Home / Blog Posts / Fatigue and the Black Dog / Diary of a Chronically Exhausted Vicar. Episode 37

In which pain and fatigue have begun to ease again, and hope has returned.

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar image

Years ago, the chiropractic technique of Network Spinal Analysis was introduced to me by a friend who had found it helpful in response to back pain, something from which I had by then suffered for 20 years. I have written before about how Yvan helped me find greater ease, wholeness, wellbeing (Diary Episode 12; ebbs and flows). What I learnt from this treatment was how to listen to my body, and that has helped me not only survive through the intense season of stress and horrid health in Edinburgh, but I’m sure informed the research I was engaged in during that season.

In the last diary episode, I noted how the fatigue was getting worse again. I was feeling physically hunched over, emotionally drained, cognitively washed out, spiritually desperate. I was feeling alone. I needed help.
Just as I had intuitively sensed that getting into the water would help manage the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue, now I sensed that Network Spinal treatment would be further help in response to the increasing intensity of the symptoms.

With what will be months, and could be up to a year, as solo minister in our large and complex parish ahead of me for 2020, I am aware of the risks of that increased responsibility weighing heavily on me. I will admit that I have been afraid of those risks. If I cannot carry the weight, if I crumble with the fatigue and have to take extended sick leave, the parish is without a minister at all. I know, there are retired and associate ministers around, but none of them are in a position to step in to fill that gap. I know, there are processes within the presbytery for providing supply ministers, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world, or even the parish. But it would complicate things, I would be letting them down, I would be unable to fulfil my responsibility to my community, and quite simply, I would rather not.

That is not the only source of my present fear. I am afraid of the anger. For I am angry; I am ANGRY at the Chronic Fatigue, at the situation, at my limitations, at the ways I am already unreliable because I have to pull out when the fatigue worsens. And I am afraid of the anger rousing the Black Dog and the Depression overcoming me again.

On my to do list last week was, find a Network Spinal practitioner. On Thursday, I sat in the consulting room of the chiropractor I found, and simply naming that fear, that anger, began to shift the weight of the burden I was carrying.
To be heard, to be seen, not only in the anger and fear and pain and fatigue, but in the application of what resourcefulness I could muster in the midst of all that, in the history of attentiveness to and care for my self – this, too, began to lift the weight a little.
To have a health practitioner affirm that yes, she can help me attend to the anger and the fear, help my system notice the knots of unease and begin to untangle them, reader, gave me hope. I am not alone.

I was back on Friday, and two sessions in just over 12 hours began to move energy through my system, loosen the tensions, already lift the pain and the fatigue. I have swum more freely in the past three days than I have for weeks. I have slept better. I have awoken more refreshed.
I have hope. 

I write this not to tell you all to go find a Network Spinal practitioner and get this treatment for yourself. Although I am certainly an advocate for this practice, no treatment option is the right option for everyone, or for every situation.
I do encourage you to keep trying different treatment options, if what you are doing now is not working.
I do encourage you to listen to your body, your spirit, your emotions: to pay attention to your whole self and what you are yearning for as you reach for wellbeing.
I do encourage you to NOT do it on your own: that is not how we are made, and it is therefore not a path to wholeness.
Take the time to seek out the help you need, the collaborators, supporters, encouragers, partners, you need, as you work towards your wholeness and wellbeing.