Emma Tierney is a gal after my own heart, championing the importance of focusing on a complete form of healing that considers the entire picture and uses the best options for you as an individual.
A working partnership of conventional and traditional medicine to find that sweet spot from which to heal.
I’m excited that Emma could join us here on Starbrite Warrior to share her experiences living with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and her ongoing quest for wellness.
Let’s do this!
A bit about Emma
Emma Tierney is a health and wellbeing blogger over at Consciously Healthy.
On a healing path from chronic illness, Emma writes about the lessons she has learned so far and shares insights into many areas of holistic healing.
Emma is a qualified Complementary Therapist and Reflexologist and is known by her readers for her honest and open, yet uplifting way of sharing her experiences.
At the inception of chronic illness there is a lot of fear and confusion. Can you describe the time you felt the most scared?
There is so much fear woven into the experience of chronic illness, especially when you’ve got a condition doctors can’t really help with. When there are no certainties.
I would say the time I felt most scared was definitely around the time I relapsed severely back in 2010 after having spent a few years believing I was fully recovered from ME/CFS.
Everything seemed to crumble around me overnight. I went from working full-time and leading a very ‘normal’ life to being bedridden and unable to even sit up or brush my own hair once again.
It was a terrifying time and I remember having extremely high anxiety continuously at this point in my life. Feeling so out of control of your own body is one of the most frightening things a human can experience.
Have you experienced a major turning point with your ME/CFS? If so, what was it and how did your life change?
I feel like I’ve had so many turning points it’s difficult to just name one! I’ll speak a bit about the most significant ones.
The first was when I was in my early twenties. I began to learn about the mind-body link and how much our thoughts can influence how we feel physically and emotionally.
I had spent many years feeling powerless being chronically ill. Then it was as if a new world opened up; I saw there were things I could do to help myself feel better and aid my body in healing itself.
I went on to do my hypnotherapy training and master NLP practitioner training in the years as I regained my health. It was a really powerful time in my life.
However, the most profound turning point has been more recent.
During the latest bout of illness, I’ve learned deeper lessons than ever before. I’ve always taken a holistic approach to my healing and although there are many physical aspects to this, such as having medical tests and focusing on nutrition etc, I have also done a lot of healing on myself as a whole.
I have explored things such as the strong achiever pattern that I can easily fall back into if I’m not careful. I’ve developed an awareness of how hard I can be on myself too.
I’ve done a lot of work around self-love and self acceptance and really peeled back the layers of why I believe I got sick again.
I feel like I’ve connected to my true self and values probably for the first time in my life. I believe that collectively, all of this is a turning point that will aid my healing in a profound way.
On your website, Consciously Healthy, you talk about knowing what it’s like to lose everything to chronic illness; to feel absolute despair and hopelessness.
But you also write that you, “..truly believe, that no matter how bad things get, or how many times you fall, that every single one of us has the ability to begin to turn things around.”
What have you done to overcome the low points and challenges in your journey?
Sometimes the only thing you can do to over come the most difficult times is to keep putting one foot in front of the other!
On the worst days, getting through each moment, step by step and just allowing myself to be human has been all I can do. Allowing myself to cry, to feel hopeless, but knowing deep down that these feelings always pass eventually.
Finding one thing to be grateful for each day has always helped me; that may be a pretty flower in a vase on the windowsill or a hug from a loved one. There is always something to be thankful for if we look hard enough, and this act of gratitude can lift our spirits a little.
The other thing that is essential in surviving something like chronic illness is holding on to hope. Healing is an innate response in the human body and we mustn’t forget that. So many people have healed from all sorts of illnesses. Recovery stories from ME/CFS are all over the place. I hold on to that in my darkest days and that helps.
And how do you make the most of the high points?
I embrace them and soak up every second. I make sure I spend this time doing something that is of value to me and those around me.
I love photography so I take lots of photos of happy moments. Of smiles, of my loved ones, of a pretty flower or my surroundings. Then, on the not so good days, I have my photos to remind me there are lovely moments and better days.
You advocate the benefits of taking a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing.
Your holistic approach doesn’t reject conventional medicine; rather, it focuses on a complete form of healing that considers the entire picture and uses the best options for you as an individual.
Can you share a little bit more about what this looks like in practice for you living with ME/CFS?
I keep an open mind and try to take a balanced approach to my healing.
For example, I am a huge advocate of healthy eating. I have a green juice or smoothie most days and I have a diet filled with nutritious foods. I aim to eat organic food where possible, but I wont deny myself a treat such as a piece of cake or dessert if I really want one.
I practise yoga and meditation and I also value the healing benefits of nature. Being around greenery and out in the fresh air is something I incorporate into my life as much as I can, even if this means a little sit in my garden.
I have tried numerous complementary therapies and healing approaches throughout my years with ME/CFS. Herbal medicine, Shiatsu and the Anti-Candida diet to name a few. Some have helped massively and some not at all.
I have fully embraced the importance of the power of the mind when it comes to healing the physical body. I’ve read many books around the subject as well as studying this on a professional level. I feel that what goes on inside your mind and belief system really does play a huge part in healing.
I work in a way that brings all of this together, doing what I can, when I can, but without becoming obsessive about it!
I am also open to Western medicine where necessary. To give an example, I recently discovered a problem with my thyroid. If I need to take medication to assist with re-balancing my thyroid, I won’t be opposed to this.
A holistic approach is a balanced approach in my opinion.
You spend your free time devoted to the things that inspire you and make you happy. What does this look like for you?
I like to spend my time doing things that lift my spirits up. I love spending time with my 2-year-old nephew, Fred. His beautiful nature and the funny things he says can bring sunshine into the darkest of days. We love going into cafes when I am up to it, and enjoying a piece of carrot cake together!
I also love Yoga. This has become a fundamental part of my life and the one thing that always brings me a sense of calm and connection. Sometimes this may just been spending a few minutes on the mat doing some gentle breathing exercises.
Other days I can do some restorative yoga. It helps ground me and bring me back into my body. I hope do eventually do my yoga teacher training at some point in the future, as soon as my health permits!
Gentle walks in nature and taking photos of flowers are some of the other things I love to do. Spending time with family and friends. I also love a good girly film. My Sex And The City box set has been a lifesaver during times when I’m stuck at home and want some light-hearted escapism.
Anyone living with a chronic illness knows it can be a roller coaster of a ride; oftentimes more heavily weighted towards the ‘wake-up-feeling-like-
My family and friends. Sometimes I get into such a fed up place with it all, that a bit of perspective on things from those who know me best can work wonders.
When we are amidst tough times, we can lose sight of the progress we have actually made, or the better patch we had last week/month/year.
Friends and family help me realise that better times do always come along eventually. They remind me to sit tight and ride out the bad weeks. They also cheer me up with a visit, a hug, a silly story or simply their presence.
You created Consciously Healthy as a “Sanctuary that is full of information on how to nourish your mind, body and soul…a place that is supportive, honest and shares the reality of healing.”
Can you describe how connecting with people through your website has helped you with your own healing journey?
One of the most beautiful things about writing my blog and running my website has been connecting with such wonderful people from all over the world. Peoples’ inner strength never fails to amaze me.
I was nervous at first about sharing my story. There was this idea in my head that I had to be fully recovered before I started anything like a blog. But I felt such a pull to do it. I’ve come a long way since those days when i was a lot harder on myself!
I quickly realised that I have a lot to share and whether I am fully recovered or not doesn’t change that! I have experienced so much during my time with ME/CFS and learned so much. It’s an honour to be able to share some of that with others on their own healing journey.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me. Using it as a way of connecting with and helping others feels a lovely thing to do.
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone who has recently had their world rocked by a chronic illness diagnosis, what would you say?
Have hope. Always have hope. Whilst there is breath in your lungs there is hope. You will find a way through this.
Allow yourself room to be human, to cry, to feel scared and know it is all normal. Reach out to people around you and let them support you. For a long time I struggled to do this and pushed people away, but allowing people in is such a healing thing to do. A hug can make so much difference.
Educate yourself and learn to trust your intuition when it comes to your own healing path. There are so many conflicting opinions when it comes to treatment but only you know your own body and what feels right for you.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other and know that things will get better….
Where can we find you?
And that’s a wrap! Thanks Emma!
Remember, if you would like to participate (be interviewed!) and have your voice heard and your blog featured, please drop me an email at bree[at]starbritewarrior.com and we’ll have a chat!
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Photo Credit (Featured Image): Pixabay
Photo Credit (Bio Photo): Emma Tierney
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