An inspirational teenager, who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, has revealed how the illness has turned her life upside down.
Amy Martin wants to be treated like any other teen, but the 16-year-old says her condition means she often has to miss out on days out with her friends and family.
The Runshaw College student, who lives in Euxton and went to school in Leyland, even missed her 16th birthday celebrations last year when she was in hospital for three months from March to May, where she had to sit some of her GCSE exams.
Now, she’s telling her story in a bid to raise awareness of CFS and ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), which is classified by the World Health Organisation as a neurological disorder.
She said: “My condition really limits what I can do. I’m a normal teenager who just wants to go shopping and have fun, but I have to be really careful.
“I can’t plan too far ahead because I’m so up and down”.
Amy’s symptoms include extreme tiredness, weakness in her arms and legs, dizziness, sickness, muscle spasms and aching joints, and she often relies on a wheelchair.
“People don’t understand what it’s like for me. It’s not as easy as they think,” she said. “You can sleep for hours, and rest, and still not feel any better afterwards.”
She has had the symptoms of CFS for a while, and has also suffered from juvenile arthritis since she was aged two, but was diagnosed with ME three years ago.
She believes she was in denial at the time, and would try to ignore her aches and pains.
“I didn’t like to admit that I wasn’t feeling well,” she said. “I tried to push myself too hard, but I just wore myself out and would have to stay in bed for about a week to recover.”
Amy, who lives with her mum Michelle, dad Keith and 21-year-old brother Dale, has now learnt to deal with her condition, and has found ways to pace herself.
She said: “It is upsetting when I have to miss out on seeing my friends at the last minute if I’m having a bad day, but I try not to dwell on it too much.
“Some people are in a much worse condition than I am.”
Now, Amy and her friend Louise Griffith, 17, are wanting to help spread the word about how ME/CFS affects young people, and are joining forces for ME Awareness Week from May 8.
They’re hoping to set up a stand at Runshaw College to raise awareness, and would also like to fundraise by selling cakes. All donations will go to the Association for Young People with ME.
Amy said: “ME is probably the most misunderstood condition there is, and I want people to know more about it. Then maybe they’ll realise what it’s like to be a young person suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.”