Dear EFT Community,
Sarah Marshall shares her story of chronic fatigue here. She went on to become an EFT practitioner, and has helped many others with CFS, fibromyalgia, and other debilitating conditions.
At the age 27 I was told that I could not expect to have the energy I had as a 17 year old. This came from my GP at the time. I was off sick from work, I’d spent endless days with unrelenting dizziness, I felt as though I had flu that wasn’t getting any better, I couldn’t concentrate – even just making a cup of tea seemed a challenge at times — and didn’t have the energy to do anything more than sit around waiting for it to pass. I felt as though a plug had been pulled and all of my energy with it. It didn’t feel like normal tiredness, it was a different animal altogether and I was pretty frightened. At the time I had no idea that ME/Chronic Fatigue lay shortly ahead. My sick note was running out and I was expected to return to work the following week and I desperately needed answers or least my doctor’s support and this is what she offered me… I remember thinking, actually I can’t repeat exactly what I thought as it involved a number of strong phrases! But I do remember thinking, ‘I might have believed you if I was 87 not 27’! That was the last time I saw her, I swiftly changed to another GP after my appointment, but those words rang in my ears for a number of years to come.
This was one of numerous events that triggered a strong anxiety which I experienced for the majority of my illness. I was anxious about the confusing symptoms, the inability of my doctors to diagnosis what was wrong, my inability to convince some of the medical doctors with which I consulted that I was ill at all. I felt helpless and panicked about the unrelenting fatigue and the fact that for a number of years whatever I did just seemed to make it worse.
Another event that stuck clearly in my mind was just after I had been diagnosed – which took over a year. I remember an initial feeling of relief — at last, I had found what was actually wrong with me — and at that time, I knew little about the illness. I wasn’t actually told how to approach recovery by the specialist who delivered the diagnosis, apart from the suggestion of learning how to breathe properly, but having something after months and months of searching felt as though I was getting somewhere.
I arrived shortly back home, which was a flat that I shared with housemates at the time, and my friends could see that it had gone well from the relief on my face. I had shared what the consultant had said and one of my flatmates revealed that she had a colleague who had the same condition. Eager to know more, I asked her for details and she said that her colleague was doing really well, in fact she was now up to a couple of hours of work after five years of illness. It floored me that could be me, and all I could hope for, in 5 years. It trigger a panic attack that lasted almost a day.
Unfortunately I didn’t discover EFT until I was improving using other methods. Where EFT came into its own for me was to ensure the progress I was finally making at the time was sustainable. Anxiety and panic were the two main factors that were, in hindsight, perpetuating many of my symptoms such as dizziness, breathlessness, and visual disturbances. These, for me, were more disabling than the more physical symptoms such as fatigue and joint and muscle pain. I was anxious about my symptoms, the fact I didn’t know what was causing them — all I knew is that if I did anything more than 10-15 minutes of physical or cognitive activity I would feel worse — my fears around the future, and my fears at being able to cope if I lost my financial support. I became frightened of life and my ability to cope with it. I’d also lost all trust in my body and its ability to be healthy.
I started using EFT on my fears around my symptoms to start with, just very simply. This helped reduce my anxiety levels and what I found was that as I worked through the emotional component of the issue my symptoms started to subside. I worked on my future fears around ‘doing too much’, or overdoing it by reducing the emotional charge around past times where I had engaged in a physical activity and I had felt worse afterwards. I then moved onto what I feared would happen in the future and what impact it would have, again always tracing it back to the earliest event of when I had experienced each specific fear. This again helped with my anxiety around trying it again in the future and I found I was slowly able to do more.
I then started working through past contributing factors, going to back to childhood and all the memories that had upheld my beliefs and behaviour around control, the perceived control I felt others had over my life, my lack of potency around being able to change my situation and the two memories I described around diagnosis and possible prognosis.
I also was led back to what was going on around the time of the start on my illness and the events in the preceding year. I was working in a highly pressured sector. I was an IT programmer and a majority of our programming was on a live system – one wrong key stroke could have dramatic implications for the system and the end-users. We could bring down the system dependent on the programmes we were updating. I also wasn’t looking after myself and the fact I had suffered from low self-esteem since being a very shy child all impacted my health and made me susceptible to illness. I used EFT on each issue and tapping through each event that upheld an aspect of the issue. It wasn’t easy. Nor was it quick — no one minute wonders for me — but being by consistent I started to chip away at the issues and slowly but surely I started to collapse them to a point where I was free of the constant anxiety I had felt around symptoms and my body’s ability especially around activity. This, for me, was key in moving forward and regaining my health. It enabled me to take the pressure off/ unload my system and for the first time in years I started to relax. This enabled my body to up-regulate the parasympathetic nervous system and start to repair and restore my body. I had already started to do this with other techniques, but the anxiety triggered by past experiences was always a blocking factor.
I haven’t cleared all of the issues that cumulated in ME/CFS, but I worked through and collapsed them enough to be able to restore myself to full health. I am now fully recovered and have been for around 7 years. EFT is the technique that ensured I fully overcome the condition.
I do continue with self work to clear what is left, not because I fear becoming ill again — I can say hand on heart I will never experience ME again – but I feel it is important and its part of being a practitioner as I trained in such techniques as EFT to help others with these conditions.