Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Chrysalis Effect

Get Your Life Back from M.E., presented by Kelly Oldershaw and Elaine Wilkins. Uploaded by Nutricentre, Sep 2010.

In a previous post, I had said that the Nutri Centre was dedicated to M.E. only, but that should be corrected in that the Nutricentre (London) deals with nutrition and well-being issues in general.

The two presenters of this video are both M.E. recoverers. They now run the Chrysalis Effect program, in which they say that there are clear steps to make it possible to recover from M.E. Their approach background is very interesting and holds a lot of credence up to a certain point. By the end, I come away with feeling that their approach is very much like the Mickel Therapy approach, which I discussed in an earlier approach. In short, both approaches tackle M.E. treatment with a change of view regarding lifestyle and mindset. Both approaches offer coaching delivered through the medium of the Internet.

Presentation summary notes:

The speakers claim that they have not yet met an M.E. suffererer who did NOT have an A-type overachiever personality before they had M.E. My own take on it would be that it would be very interesting to conduct a wider survey to find out what the actual statistics of M.E. sufferers who are/were A-type personalities. A lot of M.E. sufferers who are trying to promote greater awareness of the illness, and who seem to be doing the most to try and find ways to get better, do sound as if they had fairly professional backgrounds before they were struck with M.E. In my own case, I do recognize my earlier self as striving to always be first with anything I did, so a lot of what these speakers say does ring very true to me, and the fact that they go on to essentially blame over-doing things as a cause of M.E. rather than the viral trigger being the key, is very persuasive.

The speakers' Chrysalis Effect program revolves around what they have identified as six phases, between which it's possible to traverse back and forth before final recovery is found. The phases are explained below.


The speakers set up a very persuasive picture - how many M.E. sufferers can recall that they had a busy life before M.E. and maybe had early warning signals such as headaches and IBS that they just pushed through with the help of things like coffee, aspirin, wine - ie, they denied the warning signals were a sign of something greater.


The speakers claim that it is at this stage that it could be something like a virus that triggers a big physical crash, but that it is not the virus that is the sole factor that caused this crash. Sufferers will typically spend this phase going through numerous doctor appointments, getting tests done which come back as all-clear. Some of the essential tests that they think should be done at this stage, such as testing for adrenal stress, are not done because this test is not typically available through an NHS doctor. High anxiety will fuel the symptoms, as there is a loss in knowing what is going on. Finally, a diagnosis is given.

The speakers both have experience of joining a self-help group at this stage, thinking that there would be a relief in meeting other people who shared the same symptoms. However, the speakers say that they were discouraged by what they came across in the self-help group - people in wheelchairs - and they speak of some who actually didn't consider trying to find a way of breaking out of the cycle of illness. This point is in my mind fairly controversial, since there is an implication that there are those who are purposefully benefiting from receiving social security support. As an M.E. sufferer, I just don't believe it's possible to fake symptoms for an extended period of time, and I can't imagine anyone who prefers to be bed-bound rather than being able to enjoy outdoor activities.


At this stage, most people become desperate to find a cure. But the issues around M.E. are multi-faceted, so there is clearly not one-shot cure approach. It's difficult for anyone to know where to start, and a sufferer will often try many things, spending a lot of money and time in the process, without seeing much improvement if any at all. The label 'M.E. sufferer' is now all that person can be defined by. There is a liability for people to be prescribed anti-depressant drugs as time goes on.


Having tried a lot of treatment options, a sufferer starts to become much wiser to the illness. There is a lot of personal reflection, and sufferers become more aware of the patterns of their illness, and start to recognize issues that may have gone on before they got ill, such as a divorce, a job loss, a car accident. They recognize that there had been an extended build up of stress. At this stage, sufferers realize that they need to achieve a less-stressful lifestyle and re-establish new ways of thinking if they have a chance of full recovery. The speakers talk about their participation in yoga and meditation. (Again, in an earlier post, I also testify how important relaxation sessions are, and in a later post, I heard from another presentation that it's recommended to do some type of deep relaxation for 20-30 minutes every day for 100 days in order to establish a long-lasting change in mental patterns).


The speakers talk of the re-lapse cycle. As soon as sufferers start to feel better, they often return to their old habits and lifestyles of doing too much. This leads to further crashes. The sufferer hasn't yet permanently implemented what they have come to realize in Phase 4. Sufferers undergo a re-learning process through errors that lead to relapses. In the end, the realization should be that our health becomes our highest value. M.E. recovery therefore is more about being a journey of finding yourself.


After people have discovered their true selves, they can ditch all their old habits and with them all the stresses that went with them. For me, I am totally convinced of the phase descriptions up to and including Phase 5, but I struggle to be fully convinced of this final Phase being able to work for all. There certainly needs to be a lot of self-awareness and preparedness to change your lifestyle in the Chrysalis Effect approach, but reaching this almost karmic state of self-enlightenment, while surely beneficial for making you a happier person in general, is questionable in terms of whether self-fufilment in itself can make the tiredness and all the symptoms totally go away. My own plan in the near future, for example, is to switch to a part-time job. I'm feeling optimistic that it will allow me time to get more rest as well as reducing stress levels, which will hopefully bring greater improvement in my M.E. symptoms. But having now suffered from M.E. for going on two decades, which is some three times longer than each of the Chrysalis Effect founders had suffered, I'm realistic that it may be the case that my M.E. might never go away completely.

After the 6 phases are explained, the speakers go on to mention that their program is delivered through the Internet, and people can access their program at any time from anywhere in the world. It appears there is some type of subscription payment involved, totalling around GBP20 per month (perhaps USD40???) and I believe I heard the minimum period of involvement in the program is around a year. It appears that subscribers can access a range of practitioners from multi-disciplinary fields, including in nutrition and psychology, so this also sounds a bit like the program offered by the Optimum Health Centre/Clinic (London) that I discussed in an earlier post. However, it wasn't mentioned what role blood-testing work or blood work readings could play in that program.

The speakers go on to explain that health practitioners are invited to become part of the Chrysalis Effect program. They can pay for training that explains the 6 Phases and counselling approaches in more detail over 3 days. Then, practitioners can have access to a client base through the website.

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