After 4 years of the push-and-crash cycle and seeing more than a dozen specialists, Victoria received the diagnosis of CFS. She was debilitated and mostly bed bound by that time. Things started to change when she searched out people who had recovered and learned from what they did. She began to make small percentage points of improvement, that accumulated over time, and allowed her health to improve dramatically over the following years. She is now mostly recovered, living a full life with her family, and enjoying her favourite hobbies of working out, traveling, skiing, and scuba diving. Through her training with the UK’s Optimum Health Clinic as a health coach, and with her YouTube channels and Facebook forum, she aims to help others on their recovery journey.
What is your advice to people who are just diagnosed?
Find a clinic or doctor to support you who is truly knowledgeable of ME/ CFS. They are out there! Don’t work with any doctor who says you can’t recover and have to live with it, or who minimizes the illness.
Find and listen to those who have healed from ME/ CFS, and understand how they did it. Learn what you can from them ~ there is always a gem to be found in anyone’s recovery story. Take what works for you, and let the rest go.
Who is/ are your biggest supporter(s) and what did they do?
My hubby supported me in so many practical ways, as did my mom. She would help pick up the kids from school and make vegetable juice for me, as well as host family celebrations in her home, so we could all be together. Another great support was my faith. Discovering the promises of God in scripture on healing, and finding encouragement through Him was truly the mainstay of my recovery!
What were the key elements for your recovery?
There were several elements addressing physical and emotional wellbeing.
Rehabilitative strategies. Learning how to stop the push-and-crash cycle, how to pace effectively, how to get support from others, and how to do restorative movement.
Incremental improvement. It took me a year to work up from a daily 3-minute walk to a 10- minute walk, yet from there, I progressed to being able to scuba dive and snow ski again. Slow and small beginnings can turn into great things.
Emotional Work. Learning how to listen to my emotional brain by setting boundaries, limiting exposure to toxic people, meeting my own needs, doing what was fulfilling for me in any given moment, and learning to trust my intuition.
Self-care rituals. Face massages, dry brushing, face masks, etc., went a long way to support myself while isolated. Now those are rituals that still enhance my wellbeing, I’m not letting them go!
Other important routines, like:
- Brain retraining
- Eating whole foods and juicing
- Finding a positive and uplifting community of people who were in pursuit of recovery (not focused on symptoms)
- Having a recovery buddy to help keep me accountable and share our findings and learnings
- Giving myself space and time to heal and not worrying about what others thought. This was my journey to make sense of, not theirs.
What do you do when you have a bad day, or feel one coming up?
When I was debilitated, I was mostly in bed every day, and most days were “bad days”. As I progressed in recovery, and frequently hit setbacks, I would “clear the decks” (take off any “to-do’s” on my list), order Greek salad with lamb chops for a good protein hit, and just deeply rest, usually with guided hypnosis and meditations, or a show that was light and enjoyable. My motto on a bad day was “I can always just go to bed”.
If I feel one coming up, at this stage of my health (which is very good), I’m usually pre-empting things with thoughts predicting a negative outcome. So I deal with those thoughts using brain retraining, replace them with positive predictions for the next day, and then give my body whatever it needs ~ whether that be rest, a fun activity that interest/excites me, or a good night’s sleep.
What good thing has your illness and journey brought you that you would not have had otherwise?
Friends and connections all over the world! Through my Facebook community and You Tube channel.
What is your go-to comfort food?
Wheatgrass! Love it for the energy and vitality is supplies. On a more cozy note, love my dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt!
What is the best and worst movie or series you watched while you were ill?
Best and worst was the same ~ Walking Dead!!
My teenage son roped me into it, as I hated the idea he watched it. I became an avid fan. I closed my eyes during the violent scenes, but found the characters so inspiring for my healing journey, because they were such badasses and never gave up when fighting for their lives ~ lol!
Can you share a quote, cartoon or inspirational message that cheers you up?
Ah! So many. I needed inspiration every day, and made a habit of surrounding myself with encouraging thoughts and words. One is by Victor Frankl, who survived a Nazi concentration camp:
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
– Victor Frankl
Also, so many Bible passages, like:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living
– Psalm 27:13
I also found such inspiration in Joel Osteen’s messages. So much he said encouraged me when I didn’t think I could keep going (which was often).
If you have to come up with a metaphor for CFS what would it be?
During the years, when I was severe with ME/ CFS, it felt like I was a Nazgul from Lord of the Rings ~ “Neither the living nor the dead.” I felt my life, and all that comprised it, had completely drained away, but I was left still breathing ~ neither living nor dying.
I think that’s why I’m so passionate to encourage others to know they can heal.
Please share a picture of you in your happy place
Victoria Ausonio is now in training with the UK’s Optimum Health Clinic as a health coach in NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), Hypnotherapy, and EFT. She desires to help others on their road to vibrant health through her two YouTube channels (CFS Warriors and Supernatural Warriors), and Facebook forum (CFS Warriors Academy).