ME/CFS can evoke difficult feelings and emotions, and it’s important to release these so they don’t become a block to managing and stabilising the illness.
Feelings such as frustration, anger and fear are common in ME/CFS (and they’re understandable too), yet they can exacerbate the symptoms of the illness, and lead to associated anxiety and depression. Talking can release these kinds of feelings, and it can be helpful to seek out those that will provide you with compassion, a listening ear, and understanding.
Talking to other people with ME/CFS, or another similar condition, is usually very helpful and there are social and support groups available. Many people find it a real comfort to know that others experience similar feelings to themselves, and often it can help in finding new ways of coping.
You may feel as though you don’t have anyone to talk to, and in this case counselling would definitely help. Here you can talk in a private, respectful and non-judgemental setting, and the Counselling Directory lists Counsellors experienced in working with people with ME/CFS.
It is worth noting that talking is one way of expressing your feelings, and there are other forms of self-expression that you may find helpful. Essentially, you can be a bit creative here, perhaps through verbal statements, writing and art.
Releasing frustration and anger
Firstly try to recognise these feelings, and then acknowledge that you can release them in a safe way (without harming yourself or others).
Find a place where you can say out-loud “The thing I am frustrated/angry with is….” and complete the sentence with the first things that come into your head, until you feel in touch with your real frustration or anger. Or spend some time writing it out in a private journal, such as “I feel frustrated/angry because….”
If you are able to, you can stamp your feet on the floor, saying “I’m frustrated/angry about….” You can do this sat down or stood up. If you are able to, you can hit punch bags, bean bags, cushions or mattresses with your fists.
You can use a sheet of paper and art materials to draw your frustration or anger in any shape and colour that feels right for you.
Firstly try to focus on today, as opposed to what might be in the future. You can focus your attention on the now, by using mindfulness, relaxation techniques and visualisations. You don’t have to spend long periods doing this – just 10 or 15 minutes can help.
Relaxation is a part of “Pacing”, and if you can factor it in your daily routine, perhaps relaxation in the morning and afternoon, it will help you manage fear and anxiety as well as the symptoms.
You can use a sheet of paper and art materials to draw fear and anxiety, and in any shape and colour that comes up.
These are just a few suggestions, and the most important thing is to find a way of releasing your feelings – a way that really works for you.