“They told me it’s all in the mind”
It’s “Psychosomatic” or “It’s all in your mind”. These phrases do more to antagonize suffers of syndromes such as MS-CFS, IBS, and Fybromyalgia than any other single thing. We all know the feelings phrases like the two above conjure up even for anyone healthy. Most people immediately become defensive and the reaction is “I’m not imagining it, I’m not making it up, you know” and other responses. For the ME-CFS sufferer it tends to make them see red, because they know all the physical symptoms are there, they know how it feels to be totally exhausted and not know why. To be told it’s all psychological is a hard pill to swallow and yet the mind is playing a large part, a part that is often hidden because the processes are deeply buried in the sub-conscious mind!
The longer the ME-CFS sufferer lives with the undiagnosed and untreated condition the longer they learnt to accept it at an unconscious level. “It’s just how I am” is a phrase often heard as they describe their life. The condition can breed a lack of hope, a deep sadness because of the loss of a lifestyle they formerly enjoyed and a general belief that they will never recover. Modern medical intervention tends to confirm that belief, as most attempts conventionally to treat this condition fail.
“The Mind, Body, Spirit connection”
To illustrate simply how our mind and body interact perhaps you can recall a time when you had a sudden shock, a frightening experience or received bad news. The first thing that happens is that we feel physically nauseous to a degree depending on the circumstances. At the opposite end of the spectrum I’m sure you can remember a truly exciting or fulfilling moment in your life when you were so captured in the moment that you physically felt it in your body i.e. the thrill of passing that all important test or exam. You felt elated, a physically excitement that flowed through your whole body as the mind sent out the “happy” chemicals throughout your physical body.
There is a growing branch of medicine that has over the past few years begun to research the connections of the mind and body, how they interact and cause us to be ill, and also they help us to recover: –
Psychoneuroimmunology or PNI to give it a more manageable title can shed some light on what happens when we think a thought, how it affects our physiology and ultimately our future health. It was proven as long ago as the 50’s by Robert Ader that the immune system itself has a memory, that is, it will remember without any reference to our conscious mind. In an experiment rats were made ill on drugged flavoured water and once withdrawn, subsequently recovered. When later given identically flavoured water which did not contain the drug they became ill again to the same extent.
Hans Selye as long ago as the 20’s identified that an excess production of adrenalin caused by stress will cause adrenal exhaustion and ultimately, all of the symptoms we today identify as being ME-CFS. Ellen Sue Stern in her book, “The Indispensable Woman” and “Running on Empty”, written in the 80’s identify symptoms and mind traps of the indispensable woman that equate to symptoms of ME-CFS.
Candace Pert a Neuro Pharmacologist who was part of the team who discovered Peptides has carried out much research into the mind/body connection. She is convinced that not only is the Mind and Body linked but that every cell in the body communicates in a vast network, exchanging intelligence, and that ultimately our body is actually the “brain” and not just the grey matter within our skull!
Spirit – Are we talking about religion?
Modern living has made humans far more prone to stress than ever before, which if left unchecked can often lead to more chronic conditions, including ME-CFS . We have lost the spiritual values that sustained many generations. Many people on hearing that someone is spiritual immediately connect it with being “religious”. Spirit is not about your religious beliefs but about how you feel inside, what drives you, what is your purpose in life, how you live from day to day, how you treat others, and how you regard yourself. In essence what makes you tick!
In many chronic conditions such as ME-CFS the person has often fallen out of love with themselves, feeling perhaps unworthy, incapable, and feeling that they have nothing that gives them satisfaction, pleasure, or peace in life. Many times they are high achievers, working around the clock if they can, and when ME-CFS strikes someone they feel even more frustrated at not being able to “achieve”.