ME Awareness: The Real ME – Recovery and Me – Gabby’s Story | 09 May 2019

May 9, 2019


Helen Hyland, Fundraising Manager, ME Association.

This year, for M.E. Awareness Week, we’ve been sharing stories of REAL people who have, or who have had, M.E. Telling stories of people who have had M.E. for years, if not decades, and sharing stories of people who believe that they are experiencing a remission or have recovered.

Gabrielle Coles was 13 years old when she was diagnosed with M.E.

As Fundraising Manager for the ME Association, I’ve come across a handful of people who ‘caught’ M.E. in childhood or in their teens who seem to have made a good, if not, full recovery.

Whilst still rare, it appears to be the case that younger people with M.E. can indeed sometimes be restored to full health.

Gabby is one of these cases. I’m not saying that she hasn’t been affected by what she suffered, but as one of the ‘luckier’ ones, she was determined to celebrate her achievement of a full and active adult life by helping others.

She ran for the ME Association in the Bristol 10k at the end of ME Awareness Week last year, achieving a personal best of 54.47 in the process and hitting her fundraising target on the head too.

Gabrielle Coles was 13 years old when she was diagnosed with M.E. She says that she suffered continuous nausea, headaches, light sensitivity, no appetite, painful muscle and aches, and incredible fatigue with insomnia. She lost weight and then her short-term memory.

She also feels hugely guilty for the strain her illness put on her family for the two years she was bedridden.
Gabby has discovered a passion for dance and fitness that she would have only dreamed about when she was younger.

She was forced to drop out of school and never returned to full-time education. She says that she felt there to be a huge stigma around M.E, that it wasn’t believed to be a real illness.

She also feels hugely guilty for the strain her illness put on her family for the two years she was bedridden.

She felt desperate, alone and vulnerable and could see no way out. She struggled because she had no control over her body or her life.

Fast forward to 2018, and Gabby is now married, in a full-time job, she and her husband have managed to buy their own home and they have two happy and healthy children.

A fairy-tale ending? Not quite. M.E. has left its scars.

Gabby says:

“I have had to confront the fact that I haven’t accepted some of the psychological issues; I am afraid to push myself in training in case I ‘relapse’ but am never satisfied with my performance.”

“I feel as if I should have done better; I still struggle with the stigma; I feel the need to prove myself; I can’t accept that I was weak, fragile, scared and so vulnerable.”

Gabby ran for the ME Association because she said that we helped her to explain her illness to disbelieving relatives, colleagues and friends. And because she believes that the ME Association campaign and speak out for those who can’t defend themselves.

“I have shied away from anything that would remind me of that time, that illness; and I am absolutely terrified that my children will suffer with it. But, those early experiences have shaped the person I am today.”

Gabby Coles

The ME Association

Real People. Real Disease. Real M.E.

We are a national charity working hard to make the UK a better place for people whose lives have been devastated by an often-misunderstood neurological disease.

If you would like to support our efforts – particularly during ME Awareness Week – and help ensure we can continue to inform, support, advocate and invest in biomedical research, then please donate today.

Just click the image opposite and visit our JustGiving page for one-off donations, to establish a regular payment or to create your own fundraising event.

Or why not join the ME Association as a member and be part of our growing community? For a monthly (or annual) subscription you will also receive our exclusive ME Essential magazine.

ME Association Registered Charity Number 801279


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