunately - although my immune system blood tests are still wonky), but we still feel ill for two other reasons:

 - we are completely deconditioned and any effort triggers exhaustion symptoms
 - we have become psychologically habituated to our illness response at a very deep level

 And the nightmare continues. The illness feels almost the same as it always did, (perhaps we get signs that we can do more) and we struggle on. This occurs over years.

 My main point is this: it is tremendously difficult.

Chronic fatigue - a recovery path

Over the next few posts I'll be detailing what I have been doing over the last few years to try and recover from significant chronic fatigue symptoms. In my case, the development of the illness has been:

- I became very ill overnight
- I tried to carry on
- I was too ill to carry on, I struggled to do anything, even basic stuff
- I stopped normal life. I had to
- I spent ages like this. I tried various treatments like steroids and anti-depressants; it felt like I had been poisoned.
- I had to deal with psychological issues due to the tremendous change in my circumstances
- I stripped back my life to basically nothing
- My body became deconditioned
- I tried pacing over a couple years. The deconditioning was significant.
- I gradually moved over to an intensely healthy diet. It took time
- I used pacing to gently do more from a baseline functioning I could cope with
- I was backwards and forwards for a long time
- Finally, there were gaps in the fog
- I used deep relaxation techn…

Guided body scan relaxation meditation

A body scan is a great way to start meditating - the interaction between body and mind is a key aspect of going deeper.

Some feel good tricks for your lunch hour

Sadly, these will not be easy things to do, like eat a donut. There are reasons why eating a donut does not work but let's not get into that now. Suffice to say that these ideas are a little more sublime.

1. Lose your sense of self importance

You know how it is at work. This happened to me, I did this, me, me, I, I. Work is a seriously self conscious business and we can become blinded to our self obsession. So, try and get over yourself:

- do something for someone else
- be in awe of something (art, architecture, nature, the Universe)
- remember, nothing is personal
- be generous, crack a smile at someone

2. Break your compulsive thought stream

Work demands us to be a certain way but we are more than this. Our brains have many different modes of operation other than the work mode. Try this:

- breathe in and imagine the breath entering your whole body
- repeat, and imagine the breath going in to the whole body and head
- feel yourself as one, continuous being

Or, doodle a picture. …

Explore simple, effortless mindfulness

I've probably written about this before but this is an important element of what I am working with at the moment so I thought I might write about it again. If you go on a mindfulness based stress reduction course then you'll probably be given a raisin and told to eat it mindfully. This means paying attention to each sensation of taste and feeling as you munch the raisin in your mouth. Then you might be told to explore various revelations about the raisin - how it tasted, what thoughts it evoked, and so on. You might be surprised about what you can discover when you wake up and pay attention to what you are doing.

Now, if you explore mindfulness as a practice you will come across people who recommend continuous mindfulness throughout the day. This might seem like a lot effort - after all paying attention to the raisin took a reasonable amount of effort - imagine doing that all day long! Well, luckily, after a while you might notice that the awareness of the sensations of the ra…