11 years ago, I thought I was going mad or dying or both. My name is Karen Jackson and I am a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Master Practitioner and Life Coach and I have fibromyalgia.
I was a mother of two small children, a wife and I was working full time. I enjoyed an active lifestyle and I would run regularly. My social life was great, and I was studying a university course.
My job involved commuting to London and working away, which I did with no anxiety or issue. My only concern back then was ‘mum guilt’. I would spend my weekends running around after the children, shopping, cleaning and going out with my husband, family and friends. I had a “normal” life.
That was before I became ill.
During that first year I must have visited my GP every week with yet another new complaint. Pain, limited ability, sleep disruption and increased stress and anxiety. Each time I was being told that it was just stress.
I was at my lowest point. My children were small, and I was unable to be the mother I always wanted to be.
By the September of that year, I had limited use of my legs. I had muscle spasms so severe that I would lock in awkward positions and drop my spoon or fork. I experienced such severe headaches that I nearly caused an accident whilst driving that resulted in my licence being taken away. All this was happening whilst I had no idea why.
During that period, I was diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, costochondritis, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, depression and more. None of these diagnoses ever seemed to add up or explain the spasms I was having and the fact I now walked with a stick, sometimes needing a wheelchair.
The biggest heartbreak was that I could no longer bear to cuddle my children without it feeling like they were hugging me with razorblades. I would bang my head on the kitchen wall to try to end the suffering.
I was desperate.
Being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
I remember the day things changed for me. I walked into the only GP of the many that I had seen who actually listened to me (I think by now I had been branded a hypochondriac) and I told him that unless he did something, I was unable to carry on.
I’d had every test you can imagine, CT, MRI, X rays, bloods. No test gave me the clarity I was looking for.
My GP gave me my last hope – he referred me to a neurologist.
She proved to be the person that not only rebuilt my trust in the medical profession but also helped me rebuild my life.
I underwent more tests and she finally diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. I had no idea what this was but at that stage I really didn’t care. I just cried; it was confirmation I wasn’t going mad.
Coping with Fibromyalgia
Now that I had a name to my condition, I researched like crazy which led me to try every form of therapy I could.
At first, I was given 22 tablets to take every day and had IV pain relief on a monthly basis – it made me feel awful. I was developing new symptoms that were due to the medication. Against medical advice I stopped all medication. I went cold turkey, but I couldn’t live with any more brain fog than I already had.
I couldn’t fight this alone so enter the world of therapy.
I tried it all, crystals, physio, reiki, hot and cold therapy and massage. Some worked on some days, but I was ready to try anything that could take some of the pain away. I was admitted to a rehabilitation service where they helped me learn again to balance, walk, stand up, sit down and manage spasms. More importantly they allowed me to grieve for my old self.
The rehabilitation programme was effective, but once it had finished, I was alone again.
I wasn’t giving up, I continued to find new ways to help manage my new body.
Through my internet friends I was advised to try Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
It changed me. NLP helped over time to address the trauma that I had experienced. It changed the way that I was seeing myself and helped me to look forward, to a future that I could be proud of. I set goals and worked with my therapist to achieve them.
My thoughts and beliefs were challenged. My therapist would help me to reflect upon certain ideas that I had about myself, my body and my condition and guided me to accept my journey and the way in which I would now live my life. I wasn’t forced to make any decisions or think in ways that I didn’t feel comfortable with. We explored positive changes and I was gently encouraged to explore new ways of thinking. I was helped to “re-programme” my negative patterns of thinking and adopt new behaviours and reactions to things that would have previously had a negative effect on my life.
Through this journey I have learnt to like myself again. I still suffer with anxiety, but I now I have the tools to manage it.
I changed my diet to keep my body healthy. I still have physiotherapy sessions and sport massage treatments but through the power of a positive mindset I no longer punish myself nor am I angry with how I am. Instead, I embrace my condition, allowing it to take over on the days that I am too tired, but I mainly use it prove how strong I am.
I am not cured but I am managing this. I work full time, I’m a wife and a mother to my children. I hug them, I moan at them and I celebrate their success.
Without my NLP coach I would have missed all this. Not all types of therapy work for everyone but changing your mindset is definitely the start of a new life.
I used my experience to set up Nu Intentions. A business that I am very proud of. I am a qualified NLP Master Practitioner and Life coach. I specialise in working with people who have been affected by health issues, those who need some support to rebuild and accept a new life following a diagnosis or trauma.
I work with many people who suffer with a chronic pain condition. We explore ways to accept changes they may need to make, look at techniques that will manage any trauma associated with the condition and challenge negative thoughts and patterns.
I use my own and others experiences to find coping techniques, such as diet changes and exercise to help manage the symptoms.
Nu Intentions is about moving forward, building self-esteem, improving confidence and consistency. Working with the NLP approach, I truly believe that anyone can find the better, positive future they deserve.
For more information on NLP, please visit https://www.nlpacademy.co.uk/what_is_nlp/.
Karen is available to clients across the country, either by home visit or over online video chat. To arrange an appointment with Karen please call her on 07737125751 or email her at [email protected]
This blog is for information purposes only. The views expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Brian Barr Solicitors. Whilst we aim to be accurate with the information provided, any advice, particularly medical, should not be acted upon without consulting with a relevant professional.