Sharon’s great recovery story!
In 2010 I felt I needed more physical challenges in my life as I have always loved sport and physical activities from a very young age. I decided to start training for a physique competition which was to be held in my home town of Canberra. The lead up to this competition was not difficult as I was eating quite health and training most days. I placed 2nd in the Master’s Figure division and decided to travel to Sydney to compete the following week in the NSW titles where I took out the title “Ms Physique NSW”. These competitions qualified me for the Australia titles where I placed 3rd. After my 2010 season I was happy with my achievements and placing’s but new I could do better. So without taking any time off it was straight back into the heavy training and strict dieting.
In 2011 I decided to compete in four competitions throughout the year, I managed to place top three in all competitions with probably the best physique I have ever had. This is where I should have taken a year off and slowed down, but that’s not what I did.
In 2012 I competed in six competitions in a nine month period. I should have known my body was struggling with the training and dieting, it was becoming harder for me to lose the fat and train with such intensity.
During this period I was also training in my Karate style as a black belt (2nd Dan), endurance road cycling, power lifting and crossfit. I loved what I was doing, I was in my element. By the end of 2012 I knew things weren’t right I started getting joint pain and feeling like I’d been hit by a truck as I tried to get out of bed each morning. I was eating a health natural diet, however my body was intolerant to a lot of the food I was eating. I guess some people have nervous break downs this was my break down, the breakdown of my body.
I then went through a lot of what other CFS suffers go through, numerous doctor’s appointment and blood test to try and work out why my body had just decided to shut down. I could not believe the fatigue, I wasn’t just tired where I could have a good sleep and feel so much better, this was just fatigue. No amount of rest or sleep would relieve me of this dreadful fatigue.
My blood tests showed that I had suffered from glandular fever and my organs (kidney and liver) where not working the best. However, the only suggestion I was given from my GP was to eat well and rest. Very difficult to do when the healthy foods I was eating just did not agree with my body. I am a single mother with two great kids; I needed to be able to function and work. Each morning I would get up and drag myself to work, try and work through the day, get home sort dinner out and collapse in bed. Sleep for 12 hours then repeat. Previously I would bounce out of bed in the morning, throw on my gym gear and run out the door for my workout. Now with the pain I had in every single joint in every part of my body, just trying to get out of bed each morning was the biggest struggle. What had happened?
I went through this struggle each and every day not getting any better and seeing the person I had become was very difficult. The hardest thing was looking back at photos and memories of all that I had achieved in the past and not being able to do what I had previously found enjoyable and rewarding. I needed answer. Where to go? Who to turn to?
It was suggested to visit a Naturopath to see if they could help, having never had anything to do with alternative therapy I was skeptical to say the least. But I was at my wits end and had no other answer. After my first appointment it was revealed I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. What did this mean? I have heard of this but never heard of any one recovering from CFS. I was shell shocked for weeks after wanting to find a quick fix, little did I now there is no such thing.
My Naturopath also revealed foods my body was intolerant of due to my condition. This made my eating plan very difficult because these foods were healthy and natural. She put me on various natural remedies and a gluten free low GI diet.
After going through the next three months in a foggy haze taking one steps forward and many steps backwards I wanted more answers. I read every blog, book and article I could find on CFS wanting answers and guidance of how I was going to navigate my way through this condition to be the person that I previously was.
I went onto YouTube and searched interviews with people that talked about their successful recovery from CFS; I am a firm believer in positive outcomes for positive thinkers. I came across an interview with Toby Morrison from the CFS Health Centre. I could not believe it, he himself was a sufferer of this horrible condition at a young age and has won the battle, and able to return to a normal life. This is what I wanted. That afternoon I watched every single clip I could get my hands on of Toby, as well as downloading his eBook Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A guide to recovery.
This book was like finding the Holy Grail, the answer to all of my questions where here. I set about putting together a recovery plan which included slowly increasing my exercise. Previous to reading Toby’s book a lot of information lent towards no exercise and plenty of rest, saying “just do what you can”, which for most CFS suffers is nothing. After four months of being diagnosed with CFS and working with my Naturopath I still felt frustrated and wanted to find more to help myself to recover.
After a few months of slowly increasing my walking and various body weight exercises I was able to eventually walk for 30 minutes a day. This may not sound much but six months prior to this I was struggling to get out of bed and stay awake throughout the day. This increase in my physical ability was great. Passages from Toby’s book such as “Once you have accepted that you are unwell and that you need to give your body time to recover, you can start your recovery process” and “Being a victim of your situation will only keep you in that situation for longer”, turned on the light for me, I needed to acknowledge and accept my condition before I could move forward with my recovery. Once I accept this I was sure I would see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if that light was as small as a pin head.
I also found that the CFS Health Centre had an online recover program, after watching the YouTube clip of Toby explaining what the program was about I emailed Toby to sign up. Toby was so convincing about his program. The way in which he explained the recovery program seemed so obvious and made so much sense. I emailed Toby and signed up for his program.
My eight week program started in December 2013 twelve months after my symptoms started. 2013 was about taking care of myself and finding out as much as I could about how to recover from CFS.
The period 2014 – 2015 was a very slow process dedicated to get back to physical and mental health by applying all I had learned from Toby at CFS Health Centre. Mid 2015 I joined the gym again to try and get some strength back through weight training as I was managing with most body weight exercises.
This year (2016) I wanted to ensure I created a ‘Balanced’ life and not return to pre CFS lifestyle. I now believe I have created a happy medium. I visit the gym about four times a week and have returned to Karate training. I can now sit and relax and not feel guilty about doing so, which is something I struggled with in the past. Rather than my previous high intensity training, I now have more of a balance with weight training, karate, walking and yoga. I have recently purchased a little beach shack on the NSW South Coast where I spend many a weekend with walks on the beach and just relaxing with my gorgeous dog and kids. My beautiful dog has been with me for the past three years through this journey. He has help me find that balance.
I owe a lot to Toby at CFS Health Centre for getting me through a very tuff period in my life and I am so thank full I have come out the other end a better person.
Here I am with my daughter mid 2016 feeling very happy to have recovered from CFS and living a healthy BALANCE life.