Friday, 16 August 2013


1998 was the craziest, scariest year of my life. I had a nervous breakdown that year and that story is the topic of a kindle ebook I'm writing, due to be finished in September.

The few years before had seen me become increasingly busy and stressed. My dad died in February '97 of cancer and that was a big blow. My parents had followed my family to Australia as we were all they had other than Holland, and then dad died.

I was busy trying to build a natural therapies business as well as studying more, and involved in setting up an alternative school in town. I had our 3 young kids on my own during the week while my husband worked out of town and came home on weekends. Our relationship had been going downhill for a while.

And then it ended and I moved out. 8 months later, not realising how stressed and unwell I was, everything came to a halt. I had a series of intense, full blown panic attacks and my world came to a complete stand still.

When it's happening, a panic attack is mind-blowingly terrifying, literally. It is also very, very physical. You think you are dying, but you aren't, and when you finally realise what's going on you wait, totally wired 24/7 for the next, and the next, and the next...

It took 8 months of hell before I was put on antidepressants and I began to fell a little 'normal' again.

However, I don't think anyone ever completely gets over a nervous breakdown. You are changed in some way or another.

In my case, I just wasn't as 'robust' as I was before. By that I mean I was a bit fragile. Not that anyone would notice, I felt terribly ashamed of what I hadn't noticed happening to me.

So I was wearing a brave and strong face. I pretended as best I could that nothing had really happened and I would carry on with my life.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Now and Then

So when I was young I was often quite sick with asthma and eczema plagued me quite a lot.

As I grew older, both lessened and I seemed to cope better and with fewer drugs.

By the time I reached high school I was only using an inhaler for asthma on occasions when I exercised or during the winter when the cold air bothered me.

So I was lucky to pass into adulthood with relatively stable health.

After I finished high school I worked for several years then travelled around Europe for a few years before returning home. I did so sadly because my brother had died in a car accident.

I worked again for 2 years then studied science at university. I married, had 3 kids and moved to Australia.

But everything wasn't going too well in my world and in 1998, I had a nervous breakdown.

This is what I believe is the second major contributor to me developing CFS, and what I will talk more about soon. Needless to say, this was BIG, and a serious health event in my life which still affects me today.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Older Childhood

As I grew older the eczema settled and I didn't have to spend time with my legs wrapped in bandages to stop myself from scratching. I don't remember this so obviously I was either very young still or I've blocked it out.

Asthma though was a bit different and there were a few occasions when I was hospitalised.

I remember school days. I never participated in sport much because my asthma would flare up and I'd be breathless fast and have to sit the game out.

That in itself didn't bother me too much, but it made me feel different amongst my classmates.

I don't know if that's why I'm an introvert today, but back then as a kid it's a hard blow when other kids exclude you because you're different.

I do remember wanting desperately to fit in, but also feeling quite uncomfortable in groups. I became a bit of a loner really and ended up preferring my own company.

It was all a vicious circle because as a child you want to have friends, and I did have one or two, but I could never understand why the other kids didn't want to include me.

I get all that now of course and it doesn't bother me anymore, but it took a VERY long time.

So by the time I was about to start high school as well as having asthma and eczema and I had developed an inferiority complex.

Having an inferiority complex is hard work because you're always trying to please others with the hope to being liked. So not only was my physical health not so good, my mental health was below par as well.

What I'm saying is that as a kid, the way to fit in is to be the same as the majority. I wasn't. Still aren't but I don't care now!

I feel that my childhood experiences at school left a mark. I became a bit anxious and nervous, and this is still the case today. I certainly prefer my own company, at home with my dogs, lol.

Here then I have come to what I believe is the second aspect of my life which has contributed to CFS in my life now.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


Yesterday I suddenly had the crazy idea to shift a set of drawers in my bedroom. This is the sort of thing I used to do all the time only a few years ago. I was never afraid of hard work and moving furniture around the house was fun.

This chest of drawers was not a big deal to move, but my state of health is different now and I can't just throw myself into projects anymore.

After careful consideration, a second or two, I went ahead. I wanted to do it, and if I didn't do it now I knew I would have to wait forever for family to help me.

So carefully and slowly I emptied and removed all 6 drawers. The empty chest wasn't heavy, so I slipped a towel under one end and again slowly pushed and manoeuvred the empty chest into its new spot.

By now I was pretty tired, but I knew this would happen and that I would have to pay. My heart was thumping, I was breathing shallowly and rapidly, so I sat down for a bit.

I had done it, but now needed to replace the drawers and their contents. It took me the rest of the day.

By evening I was exhausted and quite 'wired', and had to consciously remind myself to relax my breathing.

Today I'm doing as little as possible.

When I was little, my mum and dad tried lots of different things to help my brother and me with our allergies. They tried different diets, eg. dairy free and replacing with goats milk. We hated the taste so it didn't last. They tried different therapies such as colour therapy as well as regular visits to our GP and Paediatrician.

We were given cortisone medications which helped a little but I was still hospitalised a couple of times with asthma.

My eczema was also so severe at times that I would just sit and scratch non stop.

All my life I've had allergies, asthma, eczema, hay fever, and when I get colds I sneeze and stream for days. I'm allergic to moulds and small furry animals in particular. They will set me right off, sneezing and itching.

How much did these conditions, amongst others which I will set out in future posts, pre dispose me to CFS? Multiple allergies indicate a sluggish/weakened immune system.

So here then I have the beginning to what I believe, in hindsight, to be the FIRST-OF-MANY-TO FOLLOW set of conditions and circumstances that led to me being diagnosed with CFS.

I wonder if any other CFS sufferers have had a gradual, lifetime type onset of CFS? I'm only speculating of course, and have only recently put lots of pieces together.

I may actually have had CFS for much longer than my diagnosis of January. I've certainly had the symptoms for much longer, but it's only recently that I began to wonder if CFS is what was happening in my body.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Premi Baby

It's Sunday afternoon on the east coast of Australia as I write this. Today I feel a little better, no sneezing and blowing but still really tired.

Visited my mum this morning, she's 88 and in a nursing home. I cared for her for 3 years from 2009 to 2012 when it became too much for me and I had no option but to move her. She's luckily in a great place close by.

Caring for her was the last straw for me and set me on the path to discover that I had CFS. However, I think, as I said yesterday, that events and circumstances throughout my life have contributed to where I'm at now.

Here's my story.

I was born in New Zealand in the 1950's 2 months premature and a few months afterwards developed asthma and eczema.

I wasn't able to breastfeed  as I kept putting my tongue on the roof of my mouth, so early on my mum bottle fed me.

My mum and dad had emigrated from Holland a few years before I was born and didn't speak English before they arrived.

When I was born they lived in a rented farm cottage many miles away from the nearest town, so communication was poor.

Asthma and eczema only occurs in 2 of my cousins on dad's side of the family, and they are younger than me. Naturally, mum and dad had no idea what I had or why, and having all other family on the other side of the planet was not helpful.

Interestingly, 4 years later my brother would be born a month premature and also develop asthma and eczema.

In hindsight, I wonder whether this could have been the 'starting point' for CFS for me. I know it can be difficult to find a cause, and I don't know if I have found it, but when I look back, as I'm doing through this blog, I'm tracing and adding up all the things that could have contributed to me having CFS.

I still have asthma and eczema, only mildly now, but I have been hospitalised for asthma when I was a child and I have also had severe eczema as a child.

I have allergies and sensitivities to various substances such as moulds, dust, cats and other animals with fine hair like rabbits, wool, perfume and strong smells, etc, etc. Dogs are cool though, lol.

In and of themselves asthma, eczema and an allergy or two CFS does not make...but I've only just begun.

Friday, 2 August 2013

CFS/ME. Introducing myself

Hi all,

I'm a first time blogger, this is my first ever post! Oh, sorry, first post on my own site, but second ever post.

I'm doing this mainly because I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) at the beginning of this year. This condition did not just spring up out of the blue but I believe the tendency towards it has existed within me almost all my life.

I am now 59 years old and 15 years ago when I was 43 I had a nervous breakdown which I'm certain only made the tendency towards CFS MUCH more likely for me.

A sequence of events have unfolded in my life which have led to my present situation and if I can help anyone else understand what's happening in their lives to hopefully prevent or minimise some of the experiences I've had then this blog will make me very happy :-)

I'll start with how CFS affects me today, right here, right now, and then go back and explain how I think everything connects.

Today I feel like crap...I think that word is allowed :-) I worked yesterday (only do 8 hours a week now) and today I feel terrible.
I didn't manage to get to sleep last night until around 11pm  ( late for me but becoming more 'Normal' unfortunately). I woke around 8.30, also late but normal these days. My nose immediately began streaming and I started sneezing and that was enough to tell me how the day was going to go.

So I got up and got the box of tissues, let my dogs out then made breakfast between sneezing and blowing. Obviously my immune system is down today, again. :(

I am very, very weary today. CFS affects me moderately to severely. This means I am not bedridden but am mostly housebound and am down to about 35/30% of normal function/energy levels I had say 2 years ago. CFS not only affects the physical body but also the mental body so it's like a double whammy effect on your system. You can be physical and/or mentally fatigued.

I consider myself lucky that I am not as severely affected as I know so many of you who may be reading this are.

My life now  involves maybe  half an hour of gardening a week when I was often in my garden two or three times a week for half a day at a time.

I used to spend days researching family history , i.e. being very focused, concentrating all day online . I can only do that for an hour or so now without having to take a break. It is very rare that I can take my dogs for a walk now. Worst of all I have 3 grandchildren who live here in town.  I help look after them  sometimes but it is extremely hard work and that is the last thing it should be.

Brain fog affects me too. If I concentrate/focus on something, reading, writing, work, physical activity, the computer, etc then I end up with a migraine. In fact I have almost daily migraines. Not fun at all.