The Herald: After 25 years battling illness, actor prepares to showcase new film | 14 June 2018

June 14, 2018


By Paul English, Scottish Herald, 14 June 2018.

There have been days when Kirsty Strain’s ME symptoms were so bad, she has been unable to get out of bed. But she is making up for those lost days now.

Over the coming weeks, the actress will see the seeds of her creative endeavours come to fruition with a prolific run of work including a film she conceived, wrote, directed and stars in herself.

The 37-year-old Glaswegian is best known for roles in BBC Scotland programmes such as comedy series Burnistoun and weekly drama River City.

Kirsty Strain’s role in ‘And Violet', a film about adoption, gave her the idea for her own short film, ‘Echoes That Remain'.

Yet 25 years ago, she first encountered the symptoms of which would eventually lead to her being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalopathy.

There is, as yet, no cure for the debilitating condition, which affects an estimated 250,000 people across the UK.

Famous sufferers include former Celtic and Scotland footballer Davie Provan, actor Michael Crawford and American singer-songwriter Randy Newman.

Symptoms include severe tiredness, disordered sleep and reduced cognitive function, with many of those diagnosed rendered unable to work.

For Kirsty, coping with the illness is not so much a battle, as a daily negotiation with her compromised physiology.

The actor has adopted a holistic approach to self-care, at the centre of which lies a disciplined approach to sleep, nutrition, hydration and mental focus.

She said: “When any limitation is placed on you, you can either give into it, or you can find a work-around. There have been periods of severity when I have been bedridden and housebound, and the terrifying thing for me would have been to stay in that mindset.

“I had to find a way of not letting my physical situation affect my mental health, which it obviously did for a while, because a chronic physical condition with such a heavy impact on your body is going to affect your mental health, particularly when you are housebound and bedridden because you become isolated.

“ME is still a part of my life. I’m lucky because I’m at the moderate end of the spectrum, but I have to make that negotiation on a daily basis. If you want something, then you have to find a work-around, because there are no straight lines. Especially if you’re working in the arts industry.”

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