Ten things I did to heal

Usually, when people ask me what I did to get better, I tell them it was the JournalSpeak. If they follow up with that and ask if that was all I had to do, I might mention brain retraining or admit that I also did a lot of meditations and deep relaxation. I keep my answers limited because those were the biggest contributors to my recovery, and it’s hard to explain everything I did in a few short conversational sentences.

But over the course of my illness, I tried A LOT to recover. I found that almost everything that cost money was useless, and finding free resources was hard. I wanted to do this website to layout everything I did to get better in a way that hopefully others can use to recover with much more ease (notwithstanding that this is a lot of work). Ultimately, the key to recovery was to tap into my body to better understand what it needed, to stop pushing my body beyond its capacity, and to calm my nervous system.

I identified 10 techniques that were critical to my recovery. Many of them might occur simultaneously, and some require separate work. For example, JournalSpeak, inner child work and shaking may all happen within a single JournalSpeak session. Deep relaxation is probably separate, but it may also help tap into some inner child issues or it may help you be more open to brain retraining and acceptance. Meanwhile, feeling your emotions and practicing self-compassion is something that can happen all the time.

I recommend reading and working through all of these:

I want to be clear that I also worked with a somatic therapist because I didn’t know how to feel emotions. That was critical for my recovery and it wasn’t cheap. I don’t list that above because I wanted this list to be something anyone can work through, regardless of their financial situation. I’ve done my best to share what I learned from my therapist in the emotions section above so that anyone who can’t visit a therapist for any reason can still recover. However, if you can afford to work with a somatic therapist in addition to doing the work above, I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve dealt with major traumas in your life or if you just find you have emotions that are too scary to tackle on your own.

Other treatments worth considering

There are other popular and well-documented techniques that people use to help calm their nervous systems, like practices based off of polyvagal theory , EMDR , and EFT Tapping . I didn’t do a lot with these, mainly because what little I did try wasn’t nearly as helpful for me as what I’ve listed above. I hope to look into these processes more though and if I learn something that I think will be helpful, I’ll add information about it to the site.

Pacing is a technique that’s been found to be highly effective for helping people with CFS/ME rebuild their capacities for physical, mental and emotional activity. I didn’t use this intentionally, but a key aspect of using the techniques above was that I was better able tap into what my body can handle. I think I somewhat instinctively began moderating my activity to match my body’s needs. If you aren’t good at responding to your body’s signals–and I suspect most of us with overactive nervous systems aren’t–then pacing is probably a useful technique to look into.

Many people also find various medications and supplements helpful. I have a few thoughts, opinions and hypotheses here. Now is a good time to remind you that I’m not a doctor, so please listen to your doctor over me.

With that disclaimer, my guess is that a few things are happening for people who find medications and supplements helpful:

First, if you still have the virus in your body or if the virus did damage, then medication and medical procedures may be necessary.

Second, if our nervous systems are overwhelmed, then it makes sense that some aspects of our bodies aren’t functioning properly, and medications and supplements can help. For example, I had developed a histamine intolerance, and I seemed to be having issues with mast cells. I took a medication that helped mast cells for a while when I was sick, and during the first couple months of working through the techniques above, I took Claritin to keep the histamine in check. At some point, I weaned myself off of the Claritin, but if I find myself overwhelmed, I still sometimes take one. I also had issues keeping my electrolytes in balance, so I often took electrolyte supplements.

Third, if our nervous system is overwhelmed, then anything that helps calm it is good–as long as it doesn’t cause negative side effects. If taking a medication or supplement eases a symptom and makes you feel safer, then, to me, it seems like a good idea to keep that up for a while as you calm your nervous system. Once the nervous system has calmed, then you can work on cutting back on the medications and supplements (assuming your doctor thinks its safe to do so).

All of the techniques on this page to calm your nervous system can be done simultaneously with medical treatment. I stopped going to doctors because one of my biggest issues was a fear of medication and medical treatments, and so everything I was prescribed made me worse. But my situation, like everyone else’s, is unique, so please pay attention to what your body needs.

For now, I won’t link to any medications on this site. Although a lot of people are finding that numerous medications and supplements help them ease some of their symptoms, I just haven’t come across anyone yet who actually recovered as a result of medication or supplements. And if your body does need medications or supplements, your doctor is the one who should help you figure that out.

Everything I’ve seen so far leads me to believe that we need to address our overactive nervous systems and over-stressed bodies, and I’m currently unconvinced that Long Covid and other chronic conditions will be cured by a pill or injection. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind on this as new information comes out.