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'Insight' On Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Andrew's Experience
Tuesday 16 October 2018
‘Insight’ on chronic fatigue syndrome: Andrew’s experience
Andrew Bretherton was working as a personal trainer, kung fu and basketball coach and finishing a psychology and sports science degree when he became ill. He is now mostly housebound due to ME.
He tried graded exercise therapy at a Melbourne clinic where he was blamed for his illness, told he was averse to exercise and had the wrong type of personality.
Andrew wanted to go on SBS’ Insight to show what it’s like for the average patient.
[Note: The Insight episode featuring ME/CFS airs on Tuesday 16 October 2018 at 8:30 PM, and is repeated Wednesday, 17 October 2018 at 3:30 PM.]
“I can only imagine how bad it would be for someone who didn’t have a sports science or psychology background going through all this and then believing ‘oh okay, maybe it is in my head’ or what they were doing is acceptable practice when it’s not.”
While some participants on the show – Luke, Ketra and Andrew – were assessed using the International Consensus Criteria for ME, Andrew pointed out misdiagnosis is an issue and overtraining syndrome in athletes is referred to as ‘chronic fatigue’ which leads to confusion.
Three hours of filming took a toll on Andrew and it didn’t help that the Melbourne graded exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy clinic staff continued to contact him after the program, even joining closed patient Facebook groups.
Andrew would do it again, if he had the chance, and doesn’t regret going on Insight.
“It’s not often you get a chance to confront your abuser, so it was therapeutic for me in that sense. I only regret that they focused more on outdated modes of practice, but we do need people to stand up and put forward the message of real science and show that these dinosaur practices of treatment (graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy) are harmful to patients.”
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