Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Cellular Fight or Flight
Operation Deep Chill: The Massage Experiment
First, I have some happy news to share: I received follow-up labs back last week that show I’ve cleared all but three Lyme related co-infections and have corrected most of the imbalances that were plaguing me.
I’ve also gained some inflammation, but that makes sense after everything my body and mind have been though.
The last 7 months of my life have been harrowing, and at times I wondered if I would survive…and now here I am, on the precipice of actually living again.
But my journey back to full wellness is far from over.
Because part of what doesn’t show up on labs is the debilitating fatigue I battle everyday.
And for the most part, there isn’t really a clear treatment path for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
What's good is that in the container of the last 7 months, I have learned how to turn my intuitive gifts inward, and I have landed on the following:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome occurs when - on a cellular level - we become stuck in sympathetic overdrive.
Meaning our cells are literally vibrating at the frequency of fear.
So it makes sense that our bodies and our minds are exhausted, and that healing CFS is so intangible and arduous.
And my inflammation makes sense in this context, too.
Because when we have CFS, we are in cellular fight or flight, which is an internal survival mode that keeps us perpetually “on”, stuck and grasping for dear life.
So how do we communicate to our cells that they are safe and can finally relax?
As with all things healing, the path forward is specific to each individual, and it takes as long as it takes.
There is no one-size-fits-all magic pill formula, but rather a series of trial and error experiences, and thoughtful examination of the results.
So over the next as-long-as-it-takes, I’ll be documenting my Nervous System Healing Experiment, or as I am calling it: “Operation Deep Chill” with the hopes that my experience will help or inspire others on their own path.
You don’t need to have a chronic illness or CFS to have a nervous system that needs some assistance (I needed help LONG before I got sick, and I believe I became unwell because I didn’t properly address it), so I encourage anyone who has anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD or any other issue to also follow along.
Basically, this means almost everyone.
Because the last 3 years alone have created a massive, collective trauma response, and almost everyone is feeling it in their bodies and their minds, even if they are not aware of it (dissociation is also a trauma response).
The autonomic nervous system is comprised of the parasympathetic system (rest & digest) and the sympathetic system (fight, flight, freeze & fawn).
It’s partially regulated by the vagus nerve, which drives our emotions and behaviors. The vagus nerve also regulates the functions of our inner organs.
So when something happens and we get trapped in sympathetic dominance (aka dysfunction), lots of systems start to break down and our ability to comfortably “be” in our bodies and in the world diminishes.
The autonomic nervous system cannot be repaired through medication. Meditation isn’t the full answer, either. It often needs more than just lifestyle and mindset changes, too, while those do certainly help.
Healing the autonomic nervous system requires us to learn how to self-regulate and to train the body and the brain to interrupt these dysfunctional states and return to balance.
I have been steadily working on what had become my acutely dysfunctional nervous system since I got sick in August 2022.
My symptoms exploded after an incredibly stressful month (I don't believe there was a recent tick bite), and there was no denying that although my body was screaming at me, it was telling me to go deeper than just the surface and ask:
In what way was I living that was resonant with my dis-ease?
First, I had to get really clear on my answer to that question, and I had to do a lot of soul searching and figuring out how to sustainably change course.
Only then could I bring my attention to my nervous system/vagus nerve.
But the truth about healing your nervous system is that it's like throwing spaghetti at the wall and waiting to see what sticks.
Nervous System Repair is an obscure journey, and it's hard to know where to start, let alone what works, what is a scam, what's a waste of time…
So I got the idea to document my journey, knowing that my nervous system is my own, but my experiences may be of service to others.
The first experiment from Operation Deep Chill was one suggested to me by my nutritionist/energy healer when I told her I was getting at most 3 hours of very interrupted sleep each night.
Her suggestion was something that, if you’ve ever worked with me, you’ll know I walked into with BIG reservations.
I had 6 deep tissue massages over a 14-day period.
And while this might sound like a nice experience, I hated it up until the very last massage.
I found myself in the deepest resistance, dreading each appointment.
After my first massage, I got the stomach flu and I tried to blame the massage and get out of having to return, but something told me to persist…
Almost immediately, my sleep improved.
It was still very interrupted, but I started falling fall asleep before 11 pm. And then by 10 pm. I went from 3 hours of sleep, to then 5, to 6, and now to 7-8 hours of sleep a night, with bigger and bigger chunks being uninterrupted.
For the first time in my entire life, I am sleeping. And it is amazing.
Here is what else has shifted from this experiment:
I have fewer catastrophic drops in energy throughout the day.
I am more easily able to access and maintain a state of calm.
I am way less reactive and easily triggered.
My body feels more relaxed, and feels more welcoming to me inhabiting it.
My digestion has improved.
My lymph has started moving again.
I had no PMS symptoms.
I feel more confidence in my body's ability to heal.
I have started looking forward and feeling into possibility again.
In all, this was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I am doing a lot of other things, but this offered the most immediate and dramatic relief of them all thus far.
I do still have quite a way to go, but this was a good step forward, and one I will recommend to clients.
I’m excited to share the next experiment in Operation Deep Chill with you. It’s something I started in November and am still seeing incredible results from.
Until then, if you are looking for more tips and ideas on how to move your mind, body, heart and nervous system towards a healthy state, you will find so many in my book The Medicinal Wisdom Guide to Healing Lyme & Chronic Illness.
The title of the book is deceiving, as it's really a book on healing in general…I go deep into the psycho-spiritual aspects (which I personally think is the most important part), and I also offer a ton of practical advice and resources.
May we all be happy, healthy and free.