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Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 10:59 GMT
My battle with ME
Teresa Coe
Teresa Coe had to change doctors
Teresa Coe has battled symptoms of ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) for years. She told the BBC about her fight, both against the debilitating effects of illness and the scepticism of the medical community.


"It started with a glandular fever-type illness. I had all those symptoms of crushing exhaustion and a flu-like malaise.

"I was very, very weak, had a lot of trouble walking, could not wash my own hair.

"I was given quite well-intentioned, but bad advice initially to push myself through it, so I actually steadily deteriorated for the first few years until I was completely housebound.

I have lost a lot of friends to suicide because of this illness

Teresa Coe
"Then I changed my perspective, and tried to listen to my own body, and pace myself more carefully.

"I had to resign myself to the fact that I was not going to go to university or have a career.

"Gradually I started to improve a bit.

Suicides

"I wish ME was an emotional illness, because it would be a lot easier to treat. Unfortunately there is not any effective treatment for ME, and it ruins lives.

Teresa Coe
Teresa had to use a wheelchair
"I have lost a lot of friends to suicide because of this illness simply because they could not get the support because there is a lack of belief.

"They were not able to get welfare benefits. I had to change doctor, and appeal against being turned down for disability living allowance.

"You feel like you are fighting a battle on two fronts. Not only are you exhausted, and poisoned and sick, you cannot tolerate light, you cannot tolerate noise, you cannot walk.

"To then be told this is not real, just push yourself harder and you will recover you feel to blame and that is enormously damaging.

"My GP said I should get an exercise bike, and exercise until I was back to normal.

"The fact was that I could barely walk, I was collapsing if I tried to exercise.

"I was deteriorating, and just felt she did not believe my experience.

"The biggest cause of relapses is pushing yourself too hard.

"The only way I have been able to start to beat this illness is by paradoxically giving in."

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17 Dec 02 | Health
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