independent

Tuesday 23 April 2019

'It felt like I had a bad virus and a hangover'

A person in their twenties should be full of the joys of life and energy but for Jason McTiernan it was a period he would rather forget as chronic tiredness took over even after a night's sleep. He talks to Aine O'Boyle about how he overcame the condition and the journey of 11 years it took

Jason McTiernan today
Jason McTiernan today
Jason McTiernan who says he spent a lot of his twenties literally asleep

In his early twenties, an apprentice engineer from Ballygawley was diagnosed with an illness that would take him the next 11 years to recover from.

At 20-years old, Jason McTiernan, full of ambition and on the way to becoming a toolmaker, soon had his plans disrupted once a seemingly benign bout of glandular fever developed into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

McTiernan had previously noticed that he was very susceptible to colds and virus'.

"Anything that was going I would have it" he said.

After a period of time, the glandular fever did not improve.

"I knew that something was wrong with my health, but I didn't know what or why," said McTiernan.

"I got all the testing to exclude everything else, and then I got the diagnoses eventually of chronic fatigue," he explained.

According to McTiernan, he felt a sense of relief once he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue, but this relief soon developed into hopelessness once he discovered that very few treatments exist to cure CFS.

"I found quite negative information online about it and I was thinking that it was possibly going to be something that I couldn't heal from" he said.

"I remember kneeling down and praying, I was crying at the time," McTiernan recalled.

Very shortly after his diagnoses, McTiernan felt his life change drastically.

Like most young people, McTiernan had enjoyed an active lifestyle.

"I used to go out clubbing with my friends… it was unusual for me to not be active and doing things" he said.

"I took my health for granted, that I could just do things and I wouldn't be thinking about being grateful for my health and my vitality" he added.

With CFS, McTiernan suffered daily from symptoms such as malaise, chronic fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, swollen glands and chemical sensitivity, to name but a few.

"It felt like a really bad virus and a hangover combined, when I would wake up in the morning I would feel even more tired than when I went to bed… even going for a short walk was too much," he said.

"I was hoping that there was some kind of medication or treatment I could have to fix me and get better" he continued.

McTiernan continued to suffer from constant headaches, susceptibility to virus', night sweats and anxiety.

"I probably had a little bit of anxiety before... but when I was ill it definitely increased... there was so much stress going on about whether I was going to heal, my future was entirely uncertain" he said.

McTiernan felt as though he had lost his whole sense of identity. "I really identified myself with engineering... I was itching to get back doing some work" he added.

According to McTiernan it was a very challenging time for his friends and family also.

"I lost contact with a lot of people" he said.

"Some friendships are based on activities that you do and when you're not doing those activities sometimes a lot of those friendships are lost" he explained.

McTiernan explained that he found it difficult to understand what he was going through himself.

"I can see how difficult it would be for other people to understand" he explained, adding that "some friends stuck with me the whole way through".

Over the years and to little avail, McTiernan experimented with several different treatments in an attempt to make CFS more manageable to live with.

For those that suffer from CFS, few medical treatments exist.

Those treatments that do exist serve to relieve pain and suffering as opposed to curing it.

"If there was anything I thought that could help me to heal or to even notice some kind of improvement, I did it" he said.

Treatments may include graded exercise therapy, medication to control pain, nausea and sleeping problems or cognitive behavioural therapy.

According to the National Health Service, most people with CFS improve over time, although some people will never make a full recovery.

When researching alternate treatments for CFS, McTiernan came across The Lightening Process.

"I was a little bit sceptical to be honest when I seen it first" he said.

"I bought into that kind of mindset that it was something that people used to convince themselves that they were well when they weren't" he added.

Sceptics of the process claim that it forces people into doing something that they physically are not capable of doing.

According to McTiernan, very few support systems exist for those suffering from CFS with minimal information on the condition being available on the HSE website.

"I remember getting some support from the ME Association, I did something like reflexology and some other alternative treatments that definitely helped at that time" he said.

McTiernan noted that CFS isn't something that is very well recognised in terms of its severity level.

"Its severity level is on par with MS [multiple sclerosis]" he added.

Eventually, McTiernan had enough and spent two weeks researching The Lightening Process and found several recovery stories of people that had been healed from CFS and related diseases.

Some of these people had healed "in what seemed like ridiculously fast time frames" said McTiernan.

In 2016, McTiernan did The Lightening Process.

"I didn't know exactly what it was going to be" he said.

The Lightening Process occurs over a period of three days, with five hours of training each day.

"I was straight away walking, like two hours on the first day and then within two weeks I climbed two mountains and then in two months I was exploring the whole southern coast of Portugal… walking up to nine hours a day," he continued.

According to McTiernan, it is quite a simple process that teaches people to make changes to their thought patterns and physiology and to identify old patterns and stop them from occurring.

"Me getting to the root cause was actually stopping that stress response" said McTiernan

"I can see now exactly what led to me getting ill in the first place and then what kept it going" he added.

McTiernan noted that he was under a lot of pressure in work, he would be the last person to leave in the evenings and didn't know how to say no to people.

Over the past two years, McTiernan has been working with others in an effort to heal them using The Lightening Process.

He has an office based in Sligo and runs a number of free seminars for those interested in learning more about The Lightening Process.

McTiernan noted that even though results cannot be guaranteed with The Lightening Process, it has a large success rate and a growing body of evidence to support it.

"Sometimes people ask me do I fear a relapse or being in remission and then going through a relapse, but I don't" he said.

"Me getting to the root cause was actually stopping that stress response" said McTiernan

"I can see now exactly what led to me getting ill in the first place and then what kept it going" he added.

McTiernan noted that he was under a lot of pressure in work, he would be the last person to leave in the evenings and didn't know how to say no to people.

Over the past two years, McTiernan has been working with others in an effort to heal them using The Lightening Process.

He has an office based in Sligo and runs a number of free seminars for those interested in learning more about The Lightening Process.

McTiernan noted that even though results cannot be guaranteed with The Lightening Process, it has a large success rate and a growing body of evidence to support it.

"Sometimes people ask me do I fear a relapse or being in remission and then going through a relapse, but I don't" he said.

Fact File

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterised by extreme fatigue that can't be explained by any underlying medical condition.

The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn't improve with rest.

This condition is also known as systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

The cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is unknown, although there are many theories - ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.

Signs and symptoms may include: Fatigue, Loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits, unexplained muscle or joint pain, headaches, unrefreshing sleep, extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise.

Sligo Champion

News