Guest Blog, by Jenny McGibbon.
I’ve suffered from M.E for about 5 years now. I know that won’t seem a lot to those of you that have had to suffer for decades. But it’s still approaching 2000 days.
Almost 50,000 hours spent in pain with crippling fatigue. It dictates so much of my day to day life, and I often feel more like I’m 84 instead of 24.
Having a chronic illness has taught me a lot over the years, things I’m sure not the average 20-something truly understands. It’s pushed me to breaking point several times, but every time I’ve managed to crawl my way back.
There’s a lot of life lessons that come along with M.E, you learn a lot about yourself. It also teaches you about the people around you. It teaches you about the kind of people you need, and the kind that you don’t.
I know that it’s difficult for people to understand something they can’t see. Fatigue and pain are my worst symptoms, and neither of them are ‘visible’. Their impact is very much visible, however. And that’s what people need to recognise.
M.E is only an ‘invisible illness’ if you’re looking at it with your eyes half shut. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to realise I’m hardly ever in class, I’ve left the workplace, I’m never on the nights out.
‘This thing they call recovery’
You won’t see me at the pub, or the gym, or the park. There’s a reason M.E sufferers are known as the ‘millions missing’.
You might not be able to see my pain, but surely you can see the impact it’s having on my life. That’s not hard to see.
Awareness and understanding of this condition are lacking, we all know that.
I decided a year ago that I couldn’t complain about this if I wasn’t willing to spread awareness myself – in the most honest and realistic way I could.
So, I started a blog, and I still write to this day. It is called, “This Thing They Call Recovery”.
Not long ago my boyfriend’s friend Stephen started reading the blog, with no prior knowledge of M.E I’m happy to say he learned something from my posts.
That’s all I ever wanted, I just wanted people to understand. Perhaps people that had never heard of the condition before, or people that were confused about what M.E meant, perhaps people that were under a false impression of ‘oh that’s just being tired’.
It meant so much to me that he had taken the time to read what I had written, that he had chosen to try to understand. There’re people I’ve known my whole life who still aren’t great at doing that.
Stephen had only met me once very briefly at this point – and yet here he was reading my blog.
That was more than enough to me, but he took it one step further and decided to run in aid of M.E, because of what he had read.
He will be running in the Great Scottish Run – a half marathon – in Glasgow on Sunday. I don’t know how I’m meant to adequately thank him for doing that.
Choosing to run for M.E is about more than raising money (although obviously that’s wonderful in itself). It means more to me that it’s got people talking about it. It’s introduced the condition to people and sparked conversation.
The fact that people are donating to his run means more to me than the number on the screen. For every person that donates it shows me that they believe. Nobody would donate to a cause they think is nonsense.
All these people believe that what I have is real. For people with other conditions that might sound silly but M.E sufferers will understand, I’m sure. We’re doubted on a daily basis, for our ‘invisible’ condition. It’s not invisible to us.
I’ve learned that it’s important to keep talking about it, bring it up to people when you can. You never know who might be listening, and what they might be willing to do to help.
Raising awareness doesn’t need to be a mammoth task, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Chatting about how your M.E impacts your life to a single person could make all the difference.
Bit by bit we’ll keep the conversation going.
Thank you so much Stephen for choosing to be a part of that conversation and helping to push things forward.
You could have picked any cause to run for, and yet you picked M.E. You have no idea what that means not only to me but to every other sufferer that reads this, along with their friends and family too.
Good luck for Sunday!
If you would like to support Stephen in his run, please follow this link to his fundraising page on JustGiving.
This blog was published to the ME Association Facebook page on Friday, 28th September where it received a great deal of support.
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