Monday, 8 November 2010

Grieving for the life you've lost

When you get the symptoms of ME, CFS and fibromyalgia they are such that you lose your capacity to have the life you used to have. There is a spectrum of how severe each individual’s symptoms are and thus how much loss you are experiencing. However, it is still important to be aware that you are experiencing a loss and thus you need to go through the grieving process consciously. 
There are slightly different models of grieving and so I encourage you to read and research for yourself too. Below is one of the most recognized models with more information about Elisabeth Kubler Ross at - http://www.ekrfoundation.org/. (Based on the Grief Cycle model first published in On Death & Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, 1969. Interpretation by Alan Chapman 2006-2009.)

Five Stages of Grief - Elisabeth Kübler Ross

1 - Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It's a defense mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with ME symptoms because it’s a condition that is hard to ‘see’ and so admit to.

2 - Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them.

3 - Bargaining. Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing losing their former life can involve attempting to bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example "If I rest in bed all day I’ll be able to…..". Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution.

4 - Depression. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.

5 - Acceptance This stage definitely varies according to the person's situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. At this point the person is able to move into recovery and sustain that recovery.

I spent many years in denial - I really couldn't admit I was ill and I couldn't admist that I was anxious or nervous and suppressing negative thoughts. Yet when I did stop denying I was able to move quickly through my recovery. It was so important for me to acknowledge that I was in and out of these stages - then I was able to stop repressing my anger and allow my depression to lift.


People can get stuck at different stages in the steps and move backwards and forwards. It is with the awareness that they have suffered a great loss and need to grieve, that they can then move on into the recovery stage. If someone is using the Gupta Programme and struggling then it is important for them to examine if they are stuck in the grieving process. They can then work through the steps and look at some core issues before returning to the Gupta Programme ready to recover.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Acceptance

If you wake up every morning wondering ‘why me’ and other negative thoughts about your current condition, then it’s time to think about ACCEPTANCE. The reason this is so important is all these thoughts feed into the amygdale’s vicious cycle that keeps the symptoms coming. Let’s explore what acceptance really means:

it is receiving without criticism or judgment.

to embrace the fullness of a situation or experience.

an inner realization that all is well, regardless of the outward expression.

What this means when you have an overactive amygdale which causes pain and symptoms is that although you don’t have to like what is going on in your life, you must accept that it, whatever it is, is going on. If you fail to accept reality you are not able to make a conscious choice. When you do not choose, you live by default. You are a victim of circumstances. When, however, you discover that this condition is in your life so life is not going the way you would like it to go, nothing makes sense. It makes you angry or afraid. When you are angry, nothing makes sense. If you are afraid, it makes even less sense. If you are angry and afraid it’s an unconscious trigger. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they must accept that nothing makes sense, and they have no sense, but everything will still turn out okay. Acceptance is knowing that no matter what, everything is and will be just fine.

Acceptance is simply recognition. When you recognize a thing, you see it for what it is. All of our experiences, no matter how awful they appear to be, are temporary. Acceptance of an experience as a temporary situation can make it a lot easier to handle. It does not mean you will not be temporarily angry, frightened or senseless. It means you can usually handle something in a calm manner when you know it is a temporary situation. Acceptance is also an express ticket out of fear and anger. It takes you from where you are to where you want to be without stopping in every little negative emotion. Accepting a thing does not mean you approve of what is going on. Nor does it mean you are not being impacted by what is going on. Acceptance means you are able to withdraw the emotional attachment just long enough to really see what is happening. You see it, feel it, and may even know that something must be done; however, it is only from the emotionally detached posture of acceptance that you can make wise choices.

When your symptoms showed up it meant you were faced with having to accept this new reality. Acceptance is a form of initiation. It is a rite of passage. You are passing from the fantasy you have created in your mind, for your own protection into the real world of truth and facts. When you undergo the initiation of acceptance, it usually means that something secret and hidden is being revealed to you. It means you are being called to show what you are made of. It is an act of courage.

Acceptance is the essence of respect for one’s self and others. When you accept the reality of your life, thereby demonstrating your willingness to make a conscious choice, you honour the wisdom, strength and tenacity of the divine spirit within you.

Without the emotional charge of anger, fear and victimization, it is easy to accept the reality of your life. By accepting what is, you become keenly aware of what isn’t. When you know what isn’t, you can begin to determine what you must do. Acceptance also requires a great deal of trust, and even more patience.

Accept that what is yours will come to you in the right way at just the right moment. Patiently acknowledge and accept that what is not for you is not for you, no matter what you choose to tell yourself.

Are you able to accept your current symptoms and free yourself from this secondary trigger to your amygdala? Are there other things in your life that you need to accept?

If you want coaching to recover from ME, CFS or other related symptoms go to www.golightlycoaching.com



Sunday, 31 October 2010

Self Sabotage / The Inner Critic

Self Sabotage or the Inner Critic
Self sabotage or the inner critic are a part of your mind that loves to talk to you from past experience, thinking it’s protecting you, warning you of all the possible terrible consequences of things you do. The voice that is sabotaging you is based on unconscious programming from the past. Times when you failed an exam, when your relationship ended, when you were told you were ugly. So the self sabotages your current actions trying to make you safe and problem-free. And yet all these negative thoughts keep you trapped in the misery and a vicious cycle of negative thoughts.

If you want to recover and to do that use the Gupta Programme, which includes the amygdale retraining technique and yoga, breathing and meditation, it means a high level of self care. It means you are able to love yourself so much you will dedicate time and what energy you have to using the Programme. If however, instead of self love, you have a high level of self sabotage then you will find it a challenge to use the Programme.

The inner critic is prepared to use your past to hold you back – if you were told as a child you must be quiet and not speak up, to be a good girl, to always put others first then these patterns are what the self saboteur will use now. The unconscious voice will distort and stretch the present so that you focus only on what you think you can’t do or be. The voice is not afraid to speak up and tell you that you’re not good enough or you don’t deserve to be happy and healthy.

The good news is that you have an inner coach which is conscious and speaks for your true self. This voice knows you deserve and are good enough to be healthy and it knows that by using the Gupta Programme this will become true. It knows it’s a challenge and it’s okay to feel sad or frustrated. But it knows the good and that you must celebrate and bring this to the forefront of your conscious thoughts. The inner coach knows that problems are challenges and out of all bad things come blessings in disguise. For example, ending one relationship led you to a new town and a new better relationship.

The challenge for you is to listen to the inner coach more and more – to give it the attention it needs to get stronger. The self saboteur is so strong and ever-present and quick to slap down the inner coach. The self saboteur has been in your mind for a long long time and been given support by family, teacher and society. If your mother worried then she unknowingly fed your self saboteur and now you are a great worrier too. Your inner coach has not had such support and so needs that attention now. Both voices come from you and at times both perspectives have value – in the right proportions. Right now you need a bigger inner coach who you really trust. You need to have an inner coach who guides you and an inner critic who pipes in now and then with a gentle warning.

Let your inner coach start supporting you (just like a life coach) in the following ways:

• Encourages you to set a daily routine from the Gupta Programme that is in tune with your values

• Believes you can do it! Helps to generate self confidence that you can get better

• Accepts you are doing your best and knows you will get better at taking action

• Explores life’s options with you

• Keeps you motivated

• Celebrates your accomplishments along the way

Your inner critic, on the other hand, seeks to do the opposite of all that and thinks it’s safer for you to remain living with your symptoms – so it’s self sabotage all the way.
To switch to your inner coach and let it come through loud and clear you can do the following exercises:

Exercise A

1. Set aside time to let your thoughts wander on Recovery (or other issues). Start to listen to the voices that come through. Can you hear the voice of your inner critic? What does it sound like? What does it say? Do you hear a lot of ‘should’, ‘ought’ or ‘must’? It is taunting, mocking, strident, and sarcastic? Or is it sorrowful, fed-up, depressed, and dejected? Is it a person or various people you know? Or something else?

2. Now imagine a voice that is the opposite. How does it sound? What does it say? Is it a voice you now and love or one that is delightfully fresh to you? If you turn up the volume on this voice, how do you feel? Does your inner critic complain? If so, let it fade away and fizzle out all by itself and keep turning up the volume on the voice of your inner coach. What new insights does it offer you? What feelings does it produce for you?

3. Practise this activity frequently. Let you inner coach get bigger and stronger.


Exercise B

Write in your journal – have a Gupta Recovery Journal. Write without thinking or analyzing about your inner critic. When you’re ready write down what your inner coach would say about what you’ve written – the wisdom of your true self. Or sometimes just seeing what nonsense your inner critic comes up with is enough to break the spell and restore your self confidence.

You can also write your inner critic and inner coach having a dialogue – and give yourself the practice you need to be able to start doing this in your head.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Brain Fog

When the amygdala is overworking and the fight or flight reflex is constantly on, the belly muscles tighten, this forces your breath up into your chest.  Unhealthy breathing equals tight belly and compensatory inflation of the chest.  The blood that is oxygenated is directed to the big muscles in the legs and arms to enable us to fight or run away from the danger or perceived danger.   Simultaneously the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen because in this overaroused state we do not need to think or reflect. 

If we are in a contant state of the amygdala overworking this leaves us in a constant state of brain fog.  This is a challenging place to be as it literally means you can't think, reflect or analyse.  And this leads to inaction and possibly going down into despondent feelings.

The solution - is to re-oxygenate the brain as quickly as possible and as much as possible.  An option is to invert the body - so 'elevated legs up the wall' is a restorative yoga pose to use.  This posture can be done for a few minutes at first and built up over time and done as often as needed each day and evening.  Another option is to improve your breathing from the restrictive 'fight or flight' as often as needed.  Breathing techniques range from simply lying with your hand on your belly and relaxing so you can extend your exhalation to alternate nostril breathing.  Breathing through your left nostril only is a quick way to relax and begin to re-oxygenate the brain.  If ou are already practising yoga postures then doing a simple yoga routine is the quickest way to clear brain fog as you are clearing the 'fight or flight' problems throughout the body and restoring a balanced state to your body and mind.

The importance is to understand that brain fog is something you can clear with simple techniques - and to be clear about this so when the brain fog sets in and you can't think - you already know what you need to do to feel better. 

If your body is very symptomatic and low in oxygen then it may take time to relax and re-oxygenate.  Therefore the legs up the wall and breathing are best done every day and as often as possible.   And start doing yoga postures as soon as possible - starting off with gentle stretches and building up gradually.  

Once the brain fog is lessening it will be easier to do the Amygdala Retraining.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Bedbound

If you're reading this and have read about the Gupta Programme and you are 'bedbound' or housebound then have you really understood the condition you have - the physical symptoms you have? They are not a disease and they will not be fixed by staying still. 

The physical symptoms - especially the tiredness/fatigue are caused by negative thoughts stimulating the amygdala and causing adrenalin and other hormones to flood your body, and if there is no 'fight or flight' taking place in response to this natural instinct, then the hormones cause your physical symptoms.  If you move then the effect of the hormones can be lessened.  If you stay in bed the physical symptoms will damage your body.  If you worry that moving will make you tired then you are continually stimulating the amygdala and causing more phyiscal symptoms.  So using the Gupta Programme to stop the negative thoughts is essential.  Using the Amygdala Retraining stops the physical symptoms from coming and the moving heals your body.

Yes, when you start moving you will be tired because your body is weak.  So pace yourself and stop the negative worries - you need to do both.  Trust that your body by moving will get stronger and with the Gupta Programme your mind will get stronger too.  Together the two will ensure you recover.  It's not easy, I know, but it's the best way.

Don't let the fear keep you in bed or in the house.

As long as the doctor has told you that you have no medical reasons for your condition, if you know it's ME, CFS or fibromyalgia then start moving.  The adrenalin and hormones need to be cleared out by moving as soon as they are coming in. 

Starting on restorative yoa too is going to help you recover more quickly.  Start while lying in bed - stretching and bending.

Remember it's not the movement, exercise or activity that is causing your physical symptoms - it's the negative thoughts that trigger the amygdala.  Recovery is about pacing and mindfully moving and stopping the negative thoughts. 

Friday, 10 September 2010

Negative thoughts

The Gupta programme refers to negative thoughts - unfortunately language is never really enough or accurate about what we are truly feeling and experiencing.  When I coach clients their response to this part of the programme is "but I am a really positive person" and "I have really focussed on being positive and not complaining".  And this is true they do put on a brave face and act as if they are okay.  Only it is a bit of a paint job over deep cracks and avoids looking at what is negative.  These thoughts are negative because they trigger the amygdala not because of what you are actually thinking.  I was positive for years, ignored my negative thoughts and so got symptoms.  By ignoring the 'negative' I wasn't dealing with the cracks under the bright paint job I was presenting to people.  A negative thought is any thought that triggers the amygdala.  These thoughts are anxiety, fear-based thoughts that we think about a situation that other people wouldn't necessarily react to with these 'negative' thoughts.  When some people speak in public they don't have negative thoughts before they do this - whilst many many people will unconsciously be thinking 'negative' thoughts which will create anxiety and trigger the amygdala and lead to physical symptoms.  The Gupta Programme supports you to bring these negative thoughts out into the open and then with awareness STOP them and reframe them into living positively.  And it's this distinction that is essential.

Do live positively, smile and laugh and also become aware of your unconscious negative thoughts that are triggering your amygdala.  Once you stop the negative thoughts the physical symptoms will heal and you will live positively naturally.  Just putting on a brave face is not enough - it's necessary to look at the dark side and trust that by letting those thoughts out you can stop them.  It's a fine line between repressing negative thoughts and STOPPING them in language but in reality the difference is stopping them happens after they've come up into your consciousness. 

When I let my negative thoughts come up and out I realised I was anxious about social situations I was amazed.  All those years I'd had symptoms because I had a fear of social situations.   By stopping the thoughts which are not real - there is no rational reason for me to fear social situations - I was no longer triggering my amygdala and my physical symptoms stopped.  It took a while, the negative thoughts had been around for many years.  But it was so worth the effort. 

Become aware of the negative unconscious thoughts and then stop them.  Don't be positive on it's own - smiles and laughter come after the negative comes up and out .

Monday, 23 August 2010

Keep Occupied

When your mind, body and emotions are exhausted the amygdala is still firing and stress hormones still stimulating so the mind races agitatedly and watches each second pass.  To free yourself from this catch22 situation you need a crutch to rest your mind on.  And that crutch is to keep occupied and to do what you choose calmly and peacefully.  This is not about 'doing' but 'being'.  The choice of what you do will enable the mind to be distracted from your symptoms and accepting and floating in what occupys it now.  Your attention is focussed and all thoughts are repalced so that the amygdala can rest. 

The question is 'what to occupy yourself with'?  I started painting my flat (it took months) - very slowly and without any pressures.  Other clients have reconditioned old cars, started quilting, started gardening and building model toys.  All of these activities were done in relaxed way, breathing calmly and without pressure.  It is not easy not to rush, to set a deadline or to judge what you're doing. 

Be aware that normal activities, like cleaning for example, may still be things that trigger anxiety and the amygdala will overwork when you think about having to clean.  So avoid being occupied by just 'anything', like wth work you used to do as activities you were doing when your amygdala started overworking will still hold strong negative thoughts. 

If you are still in bed or lying on the sofa and can't believe this is possible - ask youself "are you any better for having been in this state for the last x months"?   You are going to start a creative activity and pace yourself.  You cannot damage your body and indeed your muscles will regain they ability to function normally.  Muscles that have not been used for some time will always complain when first used again.  Their aching is only their peevish protest, not a measure of damage done by their re-use.  In fact, in spite of such aching they will regain their normal strength much quicker when used than when laid aside to rest.  The tiredness of CFS is real and will still require restorative practices (breathing, meditaiton etc) and some rest, but only a certain amount.  Balance and pacing.

The body will recover as the mind finds peace and the mind is more likely to find peace when occupied that when brooding.  An hour spent in bed with the amygdala overworking as your thoughts race will exhaust you more than some light work.  Your body is ready to obey any reasonable demand, however exhausted you may think youself, provided you are interested in what you are doing and not in watching your body work for fear you may 'overdo it'. 

It is okay to overdo it slightly in the beginning.  It is not unusual tobe in a quandary trying to estimate how much work to attempt so as not to overtire.  Don't take on obviously too strenuous things yet it is better to work and risk overtiring yourself than to do nothing for frear of it.  If you do overtire, don't lose confidence and regret what you did.  Accept the fatigue calmly, rest and work again, two steps forward to each step back.

Leave the dishes make artificial flowers or breed dogs.  You need to be interested in it so your mind, body and soul can rest and be soothed.  When you are symptom free you can get back to the dishes and cleaning and career work.  Right now the body needs distraction so it can heal.