Laura Fowler-Watt’s inspiring full recovery from ME/CFS

YouTube Interview:

Overview:

Laura, from the UK, was working hard in the entertainment industry when she got knocked down by glandular fever in December 2019. Unfortunately, she never seemed to recover. She experienced crippling fatigue and never-ending flu-like symptoms.

Laura shares her 3.5 year full recovery from ME/CFS and what things helped her heal, and those that didn’t.

Her recovery story primarily involves the nervous system and contains other supportive elements like nutrition.  

Written Transcript:

[00:00] Liz: I’m so excited today to be interviewing Laura, who’s going to share with us her three and a half year recovery journey from ME/CFS. Laura, I’m so grateful to be sharing your story today.

[00:13] Laura: Oh, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me. It’s really great.

Click on the toggle to expand each section. Note: Nothing we share is medical advice.

[00:19] Liz: All right. So I just ask all my guests, what is your purpose for sharing your story?

[00:24] Laura: Yeah, so, I watched your interviews when I was really not well, and I just found them so unbelievably helpful. Just feeling that support, you know, that other people have been through the same thing, and also that there is a way out. 

And I was living through the horrific pain of it at that stage, and now that I’m out the other side, it is just amazing to be able to share that and how I got here. Yeah.

[00:59] Liz: Wow. That really touched my heart. Thank you so much, Laura. And thank you for paying it forward and sharing hope with others today. It’s a full circle moment.

[01:12] Laura: Yes, exactly. 

[01:12] Laura: Yes, exactly. 

[01:15] Liz: All right. So can you just tell people watching what your life was like before you became chronically ill? 

[01:22] Laura: Yes, so when I got really sick, I was 23, and I was working in London, so living in London in the United Kingdom, and I was working in an agency for actors.

So an entertainment agency was an assistant, and I absolutely loved it. Um, I’m a performer, not an actor, but a musician. So I’m kind of always been in that world, and it was just really fun and amazing. And yeah, I loved it. But what I didn’t really recognize was how much pressure I was putting on myself.

And that I had always put on myself, probably since I was really quite small, to do well, achieve, you know, high standards always set for myself. And I think that sort of came from being a music scholar at my school and having to always prove my position and then, yeah, it just fed through my life.

And I did quite a tough university degree. I did classics at Bristol, which is quite a sort of high up university in the UK.

So again, like putting pressure on myself, feeding into that side of myself that wasn’t helping and was causing that sort of chronic stress cycle. 

And for a long time, I knew something wasn’t right, and my body was presenting with all sorts of strange symptoms for quite a few years.

But the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me, and they would say, you know, “You’re fine, your test results are fine.”

So I thought I was going mad, and I thought, I don’t know, I kind of just got to a point where I was like, “Oh, it must just be me. I must just, like, be different and just not feel great a lot of the time.”

A photo from before her body shut down, trying to hold it together, while not feeling quite right.

Laura: And then my body properly shut down and it was glandular fever that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me in December 2019. I got glandular fever. I didn’t know that was what it was at the time. I just felt really unwell and I just didn’t recover. Then it became quite obvious that there was something quite seriously wrong with me that I needed to address.

So, yeah, that was my life before I got unwell.

[03:52] Liz: Yeah, my onset involved EBV, which is glandular fever. I’ve seen barvirus. It’s also HHV4. There’s different names for it, but yeah, it’s also called mono in the US. You guys call it glandular fever. 

Laura: Yes. 

Liz: But yeah, that was part of my perfect storm as well. And I know you’re supposed to really rest during that when you get that.

Were you able to take it easy? Or how did you react to getting knocked down by this? You didn’t have a name for it at a time. I’m assuming you got tested later, but what were your first steps here for getting ill?

[04:33] Laura: Yeah. So I think it’s such a common thing in chronic fatigue and like the thing that triggers it to sort of happen is often glandular fever.

Yeah. So I just thought it was a cold initially. So I did keep pushing through, which was, you know, my classic way.

But also there was that whole thing of feeling like I couldn’t take the time off work, you know, that culture of feeling you need to go in and prove yourself and taking days off are actually frowned upon, which I think has improved post pandemic.

I think it’s one of the things that has got a little bit better is working from home and taking time to look after yourself. So I did keep pushing. 

It was then Christmas. And obviously that comes with, so I was partying and drinking, my family also went skiing, and I kind of just kept going through it, even though I wasn’t feeling amazing, but I hadn’t really been feeling amazing for some years, you know, so it wasn’t that abnormal for me.

And when we went skiing, I properly was like,

“Something’s not okay here.” My fatigue was so severe. My glands were huge. 

And I just thought, “There’s something that’s not right.” But I did keep pushing for a bit in January. 

I kept going in and I just was dealing with these really bizarre symptoms. I felt like I was walking through mud or lead. And eventually it got to a point where I was diagnosed with glandular fever. And my work said, “Okay, take some time.” I think initially it was two weeks. And then, it sort of became two months. And then the pandemic hit. 

So, I actually had an excuse to rest. Because no one was working, so that was, in a way, a blessing for me because I do think if I hadn’t had that, I would have continued that pushing because I would have felt I was missing out.

I would have wanted to carry on working. So in a way, it came at quite a good time for me. That pause.

[06:45] Liz: Wow, there’s so many parallels to my own story. I’m sure a lot of people listening will sadly relate. Pushing through wanting to prove yourself and that two weeks when you finally are like, “yes, I do need to take some time off” then turning into two months.

Liz: Yeah. All right. So you had swollen glands and extreme fatigue, that feeling of lead walking through mud. Did you ever put two and two together? Oh, I might have CFS, ME, the post exertional crash. Did you ever figure that out?

[07:24] Laura: Yeah. So health anxiety is another thing that I had had throughout my whole life.

So I was classic Google researcher. So I went online and I tried to figure out what was wrong with me. And post viral fatigue appeared in the search. And I started sort of saying to my mum, you know, “I think this is what I’ve got, I think this is what I’ve got.” And she was like, “Oh, you know, don’t, don’t go searching because you’ll go down rabbit holes.”

And that’s exactly what I did. And I do think that having that label, having that diagnosis probably sent me further into a hole. I don’t know, it’s a difficult one because a part of me was relieved because, you know, when I was having all these tests done, there was actually a stage where my tests were coming back with some quite worrying results, when my immune system was really suppressed due to the glandular fever.

And there was a time where there was some concern over what could be wrong with me. 

And, really nasty things, you know, that you…yeah, don’t really want to, um, even think about, but that wasn’t the case. And, so in a way I was relieved, because I was like, “Oh, it’s something that isn’t actually really something very, very wrong with me.”

But at the same time, I felt so unwell, and I didn’t want to have something that people were saying you had to live with.

[08:58] Liz: Yeah. You’re in the UK, right? And I know for ME and CFS, the prognosis or what is taught in the UK is that you can’t recover from this. You’re just going to have to deal with it. So while it’s reassuring that you don’t have cancer or leukemia or whatever, you have this thing that could take the rest of your life.

[09:22] Laura: Yeah. That they’re saying, they’re saying there’s no cure for, and that you have to learn to manage. 

And I was like, “I can’t learn to manage this. I can barely walk.” So that was really scary. 

And for someone who also had always had quite severe health anxiety anyway, it was really very terrifying. 

Liz: Yeah.

Laura: Because I trusted in them, right? That you trust in the medical system. And I didn’t have any reason not to believe them because at that stage, I didn’t know anyone who had recovered. So I just trusted them, and I was like, “Okay, well, this is me. I can just, I’ve got to do the best I can do, you know?”

[10:07] Liz: And I’m sure the weeks start turning into months and post viral fatigue, it’s now past the six month mark. 

When that hits, you’re like, then you get that label, officially ME/CFS. 

Laura: But now it’s chronic.

[Liz note: It took me 2.5 years to get an official diagnosis from a specialist, but I did fit the ME/CFS diagnostic criteria earlier. ME/CFS diagnostic criteria stipulates that symptoms must occur for a minimum of 6 months.]

Liz: So can you just describe how this affected your family and friendships? You’re in the prime of your life, early 20s. And then getting knocked down.

[10:35] Laura: Yeah. So as I said, with the pandemic striking almost exactly the same time, it did benefit me in the way that everyone was at home, everyone was not leaving their house.

So in that respect, I didn’t have the fear of missing out or that feeling that I needed to go and socialize because we were all only really socializing through, you know, Zoom or texting or whatever it was. 

So in that respect, I think it was really good for me in that it didn’t have a huge effect on my friendships because especially in those initial stages, everyone was in a similar position, but at the same time, they didn’t understand.

So I was sort of living a lie to them, I think, for some time and not telling [my friends] the real extent or sharing with them the real extent of my pain. 

My mum was my hero and she, I moved back home with her and she, yeah, she’s just an amazing lady. She just, you know, she did everything for me. She was so supportive.

She understood what I was going through. She obviously didn’t feel how I felt, but I really did feel that she understood what was happening. 

I also didn’t mention that I’d had quite a few traumatic experiences in my late teens, which I later sort of came to discover that I hadn’t really fully processed.

And my mum, she sort of works with trauma survivors in journalism, with her journalism that she does. So she understands the impact that trauma can have. So I think she always knew, she didn’t say, she always knew that that was playing a part in what was happening. 

So she just kind of took me in with compassion and care and love and was really amazing.

Wow. Yeah, so I was so, so lucky to have her. And, you know, all my family, oh, I have to mention my fiancé now. My boyfriend was also incredible, but he did go back to be with his family, which I think was the right decision because I actually just wanted my own space, to be honest. 

And I think I needed my own space in order to really deal with what was happening.

But that was hard because I didn’t see him for about two months at one stage because of lockdown. So that, yeah, it was challenging. And then, you know, other members of my family. I love them all to bits, some understood more than others, but yeah, it’s hard for people to understand. And I do, I do kind of get that.

I’m not sure how I would have been if it had happened to, you know….it’s, you can’t understand until you…

[13:29] Liz: Until you have it. 

Laura: Yeah. 

Liz: I remember hearing chronic fatigue syndrome. That sounded just like a side effect to some pharmaceutical drug. That’s what it usually was. That’s the only time we heard it.

[13:39] Laura: Which sounds like you want to sleep all the time. 

Yeah, that people used to say, do you just want to sleep all the time? I’m like, “It’s much more complex than that.”

And yes, like tiredness is one quite small part, but I mean, it’s a whole range of symptoms and yeah, issues.

[13:59] Liz: Yeah. Can you just quickly list out those symptoms?

A lot of people in the early phases of this, they really want to find someone who had their same symptoms. Yeah. You had mentioned. the debilitating fatigue and the pain, what were some of your other ones? Just, yeah.

[14:14] Laura: So mine manifested almost like flu, so the swollen glands, the really raw sore throat, like for a long time I just had like, every time I swallowed it was just agonizing, really heavy limbs. 

Like any time I would even walk for about five minutes, I would just feel like my legs were just so heavy. And then that crippling fatigue. 

Others came and went. So, you know, I had skin breakouts. And my eyes, like, my mum said, like, she could just see how unwell I was because my eyes were just really, like, glazed over and, like, quite puffy. And yeah, I had lots of other symptoms that did come and go.

But they were the ones that were there most of the time. 

[15:03] Liz: Yeah, that 24/7 flu-like feeling I had as well. Sometimes it would get better throughout the day and some days would be better than others, but yeah, yeah, I know what that’s like.

Liz: So I do want to ask, what are some things you tried initially or over the several years that didn’t work?

[15:24] Laura: Yeah, okay. So psychotherapy didn’t work for me because it was just kind of working with my thoughts and that, well, it wasn’t really what I needed.

So I tried CBT, psychotherapy, EFT.

[15:45] Liz: Okay, that’s the emotional freedom technique. Is that tapping? 

[15:51] Laura: Yes. Tapping whilst talking about like past experiences.

Well, it can be used in lots of different ways, but that’s the way that I did it in this sort of practice that I did. Um, homeopathy, do you call it the same thing in the US?

Liz: Yeah.

Laura: Yeah. So none of those worked at all.

Note: We are all unique and no person or practitioner is the same. Nothing shared is medical advice.

Laura: I then I had a nutritionist. For about two years, and it’s hard to say how well that worked because it was for such a long time.

And I definitely think that making changes to my diet contributed to me getting better.

You know, reducing that inflammation by taking out inflammatory foods.

Just eating things that were nourishing, that’s always going to be beneficial. I didn’t make any changes in like, I still ate meat and things because that for me felt supportive.

I think the diet probably helped more than the supplements.

I’m not sure how well the supplements worked but I did become quite reliant upon them. I spent so much money. So much money.

Liz: I did, too!

Laura: But I think the diet changes, you know, I think they would help anyone’s health.

But again, I also think that if our nervous systems are dysregulated, then these sort of other changes we’re making that are more external aren’t going to have such a powerful effect because everything’s out of kilter.

[17:34] Liz: So yes, nervous system work, and it sounds like there’s going to be an epiphany here, but before we talk about that. I do want to ask, so what is CBT, because people often say CBT is the nervous system work, and conflate the two. Okay. Can you just quickly summarize, very briefly, what CBT is, and why it didn’t work for you?

[17:55] Laura: So CBT is cognitive behavioral therapy and it focuses primarily on your thoughts and changing your thoughts. So with my health anxiety, for example, it was about changing the way that I was thinking in order to see changes in how I was feeling. And also the CBT I did was, it was with a specialist for fatigue.

So they were also doing walking with me, like pacing walking. And I’d go back in and be like, “I really couldn’t do it this week.” Like, I can’t do the amount you’re setting me. 

And she was like, “You just have to believe, you’re not actually ill.” 

You just have to believe you’re not actually ill. And I was, so for me, that was a moment where I was like, “Okay. I can’t be having someone saying that to me when I feel the way I do.” It’s not helpful. 

Um, and later down the line, you know, brain retraining and all of that would be something I would come to, but that’s not the same as cognitive behavioral therapy. I would say cognitive behavioral therapy is more, kind of, is tougher.

Change your mind, change your life sort of attitude. 

[19:15]

Liz:

Yes, and I think that’s what’s been prescribed in the UK for many years, even though I think the NICE guidelines said don’t prescribe that, it’s still what people are offered.

Liz: Yeah. All right. So I now want to get to the epiphany you had that led to you finding the modality that ultimately worked for you.

[19:43] Laura: Yeah, so, I spent a lot of time doing my own research. In those moments of feeling like I could mentally switch on, I spent a lot of time, sort of, on Instagram, watching your stories, on YouTube, and Raelan [Agle’s recovery] stories, you know, both. 

And just trying to actually do some work to build up hope within myself, which I think was massive.

It was a big first step for me, was the hope.

And yeah, I just, I found so many amazing people on Instagram who were just sharing their work. And I already knew that the nervous system was at the center of it. I knew that and I believed that and it made sense to me.

 Which I really liked because I was like, “This is something I can grasp and understand.” Yeah, and it all makes sense. And then Jennifer Mann, who now [is the co-founder of] Somia International, I approached her because everything that she spoke about on her Instagram page sounded exactly like me. 

Not exactly, obviously our lives have been different, but so many things that she shared aligned with my own life and my own journey that I’d had.

So I got in touch with her. This was when she hadn’t yet launched her group program, so I worked with her one on one, which, for me, felt right. 

[Liz note: Jen and Karden’s nervous system regulation program, originally called CFS School, has both a self-study and a live cohort option. They recently rebuilt it from the ground up, factoring in feedback from graduates. The new updated program is called Heal, which launched in February 2024. It under the umbrella of their new platform called Somia International.]

[21:37] Liz: Yeah, I know what you mean. And thanks for admitting that because there are many group programs out there with community elements. 

If your nervous system is sensitive, and you’re an empathetic person, hearing someone at their worst, you’re going to want to help them, you’re going to want to save them. And it might be activating for your own nervous system.*

Yeah. So thanks for admitting that. Yeah.

[22:01] Laura: Yeah. I don’t think it is something that’s said very often, but I did really feel it. And I felt by then I knew myself well enough to not go back into that sort of space. And although what they have produced sound is so incredible, and I know it is, and you know, they’ve helped so many people, which is just so amazing.

For me, I really did feel that I needed the one on one. And that was what was going to benefit me at that stage. 

And I feel so fortunate because she doesn’t really do that anymore. So I kind of got the last of her. Well, she was doing that and it was incredible. Ooh.

[22:36] Liz: Yeah. Sometimes we do need that one on one support and everyone’s different.

I’m myself a little bit more of a lone wolf. And then I did work with individual coaches along the way. For me, a group program doesn’t always make sense because I like to entertain people. But I know others who really love that group support and they find that shared community healing, like “in it together” kind of thing.

And that’s really healing for them. So we’re just presenting options and it has to be what resonates with you.

[23:11] Laura: Yeah, a hundred percent. Definitely.

[*Liz note: Some programs with live group elements have strict rules about what can be shared to avoid triggering others, some have loosely enforced guidelines, and others do not seem to have any rules. In the Lifestyle & Nervous System Regulation programs guide I made with Lindsay Vine, which analyzes over 25 programs, we clarify the group dynamics (if applicable) based on real participant feedback. 

We have observed that people prefer different things, and peoples own needs can change. Some people find healing in community, others prefer programs you can do on your own, and some find value in working with a 1-1 coach. In our guide, we present which programs offer self-study, the ability to connect with peers, live group coaching, and/or 1-1 coaching options.]

[23:15] Liz: All right. So what are some things that Jen helped you with?

[23:21] Laura: So a lot of the things that we did, I had sort of already done to some extent, like I’d done some brain retraining and I really knew about the nervous system.

And I’ve been doing that a lot and applying it a lot in my life. And by the time I was with Jen, I was, I would say around. Maybe 40, 50 percent, having been, I don’t really like doing percentages, but just to give an idea, having been probably at around 10, 15 at my worst. So I was feeling, it came at the right time, because I was feeling ready to kind of take those little risks and push myself a little bit.

And…oh, we just did amazing. It’s all trauma informed nervous system rewiring work and in a child work and just all these amazing elements that made up kind of, it was just exactly what I needed because a lot of what I was experiencing was a result of, you know, coping mechanisms from childhood and that pressure and I was putting myself in the perfectionism and these parts of me that, yeah, just weren’t serving me, but I didn’t.

I think the big aha moment for me with Jen was I was trying too hard to fix myself, and I needed to change the way I was approaching the work that I was doing and instead sort of turn inwards with love and compassion rather than fear.

[24:59] Liz: Ooh, that is so powerfully stated. And it’s one of the reasons, the biggest reasons why I see people struggle with this work is because the way they do it. And some then come to the conclusion, well, Actually, this means this nervous system work doesn’t work for me. And it really is a pharmaceutical drug I need to wait for or something like that.

And it drives them back into those activist communities, but. You’re clearly stating what I observed that the pressure that we put on ourselves can have a negative impact. And on the other end, if we do these programs, or we do this work, whether it’s with a coach or on our own, if we do that with self compassion, That’s, I don’t want to give a percentage either.

That’s at least 50 percent of it, the way we do it, you know? 

[25:53] Laura: Yeah, no, it, it definitely is. And I honestly, I spent so long trying to do the tools perfectly. Because I was in a state of maladaptive perfectionism for so long. And I was like, if I don’t do this tool perfectly, I’m not going to get better. But that led to me actually not doing the tools enough because I would procrastinate.

Because I’d be worried I’d be doing them wrong. So it was like this vicious cycle. Whereas when I just sort of began to just let go a little bit and instead lean into what I needed in each moment and what of all the tools and practices I’d learned was going to be best for me in that moment. Everything started to shift.

[26:44] Liz: Yes. What’s going to be best for me in that moment. And some programs, I have a programs guide where I compare all the different programs and some are more narrowly focused on others. Some are just somatics, which is body up to brain, which includes things like breath work, somatic release, somatic experiencing.

Then there’s brain retraining where it can be visualizations, things like that. But it sounds like you had a toolkit of different options to serve you. 

So can you talk a few different tools, just a quick overview on some of the key tools that you use?

[27:22] Laura:  Yeah. Visualization for me was an amazing tool because I could use it in so many different ways.

It’s what I now use still in my life and in my own practice with my clients. It’s mind and body, it’s connecting the two, you know, they are connected. Using both. So visualizing, you know, something you’re feeling nervous about as if you’ve already done it. So preparing yourself literally to step into that with confidence and a sense of groundedness and whatever, whatever state it is that you’re wanting to move into.

Or if you’re just really struggling to sleep, using visualization to take you to a place that makes you feel calm. That safe place, that happy place, whatever it might be. There are just so many ways that visualization can work for us. And, you know, I have a vision board and. You know, when I was feeling really unwell, I would visualize myself having what was on my vision board.

It’s if I already had it, feeling all of those positive feelings that, you know, came with having that. And it made me feel so much better in that moment. And then when I was able to actually do them, when I was feeling strong enough, it was just the most incredible feeling. Yeah, so visualization for me has been a huge one.

[28:54] Liz: So I do want to ask, what was one of those visualizations you made come true that you’re excited about?

[29:01] Laura: My partner, he left to go to the Cayman Islands. This was another sort of challenge, I guess, along the way. He got a job in the Cayman Islands in January 2022. And he went, and that was the right decision for both of us.

It was an amazing opportunity, but I wasn’t well enough to go. So, I put it on my vision board, and I kept imagining I was there with him, having the amazing experience of being in the Caribbean. And I ended up first going there for a month in that April, and then moving there for six months, December till May this year.

[Liz note: Our interview was recorded in December 2023.]

And yeah, it was just, it was an incredible feeling, because I felt like I really got myself there. 

[29:51] Liz: Wow. that’s so interesting. So the Cayman Islands was actually where I went on my honeymoon in 2019. And that was when I kind of, I guess, count as when I was fully better, because I did one of the visualizations I had done a hundred times, and it was paddle boarding.

And then I went paddle boarding on my honeymoon in the Cayman. So, yeah, it’s a special place for me.

[30:13] Laura: Yeah, me, too. Very. Yeah. But there are also a lot of other places, too. And it’s just, I think it gives it even more…well, I now appreciate everything so much more. Like just everything, generally.

It just gives you a whole new view on life.

And, you know, it’s so horrible to go through. And anyone who is going through it at the moment, I really do feel for you. It’s so hard. 

At that time, all you want to do is just go back to your old life, get rid of it. But now I’m at a stage where I actually am starting to see what it has given me.

And there are quite a few things that it has given me that I didn’t have before. And that’s an amazing place to come to, I think.

[31:07] Liz: Ooh, yeah, because when we’re in the thick of it, when we’re going through the hell or the mud, it doesn’t feel that way. But looking back, yeah. And you just seem to be radiating wonderful energy.

Laura: Thank you. 

Liz: And now you’re able to help others heal. 

Liz: You had told me that you’re now helping others. I just think that’s so beautiful that you went through this terrible time and were able to transform that, and are now shining a light and guiding others.

So can you talk a little bit about how you’re helping others now?

[31:44] Laura: Yeah, so when I felt strong enough, I started to take different courses, started to study, to become a mind body coach, but I also did some Body Lab courses so I could become trauma informed because I had recognized through my work with Jen how important, well, how important I feel that it is to be trauma informed and to have that training.

So I trained and I think that again, for me, was a really great thing to do. I was engaging my brain in a different way than I had been for years. And it gave me that sort of push that thing to aim for. So then in September this year [2023], I launched my coaching business. So I’m a trauma informed stress and nervous system coach.

So what I see as my goal and aim is to support people and help people before they get so sick that they’re sort of in the depths. So recognizing the signs, which I, you know, didn’t, wasn’t able to. Recognizing the signs that their body is talking to them, is showing them that they’re putting too much pressure on themselves, or whatever it might be, that their stress load is too high.

And that something needs to be addressed because I don’t want what happened to me to happen to them and then to push through it, and then their body to literally say “no” and to stop and shut down. And from that place it is harder to get out. I tend to have clients who are suffering from quite bad anxiety and traditional talk therapy hasn’t helped.

And they need that more sort of body based somatic approach. People who are just feeling really stressed out, they are perfectionists, or they’re high achievers, and they are just feeling quite overwhelmed. People who are experiencing symptoms and not understanding why. And I’ve also started to do workshops at drama schools because I used to work in that world and I really feel that actors and performers, their lives can be quite stressful, whether they’re on stage twice a day, or they’re not getting jobs, whatever it might be.

I really felt that when I worked with them. So I’ve started doing workshops on how to build internal resilience to stress as they head out into the industry.

[34:18] Liz: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. The different ways you’re helping so many people. Wow. That’s awesome.

[34:26] Laura: Thank you. Yeah. No, I absolutely love it.

And I just feel, I feel so passionate about it because how can you not when you’ve been through what we’ve been through and then come out the other side. 

[34:40] Liz: Yeah, although, I mean, not everyone does. A lot of people just go back to their life. 

Laura: True. 

Liz: Yeah. But that’s amazing. The people who give back and are passionate about helping others and preventing this.

So it doesn’t have to get as bad as what we went through. And I know many people have it even worse, but yeah, that you’re on the prevention side, and that’s just so amazing. 

Laura: Thank you.

Liz note: Laura followed up to say, that although her passion is regarding the preventative side, she does help many people in her 1-1 practice who are dealing with chronic symptoms, have experienced trauma, and/or have severe anxiety. She said she is happy for anyone to reach her through her website for advice or for coaching support. You can find her on Instagram here.

Liz: I do want to ask. So we did touch on the word before we end this, we did touch on the word “somatics” and some people might not know what that is.

A lot of people who have been watching my channel for a while do know what that is. But can you just describe a couple different somatic practices? And just demystifying it for people.

[35:33] Laura: Yeah, of course. So, somatic awareness is basically, awareness of what is happening in our body and in our mind and how it’s all sort of connected, but somatic awareness is starting to really recognize the sensations in our body, the posture that we have when we are walking or sitting, how our breath is, and really sort of connecting into that. 

The body holds so much wisdom, and if we can connect into the language of the body, we can learn so much about our emotional, our psychological worlds.

And I think from there, you know, 80 percent of the messages are body to brain. So if we can connect in with the body, and what it’s saying to us, literally, then we can learn so much.

[36:32] Liz: Yes. And when I started off my blog and it contained a lot of lifestyle stuff and diet and. It did have that nervous system element because that was a key part of my own journey, but the more recovery stories I hear, the nervous system was the most central piece for the most people. Though the other stuff definitely is supportive as well.

[36:55] Laura: A hundred percent. I think it is, it is a case of trial and error as well. Like I do think some things work for, you know, but all different. So what works for me might not work for someone else, but I do think nervous system work is at the core because it controls pretty much all of our, our organs and our immune system and our regulation.

So if we can work That’s almost like the root. And then everything else is supportive on top of that. That’s how I see it.

[37:30] Liz: Exactly. And for me, just like you, I had all those flu-like symptoms. And when I did the nervous system work. That’s when they permanently, finally went away. Yeah. So, yeah.

[37:46] Laura: Also, I think really something I was told too far into my journey, really, I wish I’d been told earlier.

But, you know, when we’re experiencing these symptoms, the fact that they come and go is a sign that it’s not something that’s physically wrong. It’s a physiological thing that’s happening.

So it is something that we can work to sort of help ourselves with, because if it was there 24/7 and the sore throat wasn’t coming, and then going for a bit, and coming and going, then it would be different. 

But I think when I heard that it was something I really sort of latched onto as, “Okay.” Because you still have that doubt in your mind, right?

[38:38] Liz: Yeah, and I’m sure there are people listening who do have some 24/7 symptoms, but we all have symptoms that came and went as well.

So, I mean, some people’s baseline might be always very small, but there are those symptoms that come and go, or you can see improvements and declines.

[38:54] Laura: Yeah, and 100 percent, so initially my fatigue was 24/7, but there would be other symptoms I’d have that would come and go alongside the fatigue. 

So I did start to understand that, it probably wasn’t something physical, like a physical illness, even though that’s what it feels like.

[39:18] Liz: Yeah, and I think, um, some people listening might say, “Oh, well it’s still a physical illness,” but I know what you’re saying. It’s not like a degenerative thing.

Liz note: This part is not meant to downplay ME/CFS, but rather more about a shared realization that helped us heal. ME/CFS is a multi-systemic debilitating condition, and research has found multiple distinct biomarker clues. To better clarify my own views, I believe it’s a block in the healing cycle, in line with UCSD research on the Cell Danger Response, rather than something that’s broken, or something that can be killed or cured by a pill.]

[39:26] Laura: It’s more sort of a physiological, isn’t it?

Like it’s presenting itself very physically and the symptoms are 100 percent real, but it’s not like something that medicine is going to fix.

[39:38] Liz: And that was one of my turning points too. I was listening to a YouTube channel. His name is James. The channel is Health Recovery. And he was saying the same thing.

Like he had severe ME and he’s fully recovered and has a kid now. And does labor intensive work. I think he does like power lines. Anyway, he was saying, yeah, that because our symptoms can fluctuate, that’s a clue we can actually play a role in our healing, which…

[40:07] Laura: Is so empowering. 

I think that’s the minute, that’s the time, when it changed for me was when I realized that actually my fate was in my hands.

And that was terrifying because, you know, being the perfectionist that I was and the pressure that I put on myself, I had to really tone that part of me down in order to be able to just lean in and do the work and come from that place of connecting in with my true self, my core self, my grounded part of me.

And, yeah, then I did really feel empowered.

And the more you see the changes, as small as they might be, as slow as they might come, latch onto those, hold onto those tight, and really trust that you’re making progress.

[41:03] Liz: Ooh. Wow. That was so powerfully stated. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story with me today, Laura. That just gave me the tingles.

[41:13] Laura: Yes. Yeah. Thank you for, yeah. Thank you for having me. I think the work you do is so incredible and it’s given so many people faith. And as I said, that’s such an important step.

[41:25] Liz: Oh, this was so wonderful. Did you have any final message? I feel like you just said some final wisdom there.

[41:33] Laura: Yes, know that you’re not alone, because this is, the more that I work in this space and was in this space myself, the more I realize how common it is to have this, to go through this. But also, so many people are recovering. I think post COVID, it’s brought more awareness to this, and Yeah, just keep going and you will get there.

[42:02] Liz: This was so wonderful. Thank you so much, Laura. We talked about so many things and thank you for sharing your story. Have a wonderful rest of your evening over there in the UK.

[42:11] Laura:  Thank you. Have a great day. 

Liz: Yeah. All right. Take care. 

Laura: Yeah, take care. Bye, Liz. 

Liz: Bye. 

Laura: Bye.

[42:20] Liz: After our interview, Laura reached out to say that she’d be very happy for people to contact her whether it’s to ask for advice or for coaching support, and you can find her on her website lfwcoaching.com. Thanks for being here, and if you appreciated our interview, please give it a like and leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

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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