Sometimes, a Tantrum Is a Good Thing

Or, What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia?

I was finally having a tantrum. In dealing with about three years of being mysteriously disabled, getting diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and facing unhelpful doctors, my attitude had always been to stay focused and solve the problem. Just the solutions ma’am!

Then I discovered Jacob Teitelbaum’s book From Fatigued to Fantastic. He is a medical doctor who had conducted clinical trials on an effective protocol for treating severe chronic fatigue states. After all that time trying to explain to doctors how debilitating my daily experience was, he was describing it exactly without ever having met me. What?!

“Which part exactly is it that is bothering you?” my cousin Idunnu asked patiently from her office in Lagos, as I screamed and cried on the phone. Perhaps becoming a mother had taught her a thing or two about handling tantrums.

“I could have been better by now!” I yelled. All the wasted time, money and pain I’d spent trying this and trying that, then it turns out someone had done research on the cause and treatment of Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Apparently none of the many doctors I’d seen knew about this.

How is it that a person can be so debilitatingly fatigued as to be disabled? What is the cause of CFS/FMS in the bodies of 14.5 to 26.5 million people in the United States? Studies show that Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia numbers have exploded in countries throughout Europe and Africa, by 200 to 1,000 percent, during the past decade. Clearly I’m asking valid questions with worldwide applicability.

The short answer, according to Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., is overwhelming stress. This can be physical or emotional, sudden or gradual.

A simple way to look at fibromyalgia and CFS would be to view them as circuit breakers in a house. These breakers disconnect the electricity from the home’s wiring when electrical systems become overstressed. To solve the problem, you just reset the breakers. Your body’s “circuit breaker” does much the same thing, resetting after a stress with rest and proper nutrition. In CFS/FMS, however, it is as if a major circuit breaker, in this situation the master gland in the brain called the hypothalamus, has gone off-line and is not able to reset itself. When this occurs, rest is no longer enough to restore proper function. The ensuing fatigue forces the person to use less energy without the accompanying benefits that rest brings to a healthy individual.

– Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., From Fatigued to Fantastic!

Once hypothalamic dysfunction is triggered, it can cause a cascade of problems that leads to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia Syndrome (they typically occur together). Possible sudden onset triggers include viral, parasitic and bacterial infections, toxic exposures and surgery. Gradual onset triggers can be yeast overgrowth, hormonal deficiencies, chronic stress from personal relationships or work, and anything that disrupts sleep.

As I read through the chapter in Dr. Teitelbaum’s book that described the causes and triggers of CFS/FMS, I came to the conclusion that I was already living with various gradual onset triggers when I underwent major surgery, which then acted as a a final blow to my system.

It seemed to me that the root cause of the gradual onset of hypothalamic dysfunction in my body was chronic stress from childhood situations and relationships. Once these dynamics get set up, life has a funny way of presenting the same patterns over and over again, until the underlying emotional dysfunction is resolved. I needed to get brutally honest with myself about my childhood …

In the conversation that followed my international phone call tantrum, my cousin and I agreed that Dr. Teitelbaum’s book had actually come into my life at the perfect moment. The edition I was reading had only been published some months beforehand and it contained information that the author was presenting for the first time.

The next day I came to a page in another book that I happened to be reading. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross couldn’t understand why her very active, independent mother had spent a long time too ill to care for herself in any way before finally dying. In the middle of a meditation, the answer came to her.

“That was a gift to your mother,” the voice answered gently, “a gift of grace. Love must be balanced. If nobody were to receive love, who could give it? Your mother learned this in only four years, instead of coming back for one or several lifetimes severely retarded or physically impaired where she would have to accept the love of others. She has learned, and now she can move on.”

Hearing this and understanding the message, Elisabeth let go of her anger. Understanding can immediately heal our deepest pain.

– Brian Weiss, M.D., Messages from the Masters

I immediately scanned the whole story into my computer, and emailed it to my cousin.

8 thoughts on “Sometimes, a Tantrum Is a Good Thing

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    • According to Dr. Teitelbaum, the triggers that can overwhelm the system can come on suddenly or gradually. In my case, I had a sudden onset trigger with surgery but I also had prior gradual onset triggers from childhood relationships. These triggers, whether sudden or gradual, can be physical e.g. bacterial, viral or fungal infections; They can also be emotional.

      Does that help?

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