ME Awareness: The Real ME – Ten Year Challenge with Severe ME – Jennifer’s Story | 08 May 2019

 

Helen Hyland, Fundraising Manager, ME Association.

Jennifer Chittick runs a popular and highly respected Facebook page called “Screw M.E.” The aim of the page is simply to stand up to M.E. through fun, love and silliness whilst supporting others through their M.E journeys. “Don’t let it beat you” is her motto.

Jennifer regularly pays tribute to other people with M.E. – including most recently the ME Association’s very own Lee Stammers for his FeBLUEary campaign. And, when health permits, Jennifer organises an annual online auction to raise funds for M.E. charities too.

We all know times when M.E. gets in the way of stuff that we desperately want to do – and in 2018 Jennifer was forced to take a break from her auction. And many of us found Christmas shopping to be far less fun because of it.

Early in January 2019, a new trend hit social media – The Ten Year Challenge.

The craze involved people comparing pictures of themselves in 2009 to ones taken in 2019 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Celebrities jumped at the chance to post well-groomed images showing that they hadn’t changed one bit (aye right!).

And so, Jennifer decided to post her own M.E. version.

She writes: “My first thought was to avoid this ‘Ten Year Challenge’ thing like the plague.”

“Firstly, so many people seem to age backwards. Seriously, how is it possible to look BETTER after a decade?! It’s incredibly selfish of them!”

“Sometimes the hardest things, the most painful things, are the very things that we need to be most open about.”

Jennifer Chittick

“Also, it’s another crappy reminder of how much my life has changed (for the worst) in the last ten years and of how I’ve missed out on so much. It basically sends me spiralling into negative thoughts and comparisons.”

“But you know what? Sometimes the hardest things, the most painful things, are the very things that we need to be most open about. Hence my decision to post my own two images.”

“Ten years ago, I was at my sister’s flat party in Glasgow. I’m wearing a blue dress, green cardie and purple scarf round my neck. Talking to a taller girl with blonde hair. I was feeling wretched with what I thought was a persistent flu. I managed an hour or so before calling a taxi and collapsing into bed.”

“Ten years later, and that persistent flu not only didn’t shift, it got worse and I was diagnosed as severe M.E.”

Jennifer Chittick

“Surely an early night would make me feel better?! Ten years later, and that persistent flu not only didn’t shift, it got worse and I was diagnosed as severe M.E.”

“It has left me bedbound and extremely incapacitated; wearing sound-cancelling headphones and a scarf over my eyes to block out any light.”

“So, I’ve had ten years of missing out on so many experiences, but also experiencing (enduring?) more than most people ever will.”

“Not becoming an adult in the normal sense but maturing through the most difficult of circumstances that have required me to be strong and fierce.”

“So, blow my insecurities and ruminating – this is what the Ten Year Challenge looks like, Screwy style!”

“Yep, ten years is a long time and it’s emotional to look back on. But this is the hard truth of M.E, something I will ALWAYS make a point of showing the world, however painful it may be.”

Jennifer Chittick

The ME Association

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