Articles in this column:
What is ME/CFS?
Dealing with ME/CFS
Jeremy says: As of this writing, I have been ill with ME/CFS for eight years. I had to give up my job and later had to leave Germany, where I had been working, and return to the UK. Becoming ill and finding myself with limited energy was a huge challenge which brought with it many frustrations and disappointments, yet it has also been a time in which God has done a lot to restore my soul, give me new vision, and reveal new aspects of His grace to me.
I have been through all kinds of experiences since getting ill, and have created this section of the JTM website in the hope of helping people who are going through similar things or who have questions about this condition and what God can do about it.
Finding Out What Works
When seeking help with a condition like ME/CFS, it is important to remember that people's conditions affect them in different ways and that different people may be helped by different treatments. What seems to be a miracle cure for one person may turn out to be of little help to another. The best advice for Christians is to be open to possibilities, to do plenty of research, and to take a rounded approach to healing in which medical treatment, diet, lifestyle and "safe" (i.e. not occult, New Age, etc.) complementary therapies are held in balance with ministry, prayer and your faith and relationship with God.
The lists below have been drawn up in an attempt to provide you with plenty of useful information, and hence include both Christian and secular resources.
Please note (1): Some of the books and other resources listed on these pages recommend treatments or therapies from the fields of alternative or complementary medicine, some of which may be considered unsuitable by Christians. While Jesus Today Ministries does not recommend such things, it would be impossible to try to censor every book or website that mentions them. Please use discernment and seek the advice of mature Christians or your pastor if you are unsure about anything of this nature.
Please note (2): I cannot and do not offer medical advice. You should always consult a doctor about your symptoms, before attempting any course of treatment, supplements or therapy, or before giving up or changing your intake of any medication.
Action For ME - www.actionforme.org.uk
Everything you need to know about ME/CFS, news and views, treatments, etc., from a national charity.
Action for ME provides information for people with ME/CFS who are presently in higher or further education or are thinking of applying to go to college or university.
ME Association - www.meassociation.org.uk
Again, everything you need to know about ME/CFS, news and views, treatments, etc., from a national charity.
Association for Young People with ME - www.ayme.org.uk
A national charity offering resources and advice for children and young people aged 5-25 who have ME/CFS, helping them deal with the particular challenges they face, e.g. in continuing their education, coping with friendships and relationships, etc. Free membership.
Dorset ME Support Group - www.dorsetmesupport.org.uk
Offering support, benefits advice and local meetings for ME/CFS sufferers in the Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Dorset areas. Membership is not expensive; the benefits advisor service in particular might make a huge difference to many.
Christians With ME - www.cwme.org.uk
This website for Christians with ME/CFS is built around a very useful and friendly forum on which you can discuss ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia and related issues with other believers, and share your encouragements, questions and struggles. Free membership.
CFS Knowledge Center - www.cfsknowledgecenter.com
Another forum - not specifically Christian, but a good place to meet friendly people and benefit from discussions. Free membership, regular news updates on subjects of interest such as scientific research and high-quality profile creation make this a community worth joining.
Dr. Sarah Myhill - www.drmyhill.co.uk
Dr. Sarah Myhill (not Susan Myhill) has extensively researched ME/CFS and possible treatments. Her website gives comprehensive advice and suggests approaches to treatment. This is a good website to visit for information before committing to any therapy or spending money on supplements.
Thorns and Gold - blog
Christian M.E. sufferer Tanya Marlow writes about the Bible, suffering, and the messy edges of life.
Get Well From M.E. - website
Christian M.E. sufferer Giles Meehan has compiled his own videos and numerous other resources to help people deal with ME/CFS.
The following list consists of titles by Christian and secular authors you may find useful in coming to terms with ME/CFS and taking steps in one's relationship with God as a sufferer. I have read most of these myself. Please note that these recommendations do not necessarily constitute an endorsement of any or all therapies and approaches that may be described by the authors.
BUY TODAY: You can now purchase these and other titles as books or Kindle e-books, and help support this website, by visiting my Amazon Shop. Or click on the images below.
Christian author Liz Babbs describes her own struggle with ME/CFS, which was to lead to her complete healing. She explores the spiritual dimensions of having ME, and provides many testimonies of both healings and stories of those who have been sustained through their sickness by their relationship with God. An encouraging and uplifting book.
Adrian Rose was about to make it big in the world of pop music when ME struck. Here he tells the story of coming to terms with the illness, returning to faith and how God led him to healing. An invaluable resource for sufferers and their supporters, and one which will encourage sufferers to receive healing for themselves.
David Townsend tells a moving story of his illness (which turned out to be complicated by a rare condition called genetic haemochromatosis), and how God faithfully supported him and met his and his wife's needs time and time again, bringing hope and healing. Read his guest contribution here
This discussion of ME/CFS is very supportive of the role of faith and prayer in healing and coping with illness. Medical doctor Anne Macintyre, herself an ME/CFS sufferer, explores the medical issues surrounding ME/CFS and offers practical and medical insights into how to deal with it. Additional chapters deal with ME/CFS in women and children, candida overgrowth, stress, depression, anxiety, alternative therapies, practical advice and more. A very useful and readable book for patients and doctors alike.
Jeremy says: I haven't read this book myself, but Dr. Charles Shepherd, also an ME sufferer, is Medical Director to the ME Association, so it clearly deserves the many excellent reviews it has received from readers.
"Tired of Being Tired" is not a book that specifically addresses ME/CFS, but it offers a very useful explanation of how stress and fatigue interact to give rise to what the authors refer to as "adrenal burnout". Interestingly, some ME/CFS specialists now believe that ME/CFS is due to a stress-induced condition of the adrenal system. Where this book scores highly is in its recommendations for how to reduce all kinds of stresses and put oneself on the path to healing. Readers may or may not find the authors' recommendations of expensive nutritional supplements and other therapies useful, and the authors do not examine two potentially very important issues affecting ME/CFS sufferers: candida overgrowth and mitochondrial dysfunction (See e.g. Dr. Sarah Myhill, above). However, the advice this book gives on reducing one's exposure to various sources of damaging stress is invaluable, and will be of great help to ME/CFS sufferers.
I Have ME - AYME and Annalise Brown
Annalise Brown was diagnosed with ME when she was just 5 years old, and was ill for another 18 months before she made a full recovery, as many very young ME sufferers do. In her own words and using pictures drawn by her and her mother, she wrote a short booklet, which she and her mother used to explain to the children and teachers at her school what it was like for her to have ME.
Annalise's booklet has now been edited, professionally illustrated and published by the Association for Young People with ME, and is given, along with another title inspired by Annalise, "My Sister Has ME", to all new AYME members aged 10 or under. Annalise says, "AYME have lots of information for big people but nothing for little people like me. My book helped me explain my ME as a little person; I want it to help other little people now."
Christian author Bob Sorge was a musician and worship leader before he was first badly injured in a car accident and then suffered serious clinical depression. Although he believed in healing and frequently saw powerful healings take place at his church, his own prayers for healing seemed to go unanswered. In this insightful book, Bob provides biblical teaching and personal anecdotes that explain the process of refinement through which God takes us when we go through the trials that come with waiting for the answers to our prayers. Readers will find hope and reassurance in its pages as Bob explains that the struggle between suffering and healing is not always a question of whether or not we have faith, but rather that the difficulties we face can be a means of experiencing God's refining as He works out his purposes in our lives.
"Candida albicans" is the name given to a parasitic yeast which can overgrow in the gut and other areas, causing a variety of health problems and symptoms, including fatigue and cognitive difficulties. Many ME/CFS sufferers may also have candida overgrowth and are well advised to learn how to combat it. "Fully updated with the most up-to-date medical research, this book provides a clear, accessible and practical guide to determining whether candida is your problem, then outlining ways to fight and prevent it." (Amazon) Chaitow explains how to combat candida through healthy diet and the use of herbs, probiotics and supplements.
The following Christian ministries offer healing and deliverance and may be of use.
Please note that you should use your own discernment as to whether such ministries are right for you. Inclusion of a ministry on this list does not constitute general endorsement of all of its teachings, methods or proponents.
Ellel Ministries - www.ellel.org.uk
Ellel Ministries, founded by Peter Horrobin in 1986, offers a variety of healing retreats and other courses at five locations around the UK (and others abroad too). It also has a comprehensive online bookshop covering many topics of healing and freedom in Christ.
Jeremy says: I attended a healing retreat at Ellel's Glyndley Manor in Sussex, back in 2006. The retreat was calm, inspiring and restorative, and the team members well trained and attentive. I got a lot out of my time there, and many people were clearly touched and restored by God's Spirit.
Sozo - www.sozo.org
"Sozo" is a Greek word meaning "to save; to heal; to make whole", and this is the vision of Marion Daniel's Sozo Ministries, based in Romsey, Hants. Sozo has a particular record of healings from ME/CFS and similar conditions. It holds regular healing meetings in a local school, as well as organising short courses and retreats.
Particularly worth checking out is Sozo's "We Are Healed!" book of testimonies, featuring many healings from ME/CFS. You can order a free copy here.
Jeremy says: I visited Sozo's healing meetings on two occasions. Worship, preaching and prayer combine to bring healing and deliverance, and many people have clearly been healed through this ministry.
And there's more...
God healed me of ME/CFS!
Sally tells the story of her healing. Read
ME/CFS Healing and advice
ME/CFS author David Townsend shares his testimony and insights. Read
Kirsteen: Healed of ME/CFS!
Dramatically healed after 18 months. Read
"M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Encephalopathy) is a chronic, fluctuating illness. It is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Sometimes it is diagnosed as Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS). The illness affects many parts of the body, such as the nervous and immune systems. The most common symptoms are severe fatigue or exhaustion, problems with memory and concentration and muscle pain."*
There are some 250,000 ME sufferers in the UK alone.*
There is no particular test for ME/CFS. It is diagnosed when other diseases with similar symptoms have been excluded, including conditions such as hypothyroidism, multiple scler-osis, lupus, coeliac disease, hepatitis B/C, Lyme disease.**
If blood tests, scans, etc. reveal no other illness, this can be a strong indication that ME may be to blame.
The principal symptom of ME is severe, disabling fatigue which has been present for more than 6 months and affects both physical and mental functioning (e.g. "brain fog", poor concentration). Disturbed and/or unrefreshing sleep, mood swings and muscle/joint pain are other common symptoms.** Digestive symptoms, chemical intolerances and hypersensitivity to light or noise may also result.
ME or depression?
Fatigue found in ME/CFS worsens after exercise, in contrast with fatigue found in cases of depression, in which moderate exercise will generally produce an alleviation of symptoms and feelings of wellbeing.
Action For ME
Being suddenly hit with extreme exhaustion, brain fog and pain can be disorientating and bewildering. Here are a few guidelines to help you to make the right decisions in the early days when you are trying to come to terms with your condition.
Sadly there is no medical cure that instantly makes patients better. There exist a great many therapies and treatment approaches, of varying degrees of usefulness, but many people do get significantly better, whilst many are healed through Christian prayer and ministry.
Rest: the best approach
The best and most important thing you can do to help your condition - even before you seek prayer - is to stop fighting it.
Attempting to "push through" your fatigue by carrying on life at your usual pace will only make matters worse. Chronic fatigue is not like a muscle that can be toned by strenuous exercise. Think of your condition as being more like a broken leg that needs rest and rehabilitation if it is to heal.
The sooner you can make changes and stop placing your body under strains that it can no longer handle, the better your chances of making a good recovery and of having a reasonable quality of life during your recovery.
If you are suffering from chronic fatigue, whether the "ME" variety or any other, e.g. post-viral, adrenal burnout, etc., the most effective way to preserve your energy and avoid further worsening of your symptoms is to reduce your activities and build regular periods of rest into your daily schedule.
This may mean that you need to reduce your working hours, adopt a flexible approach to work, or stop working altogether.
You will need to cut down on
activities such as social and church commitments, and you should stop
doing strenuous exercise such as sports altogether.
Remember that your strength and energy are now precious commodities. Save them for the most essential tasks, e.g. preparing meals, bathing, quality time with spouse and kids, rather than expending them at the gym or on cleaning, washing the car, mowing the lawn, and so on.
Listen to what your body is telling you. You would feed it when it is hungry, or drink something when you are thirsty; now learn to rest when your body is saying, "Enough!" Then go one better by scheduling regular rests so that you are always operating within the zone of what your body is able to handle.
In addition to resting rather than pushing yourself, you should give your body and soul the best possible treatment and support by adopting a healthier lifestlye. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet; ensure that you are getting good quality sleep; get into fresh air and sunshine regularly if you have the mobility to do so, even if you are only sitting in the garden. Cut down on your use of stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, etc.) and your exposure to environ-mental toxins such as household chemicals, plastics, etc. All of this will reduce the load your body has to deal with, and you'll feel better for it.
Treats are good!
Although you are ill and may often not feel like participating in many activities, and you will have to make changes to your diet and lifestyle, don't forget to take time to do things you enjoy or to let yourself be pampered. Taking time to enjoy life has a beneficial effect on health, and will lift your spirits and make a huge difference to your day.
The changes in your health and reduced availability may be difficult for your friends, relatives and Christian family to accept. However, the priority is your recovery! You may have been the person everyone relied upon in the past, but now your health needs to come first. Let people know you are no longer available - and if they struggle with that, let that be their problem.
Some churches can be quite driven and
demanding, and ME/CFS is not well understood by everybody, even
Christian pastors and leaders, so be sure to establish an understanding
with leadership that you are stepping back from your commitments for the good
of your health. Negotiate an initial period of rest of a few months
while you get your condition diagnosed. If you come under pressure to
perform and fulfil your oblig-ations, remember that you have the right
to say no and to prioritise your health, and that you are not being
disloyal or ungodly by doing so. You may be able to resume your
involvement with some activities at a later date, but you should always
ensure that you are working with your condition and not against it.
Figuring this out will take time, patience and under-standing from both
yourself and your leaders.
ME/CFS is no longer a rarity, and there is plenty of support available. You can find lots of useful books and articles online, and there exist many communities and forums of people in your situation who will be happy to share experiences and advice. Some of these resources are listed on these pages.
You should also try to find a doctor who believes in ME/CFS and doesn't merely dismiss your symptoms as "all in the mind" or go round in circles with no firm diagnosis. If you suspect you have ME, but your GP cannot diagnose it, ask to be referred to a specialist or contact your local ME support group for advice.
Many ME/CFS sufferers try to get back into normal life as soon as they feel better after a brief period of rest or a month or two on sick leave, but most of them also find that they are soon overwhelmed by fatigue once again. Plan a gradual return to work and other activities in which you do a little at first, in order to see how this affects you. You will suffer less in the long run if you build up slowly and then have to back off again rather than going back to your old lifestyle of giving everything 100% and then finding that you have another energy "crash" which further depletes your resources.
Will I recover?
There are many stories of people recovering from ME, some of which clearly involve God bringing healing, whilst others involve therapy, rest, diet, etc. However, recovery from ME/CFS can take time, and it is important to remain positive and to let God encourage and guide you when times are tough. Explore the links on this page for testimonies of hope and healing.
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