Finding Your Health Dream Team for Chronic Illness: 7 things I wish I knew
During my recovery from chronic illness, I strived to find the one person or therapy that could answer my prayers.
I later found that did not exist.
My experience working in the NHS taught me that no single role was more important than another.
Traditionally, we think doctors are the most important.
But if you prescribe a drug or perform surgery, and you don’t feed, monitor or care for your patient, they will suffer in other ways.
If you don’t rehabilitate a patient, a treatment maybe superfluous.
If you don’t clean a ward, you’ll struggle with contamination and infection.
You get the picture.
So why would it be different for those suffering with a functional chronic illness?
In 1977, George Engel a family doctor and psychiatrist conceptualised what is now known as the Bio-Psycho-Social model.
In other words, disease and dysfunction rarely occur from one cause.
It involves a combination of factors.
If you’re not familiar with my story, I spent 7 years and thousands of pounds regaining my health…
During the early stages I put all my faith into a single person or modality, expecting to find the answer.
I later learned my greatest healing success came from understanding the multiple aspects of my condition: the physical, psychological, environmental and spiritual (if you believe) that led to my condition.
That sounds like a big task…but you can ask yourself some really simple questions to tease these out…
- Just assuming this happened for a reason. What could the reason(s) be?
- Around the time I became unwell how was I feeling about myself and those around me?
- What was my environment like around the time I became ill?
In my experience researching and working with clients, there was likely excessive stress or trauma around the time symptoms began.
Around the time I developed CFS I was in a constant state of stress and fear of my professional environment.
I know I was extremely hard on myself, always pushing to be better.
My belief is I manifested or developed CFS as a protection mechanism so I didn’t have to face the world.
Coming back to my point, I realised if I was to make significant leaps in my health, I would need to find experts in their respective fields.
My team ended up consisting of a TCM practitioner, Neurologist, Nutritional Therapist, Bodytalk therapist and Psychotherapist (albeit not for very long).
By far the most significant was my nutritional therapist and bodytalk coach.
But they all had a role to play.
It’s a Juggling Act
Warning: This part will sound quite esoteric but hopefully you can bear with me.
An analogy I once heard was ‘recovery is akin to a wobble board’. If you stabilise one aspect, it won’t stabilise the rest.
We must stabilise the board from all angles.
I share this because it’s important to understand healing can often require support of the biochemical and psycho-spiritual together.
In my experience, deep healing often occurs, when you become aware of your emotions.
And as the physical is healed, we become strong enough to process the underlying emotions and belief patterns.
In my journey, as soon as the correct biochemical support was given, I became stronger and was able to process the emotional trauma leading up to my condition.
It took three years of bouncing between doctors, nutritionists and therapists before I realised the psycho-spiritual component of my condition.
But that’s when I found my health dream team.
So how can you find your health dream team?
I used to say to myself ‘somewhere out there right now, somebody has the answers I need. How can I find them?’
Looking back, a better question to ask was ‘what do I need to do to find them?’
My advice would be to…
Talk to people who are going through similar things as you are: I certainly didn’t. Talking to people who have gone through similar things can point you in the right direction.
Be patient: It’s a trial and error process. I’ve never met a doctor or health practitioner who can help everyone. It’s a process.
Seek lessons: Assuming your illness happened to teach you something: ask yourself if you feel you have learned your lessons. Ask yourself if you think there is anything else you can learn from it?
Find a wise friend: Don’t always assume your health team have to be professionals.
I include two of my friends in my health team.
They are much older and much wiser than me.
They always helped keep things in perspective and provided the occasional pearls of wisdom when I was feeling down.
Trust: In my experience you first have to trust that you will find the right people when the time is right.
Use your instincts: I’ve talked about this in my article ‘5 things I wish I knew when choosing a practitioner’ for nutritionist resource on how to find the right practitioner.
Allow don’t strive: Try not to feed your desperation. Trust me, I’ve been there when you’re on your knees praying for an answer.
I am a believer in wanting something so bad, we repel it.
Try your best to let go, be present and allow things to happen. Meditation is a great technique to achieve this.
I found things began working out when I expected it least because I was trying my best to enjoy the present and allowing things to flow.
When I let go of all the tension and anxiety and focused on what I could do, I began to find my health dream team.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Steve Jobs:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
Wishing you well on your path to health,