I Healed Myself From Epstein Barr Virus (EBV)
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I suffered from Epstein-Barr Virus and Chronic Fatigue for 10 months and it was the darkest time in my entire life. I got a glimpse into the world of chronic pain and chronic illness, and deep, dark depression. I had never reached such a low point before in my life.
Even though it was a tough journey, I learnt soo much about myself, about what I truly want and what I’m capable of. I accessed the entirety of my inner strength, even when I believed that I could no longer go on and my whole world was falling apart.
There were a few moments throughout the illness where my symptoms improved a tiny bit, but for the most part, my symptoms persisted right up until the very end. This meant I frequently lost hope, and couldn’t see that I would ever improve at all, and as time went on, my emotional breakdowns increased.
The longer I had symptoms, the worse I felt, even when I was actually improving ever so slightly.
It was the loneliest and most torturous time in my life. I couldn’t bring myself to contact my friends or family because fielding questions about still being sick would start off my first round of crying for the day. So I suffered in silence, avoided calls and messages, and before too long, many people in my life stopped reaching out.
I was worn down. Months of being asked if I was “better yet.” Plus, fielding suggestions that I was making it up by my family had stripped me of all the willpower and resilience that I once had. I stopped talking to them.
I did nothing, saw no one and spent every moment of life looking at my house, wishing that I could act on the urges to tidy, garden, cook and create - but not having the energy to do any of it. I would think about my business. All the ways that I craved to serve and help others, all the things I wished to create and release into the world, but I didn’t have to energy to fulfil any of them.
It was soul-crushingly painful. Devastating. Difficult.
Every few days I’d bounce between fiery optimism and willingness to do whatever it would take to heal myself, (my normal state of being) to utter despair and hopelessness. It was easy to maintain some hope during the times that I felt good, but it seemed impossible to feel hopeful when my fatigue and other symptoms were really bad, which came in waves every few days.
I am a strong person. I’ve been through a lot of shit. I’ve healed before. I have an annoyingly positive outlook on life. I believe in myself. But still, I slipped into depression, powerlessness and deep sadness because I was facing SO much uncertainty.
I would seek out other’s stories of recovery, only to find hundreds of stories from people who had been sick for years, with no signs of improvement. I felt trapped. I started to believe that maybe I would never get better.
As someone who is anxiety prone, my mental health is a bit flimsy, but for the most part I’m very functional day to day. But add in 10 months of chronic illness without any hope that I might improve, and my mental health deteriorated into disrepair.
I visited a place I had not known before, a place where I had no power, where joy couldn’t reside, and where suffering was all consuming. I had to give up so many things that lit me up, but my weekly nature walks were the hardest to let go of. I couldn’t even think about walking in nature without erupting into tears of heartbreak.
I was crying constantly.
Epstein Barr Virus took so much from me. It took everything it could get it’s hands on, until all that was left was mere survival. I could get through the bare essentials of parenting, running a business and self care, but nothing more than base level needs.
That 10 months was a time filled with more emotional pain than I thought I could possibly carry. But.... what a tremendous gift it was...
EBV took me on quite a journey. As a lover of self-improvement, I usually embrace an opportunity to find a hidden gift in a challenge, but for the first 6 months I couldn’t even fathom that my illness was anything other than pointless torture. There were moments when I tried to understand my situation more clearly, and take steps towards my own healing, but I felt blocked at every turn.
I felt conflicted between wanting to fight my illness and get better, and also wanting to make peace with it so that I could let go of the fight. I understood the struggle of chronic illness... The allure of the label, the diagnosis, the attachment to the do’s and don’ts. It helps you to feel safe, it makes it easier to deal with people who don’t understand, it makes sense - except it doesn’t.
I gave in to the labels and started hearing myself say things like “I have chronic fatigue” and “I have chronic illness.” Please don’t get me wrong here. I have no judgement whatsoever about how other people apply their own labels and explain their situation to the people in their lives. But for me, using the label of “chronic illness” felt easy, but it didn’t feel right.
I didn’t want my identity to be entwined with the illness.
But that’s easier said than done when you’re living it every day. None-the-less, I committed myself to keeping my inner fire alight, even in the pit of despair. That’s when everything changed for me.
Here are the details of my experience…
There are the symptoms that I experienced while I was sick:
Cold Symptoms (at the beginning)
Sore, Gunky, Red Eyes
Very Low Iron
Chronic Fatigue (inability to exert myself in any way without resulting in 1-2 days of severe muscle fatigue.)
In the 3 months leading up to my recovery, here’s a list of things that I was doing to support my health:
Juice - I drank celery juice most days for 5 months prior, and to be honest, I really didn’t notice any change in my symptoms or wellbeing at all. In the month leading up to my negative EBV DNA test, I just started juicing a combination of fruit and veggies and drank it in the afternoon in place of a snack. I don’t really know if this helped at all, but I was in a better mindset at this point. I had previously been frustrated that daily celery juice didn’t have any impact.
Monolaurin - I had seen a lot of people talking about this supplement, but I had completely lost faith in supplements, after having zero success taking loads of different herbs and vitamins throughout my EBV journey. But, I felt like the universe was guiding me towards Monolaurin. I kept seeing it and hearing about it, so I decided to order a jar of 90 capsules. I took 2-4 capsules a day, and I often experienced “die-off” symptoms like night-sweats when I took the higher quantity, followed by slightly greater energy as the days went on. After about a month of taking Monolaurin, I had no EBV DNA in my blood results. At first, it was hard to attribute the results to the Monolaurin as I was also taking some other supplements, but looking back I can see that Monolaurin was one that made a big difference.
Magnesium - Most people in the world are deficient in magnesium, but for me, it wasn’t about correcting a deficiency, it was about the laxative effect. Constipation is a common side effect of EBV, and I had it BAD. I’ll spare you the details, but my beloved Motion Potion, which had saved my life during my pregnancy, just wasn’t giving me enough relief. Thankfully though, magnesium, especially when taken as powder-mixed-with-water, has a laxative effect. This combined with a probiotic was a total winner. It probably didn’t help with my recovery, but it helped with my comfort!
Meditation - If you’re familiar with me and my journey, you’ll know that I’m a HUGE advocate for meditation! In the past I healed myself from panic disorder using mindfulness (ACT) and I’ve been creating meditation recordings to support and heal my clients for nearly a decade. As much as I knew and understood the benefits of meditation, I wasn’t really practicing it enough in 2018. A mere 10 minutes every now and then, was all I was doing. But when the new year ticked over in 2019, I found a new wave of determination and I committed to healing myself no matter what. I meditated for a minimum of 1 hour a day using a combination of tracks that I had bookmarked on the Insight Timer App, and some practices that I purchased from Dr Joe Dispenza. I had two goals when I meditated, one was to reduce stress and unhelpful emotions, and the other was to focus upon my desired outcome. I was unwavering in my commitment to daily practice. Once I did this, I was recovered within 6 weeks.
Reading - I’m an avid reader of self-help and personal growth books, but while I was sick, my brain fog was so bad that I couldn’t absorb the information I was reading. So I got an audible account, and I found that audiobooks were easier to absorb. I listened to most books twice just to make sure that I fully heard everything. The two books that were really transformative for me were You Are The Placebo by Joe Dispenza, and The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. I also enjoyed The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, but it’s a bit science-heavy and not for everyone. These books gave me hope, inspiration and reminded me that there is more to life than illness. As a result of these books, I became obsessive about healing myself. If you only do one thing from this post, please do this!
Accepting My Situation - Like I said before, it can be tempting to get attached to your diagnosis and the labels that go along with it, but that’s not what I’m talking about in regards to accepting my situation. As time went on, I started honouring my needs and making peace with my sitch. If I had fatigue, I rested. If I needed help, I asked for it. If I didn’t have enough energy to do the washing, I didn’t do it. And as I made these choices, I embodied grace rather than frustration. Instead of feeling devastated and crushed that I couldn’t walk around the markets with my daughter and husband, I honoured my body and enjoyed watching them from afar. I switched from disappointment to gratitude. A few years ago I wrote a book about this very concept. Once I remembered that I had everything inside of me to get past that disappointment, I found it easier each day to embody gratitude instead.
EFT / Tapping - Not sure what the heck I’m talking about? I share some detailed info about this technique in this video. Once I started using intentional tapping on the aspects of the illness that held a big (or huge) emotional charge for me, everything changed pretty quickly - in a good way! I’ve been using tapping for years, but in early 2019 I attended an EFT practitioner training by EFT researcher and author, Peta Stapleton. My intention was to learn techniques to use with my clients, but I ended up benefitting profoundly from the application of EFT as Peta taught it. In the workshop we did an activity where we used EFT to support goal setting. My goal was to be free from EBV by April 2019. I thought this was an unbelievable goal, but I did it anyway. And guess what?! I got my all clear test results on the 28th of March! I also used tapping to reduce the emotional severity that I experienced from numerous triggers while I was sick. If you’re new to tapping I highly recommend working with an EFT trained practitioner (I did this too). Find out here how to work with me.
Things I tried that Probably didn’t make much difference (Maybe):
Diet Changes - It’s really hard to tell what helped and what didn’t, especially when I had basically no change in my symptoms at all in nearly a year. If something is working for you stick with it! Prior to getting EBV I already avoided dairy, yeast and nuts and didn’t each much sugar. Once I started telling people that I had EBV, unsolicited advice began flying at me from all directions. Early on in my illness, I read Medical Medium and Liver Rescue which every man and his dog would recommend to me the very second I uttered the words “Epstein-Barr Virus”. I did try a few of the protocols from both books including celery juice, detox smoothies, and low fat/raw meals, but I didn’t experience any changes in symptoms. The most common suggestion that people kept hurtling at me was to give up eggs, so I did. I had been off eggs for about 8 months with no change when I decided to try them again. Thankfully I was fine. During the month I recovered, I was eating eggs, sugar, fats, gluten, meat and grains, and I was having veggie juice every day. It’s really hard to tell what worked and what didn’t, so I suggest listening to your body and trusting your instincts.
Supplements - The list of supplements recommended by Anthony William (who wrote the two books in the above point) is big enough to send you into a “how-the-hell-will-I-ever-afford-all-this-crap?”-melt-down. Seriously, the advice out there on supplements for EBV is confusing, overwhelming and often contradictory. My plan of attack upon my docs advice was to target my immune system with herbs and other supplements. I took a variety of different supplements for about 8 months with no change. Then I stopped all supplements and felt exactly the same. The only things I was taking in the last few weeks were monolaurin and magnesium. If a supplement is working for you, keep taking it!
High Dose Vitamin C - I tried this very early on in an attempt to get better before I needed to travel on a number of interstate trips. I had 2 x weekly IV infusions for about 2 months, but unfortunately I experienced no change in symptoms at all. I later learned that EBV somehow masks itself from your immune system, meaning that attempts to boost your immunity only leave you feeling more fatigued as your body tries to fight something it essentially *can’t see*. It didn’t work for me, but it might work for others.
Something that I pondered every day I was unwell was the question, “Why did I get EBV in the first place?” My doctor and I went back through my blood tests and could see that EBV had been present but inactive as far back as my tests went. So why did it suddenly activate and flare up in 2018?
I can tell you exactly why in one word…
Prior to my flare-up, I was in a constant state of stress. My stress was coming from a great many sources. I am a naturally highly strung and anxious person, so I often operate close to boiling point without even realising what’s going on. Then it doesn’t take much to tip me over the edge.
When EBV took hold of me, I had been in high-stress / survival mode for about 2 months. I am CERTAIN that my stress was the trigger for EBV to wake up.
But I’ve learnt my lesson. Meditation was a game-changer and I’m keeping up the daily habit even now that the virus is inactive. Maintaining a positive and peaceful state of being isn’t just a high priority, it’s essential to my wellbeing.
EBV shook up my whole world and I’m grateful for it. I believe that there is a gift or a lesson in every challenge. I must say that as the months went on, I was getting very impatient and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out the gift in my adversity. But, as I began to recover and gain my energy back, I realised what this illness had created that I never could have crafted for myself…
S P A C E
All of the plans I had for my business for 2019 had to be completely scrapped because I didn’t have the energy to get things together in time for the key dates in the calendar. It was hard to accept at the time, but once my body recovered and I had more energy to work, and I could feel this vast nothingness around me. I wasn’t in the middle of a running 12 month coaching program or facilitating live rounds of a course like I thought I would be. Instead it was just me, and a whole lot of S P A C E.
That space would never have existed if EBV didn’t smash me the way that it did… so I decided not to rush back in to “business as usual.” I sat in the space that had been created, and I asked myself some questions about what truly matters to me, who I am, and what I want to achieve. Without the noise and commotion of “business as usual” all around me, I could hear my inner voice with crystal clear clarity - and it said something completely unexpected… to put my business on hold and to further my studies.
Maybe I would have come to this conclusion on my own, maybe not. Maybe it would have taken me a few more years to hear the whispers of my heart, or maybe life would have always been too loud to hear them at all. Either way, I’m choosing to feel grateful for EBV and all of the growth it forced me into. Who knows where I’d be without it.
Meditation and Tapping are hugely beneficial for your overall wellness and are absolutely worth a try. There are lots of free resources out there.
Making peace with your situation, and finding gratitude will help you feel more optimistic. Honour your body and trust your intuition.
Seek out information that is helpful to you, and focus on the outcome you want. Read, watch or listen to books and material that is POSITIVE, uplifting and inspiring. Once I started reading stories about people overcoming adversity, I knew that the same was possible for me.
Pick yourself back up. Every time you feel discouraged, triggered or set back in any way, feel your feelings and take all the time you need - then when you’re ready, find that internal fire once again and use it to fuel your determination. It’s not an easy road, but the only way you’ll find your way to the end of it, is if you DON’T GIVE UP.
Focus on your mental health as much as, or maybe even more than your diet/supplement intake. If you have limited funds to put towards your recovery, make easy, affordable changes to your diet, and then invest in getting good support - from a nurturing doctor, naturopath, dietician, healer, meditation class or professional therapist. I did ALL of these things.
Love yourself. Remember that you are worthy, and that the world needs you.
Sending you so much love and healing energy.
A mindful note before you comment…
I wrote this post detailing my experience with EBV upon the request of many people still suffering from the virus. It is intended to share my story only. I understand that your experience may be different to mine or worse than mine. Honestly I do. I fully recognise my privilege regarding the care, food, supplements and support that I was grateful to be able to access. With that in mind, please be reminded that this is not a place to attack or compare in a “me vs you” style response. Hurtful and overly negative comments will be deleted, and users blocked. I know that you might be hurting as you read this post. I extend my compassion to you from the depths of my heart. I wish you wellness and healing.