Sunday, January 28, 2018

Weekly Inspiration: We Have Some Control Over Our Emotions

First, I apologize for so few blog posts lately. January was a month filled with family obligations, illnesses, and family crises, so I haven't had much time for much else. I'm behind on everything - not just my blogs! - and one of my goals for today is to finally clear out the unread e-mails in my Inbox, which have been ranging from 200-500 all month! In addition, I am devoting some of my limited writing time to working on a book, Effective Treatments for ME/CFS: Our Experiences. I am pulling together all of my blog posts on ME/CFS treatments, plus adding in some new material, into one place. So, I haven't had much time for new blog posts here this month (though while working on the book, I have been updating some of the older, most popular posts on treatment). For a preview of  some of what I will be covering in the book, you can check out my blog post on Effective Treatments for ME/CFS, which includes many links to more information.

So, onto today's Weekly (monthly?) Inspiration!

The title of a TED Talk caught my eye this week - You Aren't at the Mercy of Your Emotions - Your Brain Creates Them - in part because this is something I have been working on. Another thing crammed into this month has been searching for and starting with a new therapist. I sought help from a wonderful psychologist who specialized in chronic illness (her own grown son had ME/CFS) in the early years of my illness, and she helped me immensely. She has since retired, so I went in search of a new counselor. I think I am pretty well-adjusted after 16 years of living with chronic illness - I even try to help other people through this blog & several support groups I run! - but I wanted to finally address an issue that's been eating away at me. I want to learn how to get rid of and move past some resentment and bitterness I still feel over how some members of my extended family have reacted to my illness. I understand they will never change, and I am working hard to accept that, so I want to learn how to control my own emotions and dump some of this old, negative stuff that still lingers. So, this particular TED Talk seemed very relevant.

Here is the 18-minute talk from Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology and acting psychiatrist, all about how we have more control over our emotions than we may think. The first part of her talk focuses on the biology and physiology behind emotions, but at about minute 11, she zeroes in on applying that information to our own emotions:

I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Are there emotions related to your chronic illness that you struggle with? What has worked for you to help change your emotional reaction to certain things or people? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. Anonymous12:36 PM

    I’ve discovered your blog recently and am particularly grateful for this inspiration, Sue. I experience chronic fatigue syndrome as a very physical illness. Nevertheless, I think that learning to cope with overwhelming emotions is an important task on my way to recovery. Over the years – I fell sick on January 11th in 2011 – I’ve learnt certain skills in emotion management:
    1) Feeling the sensation in my body and letting it go. Here, meditation is extremely helpful for me.
    2) Feeling my needs. I combine different techniques such as focusing and a sort of dialogue with my inner loving adult (it works best written down).
    3) Giving myself what I need. I talk gently to myself and try to give myself love and compassion. For me, this works well when it’s combined with certain positions of the hands, as taught by the healing code, in reiki or in jin shin jyutsu.
    4) Expressing my needs. If I want to express my needs in contact with other people, I find the nonviolent communication of Marshall Rosenberg very helpful.
    For me, the work of Lisa Feldman Barrett comes in, when some simple facts or a physical sensation suddenly lead to catastrophic thinking – which engenders anxiety and panic attacks followed by a severe crash. I’ve experienced this more than once. I wonder if it’s possible to see anxious thoughts as misleaded predictions and to replace them by more peaceful thoughts. This could definitely be a change for the better. Thanks again for your blog and this inspiring link.
    Warmest wishes,

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such an interesting and helpful comment, Barbara! Sounds like you've really made some progress with the emotional side of coping with this disease.

      And, yes, ME/CFS, is a very real physical disease - we have 20+ years of research that proves that, even though some doctors and clinics have been slow to catch on! Besides my posts on inspiration and emotional coping, the majority of my posts here are about real medical treatments for ME/CFS that can dramatically improve your quality of life & ability to function. So, I'm glad you found the blog, and I hope you'll look around a bit. This is a good place to start re: treatments:

      Nice to "meet" you!


    2. P.SA. I forgot to mention that I agree that the physical and emotional sometimes go hand in hand - I have sometimes gotten suddenly depressed just before a bad crash.

      However, what you are experiencing as anxiety and panic attacks is quite possibly POTS, which can feel the same way - racing heart, sweating, feeling lightheaded, etc. POTS is one type of Orthostatic Intolerance (OI), a group of conditions that are an integral part of ME/CFS - there is some explanation in that link above. Here is a more detailed overview of OI and how to treat it:

    3. Anonymous8:27 AM

      Thanks for the links and the excellent articles, Sue. This information is really helpful.
      I’m suffering from extreme dizziness and have always thought it was due to severe hypoglycemia. But now I come to think that it might be caused by Orthostatic Intolerance. I will try some of the treatments you describe.

      Warmest wishes,

    4. Yes! The dizziness is definitely due to OI! Good luck with treating it - there are SO many things that can help. Let me know how it goes & feel free to ask if you have any questions!