Me, M.E., Me
In June 1999 my life was fantastic I had just got married to Marie and we were off to Mauritius on honeymoon. While there though, I became ill with gastroenteritis, which developed into hepatitis. I knew this was a serious condition when it took 10 days to even get well enough to fly home. However, I was told to “Take it easy” and that I would be better by Christmas, but this was not the case. Little did I know that this was to result in nearly seven years of suffering, which would mean I would be unable to leave the house without using an electric scooter.
Several months later I was made redundant after 20 years with the same company, which was obviously a real blow to my self-esteem. On St Patrick’s Day 2000, I was diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy), at the Royal Free Hospital, with the main symptoms being fatigue, muscle pain, brain fog and feeling overwhelmed. Strangely, I felt relieved when given the diagnosis, for surely in today’s advanced medical times what can be named, can be cured?
However, as I was to learn, no known cure for CFS exists and there is little understanding of the disease, both within the medical profession and the wider public. The medical advice I was given was to rest and to learn transcendental meditation – which I did and still value the learnings from doing so. I was fortunate that my local GP was forward-thinking enough to try both traditional and alternative therapies, including acupuncture and B12 injections.
From very early on, I tried almost everything in the alternative medicine field in my search for a cure. Partly, this was me searching for a cure that western medicine could not give me, and partly it was to prevent myself from accepting the role of the victim.
We moved to Bournemouth in September 2003 as Marie took up her first post as a newly trained Montessori teacher. We loved Bournemouth right from the beginning, and initially took in students in to help supplement our income but soon that became too much for me. In fact, the words “too much for me” became a regular part of my vocabulary from then on.
To keep myself busy, I initially committed myself to some voluntary work with Disability Wessex in 2004, helping answering the phones. That also became “too much”. Every six months I would have a medical review, and I was clearly deteriorating each time, despite increasing the regularity of my medication from two times a day to four times.
My turnaround started in May 2005. The director of Disability Wessex told me of a great free six week course called the Expert Patient Programme (EPP). I was inspired by the course and the people running it; with its focus being on people with long-term conditions helping each other with support and recovery. This course is still free and I would highly recommend it for sufferers, as well as their carers. This course inspired me to not accept my status as a housebound victim. Previously, I had even given up going to my local shops which were a mere 100 meters away, because I found it too exhausting. The course inspired me to get out of the narrow comfort zone of my home.
Once I finished the EPP, its organisers asked me to be a tutor. At the same time, I was told about funding that was available to those who needed to take control of their illnesses and get back to work. I realised that if I got this help, I could take charge of my life again and it would free up energy to become a tutor. In summer 2005, I was granted a personal assistant for 12 hours per week. In September, I bought an electric scooter. It was as instant success. Previously, I would go to the beach and sit on a bench while Marie walked on her own, but now we could do little trips together. I described this turnaround as like finally being able to watch a film, where previously I could only look at the poster advertising it outside the cinema.
Having had an interest in NLP (neuro –linguistic programming) therapy for a few years, I decided to start taking night school classes in it. I was blown away with the concept and inspired by the tutor. I also did my EPP (Expert Patient Programme) training and became a qualified tutor later that year – a role I continue to this day.
In Feb 2006, whilst listening to Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show, I heard a feature on the Lightning Process which had someone talking about how it had changed their life. Radio 2 had a follow-up in April, which was also very positive. I later tracked down people before and after they had taken part in the three day course to find out about the results they had achieved, and was then determined to give it a go. Marie and I decided to plan our annual holiday around me going on the Lightning Process course, and my true recovery began.
I arrived on the first day; exhausted as usual, along with a number of CFS sufferers. My life changed that first afternoon. I went home and did my homework and was then able to walk up a hill for the first time in six years. It felt fantastic, although I was a little worried about what this might cost me the next day. However, I woke up at 6am a new man; I had a refreshed sleep, new-found energy and even a desire to go for a run! I got up and walked and walked, for some reason singing Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best!” A lead weight had come off me; I felt alive for the first time in years. Each day got better and better from then on. I never used my electric scooter again and my carer was given notice as there was no longer a need for their services.
I was so impressed with the process and it had changed my life so dramatically that I decided I wanted to help others make a positive difference in their own lives, so I studied to become a qualified Lightning Process Practitioner. After more than a year’s training with the brains behind the Lightning Process, Phil Parker, I set up my own Lightning Process practice. I decided to call my company “Withinspiration” as I want to inspire others the same way I have been inspired by the positive influence it can have on lives. I thought that if I can inspire even one other person to break free from their illness, I will have paid back the gift I had been given.
I have run courses for clients from all over the world and have worked with children as young as 10 through to those in their 80’s, and it has truly been inspiring. I am not bitter about my illness because I was very fortunate to find another side to myself and I believe that without going through what I did, I would not have unlocked my true potential to live the life I love. If what you’re doing is not working, try something different. You might be surprised.