Stress and disease

Again and again my insights about health deepens itself. I would like to share my latest insights with you. I believe we can either step into our own energy or fight against it. One path will lead to health and the other towards disease. I call stepping into your own energy, ‘alignment’. The opposite movement I call ‘resistance’.

Of course you have heard me saying this again and again, but maybe this time it is slightly deeper than how I used to say it. Einstein said that the more words you need to explain something, the less you understand it yourself. I will merge my own story in this blog, because I happened to be a living example of living in resistance. A life of stress and disease.

‘Fight or flight’ vs ‘rest and digest’

The nervous system has roughly two modes, parasympathetic and sympathetic. “Rest and digest” and “fight, hide or flight”. The last mode is the mode of resistance, sometimes it can be very handy for a short while, but for me it was my normal state of being. In the end I forgot what it was to be in alignment. Dr Joe Dispenza would say that I was addicted to the hormones of stress.

Stress and coping mechanisms

Every coping mechanism resembles in a way the ‘fight, flight or hide’ mode.

  • You can prove e.g. that you are worthy when you believe you unconsciously believe you are unworthy (fight).
  • You can flee from feelings via addictions and pretend they aren’t there (flight).
  • You can retreat yourself from other people (hide).
  • On top of that you can also treat yourself in a certain negative way, thus others won’t need to say or do it towards you anymore. (Falling in / victim mentality)

Most people spend around 70% of their time doing coping mechanisms and thus they activate the stress mode of the nervous system. For people who develop a chronic disease, this might be as high as 90%. Long term stress disrupts all functions from the autonomic nervous system, like the immune system, sleep rhythm, digestion system, and many other bodily processes.

Internal beliefs, feelings and sensations

People often get sick after a stressor that floods the so-called ‘stress bucket’. This can be e.g. a loss, a break-up, an accident, a disease and other traumatic experiences like it. If we haven’t learned how to deal with such an unwanted event, we probably would use our stress addiction to escape from such an experience. Personally I experienced a break-up as such an event. In my case I used this former relationship as a band aid to cover up emotional childhood wounds. After the break-up I focussed my energy on working in my company, getting a new girlfriend and extreme fitness. These were my coping mechanisms to fight off negative beliefs and feelings in my unconscious mind. This way I wouldn’t have to deal with the underlying cause (pain) behind it.

In the end we do not only resist negative beliefs, we resist our entire being and reality. Emotions, external situations, traits, you name it. I made a podcast about the 12 steps of disease, this explains the process of how we resist more and more of ourselves. It is funny to notice that these rejections of reality often come with negative thoughts and we can then reject these thoughts with positive thinking.

In a natural way of living we need the fight or flight mode to occasionally fight, hide or flight from an external danger. If an internal process activates the danger however, we can never arrive in safety.

As within, so without

I felt like I needed connection, but I did not manage to reach it. Of course it is hard to find connection in the external world when we don’t experience it inside of ourselves. As within, so without. I was always scanning the world and other people to see what their needs were and how I could manage to fulfil them in any way. This was a coping mechanism from childhood. It is also a denied (shadow) part of myself that seeks to manipulate others to get its needs met.

Stress personality

What kind of person do I need to be in order for other people to accept me? I chose to be a smart, funny, goodist, perfectionist and laid back personality. Every day I was scanning and observing possible ways to express these desired qualities. The further I developed these qualities, the less connection I felt. My coping mechanism then was to try even harder. For people with a burn-out it is obvious that they are always in the “on” mode. For me and most other ME/CFS sufferers it was the only mode we had.

After trying a drug and starting to give up my ever going pursuit of money, I collapsed in May 2015.  First I had a weird viral infection that lasted around 3 weeks, but I didn’t feel better afterwards. This was very scary for me as I felt like I was losing everything I worked so hard for. The rat race was for me the perfect way to fight my inner feelings of unworthiness and lack.

Fighting frightening fatigue

The fatigue of chronic fatigue syndrome was scary as well and I was fighting it by pushing myself further than I actually could. Again I was in resistance, I did not want to deal with the cards that were on the table. I was very good at denying and fighting reality and for many months I pretended to be better than I actually was. At some point the brain fog was so bad that I had to tell my new girlfriend as I forgot my home address and my own name at times.

Of course she tried to be there for me, but the relationship didn’t last much longer. She had fallen in love with the personality I created. She was a vibrational match to the achiever I once was. I was fake and reality was a hard pill to swallow, for both me and her. Our symbiotic relationship ended and I was relieved to not feel forced to be someone I could no longer be. I was a giver and she was the taker. I could no longer give, end of a conditional love story.

Stress and the nervous system (ANS)

The nervous system becomes dysregulated after many years of extreme stress. Getting a diagnosis is tricky as each diagnosis will depend on the type of doctor that makes it. ME, CFS, POTS, fibromyalgia, and there are literally 1000s of other labels depending on how your particular symptoms manifest. Dan Neuffer from ANS REWIRED says that all these different labels are in essence the exact same disease. A nervous system dysregulation.

In the book ‘When the body says no’, Gabor Mate describes the personalities behind every major disease, like various kinds of cancer e.g. The personality I described as my coping personality is in my opinion more or less the ME/CFS personality. To put all the different personalities for every chronic disease on one big pile, the commonalities are the following.

  • Resisting reality, beliefs, internal feelings and emotions
  • Having multiple strong (unconscious) coping mechanisms
  • Not knowing personal boundaries
  • Disconnection with self and the body.

3 modules to help you implement new habits that will eventually lead you to calming down your nervous system and thus the ability to recover.