Jen Mann’s inspiring full recovery from severe CFS

My YouTube Interview with Jen:

Overview:

Jennifer Mann from the UK was a former professional ballet dancer. She was living an extremely fast-paced life and pursuing a medical degree in her mid twenties, when her health began to unravel. Then one day it all came crashing down.  

Her former symptoms included severe chronic fatigue, persistent fever, post-exertional malaise, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, blurry vision, dysautonomia, anxiety, heart palpitations, IBS-D, acne everywhere, hair loss, POTS, and many more. 

Pacing and a diet shift helped take her from bed-bound to housebound, but it was a balancing act. She then found life changing physical improvement with a neuroplasticity program. However, when triggered, her CFS symptoms would reappear. 

When she incorporated a new method to heal unresolved trauma, she was able to get to the root and break free. Watch or read our interview to learn what specific methods helped her heal, those that didn’t help, and what she learned along the way!   

Written transcript of our interview:

[00:00] Liz: Hi, I’m Liz and I healed from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And I’ve come back to share my story and the stories of others who have healed. Nothing on this channel is medical advice nor meant to contradict what you yourself have discovered to be true, but I hope by sharing our stories, we can inspire you on your journey.

[00:25] Liz: Jen, I’m so glad we could finally do this. I’m a huge fan of yours on Instagram.

[00:32] Jen: Me, too. I’m so happy.

[00:34] Liz: Yeah, you always have such great wisdom.

[00:37] Jen: Thank you. I love what you do as well. So much. I’ve been following you for a long time, as you know, and back to the days when I wasn’t feeling very well.

And it’s amazing to see the stories you share and everything. So I’m grateful to be here.

Friendly disclaimer: Nothing I share is medical advice nor meant to be prescriptive. We are sharing our stories for information and inspiration only. Sending you our support. Click on the toggles below to read the rest of the transcript. 

See last toggle for a January 2024 update and how to find Jen.

[00:52] Liz: Yeah. And I’m so grateful that you’re one of them. So let me just introduce you. I hope I get everything right. So my guest today, Jennifer from London, who is fluent in five languages, was a professional ballet dancer until a career ending injury. While studying for her physiotherapy degree, her health began to fall apart and she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Like all of us, she tried many different approaches over the years. And at her lowest point she came across a new modality that was the beginning of a paradigm shift for her. So Jen has come back to share her recovery story and the lesson she learned along the way

Liz: Yeah, Jen. So what is your purpose for sharing your story today?

[01:48] Jen: I just would love this message of hope of shift in paradigm, like what you said to move far and wide through the oceans and just reach as many people as possible.

[02:03] Liz: That’s so wonderful. Yeah.

[02:03] Liz: So can you tell us about your life leading up to CFS and how your health started to fall apart?

[02:15] Jen: Oh, yes. So, my whole life, I had been moving around the world, both for my career and my family. I grew up in Africa, I’m a tropical baby, and even there, we were moving all the time. And then when I was older, moving countries, schools, so a lot of information for a person who is growing and developing.

And then I became a professional ballet dancer, I was traveling even more then, and when I moved to London, I started to experience a new side of myself in the sense that because I wasn’t dancing as much because of my ankle injury.

I was finding myself working long hours and hours hustling, trying to do work in so many different areas. I’ve done everything is always in the realm of health and wellbeing. Pilates, teaching fitness, yoga, massage, but I noticed that when I started to do more and more, and as I was getting older, I was just ill all the time.

I would get the flu, like five times in the winter. 

Like every other month I would get it again. And I would have a fever, and I’d have to take antibiotics. I would have wheezing in my chest.

And then, when I went back to university to study biomedical science, I started to have a lot of pains in my back and in my glutes.

I thought I knew my body very well, so I always managed to shift these tensions and pains through physical activity. But I was in a lot of pain for a couple of years, and I noticed, throughout this time, also, my anxiety started to skyrocket.

I was really shaky for a couple of years, all the time. And I actually had anxiety when I was a child as well. I had a few panic attacks for various reasons we might get to in this call, who knows, on this Zoom.

But whenever I found myself in this situation where I had to prove myself such as studying and new environments, all my traumas would come back around being the new girl and perfectionism.

And so all this kind of tied into me experiencing, a worsening of symptoms, both mentally and physically.

[04:53] Liz: It sounds like you had all these stressors piling up and you continue to push through trying to achieve and hustle, as you said. And it seems like even though you had this physical knowledge of the body that you were kind of ignoring the other aspects of health and balance.

[05:17] Jen: Yeah.

I mean, I was preaching to my clients the importance of balance, but yet myself, I was all over the place. And I didn’t…you know…

I feel like before something like this happens, we are very much in a space of, we think we can do everything.

You know, “What’s going to happen?” But yeah. Then stuff does happen.

[05:41] Liz: And that’s so interesting. What you said, it’s like we preach to others but we’re not looking after ourselves. Interesting. Yeah.

[05:41] Liz: And that’s so interesting. What you said it’s like we preach to others but we’re not looking after ourselves. Interesting. Yeah. So, was there any specific trigger that knocked down the domino pieces or was it just gradual?

[06:00] Jen: So there was a couple of back to back stressors. I was increasingly for two or three years experiencing, fevers with no other symptoms. So I would have a fever for a month, do all the tests and everything they would say, oh, don’t know, you just need to rest or something.

So I started to. think that I was the type of person that when I needed rest, I just got a fever for a few weeks, which is absurd. and then as time went on, there was a few things back to back. So I came down with, some kind of virus and I had a chest infection and I felt quite ill after.

But within a few days I was fine. And then I noticed that after this is very hard for me to, feel better. So I would go out for walks and then I would feel tired and then my chest would hurt. And because I was in the health industry, and. Studying physiotherapy. I was, asking myself, what could it be?

Maybe I have hypermobility syndrome. So I thought maybe I have EDS. Is it EDS that’s causing these aches and pains and heart rate craziness? do I have pots? so that was happening. And then we moved house which was quite stressful. And then a lot of anxieties and that time from my family as well, my mom, my dad, and then just everything kind of became bigger and bigger.

And then one day in our new house, the first day I was like, ah, first day in the new house, I’m going to do some yoga. And so I did a gentle yoga practice. And the first five minutes I I heard like a crunching sound in my neck. And I was completely blocked, stuck. My whole, all of my muscles were really tense and I had to go to A&E.

And from there that was the crash point. So from there I never really recovered. so after a few days of this intense nerve pain, I started to experience a fever and then swollen lymph glands. And then it all happened.

[08:19] Liz: Did they take an X-ray and find if there was something structurally wrong with your neck?

Cuz you did say you had a crunch.

[08:28] Jen: Yes, no. So they do something that’s called palpation. So they palpated my spine. And from that they said you just have probably a nerve impingement or we’re not really sure, but it’s nothing to worry about just go home and rest. And as the physio, I was like, “Okay, surely there’s something that I can do to help myself help move this pain.”

But nothing I did worked. And so I lay in bed.

You know, I thought if I’m in so much pain, surely if I completely relax, it will get better. But then think it was day three of lying in bed for this pain that I got all this, all the other symptoms.

At first the doctors were saying, “Oh, you had this virus, you have that virus. No, you don’t have that virus. Let’s give you all the antivirals anyway, all of the antibiotics.”

So for a month, I was on cycles of antivirals and antibiotics.

[09:29] Liz: I understand the antivirals because I know with CFS, your latent viruses can reactivate and stuff.

Antibiotics.

[09:39] Jen: Yeah. So they didn’t know it was CFS yet because it beginning. So they were trying to see throw at me what they thought would work. But it didn’t work.

[09:51] Liz: It actually ended up making things worse.

[09:53] Jen: Yes. Because I knew my body after a couple of weeks of zero improvement and feeling worse, then having beginning blurred vision, I was like, something is different this time.

I’ve never really felt this before. So like, as crashy, as bad as that, I had experienced it coming in and out for a few years [prior], but never so intensely. Yeah.

So they did lots of tests, X-rays to see my bones, CT scans, blood tests, until an infectious disease doctor said, “You have a fatigue syndrome.”

And then another one said you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

And then yes, so that was a few months after my crash. 

I’d already been in bed for a few months here.

[10:44] Liz: Okay. So you were bed-bound at this point. You’ve listed many symptoms the post-exertional crash, the flu-like symptoms, the fevers, the stomach issues. 

Can you run down some, maybe we haven’t covered, and just your functionality levels throughout your journey?

[11:04] Jen: Yeah. So at the beginning, I wasn’t aware of the pattern of push and crash.

I would be really ill in bed. My hair was falling out, blurry vision, nausous, tummy aches, diarrhea.

I lost about 10 kilos in the first few months already. Yeah, it wasn’t nice. Uh, I had, rashes. I had acne. 

I’d never had acne and all of a sudden, my face was filled with acne everywhere. 

Like every inch of my skin had huge cysts and bumps. It was very bizarre. My psoriasis on my head went from a little bit if I don’t wash my hair every three days to flaking. 

Everything that was there went times a hundred, plus everything else.

So then I would notice a pattern of after like three or four weeks, the symptoms would quiet down, but I would still have this underlying, I call it heat.

And had a fever the whole time for the whole year. It was not going away.

And the fever is just this reaction my body had to what was happening, and there was such dysregulation in my body temperature. Just wasn’t able to find a balance. It just kept going up.

So yeah.

[12:31] Liz: Yeah. My temperature went down, so it was dysregulated. and people listening, no CFS story, no one is going to have the exact same symptoms. 

But there is this dysregulation that’s happening that can really affect every single system in the body, whether it’s one way or the other.

Liz note: I also had sensitivity from temperature transitions (i.e. going from cold to warm) and lacked resilience for very cold or very warm temperatures, when I had CFS.

[12:54] Jen: Absolutely.

[15:28] Liz: Yeah. So did the doctors have any advice for you or were you just kind of on your own to try different modalities or both, I assume?

[15:40] Jen: Yeah. So initially they said rest, and then I came back with, “I’ve been resting for a few months and I guarantee you that it’s not rest that I need. Is there anything else?”

And at this point, I had been doing my research, but because the research that I would be doing is more in the traditional medical paradigm, it was more towards graded exercise therapy, CBT, pacing, and coming from the physio background.

I know a lot about that.

And so I started with physiotherapy, and I started with graded exercise therapy. And after my first session, I crashed harder than I had ever crashed before.

And I remember just crying, I think for like two days, I just couldn’t believe it. I felt so let down by physiotherapy in general, what I was doing and just in general, I was like, how is this happening? Why?

Then you go online and you see that this happens to a lot of people.

[16:45] Liz: Yeah, bet it can be crushing too, because it’s like, you’re trying to put effort into something you’re doing your best, and you’re showing up, and you’re giving it that A-plus, and it actually led to your worst crash.

[17:03] Jen: Yeah. I remember emailing the physio saying “Oh, I don’t know what happened, but, you know what we’re doing?” And she said, “Oh, let’s try and do a few more sessions.” And I was like, “Well, I don’t think I resonate with that.”

Yeah. And I tried to do my own version of graded exercise therapy for a while, you know, with my knowledge, but it just wasn’t.

It’s now… now I understand why. But then. My brain was like, “Okay, maybe if my mitochondria”, I get a bit more of that.

[17:39] Liz: Yeah. mitochondria. Okay. I’m going to try to take all the herbs to kill. whatever’s attacking my mitochondria, and now I’m going to boost it with all these herbs to boost. I was on the boost and kill mode, and I was cause you feel it a cellular level.

My cells felt like they were hurting and fatigued, and it did make sense. The mitochondria, and there probably is some mitochondria stuff go on on.

[18:07] Jen: Yeah, definitely. I also went down the whole supplements, route and you know, really.

Believe in nutritional therapy for so many, you know, hormonal regulation, and it’s very powerful. And what we eat is what we are. We need to have the right amount of fats, the right amount of protein.

One thing that I did change was I was a vegetarian for seven years, and I introduced meat and fish.

And I must say that I really feel a difference in how my body feels after the meal.  

So for me personally, that was a good move. 

But yeah, at one point, Liz, I was taking, I don’t know, like 35 supplements, three times a day.

[18:57] Liz: I think it was up to 40 total per day. Yeah. I had the war chest. I had like two chests next to the couch and then extra and the cabinet and then the supplement baggies.

So it sounds like you were right there too with the supplements.

[19:15] Jen: And to make them inviting. I had my supplement basket that was like rattan and it was so nice to look at. And I remember being like, “Oh, it’s my supplement basket, so nice. This is going to help me.” And yeah.

[19:31] Liz: So you’ve tried all these different approaches. You’ve tried the supplements, you’ve tried graded exercise and your body did a big “nope,” and you decided that doesn’t resonate.

[19:31] Liz: So you’ve tried all these different approaches. You’ve tried the supplements, you’ve tried graded exercise and your body did a big nope, and you decided that doesn’t resonate. I think you also tried just pacing your way through. Can you tell me a little bit about that? And what’s your definition of pacing, so we’re on the same page?

[19:56] Jen: 

Yeah, so pacing is for me, what I understand of it from what I studied, is a coping strategy to help experience the least amount of symptoms. 

So, there’s like a level of, if I cross that it’s going to be worse. So stay as much before that level as I can. There was a point where I was housebound.

I went from bedbound to housebound and that was in the pacing time.

[20:28] Liz: And you did show a small increase in capacity. That’s like shuffling around your house.

[20:34] Jen: Yes, exactly. So instead of being really ill my bed, I was able to come to the living room, but again, if I would stand up more than three or four times and lift something like that was it.

So my pacing my understanding of it then was, “Okay, I guess my window tolerance for this pacing journey is tiny.” It’s like this tiny line. 

I felt like I was on a balancing beam on a string rather than like on a beam, that was my pacing levels. 

I had to be so careful with everything, and there wasn’t a lot that I could introduce slowly. 

And I did this for a few months. It wasn’t like I did it for a week, and it didn’t work. 

[21:22] Liz: Yeah. And it’s so interesting. different things do work for different people at different stages. And also what we need ourselves at one stage can be different. then at a later stage.

It sounds like even though you were able to do more than be bed-bound that it almost created more stress because you’re trying to walk that string and you already had lots of anxiety from this illness and also from your life before.

Liz: So, do you want to now talk about some of the stress prior to getting ill and how that might have been building up to where you were?

[22:06] Jen: So I have early attachment wounds with both my parents, anxiety attachment on one side, and my dad left when I was young. And then he came back into my life when I was older, but I definitely did not have secure attachments with either of my parents and a huge abandonment wound.

And as a response, my brain created so many coping mechanisms for me to feel safe in my body and feel safe in my head. 

These [coping mechanisms] looked like people pleasing, perfectionism, high-achieving, a lot of pressure on myself. Anxiety. Questioning whether what I was doing was right. 

All the time, overthinking over-analyzing to keep myself safe to requestion, is this right? Cause if it’s not, something’s going to happen. Fear of failure, like all these things tying into how I moved through life and yeah. 

[23:11] Liz: Yeah. And know there’s parents of kids with CFS watching this. And this is not to say that CFS is caused by parents who creates stress the way I don’t want to.

But I do want to say like, yes, of course, that can add to the stress in your life and how you deal with stress. If you had stress from childhood, whether it was abandonment or whether it was just, a lot of expectations or traumas.

[23:41] Jen: Yeah, absolutely.

Yeah. Completely agree with that.

To add on that, cause you were asking about the stress, these coping patterns create loops of stress that you find yourself in. 

So let’s say certain situations would make it worse, like being an environment where I’m being judged like university or a new work or new places, this will enhance the, loop of perfectionism of self doubt.

And so the stress was really more an internal thing rather than… although there were external things…you know, life is filled with stress left, right, and center. 

And I guess the goal isn’t to be stress free it’s to understand how we can enable stress to happen, but respond in a new way and be in a new way around it.

[24:38]

Liz: Yes, that’s very wise too, because while removing sources of stress was a part of my recovery, building resilience was also essential.

[24:46] Liz: So now you’ve tried multiple modalities. When was it that you ultimately, discovered the modality that would begin to shift the paradigm for you.

[25:01] Jen: So I always meditated through being a yoga teacher and just how my life was.

I’ve always been into a lot of Eastern practices and I started to do Qigong, and I loved it. Have you done it before? 

[25:20] Liz: Is it the one like this [swings arms], you your tap on your kidneys?

[25:23] Jen: Yeah, yeah.

[25:27] Liz: I’m like tapping my kidneys. And I was doing it with this ninety year old woman on my street corner, because that was my level. [Liz note: It might have been Tai Chi. They were very gentle slow movements, and then the kind old woman would give me a Chinese candy after, which I gave to my now husband because I wasn’t having sweets at the time.]

[25:35] Jen: 

Yeah. I love it. Um, yeah. You can tap your kidneys if you want, in the practice, but Qigong is about Qi which is, the movement of breath and energy in our body. And so it started to tap into stuff somatically. 

I started to begin to become aware of the energy that was in my body, not only the symptoms and the fear and the anxiety, but what energy is in my body.

Is it stuck? Was it moving? And from when I was housebound, still not moving into the brain retraining yet, I was doing meditation and the Qigong. 

I’ve reached a point where I was able to do Qigong, for about half an hour, and it’s not…I wasn’t moving a lot. It was more visualization, energy practices. 

And we know through neuroscience that using the brain in a novel experience, exposing the brain to new information, to visualization, really helps form new pathways. So I’ve found that as I was increasing my ability to expand outside of my body, imaginatively and through visualization practices, I found myself with more space and more awareness around what was happening inside me.

Although I still wasn’t able to really move forward, I experienced more space. And by space, I mean that thread started to feel like a rope. 

[27:26] Liz: That’s a good metaphor. Okay. 

So yeah, and I think a lot of people who end up trying neuroplasticity stuff, which is what we’ll talk about soon, did start out with maybe there is a seed, it was like meditations of visualizations or other somatic practices that, ended up feeling very supportive, which kind of planted a seed for doing the more focused work. 

Liz: So, yeah. How did you ultimately then discover brain retraining as a modality for healing?

[28:08] Jen: So I came across a few people on Instagram, Raelan, you, and some other people who are sharing some stories. And there was a video on Raelan’s channel that was talking about how this lovely lady had recovered through something called the Lightning Process.

And I had heard about it already. A couple of times, one of my physio colleagues had a sister who had recovered through the LP and she told me, and I was like, “What is that?” And she said, “Oh, it’s this thing.” And you know, she didn’t sound very convincing. And I was like, “Oh, whatever, I’m not going to do that.”

And then I heard about it again through someone else. And I was like, “well, still not convinced.” And then I heard the story of this lady and what she said just came at the right time, as you said, I was experiencing changes because of how I was using my brain, instead of how I was using my body, which was new for how I had been healing.

And I heard her story and how it helped her. And I waited probably a couple more weeks to call a practitioner, but yes, so that’s where it all started.

[29:24] Liz: Oh, wow. That’s so wonderful. Yeah. I Raelan has just an amazing channel. We’re good friends. Maybe you’ll be on her channel next.

Alright. So you now make the decision, “I’m going to do the Lightening Process.”

How much does it cost?

[29:43] Jen: I paid 1,200 pounds for three days of the seminar.

[29:48] Liz: And how many people were in your group?

[29:53] Jen: So I, couldn’t find with the practitioner I wanted, a date soon enough. And so I asked him for one-to-one, which is more expensive.

So if you do it in a group, it’s cheaper. But then I was like, “I think I need that one-to-one, he’ll understand me better.” You guide me better, but now I understand that there’s other stuff that comes into it.

But, yeah. So then a couple of weeks later I was booked in with Sam, and I had first day of the LP. And would you like me to keep talking about that experience?

[30:27] Liz: Yeah, so love to hear. I mean, some people say there is so much secrecy around it, but I don’t get that impression, myself. But yeah.

Can you tell me about the discoveries things you learned from it and then your experience?

[30:41] Jen: Yeah, it was amazing, and at the time I didn’t know about other programs, but the core stuff is that, you know, of brain training to using the power of our brain that it has to reorganize itself to interrupt neural pathways that keep us stuck in illness.

So with the LP, which is the Lightning Process, you have this practice that you learned. And every step of the practice engages your brain with a visualization, with a talk with your inner coach, with yourself, and also other aspects, that really help rewire the brain. 

And on the first day, at the end of every day, there’s an invitation to experience something new or go for a walk.

And I was like, are you crazy? I’m not going to… I can’t go for a walk. 

I’ve been trying to go for a walk for almost a year. This, doesn’t sound real.

But at the end of day one, you learned. It’s very fascinating information about why that is and how, when you interrupt the neural pathway that switches on the physiology, you don’t need to pace yourself as you thought you did.

And the question that you ask yourself before engaging in the activity is how do I feel from one out of 10? And if you feel a five or a four, then you, haven’t probably engaged in the rewiring process as efficiently as you could. 

So it’s not advised to do anything until you feel the nine, the 10, the joy of the new thing that you’re experiencing.

So. I experienced and nine and a half on day one of feeling joy in the rewiring practice. And I went for a 15 minute walk, and I felt absolutely fine. And I was like crying. And I was like, how is this possible? What is going on?

[32:49] Liz: That’s amazing. So the next day, did you still feel.

Good after,

[32:55] Jen: Yeah. The next day I then went for a 30 minute bike ride. And the reason why in the LP you do this is to have proof of the work. So rather than use the practice and then connect it with neurology of being afraid of doing things, you connect the LP with the neurology of, “Oh, if I interrupt, I can do.” And so, yeah, I never experienced any post exertional malaise from either experiences. 

And on day three, I went to a supermarket which scared me a lot before because of the lights and the noises and the people. And I had a couple of moments when I got scared when I was in the supermarket.

So I did the LP. I did the practice out loud, you know.

[33:42] Liz: In the supermarket?

[33:43] Jen: I didn’t care. I was like, whatever I’ve doing it. Cause this is going to… I did feel a level of motivation. I’ve never felt in my life before. 

Like if I do this, I can change my life. 

And I had proof from day one and day two, you know, I was in bed, nothing had made me feel better, and I had successfully done two days of activity, and I never released.

I never had a crash or, you know, the exertional malaise afterwards.

[34:16] Liz: That is amazing. You did say, I believe that I could change my life.

So it sounds like you weren’t under the idea that, this coach is gonna fix me, that I was given tools and I was the one going to change my life.

[34:34] Jen: Absolutely. In fact, before you do the LP, they ask you some questions, to see where you are on a scale of accountability, personal responsibility, readiness, to believe that this is going to work.

And if you’re not, they do say, “Okay, maybe we need more time then.” So. I completely agree with what you’ve said.

[34:56] Liz: Yeah. I do want to present an honest, candid and complete picture.

I have seen stories where it didn’t work for someone, but I would read into that. And one of the stories that was shared, it was a young girl whose mom had really pushed her to do this, to get back to school.

And I don’t know if just the pressure she put on herself maybe actually felt a five, but went and tried to do activity anyway. When you actually did feel the 9.5 and you felt like your body could actually do that. So you weren’t lying to yourself, which doesn’t work.

[35:41] Jen: Yes, absolutely. That is one important thing. There was no pushing. There was no, cause it is important. when we experienced this type of, illness pushing ourselves, I’m sure you, you can resonate with your experience is not useful. not helpful. So yes, I completely agree with you.

There has to be a level of congruency the congruency comes when, when you do the LP, when you do the practice, the brain retraining, whatever it is, DNRS, ANS Rewire. 

When you do it and it works, there are, you’re right, factors that come into that, like personal motivation, belief, readiness.

Like I was off of the edge of my seat before the LP started. Really excited, you know, and I didn’t have any doubt. 

For me, it was enough to see one person. If I could see that one person had recovered, then I didn’t have any doubt that I could. 

And at that point I had seen many people who had, so that’s what was going through my head.

Yeah.

[36:49] Liz: And I have seen that quality in people on my channel, others, too. And they said like, “If they can do it, why can’t I?” Versus like, “Oh, something is uniquely broken with me.” 

If you truly believe something is uniquely broken with you, this modality probably is not the right one. There might be other modalities for you to support your recovery.

[37:13] Jen: I agree with you. Yeah, yeah,

[37:15] Liz: Yeah.

And it’s getting to that place because I feel some people might still be in that, “Oh, I need to do the mitochondria stuff.

I need to do this and that.”

So I had gotten to a place where I was in a healthy environment, but I wanted to live my life again and not have to live in a bubble, you called it the string. I also want to say that like yourself, I wasn’t in a place where I was pushing through anymore.

I had already come to the conclusion many times that it was no longer going to try to prove myself to others. That I was a good person and not try to push through, I was always going to put my health first.

And I’m not saying anyone brings this on themselves, but to heal from this, I did have to get to a place where I was creating healthy boundaries, and I wasn’t pushing through. And then I found the neuroplasticity, and then it worked for me.

Sorry, I’m going on a long time. This is your interview, but yeah. cause you’ve spoken about healthy boundaries before and I wanna talk about, that aspect.

Liz: And when did you start creating healthier boundaries and dealing with, that throughout your journey?

[38:30] Jen: So for me, the LP wasn’t enough. So I experienced this and I was like, wow. Oh my God, I have, well, and then I would get a text message from my mom. And I would have a symptom five minutes later. And I was like, what? I thought we were past this. And then I would do the LP and I’d be okay. and then I’d run into someone in the street who reminded me of something.

When I was experiencing triggers, I didn’t quite know what they were at first. I just noticed that happened and I feel ill again. And then, and it was usually. And I say usually because it was usually psycho-emotional, but the times in which it happened when I was on a walk was not because of the exercise, but because of my state, what I was thinking, I remember once I was on a walk or like a long walk around a lake, and then I got a phone call, and I decided to answer it.

And after half an hour of the call, I started to feel the heat that I explained earlier, which was my base basic symptom of knocking on the door and saying, you’re doing old neurology. So the heat And then after that, I felt horrible for a few days. from this phone call, Yeah, not from the exercise, you know, cause I had been on multiple walks and exercise and done yoga and been running.

So it’s not so much the exercise even for post exertional malaise, except for when we are highly dysregulated , it’s, what’s happening in our physiology when we exercise and I was engaging in old patterns on this phone call and you know, it activated that stress neurology, the old dysfunctional patterns and that’s okay.

Ultimately, and after a few days I was better again. And, but I was still like oscillating back and forth a little bit. So with your question with boundaries, I got into. Trauma healing through my body through, through somatics. And, that’s when I really learned about my true self, who I am, what boundaries actually mean and what being in alignment with myself actually means and how this translates into my life.

[41:07] Liz: and I think there is so much nuance to this because yes, it sounds like the neuroplasticity, the visualizations and elevating your state were clearly essential for your recovery, but being able to build your resilience and being able to address why you had these triggers and then move through them.

Can you talk about the sematic trauma work that you actually did and what it actually looks like? Cause I know there’s different modalities for trauma work.

[41:40] Jen: Yeah. So in the past I had done traditional therapy.

Never helped me personally with my anxiety. it helps unpack ideas and understandings and release and, but stuff that is in our nervous systems stays. when we talk it doesn’t move as much as when we use our body. So

[42:04] Liz: You’re just going through the story of what happened and you might understand it better, but the impact is still there in your nervous system is what you’re saying.

[42:13] Jen: Yes. So I came across somatic experiencing, which is, a technique, therapy modality by peer Levine, who is, a trauma therapist and researcher. and I love his work. and the session looked like, uh, me lying down. It was on zoom.

So, you know, it wasn’t a barrier to be over zoom because it works amazingly for, for me. so I was lying down and the practitioner.

Asked me, to talk a little bit about, what the tip of the iceberg would look like in any of the instances where I had had a setback. So the tip of the iceberg I came to learn is a text message from my mom and the iceberg under the water is our dynamic of, anxious attachment and all the stuff, all of, you know, my childhood and my response, which shows up in many different ways through various patterns.

And so in somatic experiencing you go to. Tip of the iceberg. You experienced the text message or the trigger, not the experience of the trauma, the memory, what happened. And then you wait and you wait and there’s a technique called tracking where you learn to dive in and the way, even for people who have dissociative patterns.

So who struggled to connect with the body? This is a safe way because before you do it, you connect with your senses rather than your feelings. So what do you hear? What can you smell? And by doing this, you draw awareness away from your prefrontal cortex, from your thinking brain and into the lower parts of your brain, your autonomic responses.

And so when you’re lying there, It’s very bizarre, but it’s very fascinating and amazing. When you experience the tip of the iceberg. After you have learned how to dive into your body, which can take a few sessions depending what’s going on with you, you learn to feel where the trigger is happening in your body.

For me starts around my rib cage. I feel a warmth. I feel a shake, a tremble. Then the tremble moves across my chest and then into my throat. Sometimes it moves to my back. And then if I experienced it for a few seconds too much, I start to shake a little bit. And through somatic experiencing you are not running the story of the trauma.

You are simply being with the energy in the body and this. This kind of approach is so important for this kind of work, because sometimes, especially with CFS and let me know what you think. But when we engage in the psycho-emotional side too much, it can really affect us and send us back into patterns into old neurology, where we are experiencing all the stuff again.

But when we connect with a trigger, so our wounds and our coping mechanisms, our survival body through the body, rather than through the monkey mind, it starts to move and, and to shift.

So in CFS, we scan our body for symptoms. How am I feeling? What am I doing? Oh my gosh, what is, do we have to train ourselves out of that? But with this, it’s more of staying with the feeling connected to the trigger and then becoming curious. And when you become curious, it doesn’t turn into fear into scanning. It literally turns into, this energy that either goes away, lessons moves.

And then there’s, my practitioner was very skilled and inner child work and parts work. So. when we would connect to the energy, you know, ask it, what do you need? And these kind of inner conversations with our parts of self, really help our whole self to understand, have a better understanding of what’s going on.

And when I entered that world, that’s truly was for me where everything changed for forever, not only my health and my wellness, but just my relationships with people, how I show up for myself. Um, just everything really. 

[47:15] Liz: That’s so amazing, Jennifer, and you really explained that. Well, of course it makes me curious but yeah,

You’re feeling where it is in the body and then it can begin to shift versus just going into the mind and thinking through something which can sometimes keep us stuck, for a lot of people. That’s very powerful. So can you describe what parts work is? I’m just a little, I’m curious about that. 

[47:36] Jen:  It, there’s this, you know, assumption theory that all of the experiences that we’ve lived in our life have a space within us in our body and there is the unbroken true self. 

You know, the one that is our gut intuition, the inner knowing which I had lost the connection with my inner compass. I didn’t know what was right from what was wrong for me and doing this work allowed me to, wow.

It’s like, it’s this thing that happens. I don’t know if you, you can resonate with this, but it’s this gut feeling that that part of me just knows whether that’s a good thing for me or not, or I need to set a boundary. So connecting with, with true self with that part that is almost, it’s always inside of us from, our whole life.

And it’s the part of us that isn’t conditioned by all the other parts.

[48:48] Liz:

And that’s so important, I think for recovery.

Because People are so overwhelmed with trying to heal in someone else’s perfect way that doesn’t actually exist because we had to heal our own way. And whether that was through one program or through five different modalities, it had to align with us. And then we got to the point where we knew, okay, I’m going to do this and I’m going to do it this way. And then I’ll do a little bit of that. And it looks different for everyone.

[49:20] Jen: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that says so much about us.

You know, we are given a limited amount of resources for this very complex illness. And yet we managed to heal ourselves without a pill without specific direction. And that says so much about us as humans, our ability to naturally do what we are made for, which is find balance.

Our physiology is consistently going back to looking for homeostasis and balance. Our mind also is looking for safety for balance. So I think what you said is beautiful. Yeah.

[50:00] Liz: All right. So can you just tell me about, your life now after this powerful transformation? So you had, CFS, was it a little over three years?

[50:12] Jen: Yeah.

[50:13] Liz: And you’ve been, experiencing full health and alignment for the past year or so.

[50:21] Jen: Yeah. it’s been amazing, in the sense that, I just want to make sure that whoever is watching this knows that this is coming from a place of, honesty, alignment. Honestly, there’s no sense within me that I am pushing any fake let’s say, picture of positivity or just how it feels. 

You know, this work made me dive to the bottom of my stuff and clean it up, understand, become aware and rebirth literally. So I have never felt as well as I have in the last, yeah, in the last year or so. And not only CFS wise, but health wise as well.

Like in our past experience, my boyfriend would always be the one to not get ill. And I was sick all the time. He has been ill like three times, and I have a sailed through without getting anything, and he’s like, what, how, what is happening?

And I really do feel that my immune system, my hormones, I just feel this, normalizing where it should be.

There’s no superhuman quality here. It’s just where I should be navigating, in that window of tolerance.

[51:49] Liz: And I want to say, you had a rough go.

You had all these crazy symptoms, but you were able to transform that. And find your homeostasis because I do know people there like I’m too far gone, but it is possible to have everything and then actually feel amazing and, be in alignment and have that homeostasis.

Yeah, this is just such an inspiring story and I love how you also say it’s not that you’re particularly special, but you are honest in the fact that you were ready for this. This is what. Resonated with you and you committed to this work.

And I just am so honored to share your story. It’s really inspiring.

[52:41] Jen: Thank you so much. And I just wanted to add onto that, in feeling well and alive, I didn’t go back to, my life as it was. I am living a completely different style of being.

[52:58] Liz: Yes, I myself did not go back to working in marketing and user research for things that did not ignite my soul to say the least.

So can you talk about the work you’re doing now. can you talk about your calling?

[53:18] Jen: I feel like even before became ill, like with what I was doing, going into physio and as a body worker, helping people, I was always interested in injuries and overcoming injuries because I myself had had this career crushing injury.

And I feel like my mission on this earth is really to help people overcome, what I overcame the sense that through the lived experience the wisdom that came to me through the healing.

I just feel in service of others to share this, whether it resonates or not. But I feel the need to share this and to spread as much as I can, the message of… it’s more than hope, isn’t it? 

It’s more than hope. I wish there was a better word for hope. Like this expansive growth hope, level of true self-ness.

[54:17] Liz: Cause it sounds like, you know, it’s not like you’re completely opposite of who you once were because you always had that desire to help other people, but it was overcoming physical injuries.

And this is that, excitement about helping people transform their health and their lights.

[54:36] Jen: Yes. And I’m so excited For what’s to come. It it feels natural. 

I wake up and I’m like, “Oh, I really want to share this thing” because you know, it changes my life or another day I’ll be like, “Oh my God, that thing that happened, I need to say it.”

I need to share it. I need people to know, because if it them a tiny bit of what it gave me, then it will change their life. So, yeah. So, mind-body practitioner training in lots of different areas, trauma informed is my most favorite paradigm to be in. 

Trauma informed means being aware of the parts of people, of the levels of being, of all the different energy levels of people. And that is holistic to like another level. 

It’s not only the mind and the body, but all the parts of you as well. So, I feel very passionate about that. and yeah, and we’ve created this program that we’re very excited with Karden and I, Karden Rabin, who was my somatic experiencing practitioner.

And yeah, it encompasses brain retraining and trauma healing, and somatics applied polyvagal theory, and just all the things that we felt, and I hear from other people’s beautiful recovery that are important parts of getting back to you, coming back home to you, which I feel is the real work.

Coming back home to you, I feel is the real work.

Jen: You know, the real work isn’t getting rid of the symptoms.

The real work is coming home to you, being in alignment, living a life you love, again, not in a fake positivity way, but truly waking up and feeling authentic joy.

And, yeah. 

 

[56:28] Liz: That’s so beautiful. And that’s amazing that you’ve teamed up with the person who helped you to create this comprehensive offering, to help people, on their healing journey. That’s so beautiful.

[56:41] Jen: It’s so amazing though. and the more I speak to people and work with people, the more, it’s just so clear that we’ve been separated from ourselves because of all the layers. Coming back to us and being aligned and is, really what creates a regulated physiology, because there is no sense of threat of fear of stress.

 You are living in a state of calm and joy. And if there is that. You’re like, as he said, this resiliency around the stress, that’s very important as well.

[57:19] Liz: Yeah. How can people contact you?

[57:22] Jen: On Instagram, is my mode of being service to the greater collective.

[57:30] Liz: And you’ve put up such great stuff there. It’s like, I want to share everything everyday. I’m like, I think I’m sharing too much, I share so much of your stuff in my stories because it’s really great wisdom.

Yeah, this was so wonderful, Jennifer. I am just honored to share your story and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your evening over there in London.

[57:54] Jen: I’m so honored to be here as well, and, experience your light as well, because you’ve had an amazing journey yourself. So thank you so much.

My interview with Jen was recorded in December 2021 and was published to my YouTube channel in April 2022. Here are some updates since.

January 2024 update:

In our interview, Jen talked about creating a new brain retraining and somatics program with her former mentor Karden Rabin. That program, called CFS School, has since been taken by over 2000 students. 

Jen and Karden recently created a new platform called Somia International with a program called Heal launching in late February 2024. Jen and Karden have incorporated student feedback from CFS School into this upgraded nervous system regulation healing program. I heard that people previously enrolled in CFS School will also get access to the new Heal at no extra cost when it launches. 

In late 2022, Jen welcomed a son. Her and her family currently live in Bali. 

How to find Jen:

Jen’s Instagram: @iamjenmann

If you’d like practical and uplifting health recovery information, please sign up for our newsletter below. This blog is not medical advice nor meant to contradict what you have discovered yourself to be true. 

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