The Story Of The Chrysalis Effect

The Chrysalis Effect was co-founded by colleagues and friends Elaine Wilkins and Kelly Oldershaw in 2009, after both had come through very long an arduous recovery from M.E.Elaine and Kelly had a shared passion to help sufferers and their families short cut this destructive illness, but at the time they did not know where to start.They had an idea of running recovery workshops.

This idea had been germinating for some time. The challenge was they were both very busy running their respective businesses. They would meet socially and the subject of doing something would come up and then time constraints would leave this bubbling away on the back burner and life went on.

Elaine recalls:

In late 2008 something happened that shocked both of us, we read that a young woman with M.E. had taken her own life. She had suffered for 17 years and literally could not deal with it anymore. What was even worse was that her mother had been arrested for assisting the suicide. When we read her story, her list of symptoms and the downward spiral of a healthy young active person, it was like reading our own story, except with a very different and tragic ending. As we sat discussing this, we knew the time had come to step up and do something. As we talked we realised just how much we had done to get well again and how much we knew about recovering from this condition. We also believed 100% in recovery whereas, sadly, lots of sufferers of M.E, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia don't. In fact they are convinced that recovery is dependent on a medical breakthrough and so they wait and wait.

The message was clear we needed to do 2 things.

1. Share our knowledge with the staggering numbers of people who are at home, in limbo waiting for the day when they will get their life back.

2. Offer that same knowledge and support to those people caring for and supporting sufferers because they are the forgotten sufferers and play a vital role in the recovery.

The first step was writing a free guide called 10 Ways to Challenge M.E and Get Well. Next we set up a basic website. We called our enterprise Get Your Life Back. The idea was for people to order our free guide and learn about the workshops we planned to hold in Sussex, England.

It all began in Sussex.

We organised a date for the very first workshops. This was meant to be something we could fit in on a Saturday around our existing businesses. Then something we hadn't bargained for happened. We started to receive emails from people all over the world asking for our help, over and over again they said the same things they wanted to come and learn but were too far away or in many cases just too unwell to get to our workshops.This posed a question that changed everything. How can people that need our help access it regardless of postcode?


In those early days we began coaching sufferers 1 on 1 by telling them what we did and helping them identify the phases of recovery. We also did not shrink from being very honest about what we saw getting in the way of their recovery. The people who found us were getting impressive results because they had us to support them step by step. That when we knew we wanted to offer a fully supported recovery programme to everyone that needed it. Our research showed that the only way to do this initially was via an online medium. We had to learn new skills, source new technology, invest in expert mentoring from those who knew how to create and deliver online multi- media training programme. In short we had to give up our existing incomes and commit to this work.

It became our purpose.

We wanted to speak to our clients to encourage them on the dark days, coach and teach everything we knew from our combined 13 years of recovery experience.We wanted them to be inspired by many others who had recovered and we wanted them to be able to read, learn and listen to doctors and experts who like us believed 100% in full recovery. We wanted to enable clients to immerse themselves in recovery and access a 24/7, step by step support resource that left no stone unturned. A tall order you might think. It was, - it took a whole year and a lot of investment.

Then in February 2010 the programme went live and our very first client registered. The Chrysalis Effect Supported Recovery Programme was born.

We were accused of all kinds of things by members of support groups. We received hate mail and some accused us of lying about our illnesses saying we could not possibly have recovered. A film was made of us ridiculing our work and our first advertisements were refused on the grounds that we were not allowed to say we had recovered!! As unexpected and upsetting as all this was, I have always believed the adage; What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so although we were disappointed and, to be honest a bit shocked, we pressed on.

The Chrysalis Effect leads the way!

Recoverers on our programme were moving forward in their recovery, their stories confirmed everything we know to be true about the development and recovery of these illnesses. Their health profiles demonstrated clear pre-dispositions of those who succumb to chronic exhaustive conditions. The contributory factors and themes repeated in case after case after case. The 6 phases of recovery was their map and resonated immediately giving the structure a recoverer craves.

These hitherto mysterious conditions, so poorly understood by the medical profession, were no longer a mystery. We were teaching the domino effect and why delayed fatigue happens and our clients were getting better. As clients worked through the programme and learned which interventions and therapies worked well for those of us who had recovered, they began asking which practitioners we recommended. It is usual to need some nutritional help, support from a movement specialist, as well as other therapies that help with physical or emotional issues of recovery each person responds to things differently. when we realised we needed to train practitioners to work with our material so that recoverers could have access to practitioners who worked together to tailor the programme specifically to what the individual client needs.


Frustrated Practitioners!

We surveyed practitioners and so many of them were frustrated at not being able to support these clients right through to recovery. It was crystal clear to us why this was an issue. These conditions have a myriad of symptoms and we know from studying what it takes to fully recover, that there are 8 areas that have to be addressed to make that happen. Practitioners will usually offer their therapies in an open- ended way which will not address the whole picture. Clients get frustrated and tend to move on to practitioner after practitioner trying one therapy after another hoping that the next one will be the answer. This is a common pattern that leaves the practitioner frustrated they couldn't help, and the sufferer still desperate for the right help.

We were delighted to learn that practitioners were keen to have an in-depth understanding of M.E, Chronic Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia conditions. They wanted to support someone through to recovery rather than just treat them by helping a few symptoms and have a client move on searching for the next piece of the puzzle. While not everybody needs this support, in many cases the online support programme is enough. Others do need that one to one support of a dedicated and knowledgeable practitioner who works seamlessly within a team who can offer a step by step approach until recovery.

So our mission grew again!

The Chrysalis Effect Practitioner Training Programme grew out of the needs of our clients to offer just that. All types of holistic and complementary health practitioners from Nurses, Nutritionists, to Naturopaths, Psychotherapists, Osteopaths, Coaches, Integrated Doctor, the list goes on, are in the field of treating someone as a whole, looking at the causes and not just the symptoms. We are honoured to work with some amazing people to enable M.E, CFS recovery worldwide and really transform lives. So that is how the little seed of helping a few local sufferers has grown to incorporate an international community of practitioners who are making a difference to the 17 million sufferers and their families one by one on a global scale.

Now here is Elaine's story in a bit more detail, that took her from bed bound to now.

In 2000 I returned from a long haul trip with my company with a virus that left me feeling wiped out. I thought this prolonged fatigue was jet lag but after a month I was still weak and exhausted, I found my concentration was really badly affected. This was only stage 1 of a horrible journey. I suffered for 6 years from severe M.E./CFS. with acute insomnia, muscle pain and a head that felt as though it was full of hot cotton wool. My speech and memory deteriorated so much that I was convinced I had a brain tumour.

I had endless tests. I still kept dragging myself to work whenever I could but when I returned home I was like an empty shell and could barely move for days.I was embarrassed about feeling exhausted all the time. I felt lazy. So I pretended I was too busy to speak to people who tried to contact me. I was ashamed of an illness that didn't seem to exist as far as GP's were concerned. M.E. was finally diagnosed 18 months later. I lost my business, had to sell my home and was reduced to claiming incapacity benefit and descended into a chronic depression. I battled fruitlessly with doctors, I spent money I didn't have on things that didn't work and there were times when I felt like I would rather die than carry on. I would cry at the thought of what I had lost, not just for the material things, but for the person I had been.

My spark was gone and my energy a distant memory; my life had become small, quiet and lonely.  I am now completely well, although it took me over 6 years to discover the path to regain my health, 6 years I can never get back which is why I am so committed to doing everything I can so others do not have to go through such a lengthy recovery. I believe these conditions are both preventable and treatable and my mission is to change the mind-set and approach to these conditions at government level .

Kelly Oldershaw and I met in 2001 when my symptoms were in remission and she joined the cosmetic sales business I was still attempting to run. Kelly had developed M.E when she was only 17 years old. Her health plummeted to the point where her parents had to carry her to the bathroom. Imagine the distress that caused a young girl who should have been out living life to the full. Kelly's illness lasted 7 years; she missed out on so much like so many young sufferers of M.E., CFS and Fibromyalgia.

On the day Kelly came to my house and noticed a book on my bookcase about M.E /Chronic Fatigue and asked who in the house was a sufferer. I admitted for the first time I thought I may have it. It really felt like an angel had walked into my house that day. It was great to meet someone who understood, had been through it and looked well. I still had a very long way to go before I had made sufficient changes to regain my health. Kelly has since gone on to create a new life for herself in South Africa. However, her contribution in those early days of Get your Life Back is very much appreciated and was fundamental to the development of the important work we do within The Chrysalis Effect Team and Practitioner community.

It took relapse after relapse and a final crash that forced me to give up my life as I had known it. I learned so much about the process. I believe it is essential for our healthcare model to change. The time has come for us to learn how to take personal responsibility for our emotional and physical wellbeing in the 24/7 world we inhabit. When when we learn to how to do that; it is possible to achieve optimum wellbeing and create a healthy, balanced and joyful life. My experience of M.E. seemed like a curse, I know now that it was a gift.

Elaine is married to Rob, is a mum of two son Kristian and daughter Kelly, a lovely son in-law Tom and two adored grandchildren Joshua and Oliver

Elaine Wilkins Professional Biography:-


So Together Our Mission Is To Pioneer M.E, CFS  Fibromyalgia Recovery And Transform The Lives Of The Millions Of Sufferers And Their Families On A Global Scale.