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How Lauren Reclaimed her Life from ME/CFS and Fibro

Lauren shares her multi-prong approach for getting back her best health

Lauren

Last month, a blog subscriber sent me a note saying she fully healed, that my blog gave her inspiration, and she wanted to come back and tell her story.

This is a big moment for me, because one of my dreams is now a reality. I’m honored to be part of the ripple effect, and hope to share your story one day, yes you who is reading these words.

Overview

Lauren Giammarco, a 43 year old sales professional and home organizer, came on my YouTube channel to share her 1-year healing journey from ME/CFS and fibromyalgia (which she experienced from New Years Eve 2019 to February 2021). 

She went from not being able to walk 5 minutes nor do her own laundry without crashing to now being in in better health than in her twenties.

Lauren also wrote a book about her journey called “The Unbecoming.” It is available for pre-order here.  She is donating a portion of sales to ME/CFS research, which she calls “a wildly under-researched” condition.

In our chat we discuss:

      • Making the decision to ask her parents for help 
      • How a naturopath and functional MD helped her (after initial doctors didn’t)
      • Deciding to focus on THIS instead of the “lifelong” diagnoses she was given 
      • What supplements, diet changes, and treatments (including for Lyme) she personally found helpful or didn’t 
      • How a CFS-informed mindset coach helped her and what she did to release emotions 
      • Finding free meditation and neuroplasticity resources 
      • The BIG lifestyle changes she made to improve her sleep
      • Why she is in some ways grateful for having ME/CFS because it forced her to do THIS in her life

Friendly note: As you may know, the previous recovery stories I’ve shared are from people who had ME/CFS for 2 to 27 years. Lauren is a hopeful example that with good support, quality information, a customized approach, prioritizing one’s health above all, and self-compassion, healing is possible in a faster timeframe. That said, our bodies heal at their own pace. If you have had this for much longer I am sending you my support.

As a friendly reminder, nothing on this blog is medical advice nor meant to be “one-size-fits-all.”

I’ve included the written transcript below of our conversation.

 

My YouTube interview with Lauren:

 



Full written transcript:

Liz: Lauren, I’m so grateful to do this interview. When I started my blog, and I just wanted to give back and hopefully inspire one person.

And then when you reached out to me and said that my blog was one of the first things that gave you hope, and now you’re fully recovered, I’m just so honored.

Lauren: Yeah. I know, I feel like I’m going to get emotional a hundred times because this is the first interview I’ve done where I actually talk about my recovery.

I remember, I think it was your Instagram or your blog. It was literally one of the very first things that I looked at. 

And I was like, okay, “This is, this is going to be me! I don’t know when.”

Liz: Yeah. Looking for the recovery stories was a turning point for me, too, but it of course did take some time.

I also just want to say that I also love your posts (Lauren’s Instagram) and, you know, I fully recovered, but I’m still learning and growing, and I really appreciate the content that you’ve shared too, so.

Lauren: Thank you very much. That means a lot.

Liz: Yeah. So, can you talk about your life leading up to CFS and your chronic illness journey?

Lauren: So I guess I can start by saying that, probably for about 20 years, I had instances where, you know, my health wasn’t that great. It started in my early twenties. Anytime I would travel, I would get sick after. 

Honestly, there was just so many years of my life where I just thought that I was someone who just didn’t have a great immune system.

And I just said, I’m not like other people, you know, and I just kind of accepted it and would just go through that push and crash. But when things became really debilitating for me, prior to that, it was a season in my life where, um, I was working full time and also running my part-time business, probably working anywhere from 60 to 70 hours a week, and I was also traveling for my full-time job in sales. So a lot of 5:00 AM flights. Just the schedule when I look back on it, I’m like, wow.

But I wasn’t taking care of myself at all. 

I was ending a marriage, so I was going through a divorce, with someone I was with for 14 years, so it was a significant time period in my life where I was with this person. I don’t think my diet was good. It wasn’t really that great. 

My sleep wasn’t consistent, 

…and then it just all was like, this storm!

Liz: The Perfect Storm. Yeah.

Lauren: Of dis-ease as I like to call it.

Liz: And what year was this?

Lauren: 2019. In that Christmas, I decided to take a trip, a solo trip. I just wanted to get away by myself.

So on Christmas morning I flew to Navarre beach, which is in Florida and was so sick. To this day, I don’t know how I got on the flight. I was in Florida, I stayed there for four days. And then from there I flew to San Francisco, which is one of my favorite places in the world. And I met my cousin and we were doing a road trip, from San Francisco down to LA.

And I had to cut the trip short because I just couldn’t, I couldn’t go on. And then on new year’s Eve, I flew home. I got home at probably midnight, just as we stepped into 2020, and I just fell into bed and I probably slept anywhere from 15 to 18 hours.

And that, that was when I said, okay, there’s something going on that is much bigger than me. And I gotta, I have to reevaluate everything.

Liz: But it sounds like things might not have gotten better immediately.

Liz: Can you describe your early days, maybe doctors you saw, things you tried, maybe you did some Googling?

Lauren: Yeah. So I kept going to the doctor because I kept getting these recurring tonsillitis or strep throat infections. They would go away and then two weeks later they would just come back. 

High fevers, migraines, fatigue that is just hard to even explain, you understand. 

So I kept going to the doctor and they kept giving me antibiotics. 

And then I finally got to a point where I said, “This isn’t working.” 

Um, there’s something else going on.

So I saw a rheumatologist and had a lot of blood work done. They kept telling me everything was normal, that I was just stressed out. 

That was the phrase. “I think you’re just stressed out.” I didn’t feel heard at all at the doctors.

Lauren: So I said, okay, I made a commitment with myself. 

I said, I’m going to stop going to the [conventional] doctors.

I did three things. I started seeing a therapist cause I felt like I needed to talk through this with someone who had unbias, who didn’t know my history, who, you know, I could just speak freely to and talk about what was going on.

I decided to see a naturopathic doctor and a functional medicine doctor. 

I felt that they could start to look at my body as a whole versus trying to diagnose these random symptoms.

[Note: The third thing is a CFS-informed mindset coach. She explains all 3 things later.]

Liz: So what were some of those key symptoms that you had and your functionality levels in early 2020?

Lauren: I would say that I was tired 95% of the day and then sleeping anywhere from, I would say 10 to 15 hours a night.

There were times where I couldn’t sleep at all, it was like tired and wired that feeling. 

So it was like, my nervous system was just in this overdrive, but I was physically exhausted.

Constant headaches, constant sore throats, I had joint pain, constant neck pain, lower back pain. 

I felt like I had the flu, a very bad flu 24/7. That’s the best way to describe it.

Liz: I know what you mean. So what was your functionality levels in terms of, could you walk a few blocks or what did that look like?

Lauren: No, probably within five minutes of walking, I would need to sit down. I would feel like any physical exertion was just too much. Couldn’t make my bed, trouble showering. Couldn’t make my own meals.

I was living by myself at the time, and I reached out to my employer and I said,

“You know, I can’t come into work. I physically can’t. I can’t do this anymore.”

And I was getting up to go to work. And then by noon time, I felt like I was going to fall asleep at my desk. I mean, it was just.

Liz: You were still pushing yourself to go to work when you…

Lauren: I was. Yeah. And I just kept getting worse, and so thankfully they were so supportive.

And I was able to work from home, with whatever mental capacity I could, I could get myself to, honestly.

Liz: So is brain fog a thing for you as well?

Lauren: Brain fog, I have to say was there, but for me, it was more physical pain and fatigue. 

I would get strong ear pain and ringing in my ears as well, and on those days it seemed like the brain fog was worse, but I was able to thankfully work from home for a very long time for months. It’s interesting because in March of 2020 is when COVID happened and the world kind of shut down.

Lauren: And then, living alone.

Um, I remember I sat down, and I sent this email to my mom and dad, and I said, you’ve seen your daughter, you’ve seen this girl for 40 plus years of her life, running around, and running a business and traveling and doing all these things.

And I think you see me as someone who is so capable, but right now I had to just become so vulnerable and say, “You know, I need your help.” And that was hard. 

That was the moment that I was like, okay, this is real. 

So they did laundry, cleaned the house, helped me cook. They were a huge support system for me.

Liz: Oh, wow. Do they live nearby?

Lauren: Five minutes.

Liz: And this whole time you were in these first few months, you were trying to just do this yourself?

Lauren: Yeah. Don’t recommend that.

Liz: Yeah. That must have been a powerful turning point for you just admitting that you needed help and asking for that help?

Lauren: Yeah. I think coming out of divorce and going through all that, 

I wanted to appear as though I was independent and could do everything on my own, but I was holding onto that too tight.

Liz: Yeah. I mean that part of our ego, that like “I’m an independent woman.” Yeah. Wow. yeah, that’s a powerful turning point.

Liz: Did you realize you had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by then?

Lauren: I think when doctors kept coming back and saying, you know, “Your lab results are normal, everything’s fine.”

And then when I went to see the naturopathic doctor and a functional medicine doctor,

They said, I think this is ME/CFS, fibromyalgia. They also detected Lyme disease. 

That’s when I realized, okay, this is, I think this is what’s going on. And then I’ll be honest.

It’s like, I didn’t want to get stuck on any diagnosis. I said, okay, this is what it’s classified as. This is clearly what’s happening with my body. This is what’s going on. 

And from that moment, I said I’m only going to… cause when I would Google things, it was like these Dooms Day stories, and when I told my primary care doctor that this is what I had, he was like, you know, that’s a lifelong thing. And in that moment, I said:

I’m only going to read about and focus my attention on people that have recovered from this fully. 

I’m not going to go down these rabbit holes anymore. 

I just had this mindset shift where I was like: This is not the way I’m gonna go down like this! 

I can get to the root of this.

I can, you know, move through this and figure out what’s happening, what’s going on.

Liz: So you just decided that, okay. I’m not going to go into those sad, depressing forums where everyone’s talking about their symptoms and telling about how horrible their life is and how no one gets better.

They’re there, and they can be supportive a little bit, like at the very beginning when you’re like, okay, there’s other people out there, but I realized that this wasn’t helpful. And it sounds like you felt the same way.

Lauren: Yeah. Not helpful at all. And I so strongly believe in the power of mindset.

And I know that it’s so much more than just saying, “I’m going to get past this, I’m going to get better.” 

There’s so much more to that, but it also is important to feel that, to know it inside.

Liz: Yeah. That you can fully recover. And that, we have some power in this.

Lauren: And of course, working with the naturopath, cleaning up my diet, getting to the root of some of the gastrointestinal issues that I had. 

That in itself, whether you’re sick or healthy, that’s going to boost and strengthen your immune system anyway.

Liz: Yeah. Can you talk about some of the diet changes and maybe supplements that were helpful for you knowing that we’re all unique, and it’s going to look a little bit different for each of us?

Lauren: Yeah, of course. So one of the first things I did was have lab work done to find out where my body was lacking, say in different vitamins and things like that. 

So I found out that I was very deficient in B12 and vitamin D, so one of the first things I did was take a B12 and a D supplement initially.

And then I also looked at the foods that I was eating in terms of maybe I should cut back on sugar, so I can avoid crashing.

Um, I’ll be honest. I grew up on carbs, like pasta and bread and all that. I mean, you know, yes, very Italian. So to me, if I had a craving, that was the type of food that I would go to. I hardly ever ate fruit and vegetables or nuts or anything. 

So that was hard, but I removed gluten and dairy completely, and I still don’t all this time later eat that.

Liz: Yeah. So, what did your diet look during recovery, and is it the same now? Can you just share what you’re eating typically?

Lauren: Yeah, so once in a while, I’ll eat some bread, but it’s rare. I always start the morning with a smoothie, lots of greens. That’s something I’ve done consistently. I also did juicing for awhile. 

I did celery juice for probably about six months straight initially, and then after that I just kinda moved on to the smoothies.

I try not to eat too heavy in the morning, just to kind of get the digestive system like ready for the day. I do eat meat. 

For a while I was vegan. I would say the first three months when I started recovery, I didn’t have any meat at all. I do incorporate that into my diet now.

I just feel like it’s about balance, lots of vegetables, lots of fruit, tons of water. I put things in my smoothie sometimes like tumeric, that have anti-inflammatory properties.

And I noticed that if I don’t eat too heavy at night, I always feel better in the morning. 

Yeah. Everyone’s different. But just for me, if I’m snacking late at night, I can tell in the morning.

Liz: And do you have snacks throughout the day? Did you find that helpful during recovery?

Lauren: Yeah. I tried to keep my blood sugar levels pretty stable, so I was probably eating, five to six times a day, just small meals.

Liz: What were those snacks?

Lauren: Lots of almonds, oranges, apples, bananas, peanut butter on like rice cakes with raisins. Lots of gluten-free oatmeal with tons of fruit like berries. And then also cucumbers, peppers. Like for me, I think there’s nothing off the table. 

As long as I’m eating things that aren’t processed.

Liz: That’s great to hear. And yeah, we all had to do what works best for us, but it sounds like you still have a pretty full diet of many different types of food.

Liz:: So I do want to go, circle back. You did have that Lyme diagnosis. So did your naturopath treat you for that with anything?

Or did you just decide that for you, the route was your nervous system?

Lauren: So I think that, for the Lyme diagnosis, she didn’t suggest antibiotics. But she gave me these drops to take, to clean up what was going on with my gut health. 

Initially when I took them, I had a very strong reaction, and I had, I guess, what you would call a flare up of symptoms, which she said would possibly happen as like a die off kind of reaction in the body, which I know is a thing and that’s very normal. 

Um, and then I kind of weaned myself off of those drops.

Liz: What did those drops have in them?

Lauren: I can’t tell you exactly what they had in everything.

It was all natural ingredients. I know it had charcoal in it. I’m not sure what some of the other, but I feel like for about a week, I felt worse when I started taking the drops, which I talked to her about, 

…and we felt it was best to just maybe start focusing on hydration, sleep, and then all the good nutrition.

Liz: Let’s talk about sleep. How did you… you had that wired and tired sleep. Yeah, I know for three years, I didn’t have good sleep… and then wake up and not be able to go back to bed. Did that happen for you, too?

Lauren: Yes. 

There was some nights where I would be like so exhausted. I’m sure you understand and get into bed, and then be wide awake till four, 5:00 AM, and then fall asleep then. 

You know, your body does this thing where it’s like, but it’s daytime, I should be up, why didn’t I sleep all night? And then that stress and that anxiety would just build up. And then I would just be exhausted all day. And getting my sleep in order was probably one of the first things that I tried to do.

Liz: Can you tell us more about that? Yeah, how you fixed your sleep? Because there are things we can do to help turn things around.

Lauren: Yeah, so I stopped after 6:00 PM. I didn’t watch any television, stayed off my phone. This was hard, cause this is all habits, years of habits.

So besides not being able to eat the dairy and the gluten, I’m now not watching TV or on my phone after 6:00 PM. 

And instead of having the screen in my face, I was reading, I was journaling, I was meditating. I was getting my body into that meditative state so that I could sleep.

And I also wore the blue light blocking glasses for awhile. But I wasn’t watching TV and I had them on and I’m like, this seems silly.

But I feel like very slowly but surely, I started to fall asleep earlier and earlier, just by staying off screens.

I also stopped watching anything on TV that I would have a nervous system reaction to.

So no news, no movies that have stress related like situations, like all of these, cause I just want to feel calm and, you know, in my body.  

And then, like I said, over the course of a few months, I felt like a sleep champion. 

Now I can, you know, fall asleep at 10 o’clock and sleep soundly through the night, like seven to nine hours.

Liz: Wow. And so do you still do your digital detox, now that you’re recovered?

Lauren: Once in a while. Like I feel like I’m, well enough now where, you know, if I’m on my phone, it’s okay.

I’ll still fall asleep, but if I’m have a stressful event coming up or a lot on my mind, then I am more mindful of my, my sleep practices for sure.

Liz: Oh, that’s true. Good to know. Cause people do always want to know. “Do I have to live perfectly for the rest of my life.” 

But it is about balance and it is also, you know, paying attention when that stress increases in your life to then, you know, do some of those healthy behaviors to support yourself.

Lauren: Right. Yeah. 

Now I can usually pinpoint and identify when I’m starting to feel a little bit of a heightened stress response.

It’s like this alert system I think. 

And maybe people that have chronic fatigue, ME, and fibromyalgia, maybe in our bodies, that response is a little more heightened than other people.

Maybe we empathize more. Maybe we are just tuned into these things a little bit more, but I think that’s okay.

For me, I’m thankful for it because it’s like a guidance system and almost like instincts. So for me, it’s just like this great healthy lifestyle, you know, that I learned.

Liz: Yeah. So things started to show some improvement, how many months in? Did you have any setbacks along the way?

Lauren: I did. So the setbacks would happen if I pushed myself.

So I started to have really good days. I would say by July, August, where most of the day would go by, and I’d be like, wow, there was no pain today. Or I also slowly over the course of like six months, I slowly increased my ability like physical ability. So I would walk from… this sounds so silly now.

Cause I could probably go out and walk five miles with no issue, but I literally would get up from my couch and walk from my couch, across the room, and come back, and then sit down and let myself rest. 

And I just kind of built up slowly until I was able to walk around the block, and not be exhausted and feel sick. 

But there were days when I would walk around the block and feel great and then be like, I’m going to wash my car now. I’m going to run to the grocery store, and then the next day be in bed. 

Yeah. And that was hard because you’d get so excited about your progress and then.

Liz: That happened all the time, you know, in my own journey and then with so many other people. And then learning to not cash it all in on your good days it, it sounds like you learned that. 

It’s like, okay, I’m just going to enjoy this extra energy.

Lauren: Yeah. 

And I think I immediately felt like if I have energy I should be doing, because that was my mentality, you know, just go, go, go, don’t stop, you know, do the business. 

And had a lot of perfectionist things that I had to work out. 
So I had to kind of relearn that just, sitting and not doing is okay.

So actually I had a hammock in my backyard and on days that I felt good, I would just sit in the hammock and read during the summer and, you know, that helped a lot.

Lauren hammock

And I would just kind of, 

I would still, even if I knew that I could do it, I would still have my mom help with the grocery shopping.

And I got very, very mindful of not pushing and crashing.

Liz: That’s wonderful. So, I mean, this is during lockdown. Social interactions for me, like the few times I was social during the journey, were some of the causes of my crashes. I guess you didn’t have that as much cause you kind of healed during COVID.

Lauren: I did.

Yeah. When the world shut down, my body shut down at the same time, so it was, I didn’t have to travel. I was getting groceries delivered a lot, which most people were at that time. I was able to stay home and work at home, and I wasn’t being invited to parties or anything like that, because that wasn’t, that wasn’t a thing.

It wasn’t happening. So it was bizarre that timing, I guess?

Liz: What a convenient time to have CFS!

Lauren: Yeah. I mean I probably would have had to take a leave of absence from work. With all that travel, yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah, if had COVID not happened. Yes.

Liz: Yeah. Cause you’re like can I get from my couch to the kitchen? Yeah, probably not through the airport.

Liz: Can you tell me about your mindset coach? [Note: I followed up with Lauren after the interview. She used a CFS-informed mindset coach through the CFS Health program by Toby Morrison.]

Lauren: Yeah, it was to this day, the most amazing experience. It just uncovered so much about past traumas and emotions that I was holding in my body and old stories about my health that weren’t true. 

And it slowly by journaling and by asking myself better questions, it’s hard to explain, but I could almost, there was a lot of releasing for months, a lot of crying, a lot of, just so much emotion almost that had to come out. I don’t know how to explain it. 

And through that process, I could almost, I could feel literally feel myself getting better.

Especially when I would sit in meditation, I would just have these moments of energy. I would feel this like lightness. 

And I believe that emotion does get stuck in the body and just it disguises itself in these different symptoms. 

And that’s when I said, okay, I think I’m really onto something here.

[26:33] Liz: I want to go a little bit more into, if it’s okay, the realizations you had with your mindset coach, and I know you would also have been in a 14 year relationship.

It sounds like you had some powerful transformative moments of self discovery. 

So whatever you would like to share.

[26:56] Lauren: Yeah. I had some very significant emotional moments of realization that of what I was holding onto that had manifested in symptoms. 

And a lot of that was being in a situation and relationship that probably wasn’t the best for me or the other person, but continuing to endure that for years. That takes an emotional toll on the body.

I think when you’re saying yes, but inside, you know that you should be saying no. 

So learning to say “No” and be comfortable and okay with that, despite what other people might think or say is so important. 

But a lot of that was people pleasing and thinking that it wasn’t safe to be myself in situations or being uncomfortable with the, I guess, reactions from other people because of not being comfortable with confrontation. That’s all like strong people- pleasing qualities that I had to overcome.

[28:11] Liz: Yeah. People pleasing. It’s something I hear often. Yeah, and how that can put stress on you because you want to be saying no, but you’re just saying yes.

And the word you used, enduring.

[28:24] Lauren: Yeah. that was a big piece of it. And…

I never thought I would say this, but I’m thankful for the experience of going through ME/CFS because I learned how to advocate for myself, say no without guilt. 

All of those things that you need to do when you’re getting better.

[28:49] And then the other piece of this was understanding my values.

[28:53] Liz: Ooh. Understanding your values.

Lauren: Yeah, my mindset coach helped me with that, because then that then turns into better decision making, which is better for your nervous system, because you’re being true to yourself and all of those things.

Yeah.

[29:08] Liz: Yeah. So what were your values before this? Or maybe you were just ignoring even thinking about that, and what are your values now?

Lauren: So I don’t even think I knew what they were before. They would just there, but I was not tuned into what they were and obviously denying all of them, now that I know what they are.

[29:32] So one of them for me is at the top of my list, it was Freedom is a big one for me. So having flexibility in my day, and being able to have moments of rest and easing into my day is important to me, but also the freedom to show up, as you know, I am, and feel safe in that.

[30:01] I think there was moments before I was sick where I would do some solo traveling and things like that, but it never felt like comfortable, you know? Cause I still wasn’t sure, like, is this okay, kind of thing, if that makes sense? You know? So values, and then I think the other one is being safe to be myself.

[30:20] So I guess safety. in relationships in my job, in the communication I have with people, that’s a big one. So that breaks down who you are around, the decisions that you make and, you know, in your life, how all of that unfold.

[30:41] Liz: So you’re being more selective of who you surround yourself with. 

Lauren: Yeah. For sure.

Liz: For people who accept you and you can be yourself with.

Lauren: Yeah. And the other part of it is when you are, cause it’s life, you know, when my nervous system got better, I guess you could say, you know, you’re still in situations where you’re going out into the world and in the workplace and things like that.

You’re going to deal with people that are, you know, gonna create a stress response or something, but then you learn to stay true to yourself in those moments and not have this heightened…

Liz: And just react.

Lauren: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

[31:23] Liz: Yeah. Was there any other values, you said safety and authenticity, and you said freedom.

[31:29] Lauren: Yeah. And the last one is my health. 

Nothing will ever come before my health. Ever again.

[31:40] Liz: And I love how you make it into habits and your daily life. It sounds like you have a good morning routine. Can you talk more about how you’ve made that a priority just in your morning and your day to day life?

Lauren: Yeah, so I still work remotely a couple of days a week. Could I go into the office five days a week? Yes, I can, but I choose not to. I like having that flexibility still it’s important to me. I also, you know, I take on clients with my business, but I try to work it around my schedule versus just saying yes, you know, all the time to whatever, and finding like common ground there.

Um, what I put in my body in the morning is the same every day. I also feel like sleep is, the other thing. I get plenty of sleep. There’s just such basic simple things, but when done consistently, you know, my body just stays in this happy, happy state, my nervous system’s good. You know, so.

[32:55] Liz: Yeah, that’s so good to hear Lauren. So when would you say like, “oh, I’m better.” And I feel like often so gradual. When would you say, “Okay, I’m feeling like I’m in full health and maybe even better health it sounds like than in the past 20 years.”

Lauren: Yeah, a hundred percent. There’s so many symptoms that I had for 20 plus years that are gone, and I pretty sure they won’t, I’m pretty sure they won’t come back. 

I would say the turning point for me was probably, the beginning of this year, February, February, 2021. Yeah. I would say it took about a full year. 

And I mean, I can run around all day, and there’s no consequences, but I still feel myself getting better and better.

[33:53] Liz: I love that. It sounds like you’re being true to who you are. 

You’re creating, you know, a healthy work schedule on your terms, but it’s still, it sounds like you have such a full life on your terms now. And you’re not living perfectly healthy. But you are supporting your health and that you continue to make that a priority. And you have confidence in your continued health as well.

[34:23] Lauren: Yeah. 

I feel confident in my body. And I’m so convinced, and I wasn’t before, but I’m so convinced now that our bodies have the ability to, our body wants us to be well. 

It has this incredible healing system in it that can reverse whatever’s going on, if we take the time to listen to that, I guess.

Liz: That’s so powerfully stated, and I agree.

[34:49] Liz: Yeah. Were there any books that helped you, or any thing you read that, “oh, for me, the root is the nervous system that’s driving these symptoms.” You had very real symptoms, like flu like symptoms and immune system symptoms.

[35:05] Lauren: Yeah. 

So one of the first books I read was “When the Body Says, No.” And that was definitely, I think the moment when I realized that it was a nervous system issue for me.

And also, I did a lot of meditations with Dr Joe Dispenza, which were very helpful.

I also read some of his books, and then I watched the documentary Heal, which is really powerful. I think just putting all those pieces together, and then looking back on, you know, the path that I was on, it was clear that it was a nervous system malfunction.

[35:47] Liz: Yeah, that’s so good to know. Yeah, I had a few books that helped me, too. And I did watch the Heal documentary. Yeah. And they go into like the quantum level. 

Although I think my secret dream was to do a spoof on Heal and talk about the funny stuff, it’s so serious, it’s like, “and then we healed!” I want to talk about, okay, those awkward moments in between, and the humor involved at all.

[36:16] Lauren: Yeah. You do. There are moments, there are, I think laughable moments and yeah. I mean, it’s just like this. [Does a roller coaster motion with her hands]

[36:26] Liz: And I think this is going to be helpful, too, for so many people with Long COVID who probably are just a few months behind, who started to get sick last summer. 

Because what knocked you down was a series of all these immune issues, tonsil issues, but ultimately as you said, our bodies want to heal and supporting our natural ability to heal with good sleep, good diet, and then creating a life that really supports healing and mindset stuff, too.

[37:06] Lauren: Yeah. It just becomes a lifestyle. Yeah. 

And then also I think forgiveness is important, too, because I had to forgive myself for years of not taking care of myself the way I should have and not blaming myself for getting ME/CFS.

[37:28] Liz: Wow. Yeah, because when you look back, it’s like, it’s not our fault. But it’s like we did do this to ourselves, I mean. 

Though there are situations, of course, that maybe it was an accident, maybe it was a really bad virus and you were living a healthy life. So I don’t want to say it’s anyone’s fault, but.

[37:46] Lauren: Right.

[37:47] Liz: In my situation and your situation, we were both kind of burning the candle on both ends and not really taking time to, you know, support our bodies, in terms of the stress that was coming our way.

[38:01] Lauren: Right.

Liz: Yeah. Oh, I just lost my train of thought, what were we talking about?

[38:05] Lauren: Forgiveness.

[38:06] Liz: Forgiveness, yes. And just learning how to have self-compassion too. And even if on the upward trajectory, like if you push yourself, it’s not going into that blame spiral. And is that something that was helpful for you? Because you said you pushed yourself at times.

[38:23] Lauren: Yeah. I think initially when I would push and then crash, I would immediately just start crying and be upset. 

And then I was like, “Okay, girl.” You know, you just can’t stay in those states of feeling bad for yourself. 

You know, I was like, “I know better. I’ll do better next time.” Like move on.

[38:45] It doesn’t mean this is going to happen forever. You know, I just kept saying someday, this won’t be an issue, you’re going to get better. You’re doing all of these things, how could you not, could you not get better? So I think, yeah, having compassion for yourself. You know, what’s that saying?

[39:04] When you know better, you do better.

[39:06] Liz: Yeah. I love that. And that’s such a good lesson and good takeaway. And to have that self compassion and forgiving yourself, very powerful. This is so good. We’re covering such good stuff.

[39:21] Lauren: There’s so much to unpack with this.

[39:23] I’m like my goodness. There’s so many layers to getting to all of this, you know.

[39:28] Liz: Well, there’s so many things with ME/CFS and it affects every cell in your body, it feels like. 

So it’s not just going to be usually for people, sometimes it is just one main thing, but for most of us, it’s like a whole rainbow of things we did to get out of our Perfect Storm that…

[39:51] Lauren: Yes.

[39:52] Liz: …Led us there.

[39:53] Lauren: Yeah.

[39:54] Liz: Yeah, are you helping others now? I know you still have your full-time job, but you did mention that you had another business, so.

[40:04] Lauren: Yeah, so I have my part-time business. I do organizing and Fung Shui, so I help people feel calm and happy in their space.

[40:14] So that business I’ve had for nine years. Um, and I just started doing it again, recently. Now that. Yeah. I mean, that’s probably my first love I think, being able to help people in their space and declutter. There’s a strong connection between the way that we feel and the spaces that we live and work in.

[40:34] So that is something that I do part-time.

[48:30] Liz: And I think also with your business, it sounds like you have all this new knowledge to provide your clients, too, from all the things you’ve learned, on the mindset, spiritual level, when they’re clearing out their spaces that you can help people that way, too.

[48:47] Lauren: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I even changed the name of my business because I wanted it to be a stronger holistic message behind clearing out clutter and, um, And cleaning up your space. Cause it can be a reflection of what’s going on up here. So.

[40:34] And I recently finished a book about my whole journey through recovering from this illness. Wow.

[40:50] Liz: Oh yes. That was what I meant to ask you, about your book. It’s called…

[40:55] Lauren: “The Unbecoming.”

Liz: The Un-becoming. Wow. That is amazing that you took all that time to write a book.

When did you start writing it?

[41:06] Lauren: I started writing it when I was still sick as a way to uh, more like journal type entries, and then a few months in, I said to myself, I think I’m going to turn this into a book because everything that I’ve learned. I kind of wrote it as I got better, you know?

So the whole point of it is to take everything really, that we’ve just talked about and the whole journey and get way more in depth with it and be able to present it to the world and say, okay, you know, hopefully this will help heal and inspire people that are going through the same thing, because you, I feel like people who have gone through this have this special connection, because there’s so many pieces and parts to this that are hard to understand unless you’ve gone through.

[42:00] Liz: Wow, that is so powerful. sure it was a part of your healing, just getting all that out. and it’s going to help so many people.

Lauren: I hope so.

Liz: …Lauren, I yeah. So when is that, is that published yet?

Lauren: It’s not published yet. It is available for pre-sale and the presale campaign supports the publishing of the book, which will be out in December of this year.

And then I am going to donate a portion of the proceeds to ME/CFS research, because as you know, it’s a wildly under researched illness.

[42:40] Liz: Wow. That is so amazing. Lauren. And I will include that link to the pre-sale. I’m going to sign up. 

HERE is the link to pre-order Lauren’s book. 

I’m really looking forward to your book coming out, and I’m sure it’ll help so many people, so I’ll include that information, and we’ll get more people to get your pre-sale book yeah to help with things, because you have such an amazing story. I know this is just like the key highlights and things. 

And I know there’s a whole deeper story too, which I’m sure is going to really inspire people on their journeys.

[43:17] Lauren: Yeah, I hope so. Yeah. I know you get it.

Liz: Lauren. I’m so excited about your book. That’s just such a wonderful accomplishment and it’s going to help so many people.

Lauren: And then when they watch another video that you’ve posted or all of the brain retraining stuff, too, that you put on Instagram,

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Heal With Liz (@healwithlizc)


I mean, it’s all like incredible nuggets of information that help, you know.

[46:04] Liz: Did you do any of that stuff? It sounds like you created a meditation practice, you processed your emotions, and you stopped yourself when you were going in rabbit holes. 

Did you do any of the visualizations or any neuroplasticity stuff in particular?

[46:21] Lauren: Yeah, I didn’t, invest in any of it.

I just watched whatever I could find for free on YouTube and in articles and in meditations. And I still do it sometimes.

There’s a lot of things that I think have come to fruition in my life that I thought about when I was sick, like getting this book out into the world, being able to run around from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed, and wake up the next day and just be okay.

And, yeah, all of that I think was very helpful, and I can use it in my recovered, you know, my recovered life, too.

[47:01] Liz: That’s so awesome. It’s like when you’re at rock bottom, you still have that hope for the future, and it can come true. It really can, even if you feel like shit, it’s still possible to feel good again.

[43:22] Liz:. Yeah, but this is so good. I am just absolutely. 

I’m so grateful Lauren, that we connected because I feel like we’re like out of this together. I think the tide is turning, and hopefully our stories can also maybe inform research as well.

Lauren: I hope so. 

I mean, and I don’t know how many people tell you that when they were sick, that they started watching, you know, reading your blog and then they came out on the other side of it. 

But this is like, this is a big day for me.

[00:44:01] Liz: This is like such a big day for me too. Cause like, when I, when I got your email, because I knew you were doing great and it’s like, and I knew you had finished your book, but when I got your email, it just really touched my heart.

Yeah. Cause actually the previous week I don’t know why I’d went back on Twitter, but someone on Twitter insulted my blog and they were like “this is BS” because I did talk about the mind-body stuff on my blog. So it really affected me because this person was somewhat legit person.

And I was like, you know what, I’m not going to let this get to me.

Lauren: Yeah. Well..

[44:45] Liz: And then I got your email. 

Lauren: Oh, that makes me happy. I’m so happy that. I’ve had people send me DMs on Instagram telling me like, “You shouldn’t tell people that they can recover from this. They can’t.” You know, and I, it’s like, in that moment.

Like, I know I’m sure you were just like, you put so much work into everything so

Liz: So much

Lauren: work.

Liz: You put your soul. And it’s like, I can tell you’re one of the nicest people, and

Lauren: Yeah. It’s like, you just got to send them love and yeah.

[45:21] Liz: Yeah. And it comes from pain, too, either they want to protect other people or they themselves. And you know, our recovery, I do believe healing is possible but it’s going to look different for everyone, but it’s also not your fault if it takes longer or you’re not healed yet, it’s not your fault.

[45:42] Lauren: Yeah, it looks different for everyone. Yeah. And like you said, there’s little pieces you know, some things that I said I hope will help and inspire people. 

[47:15] Liz: And can you just maybe talk about some of the things you’re doing now, in terms of physically, I don’t know if you’ve been on some good hikes or maybe want to share that. And some of the things you’ve been able to do that you’ve enjoyed.

[47:30] Lauren: Yeah. 

So, I really liked that I can walk up flights of stairs. That’s exciting [laughs]. 

Um, I love nature hiking. That’s like a big part of my life. Being able to be outside and walk and just enjoy outside. 

Living in Rhode Island, we have all this miles of coastline and ocean and seeing that at summer, it’s nice to be able to get outside and enjoy that.

[47:55] Um, even the smallest things like grocery shopping and like just carrying heavy loads of laundry, it just sounds so silly, but there was a point in my life where I couldn’t do any of this, makes me happy. 

And then also the physical piece to my business is big for me being able to do that again, like go into someone’s home and organize the closet and be able to help.

There’s a strong physical aspect to that. So being able to jump into that again and be able to help. And, uh, that’s exciting for me, too.

[49:11] Liz: Lauren, I am like pinching myself. I’m just so glad that you’re on the other side and more of us are coming out, sharing our stories and

Lauren: Yeah, thank you for everything you put out there.

Cause you’re definitely helping a lot of people probably more than, you know,

Liz: I really appreciate that more than, you know, Lauren.

This was so good. Okay. Do a little dance.

Lauren: Dance, yeah.

[49:49] Liz: This was so good. I think we got everything. I’m so excited about your book.

Lauren: Yeah. Thanks for including that link. I appreciate that.

Liz: I’ll definitely include the link, and then I’m going to include it in the description, too.

Lauren: Yeah.

Liz: You kind of look, I mean, I’m part Italian. You kind of look like my big sister.

Lauren: Really?

Liz: Yes.

Lauren: That’s funny…Do I have a picture of her? Do you have a picture? 

Liz: Hold on, I’ll go get a picture. Yeah. Okay.

[50:18] Liz: Okay. Here’s my older sister.

Lauren: Oh, wow. She looks like she could be that’s so funny! And you kind of look like my sister Lisa, you really do, slightly.

Liz: Okay. Thank you again, Lauren. This was amazing.

Lauren: Yeah thank you so much have a great weekend.

Liz: You too. Yeah, this was great. Take care.

[50:42] Lauren: Bye 

Liz: Bye. 

Here is a picture of Lauren feeling strong.

Lauren rock climb

Here is an Instagram slide reel of highlights from Lauren’s healing journey:

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Heal With Liz (@healwithlizc)

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