My (almost) recovery: The 3 most important components

Dr Martina Melzer, published: 11/30/23


In September Charlotte from England asked me if I would like to take part in a project. She asked people which three things helped them the most to get well again. Of course I went along with it - even if the whole thing was in English and I wasn't fully recovered yet. Her website is called Living with ME/CFS.

So I came up with the idea of sharing these three components again on my website.

First component: working through the past

Yes, in my case it was necessary to deal with my past over two years, starting with childhood. It was a terrible two years. I was certainly retraumatized many times, which obviously wasn't particularly helpful in retrospect. But I had to come to terms with everything that had happened. I had to understand why I had become so disconnected from myself and my body. I had to realize that there was a narcissistic person in my life who had ruined so much - even if it wasn't malicious. I had to make it clear to myself why I was constantly overtaxing myself, always pushing myself beyond my limits, being such an overachiever, putting myself under so much pressure, feeling so much fear, and being full of guilt and shame.


I had to find access to my maximally suppressed anger and sadness. I had to recognize why many traumatic and stressful individual events contributed to my illnesses - and why Pfeiffer's glandular fever was simply the last event that broke the camel's back. My past catches up with me every day, which is why this process is probably something long-term. I wish you that you don't have to dig as deep as I did and don't have to do so much inner work. But some inner work will always be necessary. I am convinced of that.

Second component: get the brain and nervous system out of survival mode

For me too, it was and is essential to bring the miscontrolled nerve networks in the brain back into balance. To teach the brain that it doesn't have to judge everything possible as dangerous and therefore doesn't have to constantly go into survival mode or get stuck in it - as a default state, so to speak. So I also did a lot of brain training. But it never brought a breakthrough. There was so much going on in my life that I stayed in constant stress mode and constant anxiety mode. My nervous system was still frozen, or oscillating between freezing and shutting down completely. With brain training, I at least managed to stop stressing myself out about my symptoms and syndromes. But I couldn't find peace. An inner balance was unattainable.


It was only through TRE, or Trauma and Tension Release Exercise (neurogenic tremoring) that my nervous system thawed out of its torpor. And very quickly. And then suddenly all the mental (top down) and physical (bottom up) brain training techniques that I had learned helped. At exactly the right time, I also did Stephen Porges' Safe and Sound Protocol, which brought me more and more into the healthy part of my nervous system. My nervous system is still sensitive and goes into danger mode very quickly. But it has become more flexible. It oscillates between safety and danger. It allows for security. I notice immediately when I go into survival mode and can get myself out of it.

Third component: Change what I needed to change

The third important component of my extensive recovery was numerous changes. That was (and is) a challenge. Of course, it constantly triggered survival mode and constantly catapulted me into the past. But I had to change, retrain my thinking and behavior patterns. I had to learn to respect my boundaries and set boundaries for other people. I had to get out of toxic relationships, distance myself from certain people, rethink friendships, quit my job, and free myself from the codependency I had with this narcissistic person.


I really had to change the things I could change. Now I'm in the process of accepting what I can't change. I am in the process of changing my attitude towards many things. To all the things that constantly stress me out. I had to turn my entire life upside down. I hope you don't have to change so much. But if it's necessary, do it!

Of course, things like pacing, nutrition, a recovery-oriented mindset, etc. also helped me. I share this in my coaching sessions and my self-help program “Mind-Body Balance”.

Translated with the help of a translator program


Important: the content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for talking to your doctor or other therapist. Please talk to your doctor or therapist before making any decisions about your physical or mental health. Every way into a mind-body syndrome is something individual, and every way out.