Hi everyone and welcome to M.E and My journey. My name is Ger and my aim is to help people recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) and Burnout. I suffered for years before finally giving in to exhaustion in Dec 2016 and becoming house bound, depressed, hopeless and scared about the road ahead. But giving up wasn’t an option – I have a wife and 3 children who need me. Massive change was needed but first, let me tell you a little about my journey.
From an early age I was always very active. After school and weekend activities included climbing trees, running, swimming and martial arts. There always seemed to be an endless supply of energy at my disposal. But, thinking back on my teen years I recall that feeling of exhaustion creeping in, particularly in the mornings, my body felt full of sludge and getting out of bed was a nightmare, the hardest part of my day.
The first five to ten minutes were the hardest but, once I got moving and my system woke up, the feeling left me. As far as I was concerned this was ‘normal’ and most people who were really active experienced similar.
I worked as a plasterer/builder from the age of 17 and for the first two years I cycled to and from work (34 miles) 5 and 6 days a week. Monday to Friday was fairly repetitive, my days started by getting up at 6am, work all day, and return home at 6.30pm, eat my dinner and at 7.45pm head off to do 2 hours of Kick-Boxing.
This routine continued for about 2 years until I bought my first car at 19, and that was the end of cycling for me. Although I cut out 170 miles of cycling weekly, the morning fatigue still didn’t leave me, it had gotten progressively worse. Each morning it felt as though a truck had run over me, my body ached and felt like lead, my thoughts were negative and waking up took more effort.
By the age of 25 training hard wasn’t an option anymore and recovery from physical activity took longer, so I cut back to 3 days a week, then 2, and by the age of 30 training just wasn’t an option anymore. At the time I put this down to just having a particularly physically demanding job and that my exhaustion levels were normal. After all the doctors, consultants and therapists confirmed this. And so began my mental decline.
My doctor listened to my story and treatment for depression with medication was advised. Their advice was taken and I struggled on all the while becoming more and more exhausted. The medication only marginally helped my mood, they did nothing for my chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. Arguably, I needed anti-depressants but, I was depressed because I could no longer do the things I loved, with the people I love and work was becoming increasingly difficult.
It felt as though life was leaving my body and I was dying slowly. As my physical condition deteriorated my mental and emotional state also declined. I began to withdraw from society because no-one believed me, after-all, my illness wasn’t visible and doctors said I was medically fit. Words cannot convey how this impacted my mental health.
My memory and concentration deteriorated. At 38, I developed alopecia and tinnitus. At 40, I could no longer go on our Sunday family walk with my wife and 3 children. Daily naps during work hours. Having to stop the van and sleep on the way home whenever the drive was longer than 30 minutes. Our garden was neglected. Dates with my wife were no more. No energy for quality time with my children. No time for friends. This is when I started getting real scared. I had a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. I also had a successful business and 5 employees to look after.
I became desperate for a solution and over the course of the next 4 years I had numerous medical examinations including MRI, Cardio Stress Tests, Tilt test and countless blood tests. I tested positive for mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea and was given a CPAP device to help me sleep properly. Everything else came back clear and they told me this was the problem, otherwise I was “medically fit” and sent home.
The CPAP professionals told me I’d be a new man in 6 weeks. At last an answer. This made me so happy – but months went by with only a slight improvement. Subsequently, at 43 years old, doctors prescribed Ritalin and Adderall, which helped keep me working for about a year, but I needed more as time passed. In December 2016 I stopped taking what I now call ‘legalised speed’ and went through very tough withdrawals, and became house and couch bound, which ultimately led to the loss of my 19year business. This compounded my feelings of failure and hopelessness. The next few months are a blur. The only time I left the house was when I had appointments.
In the spring of 2017 a consultant diagnosed with CFS/ME and told there was nothing they could do for me. Desolate I returned home. Then, with the help of my family, I started looking at natural alternatives that could help me. The things I have discovered since then have landed me back in the land of the living and on a journey of self discovery. Yes, I finally got my life back and this process I want to share with the world.
Today, my days are full of activity. While mornings may not be my favourite I still rise at 6.30am, do some Qigong to awaken my system and by 7am I get to work on my website for a couple of hours followed by a short break at 10am. Next comes 2 hours of home-schooling, a break at 12.30pm and at 1pm we go on our daily family walk. The rest of my days are spent on a mixture of cooking, cleaning, gardening or just having a bit of fun with family. Usually, around 8pm, I’ll either read or watch a documentary and head off to bed at 10.30pm, lights out.
The worry and stress of not having enough energy has left me. My concentration, memory and focus have never been better, I can follow a conversation or movie now. Phone calls are answered and all appointments are met. But, my biggest win was becoming a husband, a father, a son and a friend once again.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME/Burnout is very debilitating illness which most health professionals know little or nothing about. Not being believed was the hardest part for me. If you have gone through the medical system to no avail, do not despair. It’s actually a good thing to be medically fit 🙂
I know firsthand the negative consequences CFS has on not just the sufferer, but the entire family and I am committed to helping you through this time and become the best version of yourself. Life should be enjoyed not endured.
Our aim here at Life Education is to provide valuable information and products to help those who suffer. We also provide professional virtual counseling for individuals and families affected by CFS to give you the best chance moving forward.
There is always hope, you just have to believe and take action toward recovery.
Please share your experience and leave a comment in the box below or, contact me by email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Best wishes and regards,