Jodie fully recovered from a 3-year journey with ME/CFS, and has remained healthy for over ten years. Now, she is sharing her inspiring story with us. We also recorded a video interview.
Liz: I’m so grateful that you’re sharing your inspiring recovery story with us. What’s your purpose for sharing your story?
Jodie: So that people with chronic and long-term health concerns, especially those with ME/CFS know that recovery IS possible. I remember feeling hopeless and helpless when looking for answers.
I hope that by sharing details of my personal CFS experience, full recovery and now expertise in the area through my work, I can instead inspire those still struggling to feel hopeful and empowered.
Liz: Can you describe how your journey with ME/CFS began?
Jodie: My journey started 13 years ago in my late twenties, when I went from being a successful London-based entertainment reporter to having CFS for almost 3 years. It began with a bout of shingles. After a week or so, the rash subsided but I was left with flu-like symptoms that I couldn’t shrug.
Further exploration led to a blood test showing I had glandular fever/mono. And when, after numerous weeks I couldn’t shift this either, I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME).
Liz: What were your energy levels and how was your life affected?
Jodie: They were up and down. Some days I had enough energy to work but other days (which often led into weeks and months) I would be so exhausted I was in bed or at least laying on the couch sleeping on and off all day.
On the days I had enough energy to go into the office, I still felt like I was pulling myself through mud.
During that period, I never really felt my energy levels, clarity of mind or body comfort were where they had been previous to getting shingles.
I knew I wasn’t operating anywhere near full capacity and everyday felt like a struggle.
Liz: What was your early experience seeking medical answers?
Jodie: Frustrating and disheartening most of the time. I tried so many different approaches from traditional medication, brain scans and sleep analysis to more alternative methods such as homeopathy, acupuncture, meditation and dietary changes but nothing for me made a lasting change.
I saw the ‘top ME specialist in London,’ and whilst he was a very kind man, he said that there was basically nothing to be done except pace myself and take some antidepressants.
He said, whilst I wasn’t depressed, they may help rebalance brain chemistry and reduce symptoms. They did help to a certain extent but my dose was incredibly low and now with a more advanced understanding of these types of drugs, for me I feel it may have been a placebo effect more than anything else. (This is just my personal experience of antidepressants. I am not a doctor and my advice to clients is always consult your physician before making any changes to your medication.)
Liz: What was your experience like trying to exercise during recovery?
Jodie: Before I had CFS, I used to run regularly, go to the gym and be very active. Then when I was unwell, a 10-minute walk could see me exhausted and in bed for the rest of the day, and often much longer.
I remember how frustrated I felt at not being able to fully exert myself in the way that I used to.
I used to see every minimal exertion as a ‘win’ at the same time as having this sense of dread about what impact it would then have on my energy levels afterwards.
Liz: What kept you going during your journey?
Jodie: I am so grateful to have had the support of my parents, sibling, and close friends. I know I am very fortunate in that regard.
I actually got together with my husband literally within a few weeks of finding out I had glandular fever/mono. His support for me never wavered. When my friends were getting engaged one after another, I asked him when it would be our turn!
He said we would always be together, but we wouldn’t get engaged until I was well. And that he had faith I would be.
It was just after this conversation that I then took the Lightning Process which I had been considering for a few months.
Liz: I love that. Can you describe your trajectory back to health with the Lightning Process?
Jodie: After almost 3 years of being unwell, I read an article in a national newspaper about a lady who’d recovered from CFS using a mind-body connection training program called the Lightning Process (LP). It caught my interest and I started researching it and then found hundreds of other success stories from people who had recovered from all different types of chronic and long term conditions using the tools that the LP teaches. At its core, is the science of the mind-body connection.
I discovered it looks beyond the symptoms and instead focuses on the body’s natural ability to heal and teaches clients how to reset and retrigger this response.
It took me a few months of researching, speaking to other people who’d taken the course and getting my head around a concept (which was brand new to me at the time) before I then booked myself on a course in January 2009. Those 3 days changed my life.
I finally understood how and why my body had got stuck in a particular way of responding and how my immune system had become suppressed.
I then learnt practical tools to shift that and restart my body’s natural ability to heal.
During the 3 half-day course, I experienced some major shifts to how I was feeling and knew I’d found my answer to recovery. The following few weeks were a real learning curve. I had to show up for myself every day, use the tools I’d learnt to create the changes and stay committed to the outcome I wanted. And it was absolutely worth it because I got my life back.
Within a matter of weeks of finishing the course, I was back at work full time, whilst incorporating what I had learned into my everyday life.
It was such a natural transition from using the process a huge amount of the time to suddenly realizing I didn’t need to use it and I was just feeling well and living life fully. I remember calling the newsroom I was working for at the time to say I was well enough to come back to work and having a feeling of trepidation but also absolute faith that I could.
In the years that followed, my radio career continued to flourish, I got married and had two children, ran the London Marathon and moved to Los Angeles – and then retrained to become an LP practitioner myself.
Liz: A lot of people have been told their condition (because it’s invisible) is just “in their mind.” We both know this is not true and that ME is a very real condition. Yet mindset stuff helped us get “out.” Can you explain this to our audience?
Yes this is a very unhelpful idea that people have. And for someone dealing with CFS/ME, it’s a very frustrating and painful thing to hear.
I back up the other (and more accurate) school of thought which is that CFS/ME is a physiological condition and is in no way psychosomatic.
The important distinction is that there is a huge amount of scientific evidence that shows we can influence our physiology by changing how our neurology is functioning.
ME is a physical illness but we can use our mind to influence our nervous system to bring about positive physical and emotional changes.
Liz: Can you describe what the Lightning Process is?
Jodie: Sure. The Lightning Process is a holistic training program, the main portion of which takes place over 3 half-days.
During that time, clients get an understanding of how and why their body’s natural healing response isn’t working in the way it’s designed to. Our bodies are designed to heal from viruses and bugs so why for some does this not occur? What is getting in the way of the body doing what it is designed to do?
We really break this down and explain it, looking at how our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, histories and responses can positively or negatively affect our biological functioning.
Some of the key concepts include psychoneuroimmunology meaning the way our psychology (how we think) affects our neurology (our nervous system) and how that impacts our immunology (our immune system and general well-being.)
We look at the ‘fight and flight’ response, so how when our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is elevated for longer than its designed to be – it can cause issues for many body systems such as suppressing our healing and immune systems, our digestive system, our sleep cycles and cause us not to be able to think clearly.
Neuroplasticity is a big one too – the way our brain adapts depending on how we use it and that if our mind and neurology can get stuck in a certain way of responding, it also means it can get unstuck… when we know how.
Once clients get a really good understanding of the why, I then teach them how to start making changes at a neurological level by teaching them specific mind-body tools which combine gentle movement, visualization, NLP, positive psychology and mental exercise amongst other modalities.
I teach my clients how to calm their stress response and fire up neurological pathways which promote health and allow the body to re-balance itself.
With practice, these tools help change the way the nervous system is functioning thereby positively affecting physiology and often result in full recovery.
After the 3-day seminar, there is follow-up coaching included.
Liz: Is the Lightning Process a one-on-one program or group program?
Jodie: I usually see people individually or as part of a small group of up to 5.
But right now, because of the current climate, I’m running seminars of up to 3 over Zoom.
Liz: Just curious, because I’m sure our readers will be, too: is the price lower if you do it with others rather than individually?
Jodie: Yes, there is a different price for doing it individually compared to as part of a group. Details are on my website.
Liz: How do you accommodate for ME clients who currently have significantly limited capacity? For instance, people who may only have one-hour or less of mental energy per day (rather than the four).
Jodie: That’s a very good question.
The LP can be tailored to people’s physical needs, for example people who are bedbound or currently awake a limited number of hours per day. The main requirements are that people want to change their current situation, are prepared to look at their condition with fresh eyes, believe that the change they want is possible, and are willing to put the work in.
Before the course begins, I have extensive conversations with clients to check if the course is a good fit and the right time for that person.
Liz: So my upward trajectory back to health wasn’t linear. How did you learn to keep your spirits up and believe your full recovery was possible, despite setbacks? Did the LP give you tools for dealing with these?
Jodie: Once I started understanding the science behind the LP and hearing other people’s positive experiences, it really willed me on. I had a sense that the Lightning Process was my ticket out and that drove me forward to use the tools and stay consistent with them.
There were absolutely moments that were tough and my spirits dropped. But these are all things you are taught how to best handle whilst you are doing your training so I felt like I had the tools to work through those difficult bits. I also had my practitioner to contact if I was feeling particularly stuck.
I kept thinking about the idea that I was training my brain… and just like going to the gym to train your muscles, it takes commitment and consistency to see and feel changes.
Everytime I waivered, I’d be like, ‘Right Jodie lets go to the brain gym!’
Also the more you use the LP the better you feel, the more your spirits are lifted and the less you need to use the tool. So in and of itself, it motivates you to keep going.
Liz: What was the most helpful takeaway from the LP that you still refer to today?
A question I always ask myself and I encourage clients to put on post-it notes around their house is ‘Is this useful?’
Not is it right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative… but is this useful?
Meaning, are the thoughts I’m having, the actions I’m taking, the feelings I’m experiencing, moving my life forward in the way I want to go? Often we have what people would refer to as ‘negative’ thoughts/feelings/actions but actually sometimes these can be very useful in helping us process and work through something.
On the other hand, I’ve had clients who have had seemingly very positive actions like being very efficient at work but behind the scenes they were having panic attacks so sometimes things that look useful and positive are actually quite the opposite.
This is why I believe just thinking positively isn’t always that helpful. Because sometimes it can mean we’re covering up things that need to be addressed.
It’s more useful to notice what is working for us and what isn’t. And the stuff that isn’t useful, learn how to influence our neurologically so we can respond differently and change it.
Liz: Now that I’ve fully recovered and am sharing my ME/CFS recovery story, people often reach out to me to inquire about my former symptoms (etc.) to see if they exactly match with theirs, to validate if it’s possible for them to heal, too.
If their levels are higher for a pathogen, some fear it might be insurmountable, yet if their levels are lower, they feel like something is wrong with them for not healing from it.
What do you tell people who inquire about this? Your answer will help both me and our wonderful readers.
Jodie: I think on the one hand it’s useful for people to look for similar symptoms to others who have made great recoveries. That then encourages a sense of, well if they can get better, then so can I.
But it’s also helpful to remember that everybody’s body is different. Our histories, our beliefs, our symptoms, our medical experiences, the way our body shows us that it is at dis-ease etc.
But in the case of those with chronic conditions, I find it more helpful to look beyond just the symptoms and instead look at what is going on at a foundational level that is stopping the body from healing in the way that it is naturally designed to do.
What I tend to find my clients have in common, is their autonomic nervous system is out of balance.
Once this is re-set, the body’s natural ability to heal kicks back in and I see people make incredible recoveries time and time again.
Liz: What other types of chronic conditions do you work with as a LP practitioner besides CFS/ME?
Jodie: The LP has helped clients with a wide range of physical and emotional issues. The most common conditions I see clients with are CFS/ME, chronic pain, digestive concerns, anxiety and depression.
There is a more comprehensive list on my website but I also recommend getting in touch if someone wants to find out if the LP could help their specific concern. I’m always happy to chat and give an honest assessment.
Liz: What is your mission now in life?
Jodie: My main mission is to bring up my two daughters in an open-minded, confident way; I am constantly talking to them about how magical their body’s are in the hope they grow up respecting, honoring and feeling empowered when it comes to their health and well-being.
My other mission is to empower and inspire others to be active participants in their own healing journeys.
We so often feel (and have been led to believe) that the answers to our health concerns lay outside of us, but there is so much we can do ourselves to create amazing positive changes.
It’s just a matter of knowing how.
I always reiterate to my clients that as much as I would love to ‘heal’ them, there is only one person who can change their neurology and that is them. I can support, nurture, and teach the tools necessary, but only they can put those tools into practice and fundamentally make those shifts.
However, I’d like to think my knowledge on the subject, personal experience and genuine care for those I work with are a core part of their success and by association, my success as a practitioner.
My personal experience of suffering an ‘invisible illness’, has helped me to be truly empathetic and compassionate with those I work with.
The dramatic shifts I’ve experienced in my own health (like thousands of others who have taken the LP) is a good example of what is possible, and it drives me to encourage and support my clients at every turn.
Liz: How can people get in touch with you?