By Bill Clayton.
My views on Reverse Therapy having undertaken a course some years ago.
I attended a series of monthly sessions, ending on 29 November 2012. I found that there was a line of ‘truth’ (for want of a better word) running through this therapy, the theory on how / why ME starts is that CFS/ME is a physical illness based on neurological and hormonal changes, it is not a psychological disorder. An area of the brain called the hypothalamus becomes overactive and puts the body into a state of “red alert,” driving the body’s systems to exhaustion and leading to the many distressing symptoms.
The overworking of the hypothalamus is caused by alarm signals generated by the limbic system (emotional brain). This happens when we ignore emotions and symptoms sent by our body to warn us of a difficult situation we need to act on. It is as if the “fear, flight, fight” mechanism is stuck in the “on” position.
The basic premise is that we have a head mind and a body mind. We all hear that voice in our head telling us what to do, how to feel, getting us worried and tense over things. So much so that you can actually feel the worry or stress in your chest. This ache is your body mind telling you that you need to listen to your body because something’s wrong and needs attention.
I’ve been guilty in the past of ignoring that ache and carrying on what I was doing, what was maybe doing my body harm.
Reverse Therapy insists that you listen to your body more and act on its needs. This is generally done by sitting down with your eyes closed and taking your mind off things, and especially to take you away from what’s causing you distress. By focusing on other things, it gets you away from that pain. There is a routine, feeling the soles of your feet inside your shoes, the feel of your socks and on it goes through to your breathing.
I found that initially I did this exercise, but soon learned that it was more the getting away from your present activity that was the help needed. Doing this exercise just formalises the therapy in my eyes. After a couple of sessions, there was nothing new to be learned and I felt there was some padding out to extend things. By November I felt that I might as well stop and I felt that came as a slight relief to my therapist. A lovely lady, but I felt she lost some credibility in the last session when, because I’d mentioned my recent back strain as why I hadn’t gone back to try a bit of badminton, she suggested doing the exercise to see how I felt about it and what I could maybe have done different to stop getting the sprain. As I’d already explained that this was a weakness I’d had since my 20’s I said that I couldn’t see the point in this. We went through it, but with some embarrassing silences when she was asking me what I felt like on the day, and what I could have done differently etc.
What I have learned from this exercise is to take on board those elements that you find useful and are happy to replicate at home, and then stop. It seems no one really knows the cause of ME yet and are getting on the band wagon of therapies as a way of making a nice little income.