It’s just over four months since I started the Neural Retraining Programme and shared that I would post updates on my progress. Clearly I haven’t done that – see that’ll teach me to make commitments! Anyway, better late than never. So has there been progress?? I guess I should start by confessing that I wasn’t consistent in doing the program. I really struggled with it. I tried and tried to do the rounds (one hour a day, repeating mantras and positive visualisations) but as I didn’t enjoy it, I kept putting it off, then felt bad about letting myself down. I lose motivation quickly for boring, repetitive tasks, and the DNRS training was SO boringly repetitive. I did get results initially, and for about a month things looked really promising. Gradually though, I found myself in a very negative frame of mind during the process and struggled to pull myself out of it. Given the whole point of DNRS is to create a positive frame of mind, a successful outcome was feeling pretty out of reach.
I was pushing through against the drive to quit, when a headache started to build. This isn’t one of my normal symptoms, so I thought I might be getting sick. After a week I went to see my Osteo, and ultimately had 3 appointments over the next month, as well as visiting the Physio I see who specialises in chronic pain. She recommended seeing a GP who prescribed 24/7 anti-inflammatories. The headache kept getting worse. I had stopped doing the neural training, as well as all the other good things I do to keep my head above water. I was just surviving. Finally I made an appointment with a local Chiropractor, mostly because I couldn’t manage the drive into the city again. This Chiropractor is a pretty intuitive lady, and she pressed a few of my buttons. When I broke down and told her how I was failing at all the things I should do to get better, she asked me why I felt I ‘should’ do these things. And she suggested I go home and tear up my ‘Should do’ list (yes of course I had one!). I did as she suggested and the headache faded that night, never to return.
Since then, I’ve done exactly as I please and my energy has been gradually returning. I’ve done no Neural Retraining, no Meditation and no Reiki. Instead I have been wandering around outside a lot, planting seedlings, weeding and reading plenty of good books. In fact, you know what, I think I’m allergic to SHOULDS! In all seriousness though, I’ve changed the way I think about my symptoms, which is basically what DNRS teaches. I spend hours sitting in nature, pulling weeds, digging in the dirt and talking to the birds, which is a form of meditation, and I have become more in tune with what my body is telling me it needs, which is key to practicing Reiki. What has changed is that I’ve taken away the lists and the formality and instead allowed my body to absorb the things I’ve learned, integrating them naturally over time. It’s slower perhaps, but it feels more sustainable.
Ultimately DNRS was the trigger that allowed me to reach this point. Although I haven’t implemented the system as it is taught, I have taken on most, if not all of the philosophy of the programme and found ways to integrate the system into my life, in my own way. Learning about DNRS did completely change the way I feel about my illness. I no longer feel as though I’m helpless and dependent on others to fix me or solve the mystery of my inexplicable symptoms. I have completely accepted that the symptoms I experience are a result of a limbic system impairment, and are triggered by normal everyday experiences that my body perceives as threats. I‘ve recognised that my triggers are stress related, and even tiny stresses, like racing to get to school pick up on time, can kickstart a cascade of symptoms. I’ve tested this theory by gradually increasing physical activities that I find enjoyable and relaxing. I can now do a full day of relatively heavy gardening work, or go mountain bike riding with the family, with no discernible side effects. Yes that’s right – I have a mountain bike, and I’ve gone on a few short rides – this is a great victory!
I’ve also monitored my response to activities that my system has perceived as stressful in the past, like driving to the city for appointments or committing to volunteer at my daughter’s school. I don’t manage these things anywhere near as well. Factors that impact my symptoms are things like urgency, the need for concentration, or consequences for not meeting a commitment or deadline. I had the chance to really test this out a few weeks ago when a friend offered me some overflow report writing work. Initially I accepted one day of work, on the condition that I might take it one day at a time, as I couldn’t be sure how I’d manage. I gradually took on more days over 2 weeks, but as deadlines loomed and I got more involved, I started to feel the impact. Eventually I had to decline the last few days of work and fall in a heap. It was a valuable lesson in what I’m capable of today. There’s been much improvement, and great clarity, but there’s still a way to go. I might have to choose a very different style of work in future, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all.
We were reflecting the other day on how far I’ve come. Two years ago when I first had my crash, I wasn’t doing any cooking or housework. I wasn’t going out of the house for anything other than school drop off and I couldn’t walk a block without becoming fatigued. I was eating no sugar, gluten or alcohol and having a lot of trouble sleeping. This is worlds away from where I am now. I’m now cooking more than half the time and probably do about half the domestic stuff including grocery shopping. I’m very active out in the garden, and although I’m still reading heaps, I’m on my feet more than not most days. I’ve been out for dinners a few times in the last month, eat sugar and gluten sometimes and have even had wine on a number of occasions, including last night!
Yesterday we had a Halloween / Beltane bonfire and I fooled all the local kids into downing shots of Spring wildcrafted smoothies (AKA bug juice), lit a bonfire and dragged branches onto it with a glass of Chardy in my hand. I then stayed up til 9pm, chatting around the fire before remembering we’re parents and it’s a school night! That my friends, is the good life, and it seems I am living it. Onwards and upwards.