The 6 Ways Going on a Retreat can Support You to Heal Chronic Illness
September 16, 2016
Chronic illness initiated me into my power
April 21, 2021

If you’re on a journey of healing chronic illness you’ll know how much it takes to heal; the same was true for me in labour. Each year as I approach the birthday of my son Leo, I reflect on how that day reminded me of the process of healing from CFS/ME. I managed to give birth at home without painkillers. It wasn’t easy – it took me on a journey through my own emotional landscape in more ways than I’d expected..

Here are the 5 ways Leo’s birth reminded me of recovering from CFS. You may relate to the steps you go through as you heal:

1) The layers of emotions you go through

Healing from chronic illness generally takes you through layers of emotions, until the final surrender that makes way for full energy and sustained good health.

It took me 5 years to heal. During this time I experienced many different emotions about being ill. Emotions about things that had happened in the past. Deep and dark emotions that felt like they didn’t even belong to me, which felt like a deep purging of my soul. Emotions about the loss of the years of being ill.

Do you relate to any of these layers on your journey?

Giving birth took 36 hours from the initial waves of small contractions to Leo arriving. It felt like a long time, and through the various stages different emotions would arise. Emotions about whether I wanted my mum there after all. About whether I would be able to have the birth I wanted. Emotions about the pain.

2) The deep commitment, tenacity and belief necessary

Healing from chronic illness is not easy, and generally requires you to have a deep commitment and belief in the process, and tenacity to keep going.

While I was healing from CFS/ME, I would often doubt whether I could actually make it to the other side, to regain me full health. Each dip in my health would bring on more of this doubt. I was doing so much to try to heal, why did I keep getting ill again? I had to keep coming back to a deeper commitment to the journey, and belief that I could do it. You need to believe you can heal, in order to be able to. 

Like with giving birth, I had a deep commitment and belief that I could have a drug-free home birth. But after seeing ecstatic births on YouTube, the reality of the pain of my experience was really hard to deal with. It was hard to keep the faith that I could do it.

I do believe it is possible to ‘breathe’ a baby out. But Leo definitely required some pushing that day if we were going to get him out in time to fit in with NHS protocols of how long I should be in the ‘pushing phase’.

A deep tenacity to keep going was required for both the healing path and the birth, even when it felt easier to give up. I don’t think I could have done it alone…

3) The benefit of the support and belief from others

You need support from others when you’re healing from chronic illness.

On my healing journey from ME/CFS I had many friends, mentors, therapists and bodyworkers, that helped me to believe in and ultimately heal myself. The reality is I don’t think I could have done it without them; the friend and coach who helped me recognise my people pleasing pattern, the bodywork sessions that showed me that is was possible for me to feel well, the EFT session that helped me release a layer of emotional distress.

Do you feel supported as you heal? If not, how can you reach out for more support?

The same was true for giving birth; I couldn’t have done it without Paul’s eyes to look in, without his arms to hang off during the contractions, without one of the midwife’s maternal power and belief in me, without her kind strong eyes, without the birth coaching I’d had before, and the shiatsu points that Paul learned to helped me through the contractions, without my mum’s quiet, reassuring presence.

4) Ultimately though, you need to take the final leap on your own

Ultimately, you have to come back to your own power to heal yourself.

While healing from ME/CFS I worked with many coaches, therapists and bodyworkers to support my journey to health. In the end, though, I had to stop seeking outside of myself so much, and come back to myself. I needed to recognise that I had the power within me to heal.

It didn’t lie in finding the perfect person to fix it all for me, that power was within myself. Yes, all the support helped me along the way to find my own inner strength, but there was a definite period when I had to pull back from looking for the next saviour, and find the strength and power within.

Likewise with giving birth, I could lean on others for support, and gain strength from their conviction and coaching on the process, but ultimately, of course, I had to be the one to push the baby out. 

5) A beautiful ending of more love and connection, and being reborn into somebody new

A journey of healing chronic illness can be a rebirth into a new you. 

Healing from CFS was ultimately like a wake up to a more love-filled, free and connected experience of life. Although it was a difficult process, it lead to a rebirth of myself that I deeply appreciate. It was like I needed to go through that experience to grow into a deeper and wiser as a person, and heal at a profound level.

Can you feel this possibility within your own journey?

Like-wise, giving birth was an initiation into my new role as a mother. My partner used to quote ‘when the baby is born, so is the mother’. Being a mother, (when you’re well supported) brings with it a lot of deep love and connection, particularly the early days of skin-to-skin time and breastfeeding.


I hope this blog has inspired you to reflect on your own journey to health and some of the steps that are required to heal fully and sustain it.

If you are at a time when support feels really helpful for you:

~Apply for a free wellbeing clarity call here for a space in my online women’s group or one to one programme.

~If you are a local women to us, join us on this ‘Radical Self Care’ day retreat in Sheffield on the 13th August.

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