+ Chronic Fatigue – looking for the meaning of symptoms. – Nov 06
I have a question for your newsletter: Chronic Fatigue. Do you have any pointers for what to check or work on with patients with this syndrome?
Eva Kuhl Bornefelt
That’s a great question as always Eva and thanks for asking it.
Talking about chronic fatigue gives me an opportunity to go into the sort of process I go through when I look at any set of symptoms.
I ask myself what is this condition trying to communicate to the person. What is it saying?
Why this condition and not another? Why chronic fatigue and not fibromyalgia or arthritis or irritable bowel?
Of all the conditions this person could have, why do they have this one?
Each set of symptoms add up to a very specific communication.
‘So don’t worry about the physical manifestations?’
Not at all. It’s very important to deal with them but dealing with them alone won’t necessarily solve the problem. Looking at the condition in
this way points you towards the deepest reason for the condition.
You may not know what the deepest reason is but at least you will be looking in the right direction.
Then getting a sense of what the deepest cause of the condition is will inform you how to deal with the physical manifestations.
So let’s put it into practice. What is chronic fatigue communicating?
It’s a syndrome so it contains lots of different symptoms and few people exhibit all the symptoms all the time.
The main symptom is in the name – fatigue. The person has no energy to do anything. Sometimes they will need to sleep a lot, other people are tried but can’t sleep.
Generally they will have to stop working, stop their hobbies, significantly reduce their social life.
So what does this all add up to?
In short the person’s life grinds to a halt.
What is this aspect of the condition communicating?
Why do we communicate, ‘stop’ to someone?
Generally it is because there is something about what the person is doing that we don’t like and we want them to stop doing it.
‘No kidding Sherlock. Is this what chronic fatigue is communicating?’
Generally speaking I’ve found that it is a large part of the communication.
For example, if a person has a condition that is annoying but doesn’t give them too much discomfort, the communication is generally about getting their own attention.
‘This is bothering us and we need our attention about it.’
But it has a, ‘When you can get to it.’ sort of vibe.
Whereas Chronic fatigue has a, ‘Stop everything and deal with this NOW!’ sort of vibe.
So look for what is so important to the person that they will put their whole lives on hold, if it is in disharmony, until that disharmony is resolved.
Another thing to consider when treating someone with chronic fatigue is their capacity to stay sick.
Let me explain. The amount of energy required to create chronic fatigue is huge. The people I have treated for chronic fatigue have usually worn out about 5 or 6 therapists by the time they get to me.
If you are very attached to quick results then maybe you shouldn’t take them on because these people have huge endurance. I know it’s a little
paradoxical. Someone with chronic fatigue having huge endurance. But don’t be distracted by the lack of energy issues. There is plenty of energy in their systems it’s just directed into keeping their lives on hold and there is very little left for the person for having any kind of a life.
I have found it most helpful to see my role as facilitating them to discover what the disharmony that is causing them to press the ‘Pause’ button on their life is. And no I don’t necessarily mean having long, probing, regressive, conversations with them about it.
The other useful thing when actually working with their systems is to sit very comfortably in the timeless aspect of our work. By that I mean, the depth at which we work. All going well when you work with someone you will be in a very meditative state and in that state, time pauses. We descend into the moment and in that, it’s eternal.
This is a very handy space to be in with a condition that has therapists for breakfast. As you sit with the person and your system entrains
with theirs, your system conveys a quality of timelessness. The subtle communication from your system is, ‘I could stay here forever.’
You can’t fake this. It has to be real for you. If it’s not you need to meditate more until it is.
I have found that when someone with chronic fatigue comes to see me and our systems entrain and their system gets this, ‘I can wait forever.’ Quality from mine it gives up on the endurance test and starts to avail of the support to deal with the underlying disharmony.