ME – Bernadette

Bernadette developed M.E in 1998 after a bout of shingles

I was working as a Headteacher in a primary school. Instead of taking time off to recover from shingles, as instructed by my G.P, I went straight back to work to prepare for an imminent Ofsted inspection. Although the inspection went well, I became increasingly unwell and, despite various alternative treatments such as acupuncture I never recovered my health.

My symptoms included exhaustion, IBS, poor sleep, snoring and sleep apnoea, inflamed joints, irregular pulse, depression, memory loss, lots of colds and just feeling totally fed up. I put on loads of weight so my clothes didn’t fit either! All in all, these symptoms were not a recipe for a great life. I still kept working as a head, supported by great colleagues and a lovely husband.

Eventually, in April 2010 I took early retirement so that I could live a better life.

How I started

I first met Buteyko Breathing in March 2011, when I had just turned 58, when I popped into see my friend Liz whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. She had been ‘doing’ Buteyko for two years and she gave me a leaflet about the method and the dates for the free introductory lectures. Seeing her looking slender, full of energy and bursting with health was astonishing and inspired me to attend one of Christopher Drake’s lectures in London.

To be honest, the whole thing seemed bonkers but, because of Liz’s example and because of Christopher’s sincerity, I booked myself onto a week’s course; this started in April 2011.
Full of doubt, but really a bit desperate to improve my health, I diligently started doing the breathing exercises.

Despite my total scepticism, after the first evening of the course I went to bed and had the best night’s sleep since 1998 – no sleep apnoea, no snoring, no waking up and not getting back to sleep for hours. My appetite also became normal and I started the path to losing weight.

I completed the week’s course and then launched myself into the world of Buteyko, still feeling that the whole thing was a bit weird. However, supported by Martha Roe and my friend Liz, I kept going and going and going. I had the cleansing reactions promised by Christopher and Martha for ages but gradually I began to feel better that I’ve felt for years. The cleansing included the worst cold I’ve ever had in my life, flu, shingles, cold sores, sore joints (really painful) but because of Martha (who was my particular support for the programme) and Liz I persisted. I also went back to the regular courses run for top up sessions.

Now, just over a year later

The M.E. is well on the road to leaving my body. I still have a week or so when I feel limp but these weeks are always brought on by things such as anaesthetics (for dental treatment) and air travel or by talking too much! I no longer feel that I am defined by being a M.E sufferer and I am sure that I will continue on the way to full health.
Over the last year, I have discovered that if I am filled with an intense desire to eat, a bout of M.E is attempting to assert itself so I have learnt just to rest and not to be too harsh on myself – a lesson that I could have done with learning years ago.

As I write this, I am getting ready to go on a week’s advanced class where I expect to meet the concepts of fasting and saunas, neither of which fill me with joy! I have no idea whether or not I will take these on board but Christopher and Martha are really persuasive.

I just know that my life has been transformed. I have lost 49 pounds in weight, have had to throw out all of my old clothes and am in the process of assembling a new set of outfits. I am so much happier with my life because I have the energy to live it. Friends who haven’t seen me for a while are astonished by my look of glowing health

I think that it helped me to see in my friend Liz a living example of how Buteyko can change a life as it helped me keep going even when the cleansing left me feeling awful. I am still diligently doing the breathing exercises every day; as Liz told me at the beginning, it would only work if I put in the work.

I cannot thank Christopher enough for leading the course I attended because I was able to change my life, Martha for always being available to talk me through my low moments and my friend Liz for answering those stupid questions that I didn’t want to bother Christopher and Martha.

I still think the whole method is a bit strange but, oh boy, it certainly works!