I was 30 years old and in what many would call ‘my prime’. I had a good job, a wonderful partner, a flat I loved, good friends. I went to the gym three times a week, gardened a large allotment and travelled regularly.
But behind the scenes I was struggling with chronic depression, anxiety, substance dependence, weight gain, food intolerance and post-exertion malaise.
None of it stopped me though, I just kept going, ignoring all the messages from my body and heart. I’d drink to energise myself for the evenings, smoke to deal with anxiety, and take a cocktail of prescription drugs to deal with the ever-increasing physical illnesses that kept showing up.
Six months after my birthday I had an infection and another course of antibiotics. This time, there was no going back; debilitating fatigue hit hard and it didn’t let up. For years.
For the first three years I was at a loss. I delved into every diet, supplement and detox regime. I saw slight shifts in the symptoms, but nothing major, and I still couldn’t function. I added in a little gentle yoga and meditation after a while and found some light relief in the presence and calm of the practices.
But nothing prepared me for the immersion into a whole new way of approaching a day that The Gupta Program introduced to me in that third year of desperately trying to find an answer to this mystery illness.
I had been browsing my Facebook feed and a random article listed some programs that people were using for Chronic Fatigue. I read it with interest and found one of them to be by London-based ex-CFS sufferer Ashok Gupta. I was intrigued. I signed up for the free intro videos, read the testimonials, and saw the list of coaches supporting the members of the program.
I devoured the videos, immediately knowing, from an intuitive place inside (the place that later I would learn I had tuned out from since an early age) that this was what was going on with me. I was always so over stimulated and going around in circles with little to no progress in my recovery. The way Ashok explained it really made sense of all the symptoms and negative cycles I found myself in.
I thought, well this is it, but how on earth am I going to afford this? I immediately assumed it would be thousands of pounds to enrol. When I finally found the courage to check the price, I had to refresh the page a good few times. It was a really small investment for what seemed to be a magical cure to my life of misery.
Wow. I joined up. I received my videos and the handbook. I asked my partner to go through the first few sections with me, and off we went, jumping around the lounge on the Amygdala Retraining Technique (ART) Mind Map, shouting “STOP STOP STOP” every few minutes, finding a smile that had been so absent for the years of struggle in darkness.
Within two weeks of starting retraining, I went on my first walk outside for three years. It was a crisp January morning in a park. I sat on a swing. I held my two-year old nephew’s hand for the first time outdoors and we walked in the freezing sunshine.
As much of a miracle as this seemed, the journey continued and as we always remind everyone on the path of healing, its not linear. It took me a long time to learn this, and even longer to accept it.
The Gupta Program techniques gave me the framework to start making shifts and create deep awareness of what was going on for me. Sometimes I was shocked at what I learnt, sometimes depressed, sometimes resistant. But I kept bringing it all to the techniques – to the ART Mind Map and Accelerator, to Soften and Flow, to the Surrender Meditation.
I built in the Hour of Power in each morning, learning to take time to set myself up right for the day. I kept a journal of what I thought and felt and started to see patterns in my thinking, reactions and emotions. I came to identify the parts of myself that were being subconsciously triggered in my everyday life. Some of them I knew well enough – the Achiever and Helper. But it was hard to get to grips with the People Pleaser and most especially, the Victim parts, that I didn’t want to admit were part of my way of dealing with the world.
When they keep turning up at your doorstep though, there’s only so long you can ignore the banging at the door.
I took it step by step, and when it got hard, I finally did reach out for support from a coach and some other practitioners like a masseuse and an Energy Medicine coach, to help me find the unique things that suited me most on the healing journey.
It wasn’t a miracle cure. It took hard and continuous work to remake my brain after so many years of negative thinking and ignoring, or wallowing in, difficult feelings. I joined three of the webinar series to keep me on track and inspire me through the difficult times. I had periods of tremendous and joyful breakthrough, dips into despair and self-pity, swung into self-criticism when I wasn’t following what I knew was working, and glimpses of liberation from the pain, exhaustion and depression that gave me the hope to keep going.
No matter how wildly I might have veered off The Gupta Program rails in some periods, wherever I looked for answers or whenever something crossed my path (seemingly) randomly, I found I was always led back to the central tenants of the program, succinctly outlined now by The 3 Rs – Retraining, Relaxation of the Nervous System, and Re-engaging with Joy. I saw such a difference when I brought all three back into a balanced day, and I still incorporate them all in every day life, and encourage them in all areas of my work. I think they are required learning for the whole human population!
There are so many elements to the journey, I’ll keep speaking to them in following blogs. Because the human being is a holistic, integrated set of interrelated parts. We must find, heal, express and empower them all. We can not heal the body if we have not healed our heart, our spirit and our mind. I know that Ashok’s new Meaning of Life Experiment app goes more deeply into these aspects of our true selves, and works beautifully alongside the program as a rich free addition to the training.
This could have been a very different article. I could have told the comedy of errors version, where I used wild fantasies at Step 6 of the ART that overstimulated my system even further, of the weird and exhausting breathing technique I randomly adopted during my first attempts at meditation, and my complete misinterpretation of the words ‘accept’ and ‘surrender’.
I’ve integrated other techniques along the way to release, transform and heal difficult emotions and stubborn beliefs, I’ve spiralled into the heart of repressed memories and denials of reality, and I’ve set new boundaries over and over again, as things have progressed or dipped and I’ve needed to re-adjust my approach.
All of this has been possible because I found The Gupta Program. It helped me to understand at a profound level the connection between mind and body, and led me to a spiritual awakening that, believe me, seems like the most unlikely of things for someone as vocally humanist and scientifically biased as I was when I started out!
Without these evolutions of my understanding, awareness and behaviour, I don’t know where I would be today. I fear I may not have made it out of the house.
I wasn’t in my prime at 30 years old when I got sick. I am in my prime now, having walked and continuing to walk this healing journey and aligning to my truest, most powerful, authentic self.
Inviting you to choose life, Jen
To work with Jen and our team of experienced coaches, Join The Women’s Wellness Circle – an online community of big-hearted, courageous women ready to support you to fully recover your health and give your gifts to the world.
Receive our free ‘Five Steps to Reclaim Your Health’ course – an inspiring and practical mini-course for women with chronic health challenges who want to live a healthy and purposeful life.
Do you know any big, hearted, courageous women who are healing from chronic health challenges? Share this blog with them and spread the love ~ they’ll thank you for it.
Jen Evans: Women’s Wellness Circle Co-Director and Coach
Jen is a dedicated and compassionate Wellness Coach, EFT and Matrix Reimprinting Practitioner (EFTi Accredited), teacher, writer and (slightly obsessive!) herb gardener.
Jen spent a lifetime with stress-related illnesses that culminated in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2012. Through her recovery journey she tried – well, everything – and truly started to heal after joining the Gupta Program (for which she is now a coach).
She now strives to support and develop nurturing spaces for others to connect with their true self, and realise their abundant power to heal and live purposeful, passionate, fulfilled lives.
For more information on working with Jen in one-to-one coaching sessions via Skype, please see her website www.balanceandflow.org or email her at [email protected]