My post for KettleMag.co.uk
Throughout May millions around the world unite to support Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / M.E Awareness month. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis) is a chronic debilitating illness that affects millions around the world.
It can affect anyone, at any age. There is no known cause or cure and patients face a lack of understanding and awareness of the condition.
The symptoms of CFS/M.E. include extreme fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, post-exertional malaise, headaches, weakened immune system, and cognitive difficulties such as poor concentration and memory loss. This is an invisible illness, meaning there are no external symptoms. However, in severe cases patients can be bed-ridden and unable to care for themselves or perform simple tasks.
The international day of awareness is celebrated on May 12th as this was Florence Nightingale’s birthday, and she was thought to have had M.E. It is on this day that sufferers around the world unite to share their stories and promote awareness of the condition.
I was diagnosed with CFS/M.E. almost five years ago and find living with an invisible illness extremely challenging. It’s difficult to describe the condition when those around you can’t see what’s going on. Almost every day, I smile through the pain and try to act ‘normal.’
I ignore the repercussions of my illness so I can live my life, and often suffer the consequences. By helping to raise awareness, I won’t have to be ashamed of my condition anymore. No more explaining something that nobody seems to understand. No more hiding.
One of the most popular methods that M.E. patients use to raise awareness is through blogs and posting online (Try #May12BlogBomb for examples). The online community between patients is constantly evolving and growing stronger. It’s an inclusive opportunity, suitable for even those who are housebound, to get involved.
When you face a lack of awareness in the public eye, sharing your stories with those who understand can be incredibly valuable.
Throughout May I have been inviting guest posts for those with M.E. to share their stories here. This is an opportunity to explore the spectrum of symptoms faced by patients, and to shine a light on the lives we lead.
The aim of increasing awareness goes beyond the everyday challenges of living with an invisible illness. There is also hope that awareness will extend beyond those around us. By rising the profile of this often unknown or misunderstood illness there is hope to spark an interest in the medical community. Chronic illnesses such as CFS/M.E. are in dire need of funding and research to change the lives of millions of people.
I have been fortunate enough to speak with many incredible people who are an inspiration to us all. Whether you are raising awareness, fundraising for research, sharing your story, or still smiling after a hard day – You are doing something amazing and should be proud.
So this May, take a moment to consider the lives of those who look just like you, but face an array of hidden challenges every day. Show your support for those who can do little for themselves, and help raise awareness of chronic illnesses.
Part of Kettle Mag health awareness: kettlemag.co.uk/article/raising-awareness-illness-chronic-fatigue-syndrome