My YouTube Interview with Miguel:
Recorded in July 2021. Originally published August 8, 2021. Nothing we share is medical advice. We’re just sharing our stories. You can find Miguel Bautista on Instagram here (personal).
Written Transcript of my Interview with Miguel:
[0:24] Liz: So what’d you guys do this weekend?
[0:27] Miguel: Yeah. So this weekend we didn’t do much. Watched a sunset, which is always great. I used to write that a lot in my goals when I was really sick.
I feel like I’ve been in focus mode because I’m doing the 75 Hard challenge, which is basically 75 days straight you have to do a bunch of different things every day, and you can’t cheat. So it’s two workouts a day. One of them outside. You have to eat clean, no junk food, no sweets, no alcohol, cold shower for five minutes. Uh, what else? Oh, no sleeping late, wake up early, all that stuff.
So it’s a good way to kind of hold me accountable.
[1:02] Liz: I love that. I’m like, I had a glass of wine this weekend. Start over from day one. I got to learn about this. It sounds really cool. Yeah. I had actually a bunch of friends from college came in, and they met some of my friends here and we had a barbecue.
[1:18] Miguel: Yeah, you definitely have to mentally prepare for it cause it’s not something you can just jump into. Like if I tried to do this a month ago, there’s no way it would work. Cause I was going on a bunch of wine tours and everything, so it wouldn’t have worked a month ago.
[1:31] Liz: And that’s cool though.
Yeah. I’m so glad we could do this, Miguel. I just loved your new YouTube channel, and I thought you have a really great take on CFS. It’s similar to what I’ve heard, of course, from other recovery stories, but you have some unique elements, and I’m so glad that I can share your story with my audience today.
[1:56] Miguel: Yeah. Thank you. I’m happy to be able to share it with as many people as possible. I feel like we need to get the message out to people.
[2:04] Liz: So everyone just to introduce Miguel, Miguel is a video producer from the Vancouver area, and he healed from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that a times was very severe.
And he went from being fed through a straw in the hospital to now climbing mountains in Hawaii and more, and I’m really glad to share his story today. So, Miguel, can you just share a little bit of your life before you got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
[2:38] Miguel: For sure, yeah. So ever since I was a kid, I feel like I was always the overthinking type, over-worrying type.
And I was the kind of kid who would like, I’ll think about every situation in every different way. So I knew I’ve always been an overthinker, um, but I’ve also been an over-doer.
Anything I did, I always wanted to be the best at it, whether [3:00] it’s in school, academics or sports. So I was always doing great stuff.
I was winning these academic awards. And then as I grew older, I almost had that pressure on myself to maintain that level. Like, I’ll always have to be the best. Always be the best.
I didn’t realize it back then, but now looking back, you know, a lot of that stuff, I wasn’t really doing it for myself.
I was wanting to be the best to you know, show everybody who the best was. It was more for my ego. Wasn’t really what I wanted inside. Um, it was for the recognition and all that stuff. So growing up, I played a lot of sports. I did soccer, football, wrestling, track and field.
And I did them pretty seriously, too. I was team captain in wrestling for pretty much all of high school, but basically, how things started to go wrong. I started feeling a little more sick. I just wasn’t taking care of my body.
Starting in high school, I was actually selling supplements because we were very athletic school.
So I was selling pre-work here, protein there, to all the [4:00] athletes. And the one thing they say, never dip into your own supply. I had a whole locker full, full of supplements. And then, so I started drinking it during the breaks, and had all these energy drinks on me.
So I kinda got hooked on them. You know, it started off as like one every four days, and one every three days, and one every two days to the point where I was drinking it just for fun cause it tasted good. Not even for the effect. Little did I know it was actually damaging my body.
[4:25] Liz: So what was in this? Because supplements there can be good ones like magnesium, but what was in this pre-workout supplement thing that you were taking?
[4:35] Miguel: It was lots of stimulants. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it was for working out. It is supposed to get you a bunch of energy, uh, to stimulate you, to make your skin feel all tingly stuff, the beta alanine.
But it was backwards cause I was drinking more supplements, eating more supplements, than it was real food where in reality supplements were supposed to supplement a diet, but supplements were like my main [5:00] diet.
So I didn’t have great nutrition. In addition to that, I was just overworking myself.
So right after I graduated, I was just working a job across the city, while going to school, while also trying to maintain my fitness. So I was getting about four to five hours of sleep a night, and kind of just burning the candle on both ends. I think without the supplements I would have been okay, and also with adequate sleep, but I just wasn’t taking care of my body.
[5:23] Liz: I’m so glad you mentioned that because people think health is like, oh, just fitness and oh, you’re in great shape. But sleep is so important. And that often is overlooked.
[5:38] Miguel: Yeah. I mean, if you look at a picture of me now versus the body I had back then you would think I was way more fit and healthy back then.
But in reality, on the inside back then, I was in such bad shape because even my mindset wasn’t right. I was trying to get all these achievements, you know, to prove people wrong and stuff.
And my insides weren’t healthy. [6:00]
But eventually, like, I started feeling bad, started feeling bad.
So, ironically, about six months prior to becoming a trainer, I noticed that I started getting way more fatigued. I was sweating way more, like even a regular flight of stairs would just take the wind out to me. And it was really weird because I used to be an athlete. I could run for miles and be completely fine, but now stairs that were just taking me out.
I went into a personal training job, probably a year and a half after graduating high school. And that’s where things started to get really bad. I was working 10 hours a day, five days a week to start.
But one day, I was taking the supplement to help me study, and I was trying to study everything I could on sales, how to build a personal training business, all of that stuff. And one day I went to the library. I was like, I’m going to read this whole book, took the supplement that’s supposed to help me focus.
And next thing you know, I looked up from the paper, and then I feel my head just pounding and my heart [7:00] racing. And next thing, you know, I have a full blown horrible panic attack. My heart rate, they actually had to call the ambulance, and there were like six paramedics who came in. One of them was giving me oxygen.
Cause I couldn’t even breathe. My heart rate was 180 for about an hour, and they could not get it to go down. So that was the first thing that really pushed me over the edge. But leading up to that, I mean, looking back, I should’ve seen the signs coming because there is so many signs. There was the severe insomnia, there was the heart palpitations.
There was the fatigue, there was the brain fog, and all of that was happening probably six to eight months prior. So if I had just listened to my body, I, I would’ve pulled back on everything I was doing. But back then, when you’re 19, 20, you feel like you’re Superman, and you always think like, oh, it’s not going to happen to you or not going to happen to me.
It may happen to other people, but I’m not one of those statistics, right? I’m not one of those stories. So then I just kept going and going, thinking it wasn’t going to happen to me. And, uh, eventually my body just gave out.
[8:00] Liz: So I had a viral onset of CFS, and then I pushed myself through, and I do get from people that, “Oh, well, if I had a virus…” versus, for you, it was that stimulant, overexercise, and lifestyle that was your initial trigger.
Is there a difference on the trigger of CFS?
It can be pathogens, it can be extreme environmental stress, like mold, it can be overexercise, it can also be a traumatic brain injury. What are your thoughts on, is the trigger the important thing to focus on?
[8:41] Miguel: From what my doctor described to me, cause he taught me all about this stuff. How people end up with something like CFS, at the end of the day, stress is stress. Any kind of stress on the body. So even something like a viral infection, that’s stress on the immune system. So for me, my situation was like, okay, there’s nutrition, overworking, lack of sleep, mental pressures, emotional pressures, things like that.
For other people, it could be something like a virus, that stress on your body, your brain doesn’t really know the difference between these kind of stresses.
It just under stress.
[9:16] Liz: I love that. Your brain does not know the difference between the source of stress. It’s just stress. And of course, something like a major virus is going to be a lot of stress, but so can an entire lifestyle of overworking, overdoing it, and lack of sleep.
[9:35] Miguel: And so that day in the library where it was like a near death experience, that triggered some severe PTSD and, uh, stopped cold turkey on all the supplements.
Mind went a little bit crazy for like a month because it’s used to having all these stimulants in it. Basically for the next ‘ bout three years, I was getting a little bit better, getting worse, a little bit [10:00] better, getting worse, but it was always getting worse and worse every year. So I had to stop work, then go back to work.
And there was so many things I missed out on like my friends going for hikes, and they’re all personal trainers. And I couldn’t join them, even going to the beach. Uh, sometimes I felt so sick, I couldn’t even leave the house. Yeah, it was, it was a crazy experience. And so many times I lost hope because I saw so many doctors who didn’t really tell me anything.
They were just like, “Oh, you need more electrolytes.”
[10:28] Liz: Yeah. So you’re in your early twenties with this, what’s supposed to be the prime of your life, and you’re missing from social engagements, and you’re living kind of in limbo.
So can you tell the audience what some of your key symptoms were and what your functionality levels were in the first years of your CFS journey?
[10:52] Miguel: Yeah, for sure.
I think at first was the insomnia, cause I’ve always kind of had insomnia growing up, but now it was at an all-time worst. Then there was just that anxiety buildup that I never really had before. You almost feel like you’re a pressure cooker, but then everything is just piling on.
And the thing is like a lot of it was created by my mind, the stresses that I put on myself. So there’s lots of brain fog, insomnia, there was headaches, heart palpitations, fatigue. Those were what started. When it went over the edge, honestly, there were like 30 symptoms. Usually when I think about the symptoms, I start from like the head down.
So like horrible migraines. Those were probably the worst, nausea. I was even vomiting and stuff, vertigo, dizziness. I was seeing lots of like these blurry spots in my vision, also lots of flashes. What else? Really tight neck, really tight muscles everywhere, heart palpitations, elevated heart rate.
My stomach would always hurt like irritable bowel syndrome. I had to really watch what I ate. Lots of shaking. So a lot of times I’d [12:00] just be sitting or doing whatever and like I’m trembling. Cold hands and feet, sweating, and they’re all clammy. Sleep paralysis was huge.
Weakness in legs. So for the first three years when I was sick, I would be bedridden for maybe five to seven days at a time on and off. Cause I would just push too hard and crash, push too hard to crash.
And then the leg pain was horrible. It’s like, you can just feel your muscles melting away. You literally feel it like they’re melting. But yeah, for the first three years, those are pretty much the main symptoms I dealt with. Actually, there was a lot of depression, too.
[12:32] Liz: I mean, you’re in your early twenties, and your friends are going on these hikes and you’re in bed.
[12:39] Miguel: Yeah. Yeah. Most of the time it was depression from that. Because to go from someone who literally is moving all day and their life is sports and like, they couldn’t live without it. They live for fitness to not even being able to like get out of bed some days it’s a totally different mind shift.
But then it got to the point where I literally felt [13:00] like my brain was so messed up from brain fog and all that. It’s like, I couldn’t even feel happy. Even on sunny days, we’d be at a picnic with my family, and I just be sitting there, zombied out, everything is felt in gray, and I think it’s all the changes that were happening in my body and my brain.
Maybe it wasn’t able to produce those chemicals, but, yeah, it was a dark time.
[13:30] Miguel: But a year and a half in, I’ve seen about six or seven doctors.
[13:34] Liz: What did the doctors say to you that you first saw?
[13:39] Miguel: Usually every time I saw doctors was in like an emergency room in a really bad crash. And I remember I had about six severe crashes to the point where I had to call an ambulance.
They had to give me oxygen. I did that six times. So that, that gives you an idea of how hardheaded I was, because I kept pushing and crashing to that point. But they would literally just tell me, well, you [14:00] just needed to get some rest, maybe you need some electrolytes, but we did scans on everything.
Your heart’s okay, everything’s fine. Your electrolytes are a little bit low, so maybe up those. And I heard that every single time, every single time.
So after seeing so many doctors, I went to a Naturopath that was recommended, and she was like oh, sounds like you have adrenal fatigue. Lift up your shirt, let’s hear your chest. So take a deep breath, took a deep breath, exhaled. And then my heart skipped like four times, it was like a quadruple palpitation. And she was like, oh yeah, you definitely have adrenal fatigue. We need to get you on something strong, like ASAP. I was like, yeah, cause I haven’t slept in three weeks.
Yeah like, please just give me something. She gave me hydrocortisone, which. That made me way worse. That was like someone dropped a bomb in my body, and it went off and like, literally didn’t sleep for maybe another three weeks. I was going insane. I was literally hearing voices, like, because I wasn’t sleeping at all, and it was horrible.
And I was just thinking to myself, how the heck did I get here? Like [00:15:00] I used to be this athlete back in the day. Now I’m like literally sitting in bed all day shaking. Um, I would even ask my dad sometimes, is this a dream right now? Cause I can’t tell like, are you real?
Is, do you hear those voices, too? I’m so glad they didn’t drop me off to a mental hospital at that point because they would have given me some crazy stuff because I was literally hearing voices from not being able to sleep.
[15:24] Liz: So I know I’ve heard that before people getting cortisol, because what happens when you get CFS or this condition.
And your sleep cycles get messed up, and we’re producing cortisol at the wrong time when we’re supposed to be producing in the morning or something, but it’s messed up. So I’ve heard that people can actually be low at cortisol. So naturopaths will sometimes give that, um, but for you, it just didn’t work.
It made things worse. So that’s good to know, and I’m glad you’re sharing that with people, that’s why someone needs to really be trained, but also listening to her own body and intuition as well.
[16:05] Miguel: Yeah. And I looked into adrenal fatigue. I spent hundreds of hours looking into it. Cushing’s disease, all that I know, like the whole curve of the cortisol should be high in the morning, low at night.
Um, but yeah, she gave me cortisol. Oh man, that was like a bomb went off of my body. And keep in mind during this whole CFS recovery journey, the first three years, I would try to work out like once every few months really like just go on an exercise bike and do a warmup. And then, every time I would hit like 115, 120 beats per minute, I would just get a panic attack.
So that’s another thing, too. I was so fearful of my heart rate . I was literally scared of my own heartbeat. And every time, like I would feel it elevated, my mind would instantly go back to that PTSD moment where I almost died in that library. So, it was like cemented in my mind, everything, like if I would feel a headache, I remember one time I was drinking a cold smoothie, then I felt a weird [17:00] sensation in my body.
Cause just because I drank something cold, and then I was like, oh, am I dying? And it brought me back to that moment.
Like the sensation was like a shock to the body, and my mind instantly went there.
[17:09] Liz: Interesting.
You talk about that in your channel, the PTSD associated with the early symptoms, and it you know, perpetuating the cycle. Yeah.
[17:21] Miguel: Yeah, absolutely. So every little thing I felt immediately my mind would go back to the same thought. All these little symptoms, boom, right away, boom, PTSD moment, PTSD moment.
Yeah, it was rough.
So I moved from that naturopath to another naturopath and he was actually working for a while, and I worked very closely with him.
So I show up there, sit there. They give me a Myers’ cocktail, which is a bunch of B vitamins. And there’s also adrenal extract in it because they thought it was adrenal. Um, so they were treating it as adrenal fatigue at the naturopath. So I was on ashwagandha supplements. Adaptogens, as well as doing these Myers cocktails every [00:18:00] single week. And I was taking supplements every day and it, it made me better. Like it slowly built me up.
But the thing is that wasn’t the root of the problem.
So it got to the point where I was actually built up pretty well. I was able to live a somewhat normal life, still couldn’t exercise, but I started working more.
I felt like I was out of the woods. I feel like I caught my footing. I didn’t have to worry about this anymore. That I was on the right path.
So even though I was getting all this stuff, and I was slowly getting better, little by little, I would still push my body harder and harder.
So I started stacking my days. I was making the most money I’ve ever made. I had just met my, now she’s my girlfriend, at the time. So we were dating. And then the early days, a lot of energy goes into a relationship.
So I was balancing that, balancing personal training, and my goal was to be the top personal trainer in the whole club.
[18:51] Liz: So you’ve had CFS for all these years and you see some improvement, and now you’re like, I’m going to be the top personal trainer at the club.
[18:58] Miguel: Yeah. Actually, now that I think of it, that [19:00] was pretty crazy.
What was I thinking? Like, cause I thought, I thought, you know, these three and a half years have been absolute hell, but now it’s over. Now, this is a fresh start. So let’s restart. So pretty much from scratch over the next 10 months, built my personal training business back up.
And I actually, I was the best trainer in the club. I was making the most sales, making the most money, I had just bought my dream car. I was with my girlfriend. I actually also launched a clothing company, like a fitness clothing company. And there was this one competition in the company. It’s like the top five trainers in the company, free trip to Vegas.
So I was like, I need to win that next thing you know, I’m calling people up trying to close deals, and then I actually win it.
So I made it from pretty much no clients at all to the top five within a year. And this was with like 300 trainers. So I was like, yeah, I’m a beast. I could do this. But when the trip comes all paid for, all inclusive, I was so tired and dead.
I couldn’t even party with them. Like I [20:00] just be standing in the club, loud music. I’m like, this is not good, in Vegas. I’m so burnt out, and just loud music pounding. When I got back, my girlfriend and I had also signed up for a few different music festivals. So there were like four music festivals over two months in the summer.
And one of the music festivals, I remember I was so tired from working, but I went anyways. I’m like, I’ll be fine. I’ll just take more IVs. So I doubled up on IVs for those like few months thinking of the IV’s going to save me, but that one music festival, I remember, I think on day two, it was sunset.
And all of a sudden I feel my heart just like fluttering and stuff. My vision’s getting kind of blurry. I was like, this is not good. I know what this means. I’ve been through over maybe a hundred crashes during my illness. This is bad. My legs weren’t working. I would try to walk up the hill back to our tent, wasn’t working at all.
So my girlfriend, 115 [21:00] pounds, literally had to, like I had to hold onto her, and she walked me back to the camp, and I was having trouble breathing, shortness of breath, legs weren’t working. I’m here in the middle of the desert in a tent. I’m like, this is so dumb. How did I end up here?
So, I’m hearing everybody partying all night, and I’m just in my tent trying to breathe. And that’s what I knew.
I’m like, “This is bad.” I’m in for a rough, rough time. And that was the beginning of the end for old Miguel. Anyways, we go home. I’m almost tripling up on IVs at this point. The IVs are costing me 150 per IV because it’s private.
Um, I want to another music festival two weeks later. And then, and then after that I was like, oh man, my body felt it. So within two weeks I was literally could not walk. My brother had to like pick me up and drag me to the washroom.
Also went to Minnesota for a wedding.
So now I’m really just pounding the nervous [22:00] system. My body is like screaming for help. Keep in mind, I also have insomnia throughout this whole time. So first of all, I’m pushing my body hard. I’m not sleeping. And when I was working at the personal training job, I would stack my days with 10 hours in a row, 10 clients.
So I wouldn’t even eat real meals. I’d be eating protein bars, and maybe a cup of water at the end of the day. I think back now, like, what was I expecting to happen? It was almost like I subconsciously wanted to just destroy my body or something, what was I thinking? Leading up to that point, I had gone up and down, up and down, so many times.
And it takes you on such a journey because just when you think you’re getting a bit better, Boom. Life just takes the rug from your feet, and it pulls it from underneath you, and you end up way worse than you were. And then you work so hard just to get to that baseline point. Then you try to do a few things and boom, you go even further.
So when you think you hit rock bottom, it just, you go deeper and deeper and deeper. I thought I was out of the woods, you know, three years in. Little did I know, three and a half to four years in, that would be the real test.
There are so many moments where I wanted to give up, and I’d just be in my room crying, literally just crying.
I’m like, “What did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening to me?” I would think back to all the times I was able to run and all that. And I’d just be so sad in my room because all my friends were out having fun.
I was thinking I was doing something good because I was working so hard trying to become successful, but my body paid the price for it.
That summer, about three and a half, four years in, I had to move to my grandparents’ house and be under their care 24/7. They had to do everything for me. And that was a whole journey in itself because for the next eight months, I was literally in a bed. There wasn’t a single day that I was able to just walk outside, not a single day.
I even had trouble with getting into… we had a computer chair by my room, so I’d sit on that. And then they would help roll me to the washroom every day. But yeah, I mean…
[24:01] Liz: wow.
[24:02] Miguel: I thought I had got my life together. I had the car, I had some good income, all of those things that I built up, and then to have all of it pretty much gone.
And then just be in my room, not able to do anything.
I would look outside and see my car there cause they parked my car at my grandparent’s house. It was sad because the blinds would be open, and I’d look there, and I could just see a little bit of my car, and I’m like, I would give anything right now to just, if someone told me I could be healthy, and they would burn that car and burn all the money I’d made in the last year, I would do it in a heartbeat. Because it made me realize what really matters. I was chasing all these things that I thought were important.
But really, at that stage when I was in such bad shape, look who was around me, it was my family. It was my girlfriend.
[24:50] Liz: She supported you when you were in bed at your grandparents’ house all day.
[24:55] Miguel: Yeah, exactly. So she saw me when I was doing all these great things, [25:00] when I won that trip, and I had all these big goals, and when I got the dream car, but she was also there with me when I couldn’t roll over in bed, and she would feed me. She would literally bus two hours each way, twice a week.
Cause she didn’t have a car at the time. I lived in another city from her, so she would bus just to come see me and keep me company, we’d talk on the phone every day. And that’s something I learned with this journey. The people around you are the most important things.
There will always be work to do, always money to make, but you only have a limited time with people, and for the first six months I was with my grandparents, the last two months, I was with my dad. But the first six months, every single day, my grandma would bring me up these veggies like stew, and keep in mind, she was 72 at the time, I was 23.
There’s also that heaviness of guilt. You’re like, man, I’m putting my grandparents through this. I should be taking care of them. But I felt like such a burden on them and to everybody. Cause I could tell people were getting kind of [26:00] frustrated, not my girlfriend or parents or anything, but the caretakers, they’re probably a little bit frustrated because they want you to get well as much as you do, but no one’s giving you answers, but these people taking care of you, they’re the ones putting in the work, cooking for you.
And I remember my grandpa always telling me, he’s like, “When are you going to get better? We got to go play golf.” Every time he would come home from work at 4:30, I’d hear that door swing open. He’d come upstairs. I’d be just lying there listening to a podcast. And then he’d just be like, “When are you going to get better? You got to get better soon so we could play golf” almost like had a sense that time was running out.
And then while I was there, I was doing all these tests, Holter, monitors, things like that. So my grandpa had a Holter monitor test, and then he had to get on this heavy medication, uh, because he had really high blood pressure.
And so if I hadn’t been there at that time, he wouldn’t have gotten the Holter monitor, but he would have had a stroke like any day. So they got him on the meds. He was able to [27:00] make it longer, but it’s crazy because you know, these people who are taking care of me for six months, every single day, you know, Christmas, New Year’s, any kind of special events, they were there by my side, like feeding me.
I should back up, during that whole time, it was actually a very spiritual experience, too. You get so detached from the physical world. You really start to live in your mind, and then you really find out who you are on the inside because you don’t have all these distractions.
Now you’re forced to really look at yourself and reevaluate, like, okay, how did I end up here? What is my mindset? Like this is not normal. Um, so when you’re locked in a room all day, not locked, but when you’re stuck with yourself all day and your head hurts too much to look at a phone, you’re forced to go inside your mind.
And yeah. Check all of your thoughts, and you spend a lot of time with yourself.
So how I ended up in the hospital is, my grandparents were taking care of me for six months. My grandpa, [28:00] I’d seen him struggling.
The week I moved out of their place to my dad’s place, he actually had a stroke.
And to see someone like who is literally helping you up the stairs, helping you, like wipe it down in your body, after a shower, feeding you to see him. We went to the hospital. I was in a wheelchair. I didn’t want to go, but my dad was like, you might regret this.
I think you should go. I was like, I don’t care what happens to me. I just want to go see him. Cause this is the guy who literally helped me survive. So that day, like my whole family’s in the room, he was like minutes away from, they were just gonna pull the plug. But then they rolled me right up to him, held his hand.
And then I almost felt this crazy wave of energy, and then my mind, I couldn’t think the moment was so heavy. Heart started pounding. I was wearing a Fitbit and heart rate, went up to 160, 170. I was holding his hand, and then the nurse is like, okay, yeah, he just passed.
And in the Philippine culture, my dad was like, oh, he [29:00] probably gave his life up and maybe gave you his energy, could be. And I was like, holy crap. I felt something, and it’s, it’s crazy. Cause imagine someone helping you this whole time, and then you see him just pass away, like you’re holding hands with them.
So that was a bombshell that went off. So that was a whole different level of stress. Then my body pretty much got paralyzed. I could not move, felt like I was being electrocuted with every touch. That week, so they call the ambulance. They’re like, okay. Yeah, he’s in pretty bad shape. We need to take him in.
So I was in ICU for three and a half weeks. They ran every test they could on me. That in itself could be like its own book, that ICU experience. But they ran tests on me, did even like a nerve test. So they zapped my body and measured how well my nervous system conducts electricity.
It was fine. So after three and a half weeks, I was on like seven or eight medications, painkillers, blood thinners. They’re like, well, okay. The problem is not in your body, but you [00:30:00] can see one of our psychiatrists. I’m like at this point, anything just give me, I will see any doctor you want. I’ll do whatever you ask me.
Please just give me something.
[30:08] Liz: That’s so powerful because other people or at different points in their journey, and maybe yourself, too, at earlier points in your journey. If you were told, just see a psychiatrist, that’s kind of very dismissing. And I know some people have been brushed off, “Oh, just talk to a therapist. It’s all in your head,” when it is a very serious condition.
But at this point you’re like, I mean…
[30:42] Miguel: I have no other option. This is, I am not going back home like this. There is no way, yeah.
Cause all the other doctors over the last few years, they would say like, okay, you need to see a psychologist. Here’s a number, go give him a call. I’m like, yeah, Okay. You don’t get what’s happening to me, there’s no sympathy, there’s no empathy. It’s almost like [31:00] you’re brushing me off, telling me I’m crazy. That’s basically how I interpreted it. But here in the hospital, they’re like, well, we’ve ran the tests. Nothing’s wrong with your body.
So it could be your brain. I was like, let’s do it. I’m in. And then they were like, well, we don’t have any more beds at ICU. And in order to see a psychiatrist, you would need to see him like daily. So you have two options. One, you could go home. And then every day you could come back here to see the psychiatrist for your appointments.
And I was like, okay, that’s kind of impossible. I can barely move right now. Second one. And this is where my mind was like, no way, they said, um, well, there is an extra room in the psych ward. You would be there, but as a voluntary patient. So you could go home anytime you want.
This is just so you’re closer to the doctors. You don’t have to travel. So if you’re up for it, you know, you might want to give it a try. I was like, okay. The psych ward. Yeah. So I have to stay in the psych ward, like what someone attacks me in the night or something. So, uh, then I thought [32:00] about it for about like five seconds.
I was like, okay, let’s try it. So that’s, that’s honestly, when things turn around for me. Cause I was in the psychiatric ward for three and a half weeks.
But let me tell you, you know, most people think like, oh man, you must have been so scared. You must’ve been terrified. For me, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had because it was the first time I was able to sit up and eat breakfast with people and feel like a human again.
And it didn’t matter whether they could understand me or not, like I had so much fun just learning about everybody. I became everybody’s best friend. I was rolling around in a wheelchair on the first week, second week I was in a walker, third week, I’m like walking around and we’re playing pranks on the nurses.
I even got one of the patients to order like 10 large pizzas for everybody. And she was like, yeah, let’s do it. I’ll pay it. I’ll I will do it. Give me my credit card. Let’s do it right now. So 10 pizzas show up, all the nurses are freaking out, and [33:00] I’m just laughing so hard. I’m like, yo, I, that was my entertainment.
So that laughing and that change of environment that like very, very distinct change in environment helped me.
About a week into the psychiatric ward, I was able to sit down with a doctor, and the first thing he says, I’m in a wheelchair in the room waiting kind of excited to meet this guy.
The first thing he tells me, he’s like, well, Miguel, I looked at your charts, looking at you right now. And let me tell you, in three months, you’re going to be walking around like nothing ever happened. And you’re going to think this is all a bad dream. And I I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
And I look at him like, no way, no. Like you’re telling me I’m going to live normal again, like look at me. And he was like, no, you know, I’ve worked with hundreds of people like you before, and I’ve seen people in worse shape. So look, three months, you’re going to be telling me that, uh, Dr. Katta, I can’t believe it, but you were right.
And I was like, wow, that’s the first doctor who ever gave me that kind of hope and gave me that confidence and told me I was actually [00:34:00] going to get better and that he’s done it with other people before. So I was like, after he said that, I was like, I’m all in.
[34:08] Liz: People who have CFS we look for answers and getting validation can be helpful. But oftentimes it’s oh, there’s something broken with you, and you need to do this protocol for the rest of your life. This doctor said you are going to be walking again, and I’ve seen it happen.
And that was the first time you’ve ever heard those words from from a medical professional.
[34:32] Miguel: Oh yeah. The first diagram he drew on the board cause we were in this little, it looked like a boardroom kind of thing with glass windows, there was a big whiteboard. He started drawing, everything I drew in my other video, breaking down the science.
I would just soaking it all in like a sponge. So everyday we would meet for about 45 minutes, and he would share the stuff with me. So start with like, oh, humans have been around 200,000 years, industrial revolution happened, our brains changed. Now there’s a technology revolution. Our brains are [35:00] changing more and they’re not adapted.
From there I was all bought in because I love learning, too. Especially understanding what was happening to me. It all made perfect sense. And every time he gave me a new analogy and new diagram, I was like, that makes sense. That totally applies to me, but I felt exactly that way, man, this guy knows exactly what I’m talking about.
He knows where I’ve been. And then, I made so much, I made leaps and bounds recovery.
Just the mindset shift that first morning. That’s when it changed I think, when I went from feeling sorry for myself and feeling like I was going to die, like my life was over and zero hope.
It shifted when I ate breakfast with those, with all these people, because I just literally felt like a human again.
And I was like, wow, I made it to breakfast, this is awesome. I was able to wheel myself to breakfast, and I was just so happy. And then they wheeled me outside for the first time in three months, and I was just so happy to breathe, fresh air.
So everything was new to me. I think I needed to get that bad [36:00] in order to appreciate everything else that it took for granted.
[36:04] Liz: That’s so powerfully stated, you take for granted all the small, simple moments of life, just the sun, the flowers, those things, and then you get to re-evaluate your life.
Um, Yeah. So you broke down some really good diagrams, the science behind it. So can you explain maybe a little bit about the brain, what’s going on there, and how it’s not just, oh, you’re crazy?
[36:34] Miguel: Yeah, for sure. What a lot of people would CFS have it’s like a chronic cycle of fear, anxiety of what could happen of all the crashes.
So let’s rewind the clock, a hundred thousand years, we were hunters and gatherers.
So anxiety and fear is actually good because that’s what kept us alive for generations. You know, when you’re in the jungle, hunting for food, trying to stay alive, you want to be on guard for any tiger or a snake that [37:00] jumps out at you. So it’s a mechanism designed to actually protect you.
So anxiety is actually good to a certain point. But what happens is when there’s so much stimulus, our brains have difficulty identifying what’s a real danger. So for us, when we’re constantly bombarded with stress. For me, it was stress that triggered it, it wasn’t a virus. So this is my experience, but your brain has trouble distinguishing what’s real and what’s not real danger.
So for example, when you’re about to cross the street, there’s cars flying by. So that’s heightened senses. When your driving, car cuts you off, and your heart skips for that second, that’s another stress. So all these daily things in life, they stress you out. Eventually if you have a lot of stress over long periods of time, that’s what your brain adapts to.
And these stresses can be something like I had nutritional stress, lack of sleep. It can be putting too much pressure on yourself mentally. A lot of people have Type A personalities who get this. So that is a huge stress on yourself. So your brain, it adapts to [00:38:00] that environment. So it’s going to always be stressed, always looking out for danger.
[38:04] Liz: With the modern world, it’s like the tiger is always chasing you.
[38:08] Miguel: Exactly. There’s always a perceived threat. So now when your brain’s in that heightened state of stress, it’s almost looking for dangers because it wants to protect itself.
So the thing is with anxiety, when you’re worrying about stuff, it’s like a magnifying glass, right? So any small danger will look a lot bigger. It’s like you take a small spider on the ground. It’s small, harmless. You take a big magnifying glass. And the more stressed you are, the more worried you are, the bigger that magnifying glass, you put it over the spider, it’s going to look massive, right.
But it’s not real. It’s like what kind of perspective you’re looking through. So if you’re looking at things with a stressed mind, things seem a lot scarier than they really are. But what happens when your brain is always stressed for a prolonged period of time, eventually you just develop chronic anxiety and then that can lead to stress on your body, and your body can only handle so much [39:00] stress.
So it forgets how to have a balance. It forgets how to stay calm. Um, and that was the thing for me, no matter what I did, I could not stay calm. It was always in a state of heightened, heightened senses.
[39:14] Liz: It’s a loop too, because you get symptoms, and they can be serious, especially because in CFS, the symptoms can go like this.
So it’s like, what is this symptom mean? Am I going to be able to function today? And for it’s like, can I live my head off the pillow? It’s really scary when you’ve had some bad crashes and all these symptoms. Especially extreme symptoms that you experienced that are affecting your entire body.
But you drew a little diagram about you know, the one I’m talking about.
[39:50] Miguel: Gotcha. Yeah. So, one really important thing to realize that this is almost not almost, this is what kind of shifted everything for me. When the doctors showed me this. [40:00]There’s two types of pain. There’s acute pain on one hand, then there’s chronic pain. So acute pain is real pain or acute symptoms.
They’re real symptoms happening in your body. So say you’re walking, you stub your toe. That’s your body sending a signal to your brain that there’s danger. Don’t do that again. Um, maybe you scraped your arm. That’s your arm sending a signal to your brain saying, definitely don’t do that again.
But what happens is let’s say if you stub your toe 10 times in a row over a day, now your brain is anticipating that. Now your brain is sending signals to your foot throughout the day. It’s not the other way around. So the pain is no longer in the foot, but your brain is constantly bombarding your foot as a way of like be careful.
So that’s chronic pain. So acute pain is your body sending pain signals to your brain. Chronic pain is your brain sending signals to your body. Now the thing is with both of these types of things, we can’t really tell a difference sometimes.
[40:59] Liz: It’s pain, it feels terrible.
[41:01] Miguel: Because at the end of the day, what is pain?
Pain is a process that happens in your brain. But what you gotta realize is where did that signal originate from? Was it from the body or the brain? So for me, when I was having all my symptoms, my heart palpitations, when I thought, you know, my lungs were shutting down. That was my brain. That was happening to my brain.
We did all the scans. My all my organs were completely fine. It was just the brain coming up with all these problems. And like I mentioned earlier with stress, everything seems a lot worse than it is. So you’ll feel a small thing. Maybe your chest will get tight to hear something, boom, instantly heart attack.
Your brain will come up with these kinds of things. And I’ve thought that hundreds of times. I thought I was literally having a heart attack. Hundreds of times.
[41:45] Liz: I did, too. I was born with a unique heart. So I was really, it was really scary in the first year and a half. And POTS [Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome – rapid heartbeat from going from sitting to standing] was a thing for you too, right? Yeah.
[41:55] Miguel: Yeah.
[41:56] Liz: And there’s now research that’s actually showing that [42:00] CFS is driven by sympathetic nervous system over activation. And of course there’s downstream effects. I know scientists are looking into the mitochondria, they’re looking into messenger cells.
But if we continue to go upstream, it is being driven by sympathetic nervous system over-activation, so I’m really glad that you really break this down for us. And I loved your channel, how you break it down. So…
[42:29] Miguel: Yeah, thank you.
[42:29] Liz: knowing what’s driving the issue is a start, but how did you begin to make some small steps?
To get into that parasympathetic rest and digest mode that’s helpful for healing and health.
[42:44] Miguel: Yeah. So for me, one thing my doctor said that would really help with my recovery is medication. And for me, my whole life I’ve hated big pharma. I hated medication, even though I say I like to eat healthy, but, no, I was eating [43:00] like protein bars and stuff, but I just didn’t want to take any these medications.
Right. But he was like, okay, so there’s three ways your body can heal, or there’s three steps. One is just to let your body breathe a little bit. We need to take pressure off the nervous system, and that’s with medication. So it was a, it was an antidepressant. And then he made it very clear to me. He was like, look, I’m not giving you this because you’re depressed.
I’m not giving you to like just zombie you out. This is specifically to take pressure off your nervous system, and it’s to allow your body to just breathe and let it recover a little bit. We need to get you out of that fight or flight mode. So we’ll get you on this. That’s step one.
So that actually helped so much. Um, so it was the antidepressant, but it was also an anti-anxiety just in the first month. So it was Ativan like the first three or four days. That’s the more powerful one. And when they gave me, that was the first time I slept in like weeks, but I felt it I’m like, you know, this could get addicting, so I don’t want to stay on this for [44:00] long.
[44:01] Liz: That’s an important point that you say that. So, and you made sure that you weren’t upping the dose, you actually started to decrease the dose.
[44:09] Miguel: Exactly, exactly. Cause I made it clear to him, I don’t want to be hooked on stuff forever. I don’t want to be one of those people that had to take medication forever.
My goal was to be a normal again, but if this helps me get there, I’ll, I’ll happily take it, just give me whatever. And he was like, yeah, don’t worry. Trust me. This is only temporary. You’ll be off this, all this stuff shortly. So he gave me the antidepressant also gave me anti anxieties, but that really helped my body even just have like a restful sleep at night and, um, calm everything down.
But the second part, second step to that recovery was dealing with somatic symptoms. So this is the brain retraining stuff. So he had me read this article. It’s Dr. Moskowitz. This guy, he studied chronic pain and even found cures to it. But essentially what they say is with chronic pain [45:00] and chronic anxiety, things like this, you have to see every episode of that pain or that experience, any of that negative stuff around it.
You need to see it as an opportunity to better yourself as an opportunity to change. So now every time I was feeling these symptoms like headaches, or, you know, shortness of breath, high heart rate, I would actually get a positive feeling in my brain or positive feeling everywhere. I’d be like, yes, this is an opportunity for me to rewire it.
So as soon as I felt all that stuff, and I was aware of it, I’d go ask for like a cookie or something, you know, cookie, or like they had snacks around there.
[45:38] Liz: I love that.
When I was doing brain training, I’d actually read this book, The Energy Codes by Dr. Sue Morter. And it’s just about, you know, processing emotions and stuff. But a key part of the book is looking at these challenges as opportunities. And that really switched for me because [00:46:00] sometimes when people enter brain retraining, okay.
They have a symptom, and then they have negative thoughts. They kind of almost punish themselves, and it’s like, oh no, we’re seeing this is the opportunity.
[46:12] Miguel: Mm hmm, a hundred percent.
[46:14] Liz: And it’s that growth mindset.
[46:17] Miguel: Yeah.
[46:18] Liz: Yeah.
[46:18] Miguel: So the brain retraining, he made two things. He put an emphasis on two very important things. One, you must see every episode of pain or symptoms as an opportunity to retrain the brain.
So when you feel that stuff, this is an opportunity to reroute your thoughts to something else. So that’s one.
Number two is you need to understand that like for a lot of people, it takes four to six weeks. It could take four to six weeks without seeing any changes for it to actually work. So it’s not going to work with immediately.
Right. So a lot of people, they’re like, well, how do I retrain my brain if I’m feeling all this pain? I’m like, I don’t know, get a jolly rancher because those last long. That’s what I [47:00] used when I was in the hospital or a cookie, good food. So you’re feeling all this stuff, but then you’re eating this thing and you’re focusing on how good that tastes, what the texture is like.
You just feel it melting in your mouth, your brain can’t process two things at once, for the most part, two big things at once. So you need something that is just as stimulating as that pain. So jolly ranchers are like, perfect. I’m not saying go out and eat like a whole bag of them, but jolly ranchers because they last very long.
So I would, I would have these things and just really focusing on them. Instead of trying to redirect my brain to those things.
So that was step two in recovery.
So number one was the medication to let my body breathe a little bit, helped me hit the reset button. Number two was dealing with somatic symptoms with brain retraining, and really that’s just rerouting the brain from the pain, but also knowing that you’re still gonna feel all those symptoms and, you know, make sure you don’t get down about it if nothing’s working.
Because for me, even [48:00] when I was in the hospital, and I was still getting better, the symptoms would still come back. They would come in waves, but it would get better and better every time. But even though my doctor specifically told me multiple times, like you’re going to feel these symptoms again and you’re going to feel, but it’s never going to be as bad as it was.
And you’re going to, you’re going to start questioning things. Cause when that stress and those symptoms comes up.
[48:21] Liz: When the symptom creep, you start to get like, oh no and you question. And that’s the opportunity.
[48:28] Miguel: Exactly, but I needed a lot of that reinforcement from him. So I’d be telling him like, “Hey, I’ve been walking around way more.
I don’t know if my calves are sore or if I have a blood clot in my leg.” And he was like, “No, no, that’s your mind jumping to conclusions. So remember that magnifying glass, your calf hurts right now because you haven’t used those muscles in almost a year, but your mind is telling you that you have a blood clot.”
And for me it was so real. I’m like, “Oh my God, I have a blood clot, a hundred percent. Well not a hundred percent. I was like, I’m pretty sure I have a blood clot.” He was like, “No, remember your mind is playing tricks on you. But just remember stick to the [00:49:00] course.” That’s why it was so helpful to draw all these diagrams every single day so I could drill into my brain. So no matter if I felt good or bad, I was writing these ideas down to cement it in my brain. So now I understand it inside and out, and it helps me in all other areas of life, even with my business today.
[49:18] Liz: I love it. And so one of the things you drew was the spiral staircase.
[49:22] Miguel: Yeah. So the spiral staircase analogy, a lot of times during recovery, you know, you’ll start to get better, but then you’ll, you’ll push yourself and of course your body needs to adjust. It’s going to start feeling some symptoms when you do a little bit more activity. It’s similar to a spiral staircase because the thing about a spiral staircase, you’re going in a circle, but you’re going higher and higher every time.
So even though it feels like you’re in the same spot in your recovery.
[49:51] Liz: Symptom like…
[49:53] Miguel: Yeah. So for me, even maybe a year and a half after I got over the hospital, I would still get some headaches. I’d still get some palpitations, but it doesn’t mean I’m back to where I was.
It’s like, I would feel the same symptoms again, but look how much higher I am. So it feels like you’re going in a circle. But if you really look at it, you’re able to do so much more during your recovery. So maybe week one, you walk to the washroom and back and you feel like trash, right?
And you get some symptoms, get some headache, get some palpitations. Well guess what? Two weeks later you walk to the backyard and back, you’re still feeling the same, but look how much more you did. And then you just build that and build that. Obviously you want to push yourself a little bit, but then pull back before you start feeling symptoms, to let your body breathe a little bit.
[50:43] Liz: That’s very well explained. I love that analogy. I think we’ve covered some really good stuff.
[50:51] Miguel: It’s funny. I was actually talking on the phone with him yesterday. I had a phone call. We talk every three months. I told him about this YouTube channel.
And I was like, look, I have so many [51:00] people asking who this mystery doctor is. So I would love to come in and interview if you’re up for it, because so many people need to hear your messages. Like, “oh yeah. I didn’t know there were this many people who struggle with this.” I’m like, “yeah.
There’s people in Australia, UK, South America, everywhere. This is seems like a very common thing that’s happening.” And I think it’s because of the technology revolution, the amount of stressors where our brains are just not used to it. But he was like, yeah, just let me know a time. So we’re going to get to hear from the legend himself.
[51:29] Liz: I’m so looking forward to that on your channel, and I’ll put that information below here in the description, so people can subscribe to your wonderful channel. Yeah.
[51:40] Miguel: Thank you.
[51:41] Liz: So he said, you’d be better in three months, but he also said in the first six weeks, you might not see much of any progress. So how soon did you start to see results by these three things, which were getting on the SSRI’s for a little bit, the brain training, and the [52:00] third thing, what was the third thing?
[52:01] Miguel: Yeah, the third thing was actually building thresholds. So restructuring my whole life to make sure that I’m not stacking all these stressors on top of each other. So either just remove the stressors. You know, working 12 hours a day, gone, eating horrible, gone. So I just had to take all those stressors and kind of restructure them or remove them if they weren’t serving me in the longterm.
But, um, I started getting better very quickly actually. He was surprised. He told me that most people he’s worked with, they don’t want to recover bad enough to the point where they’re willing to accept all this information and digest the information and really understand it.
But when I came in, I was eager to learn. I was eager to change, and I was willing to do anything to change. So anything you told me, I absorbed it like a sponge. So I was actually able to start getting better within that week. Um, within the week of doing the brain retraining stuff and getting on the medication.
I think the most important thing was the brain [00:53:00] retraining. Within one week of getting to this psychiatric ward, keep in mind, I had to get wheelchaired there. I couldn’t even push the wheelchair myself. Within a week, I was using the wheelchair on my own, laughing and the whole day, you know, meeting people a week after that.
So two weeks in, I was able to move up to a walker. I remember one day, I’m just in my wheelchair, go up to get food. And then next I turn around, they’re taking my wheelchair away. I’m like, “Wait, what are you doing?” And they bring out a walker. They’re like, this is yours now. And I was like, “Are you sure I can do that?”
They’re like, yeah, just try. Wheelchair’s gone. I’m like, oh man, they’re pushing outside of my comfort zone. Uh, I thought I need to be in a wheelchair for at least a month. They took it away within a week. So I was able to move to a walker, walked around on that for about a week.
And then, you know, it was little by little, I would use a walker, walk somewhere, sit down, chill out for a couple hours, but within a week of that no more, they just took the walker away. [54:00] And then I was like, “Where’s my walker?” They’re like, “You don’t need that anymore. And then, so I was able to walk around using my legs.
And then for that week, my legs were so sore. It felt like I had squatted like 300 pounds just from walking around. Cause my legs are so deconditioned. And then on about after that, so after three weeks, they were like, “Well, guess what you get to go home this week.” I was like, “No way, really? So, I was discharged from the hospital one day after my 24th, 23rd birthday.
But I remember just going home. I was just so grateful. I felt like I was in a new world. It was a different world than what I came into the hospital with. Because like, my mindset was different. I’ve learned so many new things and it, it wasn’t like I was going back to the same world I came from, it was like a new lease on life.
And just being able to do simple things, like being able to walk outside and go sit by water. It was so nice. And the great thing is once you start to do all these [55:00] new things, not new things, but all these things you used to do, you have a way deeper appreciation for it.
So like the day I got out, I think the day after my dad took me to White Spot a restaurant here in Canada, we had a burger for the first time in over a year. I was so happy. I still have a picture of it. Um, I was just so skinny, and then I got to play with my dog the first time a year, I got to watch a movie for the first time in a year.
Everything was new. And I was so happy. I think even if I compare to now that I’ve never been that excited about life because everything was brand new. And I think that excitement and that positivity, and like when you can’t wait to wake up the next day and just breathe fresh air. I think that’s when you’re in a real place of healing.
[55:48] Liz: I know exactly what you mean and yeah. And I’m trying to get back there cause I’ve been recovered for about a year or two now, and that magic when you first start to improve.
[55:59] Miguel: It’s [56:00] the magic.
[56:00] Liz: and I’m trying to recreate that now. Cause I noticed myself get back into the digital world and I’m like, you know what?
Let’s spend time in nature.
[56:10] Miguel: Yeah.
[56:10] Liz: You’re now a very successful video producer. Can you talk about your transition to your life now and how you’re finding balance in your life?
Do you do any recovery practices that you did when you were on your upward trajectory, do you apply anything still today?
[56:29] Miguel: So, yeah, I have a video production company now. It’s funny. I actually got into it after I got sick. Because I was eight months, I was just meditating, had all these ideas in my head when I got better, my head was exploding with ideas.
So I started making videos. People like them, eventually it turned from a hobby to actually getting paid for videos maybe four months after I got out of the hospital. But yeah, I think now, I’m not doing it to try to impress other people or try to be the best. I do it because I like it, [57:00] because I enjoy it.
And so now, I don’t mind sitting at my desk and creating this cool content. I could do it for 12 hours in a day, but it won’t feel like work. It feels like playtime to me. And it’s because I’m seeing it from a different perspective. I’m not spending time at the whole day thinking I gotta beat everybody else.
I gotta be the best I can be. I have to do this and that. No, now it’s like, I get to do this and that. I get to do all this stuff. And it’s like, everything’s optional for me now, because I know I can survive on a pretty bare minimum if I was able to survive those eight months, um, without all this crazy stuff, then everything right now is just a bonus.
And that’s how I see it. Literally every day when I get a little bit stressed out or face a problem, I’m like, “Remember, you could walk away from any of this at any time, and you could go just enjoy yourself.” And so I always carry that with me, because everything is like a bonus. I’m like every single day, I think, you know, I could very well not even be here right now if I didn’t find the right doctor or [58:00] didn’t meet the people I needed to meet to get better.
So it’s just approaching everything from a place of gratefulness. So that’s the mindset stuff.
On the physical side of things it’s just making sure I actually have good nutrition.
So six months after I got out of the hospital, I gained like 40 pounds because I was distracting the pain symptoms with food. But now I’m at a place where I can exercise a bunch.
I make sure I’m prioritizing my health and my mindset. So I try to eat healthy, drink lots of water.
I haven’t had coffee in six years. Not even an energy drink, and I don’t even want to, because I’ve seen what it’s like to have just a sharp mind, and I don’t ever want to go back.
I have so much energy throughout the day. There’s zero brain fog. I sleep amazing like a baby.
So it’s not even tempting for me to go back now that I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum.
It’s like, I want to feel good because I know what it’s like to feel like absolute crap. So I would love to feel [59:00] healthy. I would love to have energy throughout the day, and when my body’s too sore and my body’s feeling run down, I just take an Epsom salt bath.
In terms of the brain retraining, I think throughout the day, whenever things are tough, and I tell myself, “no, I’m super grateful for all of this. This is icing on the cake. This is like a bonus in life.” That in itself is kind of like brain retraining because you’re looking at situations that would be stressful to other people and would be stressful to you, but you’re like changing the angle on it.
So just being aware of that, anytime I find myself thinking negative, I catch myself, and I’m like, remember you shouldn’t be here right now. You’re lucky so, and then I’m like, yeah, I’m pretty happy.
[59:43] Liz: So what are some of the things that you’re doing in life? I know you told me you were in Hawaii, hiking the mountains there.
Um, and now you’re able to be with your girlfriend, versus, you know, holed away in a hospital.
[59:59] Miguel: Yeah. [1:00:00] Well, pre COVID we traveled quite a bit. We went to Mexico twice in one year. I went to New York that year.
I went to Hawaii that year, and it was just epic. I even went to Texas and Utah for some video gigs. San Jose, LA, all that stuff. And every place I traveled to, I just remember back to me sitting in that hospital bed, thinking it was over, like, I thought that was the end of the road, and I was at peace with it, too.
I was like, I accept it. I’ve lived a good life. Like, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done, and to be able to go do all these things and then look back, like, I thought that was the end, but that was just the start. That was the new beginning.
And now I’m so grateful all that stuff happened because, I live life so much better than I did before, but right now I’m doing the 75 Hard program. I feel like it’s a way for me to challenge myself again, but also to get that excitement and really live with intention and purpose every single day.
Cause I found it, you know, I was working a ton.[01:01:00] A lot of times, if you’re doing stuff day to day, repetitive things, you almost feel like you’re on autopilot. So I wanted to change that, and I wanted to really prioritize my health.
So I’m doing this program right now, 75 hard. Three years ago, literally, if you told me that I would be doing this program, I thought it would be impossible, but essentially it’s one weight training session a day or one workout a day, and then one outdoor workout today. So each week I’ll probably run eight to 10 kilometers. I’ll swim a ton, lift a lot of weights.
I’m waking up early, eating healthy. So it’s like a new way to level up in life. But…
[1:01:37] Liz: It’s not like running a marathon every day. It seems like if you’re have the good sleep, in that circadian rhythm, eatin’ healthy, that this is really supportive of your health right now.
[1:01:50] Miguel: Exactly. And just prioritizing the two workouts a day because in order to get that done, you need to eat healthy and drink lots of water.
When you eat healthy and drink [1:02:00] lots of water, you have more energy. You’re able to do more stuff throughout the day.
And when you’re putting that much effort into that stuff, you’re like, okay, I don’t want to like waste it and sleep late. So now I keep my phone outside my room.
[1:02:10] Liz: I do that, too. I sleep with my phone in the kitchen. So you do that, too. Yeah.
[1:02:15] Miguel: Yeah. I just started a week ago, and I should have done this 10 years ago.
[1:02:20] Liz: Yeah. I try to get up with the sunlight yeah now.
[1:02:23] Miguel: Yeah. I do have a sunlight, like a, what is it? A Verilux light in my room. So it mimics the sun so you wake up more naturally.
[1:02:32] Liz: Oh I love that.
[1:02:34] Miguel: Yeah. Himalayan salt lamp in the room.
[1:02:37] Liz: Oh nice.
[1:02:38] Miguel: It’s like my Zen area.
[1:02:40] Liz: Yeah. I love it. Do you have any other little gadgets or anything?
[1:02:44] Miguel: I have an… oh, ooh… this really helped me, when I first got outta the hospital, acupressure mat.
[1:02:50] Liz: Ooh.
[1:02:50] Miguel: Acupressure. It looks like a yoga mat, but there’s a bunch of spikes on it. Yeah.
[1:02:55] Liz: Katie, one of my previous interview people, she has one, gotta check these out.
[1:03:01] Miguel: Those are awesome because it’s like a different kind of pain. It teaches your brain to turn the pain off and on because when you lie on it or stand on it, it hurts a little bit. It’s like prickly, but it helps your brain differentiate between real pain and chronic pain.
Because once you get off of it, the pain goes away. Then it makes that connection like, okay, that’s real pain. The other stuff is not actually acute pain.
[1:03:25] Liz: Yeah. I love that for, yeah. And then of course there’s all those acupuncture points, too.
[1:03:31] Miguel: Yeah exactly.
[1:03:32] Liz: So it helps in multiple ways.
[1:03:34] Miguel: Yeah.
[1:03:34] Liz: Wonderful. So any final takeaways you want to share with people today?
[1:03:42] Miguel: Yeah, for sure.
For people watching this right now, if you’re in a dark place, and you feel like giving up and you feel like there’s no hope, you feel like there’s no way of getting better, there’s no answers out there, and you feel like you’ve exhausted all your resources.
You tried everything. Trust me. I was that exact person. [1:04:00] Four years ago, I was that exact person actually for four to five years, and I had lost all hope. I was depressed. I was anxious all the time, and I felt like life would just pass me by. And I felt like I was in a small bubble, but looking back now that I’m better.
It was, It was the best thing that ever happened to me. And it’s hard to understand that now, but what I would suggest, like literally today go write a letter to your future self, just telling your future self, explaining how grateful you are that they stuck it out, that they managed to get through this challenge in life.
I did that when I was sick. I’d wrote tons of letters to myself and it, it kind of kept me going and made me want to, it’s hard to explain.
Now I’m so grateful that my past self wrote these letters, and you’ll be able to look back when all of this is said and done, and you’re better, you’ll be able to look back at those letters and be like, holy cow. Like I had it within me the whole [1:05:00] time. Um, and it’s going to be an epic, epic feeling.
So write that letter today of all the stuff you want to do.
[1:05:08] Liz: I absolutely love that Miguel. And your story is just so powerful. And I know your grandpa is just looking down on you and must be so proud of where you are right now, and that you are sharing your knowledge and hope with other people because you’ve been at rock bottom, then you’ve hit another rock bottom, hundreds of times.
And now you are here living your best life, and giving back to the world. I really appreciate you coming to my channel and sharing your wisdom from your journey. Yeah.
[1:05:46] Miguel: Yeah. Thank you. That was a lot of fun. Uh, I don’t think I’ve ever told my story in this much depth, so it’s really good to get everything out.
It makes me relive a lot of the stuff, but also appreciate how far I’ve come and how epic of a journey it is. I’m actually working on a [01:06:00] book right now to tell this whole story, but to fill in the gaps like psychiatric ward, that could be a whole chapter.
[1:06:08] Liz: I know uh these people, and then the laughter and just being silly and yeah.
You were ready, and I think it was a turning point for me, too. With the brain retraining, it’s like putting the ego aside and just having a new perspective and saying, why not? Let’s just give this a shot. And it did start to work for me, too.
[1:06:34] Miguel: Yeah.
[1:06:35] Liz: Well, this has been so great. I hope you have a good rest of your week and good luck with the Hard 75. I got to check this thing out. I don’t know if I’m going to be lifting heavy weights every day, but
[1:06:47] Miguel: yeah. Yeah, you don’t have to go hard.
[1:06:49] Liz: My 3 pound weights.
[1:06:50] Miguel: You don’t have to go heavy. Yeah. That works. Just some kind of exercise.
It’s not even just the physical transformation. It’s the mental, you changing your mentality of saying you’re going to do something and then you [1:07:00] do it.
[1:07:00] Liz: Oh, yeah.
[1:07:02] Miguel: It’s a mental toughness program. Not so much a physical program.
[1:07:05] Liz: I like that. Cool. This is so good, Miguel!
[1:07:08] Miguel: Yeah, that was awesome. That was so cool.
[1:07:13] Liz: This was really good.
[1:07:14] Miguel: That was lots of fun.
[1:07:16] Liz: Yeah. I was like tearing up and
[1:07:19] Miguel: Yeah, especially uh man, cause there was a whole section, too, that I left out with my grandpa. I was doing a lot of meditation. He actually visited me the day he passed away and like literally he was, I felt him. I felt him talking to me.
What’s even crazier is two months prior to that, I was having these crazy visions and dreams. So I would draw them all out. And then one of them actually have a right here. I’ll show you.
I drew someone passing away in a hospital and their soul going up to like the second floor. And it’s crazy as my room in ICU was directly above his room where he passed away.
But I, I drew it like [1:08:00] two months prior.
I don’t know if you could see that. So there’s this guy who’s really religious too. So there’s like a cross on the wall. And then there’s like
[1:08:12] Liz: And you drew this two months prior.
[1:08:16] Miguel: Yes. Two months prior.
[1:08:17] Liz: To both of you being in the hospital, when he passed away from his stroke, and you were there in the ICU, and then you were wheeled down to say goodbye to him.
[01:08:29] Miguel: Exactly. And there’s like, there’s a baby here, someone holding a baby. So I remember at the time drawing it, it’s like, I don’t know something like a rebirth, but it’s kind of makes sense. Cause I was like my new, my new life. I also drew, whereas I got to show you, this is insane.
Oh yeah. I drew this two months before he passed away. So you can see this.
[1:08:49] Liz: Oh, put it a little bit lower. Yeah. I can see it now. Are those like the Chakras.
[1:08:54] Miguel: Yeah, these are Chakras and there’s a figure here walking into light that’s glowing.
So when he visited me, he was telling me like, it’s all going to be okay.
He was laughing and jolly. He was just like, make sure you take care of Lola, which is my grandma, his wife. Makes sure you take care of her when I’m gone, but you’re going to be, you’re going to be all better. And then he went beside me and hugged me and my whole arm got cold and my dad was in the room.
I was bawling my eyes. I’m like, Dad, come here. I see Lolo, my grandpa. And then, he felt it, it was cold. And then all of a sudden, it literally looks like he saw ghost. Lights in the room were off, the hallway light was on. And the room, got dark, almost like someone’s standing in the door. And then he was just saying, bye.
I gotta go say bye to everybody else. Then he walks off, and I see them literally walk into the light, like what I drew. Well it’s crazy is when I got better, two months after I got out of the hospital, my grandma got cancer, but then I kept hearing him saying to me, like, make sure you take care of Lola, remeber, I told you.
So then I would bring her to chemo and all that. And she’s better now. It’s crazy. Crazy. [1:10:00] That’s just one of the spiritual experiences. So there’s, uh, it was a crazy journey that whole year was a very intense.
[1:10:10] Liz: Thank you for sharing that with me and Miguel, that is so powerful.
And I actually, so this is my grandpa and he actually, before, the day before I discovered my brain route training program, actually two days, he had passed away and I think. I would just randomly stumbled across it. And I mean, I had to do a lot of things to heal, but that was the missing piece for me.
And I think he was looking down from above and,
[1:10:40] Miguel: and gave that to you, gave you the solution, right?
[1:10:44] Liz: Yeah. My grandpa, Johnny V. Yes, he was the best. He always was asking about golf, too. Yeah. Well, he wasn’t golfing cause he was in his nineties. Bu he was like, “How are you hitting em?”
And I would have to lie. Cause I didn’t want to [1:11:00] say, “Well, actually I’m on the couch grandpa.” I’d just be like, “Yeah, I’m hitting them great.” But now I can, you know, hit the ball.
[1:11:07] Miguel: Did you find you had like a special connection with him or like he was present.
[1:11:14] Liz: I did.
Yeah. I did see him in little things, and I continue to do that and just his approach on life.
[1:11:23] Miguel: And I feel like after he visited me that same day, I was completely at peace with him passing because I think those last eight months of his life, he was just taking care of me. And the week that I moved out, that’s when he passed away. So it was almost like that was his last mission, and if I hadn’t come there when I did, he would have had a stroke any day as well.
Cause that’s when he started his blood thinners. But yeah, it was crazy. It made me a lot more spiritual too, because even today I feel like he’s watching over me and, um, I don’t feel that he’s gone. Like you almost feel them there. He was [1:12:00] there with me, helping me get better.
He even told me specifically was like, make sure you take care of your grandma when I’m gone. And then she gets cancer. I’m like, holy cow. He specifically said, take care of her. So I was driving her around. I don’t know. I don’t think my family believed me, when I told besides my dad.
Cause he was there, but they don’t believe me when I’m like, he visited me straight up, like straight up, visited me and told me all this stuff.
[1:12:24] Liz: Yeah. But when we’re on this jour…, it’s yeah, it’s hard to explain. Cause you, before you were just like, go, go, go probably not spiritual at all.
I really wasn’t maybe a little bit.
[1:12:34] Miguel: I dabbled in it, but not at this level.
[1:12:37] Liz: Yeah. And then you go through hell, then you have these powerful experiences, and then you just see things differently and you’re open to these experiences and also just the magic in life as well
[1:12:52] Miguel: Yeah. So now, um, yeah, I’m trying to get this message out to as many people, as many people as I [1:13:00] can.
Cause it seems like more and more people are struggling with something like this. Um, especially with being bombarded with lots of stimulus right in today’s world.
[1:13:10] Liz: And right now just the stress of Corona and quarantine. But we also have hope, too. And I think the tide is turning and now these stories are actually more of these stories are starting to come out.
This was great, Miguel.
[1:13:25] Miguel: really appreciate it. Um, this was awesome.
Part 2 of our interview
[1:13:35] Liz: I realized after chat, I had missed just a couple of things that I wanted to talk about. And one of them was, you said that success is measured by this one thing. What is it?
[1:13:51] Miguel: Yes. So my doctor told me “Your success is determined by how well you respond to symptoms.”
[1:13:59] Liz: Powerful. Yeah. How well you respond to symptoms. Of course, it’s more than that. And you share many things you did to heal, but if we’re going to boil it down for you, that was essential for you to change how you reacted and responded to symptoms.
[1:14:21] Miguel: Exactly. It all starts there. Like that’s where the brain retraining really begins.
You know, a lot of people ask me, what’s the secret trick. What’s the best training exercise will. It’s actually very simple. It’s just any time you have these symptoms and your mind starts to wander down a path, you have to consciously think about something else or. You know, have it not go down that same path of old thinking.
So whether it’s, you know, picking up something soft, petting your pillow or something, eating a jolly rancher to really get your bind away from its old patterns. That’s really what brain retraining is. You’re retraining it to go down a different route and it doesn’t have to be super [ complex. Yeah,
[1:15:01] Liz: I love that.
I love how you’re keeping it really simple, and that’s going to help so many people I do want to clarify. So it’s not that you’re like pushing your limits. Can you explain how you were able to brain retrain while increasing your capacity? When can you explain how you navigated that?
[1:15:20] Miguel: Yeah. So for me, I was very concerned that if I tried to do more things and push myself.
Ended up, back at square one, but my doctor, he told me, look, it’s impossible for you to go back to where you were, if you’re on this medication. So you have nothing to worry about. It may feel like you’re moving backwards and moving closer to the crash state, but you’re never actually gonna like crash. You’ll dip and that’s your body adjusting.
So for me, that gave me the confidence to go out and do a few more things every single week and then pull it back. So it’s really. Getting good at listening to your body. I mean, it’s such a generic, such a general saying and [1:16:00] term, “listen to your body,” but you want to push yourself outside your comfort zone just enough, and then pull back.
You want to get to the point where you start feeling just a few symptoms. Obviously you don’t go for like a sprint and then after you feel the symptoms, take it slow feeling symptoms is absolutely normal. So don’t let those scary. And for me, every time I felt symptoms, I was like, okay, this is an opportunity to retrain the brain.
It’s not something negative. So once he started associating those symptoms, it gives you the confidence to push yourself a little bit further. And then you rest, knowing that you’re healing and actually getting stronger. And then you go out again the next week or two weeks later, and then you push a little bit harder.
I wouldn’t even say push, I would say. Increase activity.
[1:16:46] Liz: Yeah. I like that term increase your activity. I love that.
All right. So now I also want to talk about stimulant threshold. So stimulants were part of your perfect storm that led to CFS. You didn’t have an acute onset. It was just a long time pushing yourself. And yeah, I had a viral onset, but I think I can pinpoint one cup of coffee. Like if I would have napped instead of just picked up that coffee and try to work.
I don’t want to trigger anyone by describing my feelings, but it was kind of what you described there. And I think it’s so important to get the message out about what stimulants can do. And you know, when you’re tired from, you know, not sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping during my onset from jet lag. But, um, coffee is the last thing you want to pick up.
So can you explain, you broke it down in one of your videos: your stimulant threshold.
[1:17:46] Miguel: So, I mean, your body has a baseline of just feeling normal and feeling regular, right? Some people’s is higher or lower, and this I’m talking about a baseline for stress. So what happens is when you start stacking on all these stresses in life could be finance, could be.
Physical work, nutrition, mentality, emotional stresses. Yeah. Those things take a toll and they decrease that threshold. So how do I kind of paint the picture here? Let’s say, let’s say this is your baseline. You’re swimming. Well, this is like water. Okay. So you’re up here. You have a very high threshold. So the more stress you have, your threshold becomes smaller and smaller and smaller until you’re treading water.
But with stimulants, that kind of amplifies everything because it directly stimulates the nervous system. And that’s something, you know, with CFS. It’s like the whole problem, at least for me was my nervous system was too overloaded. So adding stimulants was the absolute worst thing I could do. You know, I didn’t realize it at the time and we don’t realize it until it’s too late.
Like you said, it was not an acute onset, but it felt acute in my mind. But when I look back, it’s like, no, I was doing so many things. [1:19:00] I was taking lots of energy drinks, lots of pre-workout. Um, that kind of led me to this point, but essentially. Let’s say you’re treading water and you’re feeling more under the weather, more tired, low energy.
So that’s usually when people start to drink all these stimulants, so you’re already treading water. Now you’re adding even more stress. And then now you’re going to be sinking. And that’s when you start feeling the symptoms. When you start, you know, getting underwater deeper and deeper, longer, you are underwater or below your baseline.
But then the more tired you’ll be, the more fatigued you’ll be. The more symptoms you’ll have. Um, just because you’re under that baseline, your body can sustain it. So stimulants, I would tell people to just stay away from them, honestly, like if you want a real stimulant, not even a stimulant, if you want more energy, honestly, drinking water will give you the same energy that a red bull energy drink will give you.
Maybe not as intense. Exactly. It’ll be like [1:20:00] energy for. Six to eight hours versus energy for just 30 minutes. And then you feel absolutely horrible after. So that’s what I do now. You know, sometimes I go to the office with this marketing company and then everybody’s drinking energy drinks, drinking coffee, and I’m just chugging my water and I have more energy than them.
And I think so much clearer that I have no brain fog at all. So that’s what I have to say about stimulants.
[1:20:26] Liz: Yeah. It is a drug that most people use.
[1:20:30] Miguel: Yeah. Yeah. And it wreaks havoc on your adrenals, which is like whole nother topic, but essentially, you know, your body’s going to be in a constant, heightened state, constant state of high adrenaline, high cortisol when you drink these things, because it’s almost like synthetic energy.
That’s what he used to call it. It’s not real. If you’re a body was an energy source. These energy drinks are squeezing that sponge of energy out of you. So what happens when there’s no more energy in that sponge? And now that you got a real problem?
[1:21:02] Liz: Ooh, good analogy. And I know there are people, of course, who enjoy their cup of coffee I used to, and when everything’s balanced in your life, and it also depends on how well your body can process it, they do okay.
With a cup of coffee. Yeah. When you have all those stressors loading on top, it can overstimulate your nervous system. And I agree with you that, and for about 90% of the CFS cases I’ve seen, it seems to be driven by the nervous system.
[1:21:35] Miguel: Yeah. So by all means, you know, I’m not saying coffee is the worst thing ever or energy drinks.
A lot of people drink it and they’re completely fine, but chances are. If you’re watching this video right now, you probably shouldn’t be drinking coffee or stimulants.
[1:21:49] Liz: Yes. Yeah. I know sometimes it’s like for parents are like, well, I just have to drive my kid to school or something if they’re more of like mild, moderate case [1:22:00] but yeah, in the long run, it’s, it’s not ideal.
[1:22:04] Miguel: Having been someone who was hooked on energy drinks and stimulants.
Before I can tell you a hundred percent that. You know, getting off it is going to be very rough. If you stop cold Turkey, there’s like a detox phase. You will get migraines and headaches depending on how long you’ve been using those stimulants for. But after you come out of it, If you just start drinking tons of water and eating healthy, you’re going to have a different kind of energy, like real vibrant, healthy energy with zero brain fog.
So, you know, you could just literally get it from your tap. I mean, depending on where, on where you’re from, but yeah, just water. Yeah. Clean energy.
[1:22:45] Liz: This was so great. Miguel, I’m glad we could talk about this. I think, yeah, it’s a small part of recovery, but it can also contribute to this in the first place.
So I’m glad we talked about it.
[1:22:58] Miguel: Yeah. Awesome. I think we got to get the message to the people.