Here are a few factors that might help you understand who develops chronic conditions such as CFS, M.E and Fibromyalgia.
If you have spent a great deal of your life feeling like you had to be on guard; almost as if you life is in danger, then you are 600% more likely to get one of these conditions in later life.
Highly sensitive children pick up on family issues and undercurrents such as stressors caused by difficult relationships inside and outside the home, and at work. Even if there is no overt violent behaviour, such as behaviour that might be associated with a parent who is an alcoholic, or a parent who is dependent on illicit or prescribed substances. It is an unspoken rule, that if what is happening is brought out into the open, we would not be able to represent the perfect family to outsiders and the wider family unit. As a child it is a heavy burden to carry and also an unconscious one. Of course, highly sensitive children turn into highly sensitive adults, we take what we have learnt from childhood into adult hood and adult relationships with ourselves and others.
It is as if there is danger in life which we cannot identify, the bodies adrenal glands are working overtime, holding us in constant flight or fight, the autonomic nervous system ( this regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal) gets stuck on ‘open’.
Imagine if the accelerator pedal on your car became stuck, finally the car would run out of fuel and it would have damaged other parts of the car, it is the same with the body. There is only so much of this behaviour that it can withstand. In this case, Chronic conditions are a symptom of the body’s depleted ability to respond to the constant state of threat.
Any energy that the body creates is immediately used by the body’s survival system, meaning the benefit from rest is short lived. People with CFS/Fibromyalgia struggle to support the oxygen requirements for the mitochondria (red blood cells) as we are in flight or fight mode. We take short shallow breaths in order to allow the energy to go away from our internal organs to ensure our survival, just as we did in the Stone Age when we were spotted by a sabre-toothed tiger! It is a learned response that is autonomic, and we stay in stuck mode.
That is why it is important to calm the autonomic nervous system down to enable the body to recover. Learning about mindfulness ( there are lots of online apps you can download to your phone, my favourite is CALM) and relearning how to breathe using the belly breathing technique helps to calm us down, see below:
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. …
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. …
- Do this breathing 3 to 10 times.
If we hold onto feelings of overwhelm, and invest our energy into disappointments, unconsciously our body holds the score of the emotions that we are unaware of.
We may also feel disappointed with ourselves in life and do not want to face certain circumstances anymore. All of these feelings are held in our subconscious mind and we will often land ourselves in stressful circumstances and pour our whole heart into it, until we don’t have any driving force left. It is a feeling of familiarity that has been created in the neural pathways of the brain. There is a saying that ‘What is wired together fires together’!
Is any of this sounding familiar? …
From adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) comes our inability to exercise healthy boundaries, especially when saying ‘no’. We please in childhood to head of parental anger, be the good girl/boy, try not to be noticed, to keep the peace between parents who are at war with each other and the world.
Being tired enables us to say ‘no’ without the responsibility of letting people down and feeling responsible for the inevitable confrontation. We learn to be a people pleaser and often get overbooked with obligations.
We may have been part of a family where a great deal of control and dominance has been projected towards who wants control or who takes the upper hand in a relationship/family unit, be it parent, step-parent or caregiver. We have learnt that these influential parental figures should not be challenged or questioned. The influential figure(s) in our childhood be it mother/father/ or another received all of our power because if not, the punishment of abandonment would follow. This is a cycle that may have been repeating itself for generations.
We often attract partners that resemble dominant and controlling figures from our past. We keep unconsciously creating circumstances that make us feel the way that those influential figure(s) did during childhood, this often relates to feeling, intimidated, scared, controlled or suffocated.
Any efforts you made will never have felt good enough, causing you to repeat actions over and over again without ever receiving a payoff for your efforts. You may have invested a great amount of time attending to these needs to the point it depletes your energetic resources. It is emotionally devastating to continue to search for acknowledgement from a person who regularly rejects and devalues others.
Fatigue often kicks in when you are feeling scared and lacking confidence to step into a new direction in life, fatigue can be an unconscious way of avoiding change.
Some questions you might like to ask yourself.
Q: When did the fatigue start?
Q: How did you feel at the time?
Q: Do you only feel important if you are responsible for everyone?
Q: Did you ever feel unable to escape a situation in life?
If yes, then explore how it made you feel to be trapped unable to escape, stuck in those circumstances
Q: Did you ever experience sexual abuse as a child or was it present in your ancestry line? If yes, then we can explore this too.
Q: Who and what do you want to get away from in your personal or professional life?
Q: Who is draining you?
Q: How does that make you feel?
There is an auto immune (self-sabotage) element here as well, this is related to success.
Q: What is your fear of success?
Q: Why are you punishing yourself?
Q: How does this make you feel?
Q: Are you holding onto big disappointment? What made you feel this way?
Q: What long term resentment do you have in your life and why?
As a female there is often the following of collective consciousness.
‘Women are responsible for everything.’
They have to work hard, people’s happiness is their responsibility. Women are not allowed to be supported as it makes them look weak, they are not allowed to be successful. If this is the case for you, see if you can find similar patterns in your family. Did your mother or father have similar pattern? If ‘yes’ we can explore this further.
Q: What is the benefit of having any or all of these roles and responsibilities in a family?
The answer is that you felt loved, accepted and validated; as if you are important and have a place in the world.
Families are a system, and more than that, they’re most people’s first system. Your family is there from the moment you’re born, often through childhood, adolescence and even into early adulthood. Your family shapes who you are initially in life. The influences of family dynamics will, of course, vary from family to family, and will often include previous generations, as well as the current living generations. Socio economic factors, class, culture and geographic location will also play key roles in how family dynamics are established, maintained and also fractured. Below are some common factors that may influence the development of family dynamics.
- The nature of your parent’s relationship
- A parent who was absent for a period of your life
- A mix of different family members, such as aunts, uncles or cousins, living under the same roof
- External events which affected the family such as severe illness, trauma, death, unemployment or homelessness
- Dynamics of previous generations
- Whether you had a parent who was particularly soft, or strict
- Number of children in your family
- Personalities of the members of your family
Important Questions to ask yourself:
Q: Does your condition make it easier for you to express boundaries, such as saying ‘no’?
Q: When you are sick, do you feel less likely to be verbally or physically attacked by influential people?
Q: Do you know who you are without this condition?
Q: What have you discovered in your life now that you would not have discovered while being healthy?
Q: Did you feel respected by influential people before the illness?
Q: Are you avoiding certain responsibilities in your life as you may be overwhelmed and burned out in the past? Are you avoiding going back to old patterns?
Continue to go through these questions in your journal and if you feel you would like some additional support to get to the ‘why’ behind your symptoms please book a Discovery Call with one of our accredited practitioners to see what we can do to get you back onto your road to recovery.