Aside from being dropped off by a stork in 1991, I have spent the last 10 years of my life with a condition called M.E. which stands for the horrendously long Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (I had to copy and paste that from Google to get the correct spelling). Considering some of the symptoms of the illness include difficulties with memory, spelling, word finding and speech its no wonder we decided to shorten it!
So I got sick when I was about 15 and was diagnosed with M.E. a year later after a lot of tests and scary doctors who told me I could have an aneurism or asked me if there were ‘problems at home’. I was just a teenager who had gone from being an active member of sports teams, girlguiding, scouts and music groups to an exhausted, dizzy, achey wreck. Eventually a doctor decided it was M.E. and told me to rest and pace myself and to go to school part-time.
Somehow I managed to get my GCSEs that summer and scraped myself some A Levels, partly through teaching myself from home. I only lasted one term at university before I ended up in A&E having convulsions. Since then I have been studying with the Open University; supported home learning has been such a gift, especially as I could continue to study Art History. I’ve even been able to fit in some office work, volunteering and relationships/socialising around my studies and my illness (not always successfully!)
I’ve reached a point in my life where I would argue that M.E. isn’t all bad, it has made me highly organised and efficient, I know the quickest way to get anywhere, and I’m the first one to crack a joke at my own expense – laughter is the best medicine!
But on a more serious level, I believe that I developed M.E. because my body needed to protect me, I was putting it under way too much stress physically, academically, socially and in terms of the rubbish I ate. My body hasn’t been letting me down all this time, its been trying to protect me and rightly so! I still wasn’t looking after it years into my illness, but now I am. So with the help of the Optimum Health Clinic in London, and countless other wonderful alternative health practitioners I’ve met along the way, I’m caring for myself the way I would care for a small child with love, laughter, listening, reassuring, early bedtimes with a nice story and treats for good behaviour!
In this blog I aim to share with you my journey to health through self-discovery and slash the stereotype that people with a disability are not seen as people, but purely in terms of their diagnosis. We don’t always help with that perception as we can let our illness define us, I know I did for a long time. But I’m not going to be a victim anymore, I’m a warrior!