Wednesday, 10 October 2018
Sunday, 29 January 2012
In 1986 I was 46 years old, with three children in their teens and early twenties, and had a part-time job. It was a happy busy life. In February I began to feel incredibly tired and weak. During the previous year a series of dramatic and demanding things had happened and I realise now that my body was saying enough is enough. Although at the time, I just kept bashing on.
My total exhaustion continued and my doctor asked me if I had enough interests! After 5 months a consultant at The Western General said he knew exactly what it was as his wife and son had it too. However I received no label for the illness, or advice for its management. Early on I discovered that trying to swim my way to health (in case it was depression) was not a good idea, as it resulted in 8 months of extreme exhaustion, when I was able to get out of bed for only two hours per day.
Around 1986 an article in The Observer by Sue Finlay, describing her own, and similar experiences, was the most helpful thing and was the start of the M.E Associations. Their magazines were a lifeline, and you quickly realised that you were not alone. During the following 18 years, thanks to good support from my husband, I existed the best way I could mostly by pacing myself when possible.
In 2003 an old friend sent me a newspaper cutting about Reverse Therapy, which I read and, stupidly, threw it away! I think it was very difficult to accept that there was such a relatively simple solution to an illness that took our lives away from us. A short time later our local M.E self help group invited Dr David Mickel to a meeting about Reverse Therapy. A young friend and I decided to put our names on the waiting list. The waiting time for Dr Mickel was around three months but after about two months I was offered an appointment, not with Dr Mickel but with another therapist, I was dismayed but was reassured that if I was not happy with my consultation, I could wait for Dr Mickel.
Well, the other therapist was Kathleen Haden – how lucky am I!
I first saw Kathleen in April 2004. She was perfect for me. Although, after my first meeting I did go home and write down all the reasons why it might be a con! After years of trying various things, it’s natural to be overly sceptical and wary, so all credit to Kathleen as I may not have been the best customer! Her questions are not intrusive, but she has to find out enough about you to know the type of person you are and what you have dealt with in your life. After that it is working together to find the way forward. It is a leap of faith because it is a new technique. I had four one hour sessions with Kathleen, sometimes I cried but more often I laughed, but the third visit I was improving and the fourth was the last, and I was better!
It is almost impossible to put into words the joy felt at being well again, and to be part of life. How wonderful it was to be able to be impulsive. To sledge down a hill, knowing you could walk back up again. So many little things were magic, even washing up!
Most important of all for me, was that I could fully help with and enjoy my young grandchildren. Until meeting Kathleen, I had managed by resting when the children slept, but they were getting bigger and soon would not be sleeping during the day, so I became well in the nick of time!
Such a speedy change in my health was wonderful for me but I think a little disconcerting for those around me. My husband, who had been a kind and unstintingly supportive carer, suddenly had that role removed, and I think he found it difficult to comprehend that by talking to Kathleen I was better. The may be a problem too for anyone who has been so ill for a long time. One day, soon after I was better, I was in my daughter-in-law’s kitchen and noticed she was sitting alone on the swing outside. It was then I realised that I was a different person from the one she was used to. We have talked about that since and I am glad to say are still good friends and I love her a lot. My children, who all had helped me so much, must have had to adapt to a more, should I just say, energetic mother!
I have been well for eight years now thanks to Kathleen and Reverse Therapy. I went back to Kathleen once about three years ago, but now I recognise the warning signs, if they come, and she taught how to deal with them. That gave the control back to me.
I do hope my story will help someone who is coping with problems and fatigue, so that they too may regain their strength and benefit from Reverse Therapy. I feel so very lucky.
Around New Year 2006 I started getting quite ill, I went to bed and then didn’t get up until August.
The doctor initially diagnosed me with glandular fever, but a couple of months later I was told I had ME. I was advised to rest as much as I could and in two or three years, if I was lucky, I would get my energy back.
I thought that wasn’t good enough, being told I “might” get better. I was terrified and it was such a traumatic time not knowing if I would get better or not, especially as I knew someone who had ME for 18 years.
I was literally on the couch all day and sometimes my Mum even had to carry me to the bathroom.
Mum had to leave her job to look after me; it was really hard for her seeing me like that. I was in constant pain and I had migraines. There was not much the doctors could do and the pain relief they gave wasn’t enough.
I had dropped out of University, cancelled the holiday I had planned and had given up my part-time job.
I had tried lots of treatments such as acupuncture, exercise and anti-depressants as well as strong pain relief, but nothing helped relieve the pain.
I resigned myself to years of pain and boredom, until my Mum discovered there was a cure. She contacted a reverse therapist the
The first thing Kathleen said was that I was not unwell, but I was out of alignment and not doing what is important for me.
Being told that alone takes away the fear that you are not going to get better.
Instead I needed to listen to my body and learn to express myself. People with ME often find it hard to say no to things which can be stressful. I believe it’s a lifestyle thing, there is a lot of pressure in society and people do too much.
I was taking too much on; working very hard at university, running a social club, working 20 hours a week and I had family issues to deal with at the time.
So getting ill is a message from your body telling you you’re not living healthily and something needs to change.
Reverse Therapy is different to some treatments as it addresses the cause of the illness rather than the symptoms and is an educational process which makes you listen to your symptoms. When you get a headache it means you may need to slow things down, otherwise the symptoms may progress or worsen.
It helps you deal with different situations so you become better at dealing with difficult problems.
Doctors say to rest, but the first thing I was told by Kathleen was to get up. I was told that I was feeling unwell because I was resting all the time and I was bored.
She explained I needed to do small things at a time; to get a part-time job – and I could!
I just got up in baby steps. I would go to see a friend for an hour. I was a bit scared but it felt great. Luckily my old job let me come back for an hour a few days a week. After just two one hour sessions I was up and walking again.
As soon as I was walking I booked my holiday to
I had always wanted to see
I’ve learned to appreciate every day in my life, it’s been more than 3 years and I still get moments of joy. I look at the sunshine and feel so happy.
I feel like I’m in control of my life now and whatever I want I can achieve because I have all these skills that I have been given.
It has taught me life skills, so the situations I had been avoiding I learned how to address.
I’m so glad I was unwell as my life is much better now. I listen to my body, when I get a headache I’ll sit down and go into my body and think about what I really want if I’m stressed. I’ve learned to express myself better and if I think I’m not going to meet a deadline I’ll speak to my boss and say it’s making me feel ill and I need an extension.
I’d just turned 25, was doing well at my marketing job in
I decided to go back to my parents for a few days as I knew if I was in
It’s very difficult to describe how I felt as the symptoms weren’t like anything else I’d ever experienced. Basically my body stopped working properly and I just felt awful. Physically I was wrecked and even mentally I couldn’t cope with very much. My friends used to visit me in pairs as I found being part of a three way conversation much more manageable then being one on one.
My most random symptom was my cold head and feet- whenever I slept my head and feet would get freezing so even in summer when I only had a sheet on the bed I would wear a hat (balaclava in winter) and have a hot water bottle.
I was diagnosed very early on as having ME (CFS) but the GP didn’t know much about it so told me to look on the ME Association website. The first thing I looked at was prognosis and while I can’t remember the exact wording it was along the lines of most people never recover and what you need to do is to learn to live within your new limitations. I think ‘you have to be f***ing joking’ is a good approximation of how I felt when I read that and the whole two years I was ill I was always proactive at looking into treatments. I tried just about every form of alternative therapy, faith healing, two very strict diets, meditation and yoga, plus mum and dad spent a fortune at a private hospital having drips, heat treatments and anti-allergy injections. I even made mum buy me some red knickers (somewhere I read that red was a good colour to have close to your core) and on reading the healing power of nature I snuck into the garden more than once when no-one was in and hugged some trees!
I first read about Reverse Therapy (RT) in the summer of 2005 (I had already been ill well over a year) in an article in The Telegraph about Anna Cummings. I remember thinking it sounded interesting and added it to my list of things to try but I was in the middle of trying something else at the time. Then in January 2006 there was another article about her in the Sunday Times magazine. The article explained the process much better than the article in the Telegraph and I could really see how it related to me. Interestingly I only saw the article as a work colleague of a former housemate of mine read it, thought of me and gave it to my friend who subsequently sent it on to me. I’ve never even met the lady in question but Gladys I’ll be eternally grateful to you! Not only did the article really ring true with me but the timing was perfect as I was ready to try something new. I phoned up (coincidentally on my 27th birthday) to get an appointment but due to the article there was a 3-month waiting list to see John and so they suggested Kathleen who at that time was also practicing out of
Not only did it make sense to me why I was ill but their success rate was enormous and they encouraged (insisted on) getting back to a normal life as quickly as possible, which is what I so desperately wanted.
The day of the appointment finally arrived and mum and dad drove me down to
My friends nearly all died laughing when I told them about my card as they said I was already the most outspoken person they knew. However I think I’m like that because it’s who I am, but in certain situations I was easily (and quite pathetically!) intimidated and therefore couldn’t be like that at all. I also think my work was a big contributing factor as I had a marketing job with Tesco. Everyone I knew had gone into similar office jobs after university and it never occurred to me to do anything different. When I was applying to various business jobs a couple of my friends said they were surprised as it didn’t really seem like me. It turns out they knew me better than I knew myself. Firstly I should have been working with people rather than at a desk. Secondly, morally, I wasn’t comfortable about working for such a big business and I’m someone who needs to believe in what they do.
When I left the appointment I felt quite drained as I’d had a lot of exertion by my standards but I felt okay. Coincidentally a couple of things happened that day that tested me and on both occasions I followed the card whereas previously I probably wouldn’t have said anything. That evening I remember thinking that I felt the best I’d felt in ages.
The next day I was due to have two friends visit. Normally friends left after lunch so I could rest but I was feeling ok so my friends ended up staying until about 6pm and I was fine.
The next day I went for my daily walk and walked twice as far as I’d managed for over 18 months. Partly because I was feeling a bit better, and partly because Kathleen had told me to push myself. My legs felt a bit crazy but I just told myself it was because the muscles had been so underactive. The next day I doubled the distance again and within a week I was walking over 1km. On about day six I even broke out into a short run (in my wellies) just to remind myself what it felt like.
We didn’t have any badminton rackets so instead my poor father was subjected to playing Frisbee for a few minutes each day. It was quite comic as it was March and bitterly cold so if you didn’t catch the Frisbee perfectly it was very painful so it felt a bit like one of those sick Japanese TV shows where people torture themselves for fun. One day I also went into town and wandered a round a bit, looked in a few shops and had a coffee. I think I had only been into town twice the whole time I was ill and then either mum or dad were with me at every step in case I had a problem. Kathleen specifically told me to start acting like a normal 27 year old again and regain my independence so this was the first step.
They really were the most incredible two weeks of my life and I know nothing else is ever going to come close. I was making noticeable improvements everyday and I knew why. Not only was I making massive progress but I was doing so many things I hadn’t been able to do for so long. They were only really simple things but my life had been so drab and repetitive that they seemed like the most exciting things in the world. My appointment had been on the Friday and I think it was on my Tuesday walk when I had this overwhelming moment when it really hit me that I was getting better and that everything was going to be alright.
My second appointment was two weeks later and I got the train and the tube rather than a lift with mum and dad. Being on the tube was really weird as I hadn’t seen so many people in the last two years put together. While it was great it also started to dawn on me what I’d missed out on and that all these other people had been going on with normal lives while I had stepped out of mainstream society.
After my appointment I was feeling a bit rough so I was planning to head straight home but I passed a Jane Norman that tempted me in. Two and a half hours, half of Oxford St and well over £200 later, I was feeling fantastic.
One month after my first appointment I went to
For my third appointment (a month after my second) I was late as I’d left a bit late and got delayed on the tube. I ran the whole length of
I moved back into my flat in London at the beginning of May, two months after my first appointment, and spent a few weeks doing various bits of work to my flat and then got a couple of temping jobs. The big plan was to go off travelling for a year or two- I’ve always been passionate about travelling and doing a really big trip was something I’d wanted to do but felt I couldn’t as I should be concentrating on my career. However I decided I wanted to have a few months having a normal life in
I knew I didn’t want to go back into the business world but so I thought I’d try a job doing marketing for a charity. Unfortunately the job I got was very much at the business end of a charity and turned out to be little more than data entry.
By the end of week one quite a few of my old symptoms were back and I was completely devastated. For three months I had been on this most amazing journey of recovery and it never occurred to me my symptoms would come back. I couldn’t face going through it all again- mentally I just didn’t have the strength. I was off work the next week and by the following week I was feeling fine again so I went back. However by the end of Monday I was having hot and cold flushes, my muscles were aching and the old familiar feeling of coming down with something was back so I decided to listen to my body and just quit. The next few weeks I was just about alright but I still had quite a few symptoms. I call this stage ‘my wobble’. It was nothing like when I was house bound but I also wasn’t right and the more I worried about the fact that I wasn’t feeling great, the worse I got. So it turned into an enormous mental battle of not giving in and even when I was feeling bad still going out and doing something. Emotionally, I think those couple of months were harder than when I was ‘properly’ ill. I just didn’t know how long I could keep on fighting for.
I had a couple more appointments with Kathleen and I realised the key was to find a job that my body allowed me to do, therefore health wise I’d start feeling better, I’d have a normal lifestyle again and I’d be busy so I wouldn’t have so much time to think about how I was feeling. We decided that working with people was the answer for me so I started looking into all the possibilities, both paid and unpaid. I found some residential volunteer work in
Back in 2007 I went off travelling as planned and had six months in Central and South America and then three months in
I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do job wise but I had really enjoyed my time volunteering with the kids so I thought I would get some more experience, plus learn Spanish. The au pairing turned out to be a disaster (the parents not the kids!) but I fell in love with
Since January 2008 when I started working in
I’m glad Kathleen has asked me to write this as I’d been meaning to do it for ages. It’s good to have a deadline so now I’ll take time out from my busy life to do it. I’m conscious that some of you reading this may be very, very ill and really hardly able to read. For your sake I’m going to give you a very potted version of my experience. I’ll go on to write a fuller, longer version that hopefully if you decide to go for RT, then recover you can read, well that is if you want to take time out from your busy life to do so! Here goes…..
Glandular fever aged 12, off school for a year, tired but functional with dodgy glands for 9 year – big relapse aged 21, spent most of my twenties housebound and exhausted, cured at 32 by RT (Hooray).
It all started with glandular fever when I was 12, though looking back I can see that I was tiring age 11 and I had various stomach problems at this time too. I was off school for a year then managed to return. I was probably about 80% well during my teens and enjoyed a healthy(?!) social life. I left Shetland to go to university to study physics (more on this later!) aged 18 and again had a ‘healthy’ social life with some studying thrown in. I relapsed at 21, managing a new record low of 6% attendance in my honours year.
Somehow I got through and having no energy at all had to return to Shetland to try and recover (from ME and physics!). During this time I spent periods bedridden, housebound and periods when I could work up to 18 hours a week. I did manage to work full time but only for 5 months. During this time I literally crawled from the car into the house and onto the couch when I came home, then lay there til I could muster enough energy to go to bed then get up the next day and do it all again. It’ll come as no surprise that this was the forerunner to another huge relapse.
My downfall was that I worked whatever hours I could, 3, 6, 9, 18, 37 but had no energy left for socializing. I’ve lost count of the number of henny nights, birthdays and weddings that I missed. I’ve also lost count of the number of times folk met me and assumed I no longer lived in Shetland as they hadn’t seen or heard of me for so long.
A word on ‘Cures’ - I tried various things over the years to get well – fancy diets – no wheat, dairy, sugar etc which made me maybe 3% better; vitamins, EP oil which made me about £% poorer; rest, no rest, mind over matter, sleeping on a supposedly magnetic spotted hanky, not sleeping on a supposedly magnetic hanky and even cold baths. But to no avail. I’d heard that pregnancy could help in some folk and when I was pregnant with my first child I did feel an improvement at around 16 weeks. Not enough to go on a long walk you understand but maybe enough to stay waken for an extra hour a day.
When I had my first (and second) bairn I relied an awful lot on my partner and Mam to help look after them. Most days (well OK, every day) I was in bed til 1pm. I would then rise but by 5 or 6 would need another hours sleep to get me through til the time when both me and the baby would crash out. I could manage to go to the local toddler group once a week and keep up an appearance of normality but was ‘exhausted’ all the time.
A word on symptoms – I’m using the word ‘exhausted’ but as you’ll know if you’ve got ME/PVFS this is inadequate to describe the feeling of the relentless weakness, utter physical incapability and drainedness that is the delights of the ME exhaustion. I can remember during a really bad relapse lying in bed (again) and feeling that I was just a head – all my body was disconnected – I had no power to move my body and was numb from the neck down. It took monumental effort just to move a finger. Also exhaustion is the symptom everyone speaks about cos it’s the worst and the most life altering. Tinnitus, irritable bowel, aching muscles (spaigy, in Shetlandic), insomnia, frozen legs and feet, irritable bladder, brainfog, brainfog (joke) are all horrid but a mere inconvenience as compared to the ‘exhaustion’ that is ME.
Also the extent of the exhaustion for me varied but not hugely from day to day, more year to year. Some years I could work 18 hours a week, others I couldn’t work or leave the house at all.
A word on mood – Of course in common with most folk who have ME I was offered anti-depressants on a number of occasions and apart from one lovely guy who was at college at the same time as me – came to hate all doctors. Well not hate so much as dread.
I really never bothered going if I could get away with it but times when I did go I could sense their frustration (in the good ones) and their disdain (in the not so good ones).
I can honestly say I was never depressed during my ME/PVFS time. I always had hope that the future would be better. “For now are the woods all dark but still the sky is blue” (or words to that effect) kind of thing. I was frustrated at times and my life did seem to be spent missing experiences and coping with other folks scepticism. When it was at its worst I did think that to die would be OK though I didn’t want to do it to myself but to actually just not wake up again would be fine. Those days weren’t many though and I admire anyone who manages to cope with true depression.
When I heard about RT first I was HUGELY sceptical.
I live in Shetland and though, contrary to popular belief, we don’t all know one another, there was an informal network of folk who had ME/PVFS. Not that we ever met, of course, but I kind of knew of other folk who had it. When I heard that one woman who had it for 20+ years had recovered through RT I just assumed that maybe she had depression so it would work on her but not on me, no, no. Thankfully I also knew a girl who was younger than me and had been unable to go to school at all from about age 9. Her illness and mine were very similar. When I heard (from her Mam) that she was benefiting from RT I had to (try to) sit up and take notice. And also that I wasn’t going to be pigheaded enough to pass up a chance of recovery. If I could sleep on a magnetically charge spotty hanky – I could go for RT.
At the time RT was only available on the Scottish mainland which meant a 12 hour boat trip followed by a train journey to
So anyway we got the boat, train and taxi to
I had a kind of Woody Allen type idea of what therapy would be like so when I sat down I started gushing. Kathleen was far too polite to interrupt and when I finally stopped speaking (an hour and a half later) she said ‘Right well, we don’t really have time now to start the therapy – see you in two weeks time”! Aaargh!
A key part of the therapy was not to discuss it with other folk so I couldn’t even get my friend to spill the beans on the way back in the boat, though she did assure me that it made sense.
By the time we got back south – this time to
Well – the first thing Kathleen asked me to do was to tell her what symptoms I as experiencing right at that moment. This was a revelation for me as I’d just thought of my self as ‘having ME’ I hadn’t isolated the individual symptoms. She then asked me if there were any emotions which I didn’t express. ‘Anger’ I said – ‘I don’t even feel anger’. ‘Ah’, she said knowingly, “Then that’s where we’ll start”.
So off I set back to
‘Big deal’ you may be thinking but bear in mind for me this was the first time in about 20 years that I’d tackled something like this head on instead of explaining away (she’s French!), avoiding it (it’s alright) or feeling bitter (“you should have seen this woman on the train…….”). She moved, we got our seats, I felt fab and to cap it all about an hour later another woman came and told us that there had been tickets on the seats and the ‘French’ lady had taken them off!
Phew, my ‘courage’ was rewarded and I felt fabulous. I think we even managed an hours shopping in
That was the first of many incidents in which I had to behave in a different way that I would have done before. Most of them were like this incident –seemingly very insignificant and tiny in the grand scale of things but basically if I put other folks feeling before my own I came off worst. Another memorable one was one day when I was hanging up the nappies to dry and suddenly my arms were like lead, I could hardly lift them and then I figured out that I’d been thinking that I could easily have sewn all 12 pairs of hall curtains – a job that I’d just managed to say no to. I found the ‘not talking about it’ thing really liberating too. If anyone did ask I would say that it was a new kind of alternative therapy – more a third way – not mind or body but the link between them.
I did find it hard in the beginning but my health had been so bad for so long that I was willing to give anything a go and it worked! It also bet cold baths and spotty hankies by a long way. Really for the first time in 20 years I had found something that worked. I had 6 sessions of RT in total – 3 of which were phone sessions.
Once I established the link between my headmind and my bodymind (or head/heart) as I prefer to call it I could see what to do. When it all came together I felt like the clutch was being slipped in and my whole body was driving me, not just my mind.
Of course it wasn’t just French women on trains and hall committees that I needed to express myself honestly to, but those closest to me. This came with practice and I now feel that I have a much more relaxed and honest relationship with them all. My recovery has also had a huge effect on them in that I am no longer physically and financially dependent. It has given them freedom too. My youngest two children owe their life to RT, without which we could never have managed to have had them.
The relief of recovery is indescribable. It’s the little things – those which I thought hadn’t bothered me that much - that I find impressive. I no longer need the toilet every 20 minutes. I can drink coffee. I go to sleep as soon as my head hits my pillow (or more often my children’s pillow!) My partner warms his feet up on mine!
And of course it’s the big things too. I can swim, walk, run, and dance. Play catchy with my four bairns. I’m up now most days by 7.30 and in bed between midnight and one. I enjoy the feeling of delicious tiredness after physical activity knowing that the next day I’ll wake up refreshed.
I made lots of major life decisions when I was essentially screwed up (i.e. trying to please other folk) not least of all physics – though why I felt I had to please the careers officer is beyond me. And now I’m trying to make up for lost time. I realize I should have done something arty and am now a self employed jewellery designer. A job that I love so much it doesn’t feel like work, but I’m learning to live with that!
Its five years and two children since I started RT, and I feel better than ever. I still screw up occasionally and sometimes have to go a piece down a path before I realize I’ve gone in the wrong direction but now I have the courage and insight to turn back. I don’t look back, only forward – though with four peerie bairns (young children) around there’s not much time to look anywhere.
The future is bright and I know that whatever happens to me or my family in the years to come I’ll be able to deal with it as long as I stay connected with my whole self, listen to those inner gut feelings and express my emotions honestly.
My friend and travelling companion recovered fully from her fibromyalgia, my young friend with ME is now ‘sooth’ doing her second degree (it does me good every time I see her looking so well and just being so young and healthy!). I know another 6 folk in Shetland with ME who have recovered after seeing Kathleen. I’ve also referred five folk to her who simply ‘needed therapy’ though I had to choose my words and delivery carefully when telling them this! They are now all sorted.
In my experience there is a cure for ME and her name is Kathleen Haden.
In 1981 (I was 34 at the time) I remember waking up in intensive care after the birth of my third baby. I knew she was premature but the doctor told me she was doing well. The next day, back in a small ward, I asked to see my baby. I was absolutely devastated when she was handed to me, a wee thing of just over four pounds, and I found the weight of her too heavy to hold. I pretended that it was OK and told nobody. How could I find my baby too heavy! It sounded ridiculous.
I struggled through the next few weeks but felt a tremendous ache in my body, scary chest pains and I had no energy at all. All my muscles seemed to be sore and I felt like I had flu without the cough and cold. I tried to do everything I should for my new baby daughter but my other two children, aged 7 and 4 had to start fending for themselves a lot, particularly my eldest daughter. I should say that my husband had become an alcoholic and also suffered with depression so he was unable to give me and our children the support we needed. He continued to drink excessively and never seemed to be at home. Looking back the suppressed stress of living with him and trying to cope with my teaching job, looking after two children and being pregnant just gave me ‘burn out’ as I understood it then. I now know it was the start of years of ME.
I had visited my local GP on several occasions as I was worried about my health, especially as I had to restart my teaching job soon. I knew something was very wrong. My GP said of course I would feel tired all the time with a new baby, but it wasn’t the sort of tiredness he was talking about. Eventually he referred me to a specialist at the Royal Infirmary. I had cardiac tests and nothing was found to be wrong with my heart although they told me I had a heart murmur and a thickened aorta artery but not serious enough to cause heart problems. The specialist told me I had a chronic stress syndrome and recommended lots of rest. Of course this was impossible.
I eventually started back to work. I felt awful but we needed the money and I knew I had to continue no matter what. At home my children were looking after themselves in lots of ways, doing shopping at the local shop, helping with washing and ironing and preparing their own packed lunches for school. I remember thinking ‘as long as they have clean underwear, were bathed regularly and had food on the table everything would be fine.
At this time I found it impossible to hold my arms up for any length of time (as in writing on the blackboard or putting up pictures at work, and hanging out washing at home was a complete no-no). I found standing still for more than a couple of minutes was really uncomfortable and often sat on the floor if no seat was available. I also found I had very little energy to even have a shower and washing my hair and drying it was a nightmare. I couldn’t hoover and cleaning out a scrambled egg saucepan was very difficult. I was completely unable to do general household jobs.
I started paying my children to do jobs round the house. I continued to work and over the next three years, although I felt like I had flu all the time, I just tried to fight through the pain I felt in my muscles. I often felt at the end of the day that I had run a marathon. I continued to have chest pains and palpitations too and often thought I would be lucky to make it through the night. I felt like I was dying. Luckily for me my head teacher understood and a couple of really good friends helped me out with the more physical aspects of my job. I still loved my pupils and the challenge of the job of teaching and that kept me going in many ways. I lost a lot of weight, so much so that my ribs were sticking out not just in front of my body but on my back as well. I couldn’t sleep at night for the pains in my body. My GP, who was at a loss as to what was wrong with me, had prescribed sleeping tablets but because the effect kept wearing off I was eventually on 4 Mogadon a night.
During these three years I had two really bad episodes of ME where I was off work for three months at a time. I just wanted to sleep and sleep. I could barely get out of bed and found it a trial to even get up and go to the toilet. The kettle felt too heavy when I wanted to make a cup of tea, I couldn’t get dressed, I left my hair dirty and having a bath was troublesome because I didn’t have the strength to dry myself. My children bore the brunt of this. I feel so guilty about this when I look back at what they went through. When I returned to work, I didn’t feel recovered but my head was telling me I must go back or at least try or else I would be bedridden for a long time.
In late autumn of 1984 my husband had a major mental health breakdown and I was signed off work for two months to look after him. I regained some strength but I was very unhappy. I knew my love for him had gone and I also knew he was very ill. I decided then that if I continued going on this way my children would not only not have a father but they wouldn’t have a mother either.
It was about this time that I decided that I would have to get out of my marriage. I eventually filed for divorce in 1986 and my husband became very ill and was diagnosed with bi-polar disease or manic depression as it was then. He was so ill he was committed for 28 days and this recurred over the next three years.
During the summer of 1986 I became very ill again. This had a lot to do with the divorce proceedings, the stress of my husband’s alcoholism and his illness. He had become threatening and potentially violent and the judge recommended that I go to
Just before school started back I returned home. My mother returned with us all and looked after us for three weeks, but I was so physically weak I did not return to work until December of that year.
The next few months were stressful too. Although my husband had left, he was very aggressive towards me and the children. Many nasty lawyers’ letters arrived and he also insisted on his rights to see the children. He was often aggressive towards them and they came home upset after visits. Thankfully he went to stay with his sister in
A friend of mine at that time had been diagnosed with ME and she told me she thought I had it too. I read what little material was available on the subject and realized that I too had the illness. I went to my doctor and told him I thought I had ME. He said, “Maybe, but do you need the label?” I said, ‘No’, pride taking over, but on returning home I cried because I did need the label. It explained so much of my illness and how limited my life had become. Some friends, I’m sure to this day, thought I was lazy because my house was often in a mess and I was refusing any social engagements. Luckily for me, I had some really good friends who did understand. They knew that if I didn’t answer the phone, it was because I didn’t have the energy to speak, and accepted that I would be back in touch when I felt better.
Although I was still teaching, I spent most of my time at home doing more school work and then going to bed early and sleeping.
In 1988 I began to feel a bit better, but still had my limitations and was carefully managing how much physical work I did. In October of that year I went again to my GP. I stated that I was feeling better but still knew something was wrong with my bodily energies. He suggested I go to yoga classes that would help me to relax and give me non-aerobic exercise that would do me good. I went to one class and two days later my body completely crashed. My muscles were so sore, all my energy had gone and I felt really ill again. All I wanted to do was sleep. My Mother came up from
1989 was a good year. I went back to work and slowly became better to a certain level. I still had to carefully manage any physical work and listen to my body. If I overdid things within two days I would pay the price and needed two to three days bed rest to recover. I began to go out once a week socially and this made me feel part of the human race again.
Through our Primary/Secondary School Liaison meetings, I met my partner Tom. He was and still is so special to me. This new relationship gave me a ‘buzz’. I had more energy than I’d had in years. Over the next few years, with careful management, (I had learned what I could do and not do!), I was relatively well and I was certainly happy.
In 1996 I started having more ME symptoms again. My three children were all having problems, some serious, which were aggravated by the insistence of their father to see them on a regular basis. He was aggressive towards them, mentally ill and still drinking too much. I thought ‘My God! Whenever am I going to get out of this?’ I wanted to be well enough to help and support my children. My partner was very supportive, not just to me but also to my children. He helped us all so much and I did not have to take time off work.
Over the next couple of years I became a bit of a workaholic. I was determined to give the children in my care the best education they could have. By 1998 I was feeling very tired and as if I could not go on. The ME symptoms were still there and I had to be very careful with what physical things I did. I still couldn’t walk far and carrying jotters home to be marked, 300 yards from school, was difficult. My partner gave me a lift to work in the mornings and good friends took it in turns to drive me home. This had been going on for years. One morning Tom asked me if I was OK. I told him I was not OK and just too tired to go on.
I went back to my GP and this time Tom came with me. Between us we explained what I had been suffering since 1981. He referred me to a specialist in the
I found I had read most of the material before and for a long time had been taking recommended vitamins and supplements. Also I already knew how to manage the condition.
Tom came into some money and in the summer of 1998 he paid for me to have ‘alternative treatment’ in a clinic in
I was coping well with my job and the demands of everyday life. Unfortunately, a few years later the ME symptoms returned. I thought I was doomed forever.
One day I read an article in the ‘Evening News’ about two doctors up north who had discovered a cure for ME. They claimed a high success rate. They called it ‘Reverse Therapy’. Soon afterwards I was in touch with the clinic and the news was that in a few months they would be opening up a clinic in
In May 2004 I had my first appointment with Kathleen. I liked her immediately and found her very easy to talk to. We had a productive first session and she gave me a message to say to myself. I went home, not daring to hope, but I did feel better. It was a Friday. I slept well and the next morning I felt a shift of energy. I dressed and went over to our local shop for the usual milk, bread etc. Before I went in I felt an overpowering feeling that I wanted to run round the block. What! I hadn’t run in years but always loved running in my years previous to ME! I ran round the block and felt great. I was so excited!
I did my shopping and returned home, a glow of hope shooting through me. Unfortunately the next day I had some mild chest pain. I phoned Kathleen to ask if we should postpone our next meeting but she said, ‘No. Keep it!’ and I did.
I had five sessions with Kathleen and I don’t think I needed the fifth. Amazing! She told me I looked so much better and I did indeed feel much better. The dark circles under my eyes had disappeared and there was a brightness and ‘feel good factor’ about me that I hadn’t experienced for years.
During our sessions, I gave her more and more information on the way I had lived my life and the difficulties I had had. She was able to give me meaningful messages and great techniques to use through more testing aspects of my everyday life. The most important thing she taught me was about the body/mind connection. The idea that my ‘head’ was pushing me through things that my body did not like and sent me messages in the form of ME symptoms in the hope I’d change my ways. Brilliant! What an easy message, but had I seen it? No! My whole life up to that point had been ruled by what I thought I should be doing and pushing myself through at all costs. I now know better.
Kathleen encouraged me to write a diary. She also had me write lists of what I had to do, i.e., work, look after my children etc. and also to write a list of things I would like to do for myself. Writing poetry, walking, doing my astrology charts, entertaining all came into this. We discussed these lists at our meetings and she taught me to manage a balance between the two.
I remember a technique she taught me which helped me so much during this time and I still use it occasionally when I need it. It was about grounding yourself by imagining your feet being planted firmly on the ground.
After the third session, Tom and I were in Tesco’s about to do a big shop. We were just inside and I had an overwhelming feeling I couldn’t drag myself around the isles. I asked Tom to give me a couple of minutes and I did the exercise. I imagined my feet firmly on the ground and that I was connected to the earth. Within a few minutes I felt my energy return and ‘Hey Presto’ I was ready to tackle the isles! I enjoyed an extensive shop without feeling uncomfortable at all. During the rest of 2004 and onwards, I felt well and was in awe of how much Reverse Therapy had helped me.
My partner and I retired in 2005 and nearly all of my ME symptoms have completely disappeared. I still experience muscle ache occasionally but I know how to fix it thanks to Reverse Therapy. I have inherited some heart problems from my Mother and Grandmother, which stop me from walking up hills and carrying heavy luggage, but I have a very normal life now, almost back to what I was before the dreaded ME struck (of course I am 29 years older!) I entertain a lot, I love having dinner parties, and I manage normal household chores, go to Pilates once a week and try to walk a mile most days. I especially enjoy gardening and cooking, even hanging out the washing and ironing, things that had been ‘no-noes’ for so many years. I not only have the time and the energy to support my children through their ups and downs, but also my friends and other members of my family. Tom and I go on holiday several times a year and regularly have visitors to stay. I have a very happy and full life.
I am fascinated by how well Reverse Therapy works. I have read Doctor Eaton’s book and listened to Kathleen’s CD. They remind about the therapy and I have found it truly wonderful how effective it is. It cured me and all I can say is ‘Thank God I found it!’
I can’t finish this without saying a special thank you to Kathleen Haden. She is a very special person with earthly and spiritual qualities. In my opinion she is also a truly gifted healer.
Before I became ill with ME in 1981, I lead an active life. I was teaching full time and looking after the house and my children. I liked to dance, run and cycle and regularly attended night classes for fun/creative activities. I liked nothing more than meeting with friends and socialising. My life was full and would have been happy too but for my former husband’s illnesses.