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My recovery journey: An interim status

Dr. Martina Melzer, published: 12/18/2022

Deutsche Version

 

On my blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram, it may seem like I'm already back in tip-top shape and health because I'm posting a relatively large amount. But that is deceiving. My journey is not over yet. And I plan all the content in advance.

Where am I on my own recovery journey?

My journey started three and a half years ago. I started pacing in the summer of 2019. A little over a year later, I reached a plateau as a result, and my condition was no longer continually deteriorating. A stark change in diet also contributed. My bowels were doing better. In the summer of 2020, I did a short rehab in a hospital, which led to a temporary new low. It took me a few weeks to recover from that.

In the fall of 2020, I did the ANS Rewire recovery program by Dan Neuffer. It was to become the foundation of my continued recovery journey. Neuffer's explanation for ME/CFS, POTS, fibromyalgia and related syndromes sounded plausible and coincided with scientific findings. ME/CFS: a dysautonomia, a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Neuffer explained numerous methods to bring the nervous system back into balance. At its core was neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to change, to shed the old, to learn the new. As usual, I was very consistent with the Brain Training and made initial progress.

At the beginning of 2021, a terrible event occurred in which a loved one lost his life. I fell into a deep hole - mentally and physically. A short time later it turned out that I also have a developmental trauma. Actually I would like to write about it quite openly, on the other hand there is an inhibition threshold, there are taboos, one makes oneself vulnerable, it is like an open book, I want to protect myself and others. It has to do with my childhood and youth, yes. I don't want to blame anyone, no. It's about narcissism. About the fact that I was often not treated well emotionally. Didn't feel safe, didn't feel important, lonely, not accepted, only when I fulfilled roles, pleased others. But there were also good things, of course.

The realization that I was traumatized completely shook my body, my mind, my brain, my autonomic nervous system. I was at an extremely high stress level, hypervigilant, getting new symptoms, feeling dirty, really dirty. But I didn't give up. I knew I had to fight through it to get better. After countless researches, I realized: decades of stress, with trauma and repressed emotions in my backpack, had to be making me sick. I could have had all kinds of things. There have been plenty of studies on how stress and trauma can increase the risk of virtually any disease.

Digging deeper

So I had to dive, into the dark, face my past, my personality traits, behaviors, protective strategies, uncomfortable feelings, buried anger and grief, despair, helplessness, powerlessness, fear, shame, guilt. It's not fun. It's not easy. It hurts. It triggers symptoms. It exhausts, weakens, hurts. Luckily, I have a great psychotherapist who has helped me a lot. Luckily there are such great books, courses, people, other sufferers, coaches. Fortunately, I have found faith in myself again.

In the spring of 2022, I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder on top of my ME/CFS, POTS and irritable bowel syndrome. Then I had to pull the emergency brake in terms of work. All these years I had tried to get healthy while working, had reduced my hours more and more, was allowed to work completely from home (also thanks to Covid 19), was allowed to organize my day. But I had to realize: working and getting well at the same time is not possible. Now I am struggling with other things that many of us know, but there is always something.

Now, at the end of 2022, I can say: things are getting better. Things are looking up. I've struggled through terrible times. I have become an expert in special psycho- and trauma therapies, which I practiced mostly on my own on the couch. I have learned a great deal about the interplay of mind, brain, body and nervous system and still continue to educate myself. In the last few weeks the hypervigilance has subsided, I'm having better nights, fewer sugar problems, have set initial boundaries, am resisting bad treatment (despite a lump in my throat and great anxiety).

I'm trying to let resilience into my life, to allow positive emotions sometimes, to accept praise, to resocialize, to do something I enjoy sometimes. I don't want to give up everything anymore. I want to go back to life. I want to finally be healthy again. Start a new life. A better, more sustainable, calmer, different one. And I desperately want, as soon as I feel well enough, to help other people out of their syndromes! How exactly, I'm mentally playing through right now. A first step was this blog.

Translated with the help of DeepL

 

Important: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for talking to your doctor or other therapist. The content reflects my personal experiences, research and findings that have helped me and that I therefore want to share. However, in your personal case, completely different things may play a role and other things may help. Please talk to your doctor or therapist before making any decisions that affect your physical or mental health. Also important: I don't want to convince anyone of anything here. Rather, I want to point out possible ways that hopefully can help some people to improve or overcome their fatigue or ME/CFS.