M.E stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The condition is characterised by a variety of symptoms and can affect anyone at any age.
The most common symptoms include:
muscle and joint pain
a sore throat and sore glands
problems thinking, remembering, and concentrating
feeling dizzy and sick
fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations)
However, there is an inexhaustive list of symptoms that vary from one patient to another, M.E is personal, it does not discriminate in it's attack on the body. It can impact every aspect of a person's life, in impacting health M.E impacts career goals and aspirations, friendships and familial relationships, personal hobbies and past times.
There is no test for M.E, so diagnosis is incredibly difficult, especially when the symptoms of the condition are identical to many common illnesses that resolve themselves in time. Therefore, to obtain a diagnosis patients often have to experience a variety of tests, scans and examinations to rule out other conditions.
The most common treatments prescribed for M.E are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Graded Exercise Therapy. However, these treatments have been highly controversial as they perpetuate an attitude of blame on the patient. Recent NICE guidelines advise against these treatments, however they are still advised and advertised on the NHS website.
In my personal experience, medication has been the most helpful route for managing my symptoms, along with learning and understanding of my personal triggers, and how my body is impacted by the condition.
Causes of M.E
M.E is a temperamental condition at best, the cause of which is not singular. A variety of illnesses, experiences and traumas can cause the development of M.E.
Some of the most common causes include:
viral infections, such as glandular fever
bacterial infections, such as pneumonia
problems with the immune system
mental health problems, such as stress and emotional trauma
Living with M.E
I have lived with M.E since the age of 14, I contracted glandular fever and 6 months after was diagnosed with M.E. At the time, I was heading into my GCSE exams. I reduced my subjects to accommodate my new way of life. That new way being late starts at school, afternoon naps in the school library, ground floor classrooms, counselling and frequent doctor's appointments.
I was incredibly lucky to attend a school where M.E was taken seriously, my teachers worked hard to understand my symptoms and accommodate them, they took the time to adapt their teaching so that I was able to complete my exams and achieve results of Bs and above. This allowed me to continue to stay at the school for sixth form, completing A levels in Psychology and Religious Studies.
Moving forward and into the 'real world' with M.E has not been easy, however I hope to touch on the triumphs and tribulations I have experienced in a later post.
I personally experience exhaustion and fatigue, all of which can occur suddenly and without warning. I have to be careful to pace myself. I plan every moment of my day, interweaving rest and naps between tasks such as reading, crafts and spending time with my loved ones. It is a weay of life being chronically ill, you learn to value your time, you become acutely aware of prioritising, and most importantly you learn who you are and what you truly want out of life.
For more information on M.E, including the symptoms, treatments, causes and how you can help please find below a variety of organisations: