Ian Cleary

CFS (CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME) & ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) ME/CFS is a variable & multi-system condition. This means that there is a problem affecting a range of key bodily systems.

It affects people in different ways with a wide variation in symptoms and severity.
Physical fatigue is a primary symptom and it is not improved with rest and comes on with little or no activity.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Digestion problems (food intolerance, bloating, mal-absorbtion),
  • Immune system (expressing as an auto-immune response or depleted immune response), inflammation, regular flu like symptoms, rashes
  • Muscoloskeletal issues– pain and weakness in muscles, joints
  • Endocrine –dysfunction in various hormone levels
  • Sleep – sometimes too much, sometimes too little but always unrefreshing.
  • Cognitive functioning (“brain fog” – mental fatigue with difficulties in memory, thinking and clarity)
  • Other symptoms can include noise, light and chemical sensitivity, tinnitus, orthostatic intolerance, dizziness, nausea.

But if you are reading this then you probably know this already.

What causes ME/CFS

There is much debate on this. There doesn’t appear to be a single path to ME/CFS. I see some people whose ME/CFS began with a lingering virus like Epstein Barr virus (Glandular Fever), Ross River or Barma Forest. (In America it is sometimes known as Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome).

But it might not always start with a virus. For some the trigger may have been a chemical exposure, an injury or operation, immunization or a period of physical or emotional stress. Or a combination of these.

It appears any lingering physical, mental or emotional stressor can be the trigger to the body going into the ME/CFS state. Some stay in that state for months and some for decades. But people can and do recover from ME/CFS.

What Role do the Stress Hormones play?

The Lightning Process looks at the role that stress and brain function play in health. The stress response is designed as a short term response to a threat. The stress hormones divert energy away from high energy systems that are not needed in the moment of danger to ensure your survival (noteably the suppression of the immune system, as well as digestive interference and cognitive dysfunction). This is fine in the short term but it detrimental to our health over the long term.

But what if the stress response becomes automated. What if rest, slowing down or relaxing doesn’t turn it off?

This is one of the things we look at. The body is still fighting a trigger that is no longer there.

This continual release of stress hormones has the body operating in the wrong physiology and functionality becomes limited. With repeated crashes the brain learns that certain activities (or triggers) are dangerous and so any interaction with these activities or triggers produces a stress response. So we have a vicious cycle.

The Lightning Process looks to break the cycle.

It’s like the body is fighting a lingering stressor and continues to be in ‘fight’ mode or ‘high alert’ even after the original trigger is gone. So under this high alert mode, the body begins to respond to normal stimulus as if they are dangerous. So people become ‘intolerant’ to exercise, movement, food, light, chemicals, sound, even standing up for some.

So activities (or stimulus) that should be registering as normal / safe are being registered as dangerous.

The Lightning process trains people how to spot when they are going into this response and to retrain their brain and body out of this cycle. It’s not just a case of resting of course otherwise there would be no such thing as a bed bound person with CFS!

The Trap of Managing ME/CFS

Many people try to ‘manage’ their fatigue by avoiding any things that set off symptoms (eliminating food, avoiding exercise, touch, lights, sounds, people etc etc etc), and carefully manage their energy or pace them self to avoid over doing it. (Others just push through the fatigue and suffer the physical consequences).

While a management approach may be a useful way to bring back an element of control and avoid the major crashes, I would say it has nothing to do with actual recovery and often leads to a very restricted life.

The management mind set can also put into place some consequences that can play a role in keeping people stuck in the state of ME/CFS.

Managing energy and pacing can make people even more hyper-aware of body sensations, which plays back into the brains requirement to look out for ‘dangerous’ messages. So you can stay stuck managing ME/CFS.

Retraining the brain & the body instead

The Lightning Process teaches a totally different way. Avoiding things and triggers creates a very restricted life and pushing through and ignoring symptoms doesn’t work. There is another way.

Instead I teach people to utitlize how the brain and body interact to change their physiology so they are not running on fight or flight, retrain the brain to properly interpret situations as safe and address any issues they may be impacting on their stress response.

In the past approaches have either focused on the body OR the brain.

A Broad Approach

While retraining the automated PER, it is critical that we also address any other issues that may be influencing it. So it is critical that we address other issues at the same time.

Other issues that may need to be addressed include exercise, retraining sleep patterns, returning to socializing or work or school, addressing worry, anxiety, low confidence, perfectionism, depression. While these things are not CFS and don’t apply to everyone, their presence will influence the production of the stress hormones.

The Next Step

Some people may have suspected that the stress response has been playing a role and for others this might be a new way of thinking about the condition. It is important that the approach does make sense and that people are willing to commit to doing the work. It is after all a training.

So I encourage people to look through the website, read my BLOG postings on ME/CFS or sign up to facebook.

Probably the easiest way to find out more is to email to arrange a FREE phone consultation. We can talk more about your situation and how the LP can help.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information found in this site should not be used for the purpose of diagnosis. A proper diagnosis of ME/CFS is important as fatigue can be a symptom of a range of other conditions. As the Lightning Process is a training programme there are no guarantees of success or recovery. Please read more on the subject or email to arrange a time to discuss your situation and the training in more depth.


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