An Honest Post about Life’s little Setbacks

August 24, 2018 1:47 pm

I woke up this morning with that old familiar sensation of fear humming throughout my body. Aware of it before I’d even opened my eyes. It’s the first time this has happened in such a long time.

Yesterday scared me. The level I had dropped to by the time the afternoon came. From 1pm until bedtime, I lay on the sofa with my eyes closed. Not awake, but not asleep. That weird in-between state that I spent endless days and nights in years ago when things were so much worse.

As I lay there yesterday, the suffocating feelings of fatigue and weakness in my body and the strange semi conscious state i felt trapped in, triggered a memory from when I was in the early stages of CFS. I was 17 years old and yet to be diagnosed. I was so desperately unwell but my family had booked a trip to a log cabin for the weekend. I went along, but was carried from the car to the bed. Once inside, I then spent the entire time in this peculiar state I described above. I remember hearing people talking in the living room as I lay in the bed, no strength to move, my body and brain too weak. Not awake. But not asleep.

Yesterday made me remember that day, 18 years ago from now. I’ve come so far. In so many ways. Truly. I’ve experienced so much. Grown so much. Laughed and cried so much. Life has happened and been as full as possible despite my limitations.

But yesterday afternoon? It felt as if nothing had changed during those hours. Physically speaking. And this triggered fear inside me.

Once I came to bed last night, beyond exhausted, tears streaming down my cheeks due to the soreness in my eyes and the crushing fatigue, my pupils dilated so wide (a sure sign of a crash for me) I felt relief as I climbed between the sheets. Hoping for some sweet respite. But, as sometimes happens when my brain and body are feeling this way, sleep didn’t come. This phenomenon never fails to amaze me when it happens, I couldn’t physically stay awake due to the overpowering strength of deep fatigue? But my body couldn’t fall to sleep either. Stuck between two states of consciousness again, but night time now.

Once I finally slept, with no choice but to take some medication (I waited until 3am) I fell into a deep sleep and didn’t wake until 11.40am but, as I said, the fear now there. Disorientated after the strange 24 hours. Not knowing what the day ahead held. Being reminded of the past.


This is the challenge we face. When we plummet physically, when symptoms arise that scare the shit out of us. When our own body feels out of our control. When we get the strangest neurological symptoms. When we don’t know how long it will last.

The deepest challenge, that we somehow have to dig deep to face, is finding some sort of inner trust. To tap into our faith. To tune in to some sort of inner peace and knowing that it will be okay. That this too shall pass.


Gently reminding yourself that you haven’t ‘gone back’. That it’s simply a blip. A little setback. That it may pass as quickly as it came. That you are safe and nothing awful can happen, as frightening as it feels.

This is how things are different to many years ago for me. My perspective is so different now. The tools I have to gently lean upon now weren’t a part of my life before. The numerous experiences behind me that are proof to me that even the scariest times eventually pass. The deep awareness that life is full of cycles, all of which wax and wane, we have to just be open to experiencing each one as they come. Without resistance. That resistance itself can lock things in place, where as being open and finding a state of surrender can allow energy to move and shift and eventually pain can dissipate through letting go.

I could go on and on. But my point is, when I can quieten the fear, I can become still once again. And so much is there to support me if I allow it to do so.




The last few months have felt powerful for me. Something has been shifting inside and I haven’t mentioned it until now because I still haven’t made complete sense of it and still feel very much in the thick of it. I have been working with a trusted herbalist year who’s medicine is powerfully yet gently supporting and clearing things for me.


Some of you may have heard of the term ‘retracing’? Some of you may not have. For those of you that haven’t, retracing is something that can happen when the body is healing and as it does so, it goes back to old illnesses/emotions that are stuck in the body and releases them. As healing happens sometimes we will feel as if the old illness or feeling has come back in full force as it surfaces and clears.


Since starting this set of treatment with Andrew (herbalist) in April this year there is no denying it feels as if retracing is happening for me. I had a patch of unexpected severe anxiety during June. Something that I haven’t really experienced to that degree for many years but that had been very present in my childhood and teen years. Then severely so during 2010 when I relapsed with M.E.

After a number of weeks, the anxiety along with all of its sensations – the churning tummy and lump in my throat – finally shifted and cleared. Yet, almost immediately after I quickly came down with a re-emergence of the Glandular fever that I initially contracted in my teens and was the precipitator to my M.E.  I spent the majority of July this year in bed with an acute throat  infection and Glandular fever symptoms. But as with the anxiety? Once it finally shifted it went quickly. Which was strange given how acutely unwell I had been.

My illness is fluctuating so much at the moment, the weeks in between surges have actually had some lovely moments in them. During these times I feel I’m really regaining strength and that will be clear to see from any of the little happy moment photos I share on my social media pages. It’s just a shock when I seem to enter the next stage and plummet back down again, which I guess is what has happened this week.


This is just a theory and of course we all have our own beliefs, but for me, it feels like it fits. I like to think on some level my body is healing and that it is releasing old stuff as it goes about doing so.


This weeks setback could be purely due to having over done it a little bit last week, but I am also mindful that deeper healing could be happening too. Especially as old memories are coming up alongside the symptoms.

Whatever way, doing my best to surrender to rest and being super gentle with myself as I do so is the way I will go.

This piece of writing has flowed from me as I sit propped up in my bed this morning sipping my peppermint tea. I’ve written it in the notes section on my phone still in the strangely spaced out state, but somehow the words have just effortlessly come to me. I’ll share them with you now, even though this was never intended to be a blog post. But just for anyone who may resonate.


Emma x



Beautiful photo quote by Holly Anderson. You can find Holly on Instagram at @wordsby.h.janderson and also at



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  • Susan. Ashmore says:

    Wonderful insights dear Emma, as yours usually are.

    How did you find your Herbalist could I ask?

    Sending love and strength to you, Susan. xxxxxxx

  • Lori says:

    Much love Emma.
    I’ve never heard of retracing but I totally get surrender and trust in that core peace that this is here for a reason, all you can do right now is make yourself as comfortable as possible without striving to change things. Remember what a friend would say. You deserve to grab any joy and comfort you can right now, never mind where it gets you.

    My eyes get super painful too, I find lying a cool pack over them helps sometimes, or having one at the back of my neck, other times a warm wheat bag helps.

    Take care. x

  • Mother says:

    Darling Daughter, how these words flow from you, especially when your mind and body are so exhausted, I’ll never know. Yet they do.

    Hopefully you’re heading towards the close of this cycle, a little stronger snd wiser, the gift of sharing your experience, in turn, helping us all.

    Here’s to the lighter times for you and all that may be struggling just now. Xx

  • rose swales says:

    Hi Emma,
    Thanks for your post – I agree it’s amazing how you can write so well when so exhausted.
    I seem to be running something of a parallel process to yours lately – at least in the sense of past symptoms returning. I hadn’t heard the term re-tracing either, but my interpretation (on good days!) has also been that unfinished business may be re-surfacing for healing now that I have more tools to work with it. In my case I think it’s probably acupuncture and the past 3 years of body-based meditations which are encouraging my cells to release tensions and traumas back to the light, some dating from over 30 years ago. I’ve known really that they were buried rather than fully resolved – but since burying allowed me to become at least semi-functional again, that felt good enough for a long time. However, am hoping that this time round, with more understanding, surrender and acceptance than before, I’ll achieve a fuller resolution. Your reminder that resistance just keeps things in place is so helpful. Particularly with the ME symptoms, I’ve spent years raging, resisting, fighting – at least on some level, even with surface acceptance. So maybe now’s the time for change.
    Fingers crossed for us both and everyone else out there who’s struggling,
    Rose x

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