Guest blog: Christina


My name is Christina and I am a 26-year-old from the North East of England. I am also a M.E sufferer.

My journey started when I had just qualified as a teacher and I was in my first year, known as your NQT or ‘Newly Qualified Teacher’ year. I was working flat out and could regularly be found up and at my computer at midnight planning lessons and making sure that my resources were perfect. I was good at my job and I loved it. Just before the Easter holidays, I had started to feel really run down and weak. I even passed out in the middle of a year 11 lesson! This carried on for weeks and I was in and out of the doctors surgery being diagnosed with everything from stress to ‘just another virus’. The final nail in the coffin was a week before the holidays when the school received the OFSTED phone call. As you can imagine whether you are a teacher or not, everyone tripled the pace and I was no exception. On the final day of the inspection after running on adrenaline for 3 days, I was observed and got ‘Outstanding’, great! Except that I felt like a ghost looking down on myself and thinking “you can’t keep working like this”. I continued to get worse and eventually was diagnosed with glandular fever. Throughout the next year, I contracted glandular fever four times as I didn’t allow my body the time that it needed to fully repair. By October 2014 I could barely get out of bed. I worked with a wonderful man and a dear friend called Tom who had suffered from ME for several years and I started to identify with many of his symptoms. Finally, I went to my GP and queried if this could be the cause and was referred to a local specialist. I was officially diagnosed in December 2014.

However, my illness had many layers. On the surface, I had M.E and clearly needed a long period of rest if I was ever to recover. However, there were issues deeper down that I have never spoken about until recently. I had suffered from an eating disorder since around the age of 16 and from this age had lived on a strict calorie controlled diet of 1,200 calories a day in addition to taking fat loss pills and often binging on prescription strength laxatives. My body was already exhausted and I was making it worse by not giving it the fuel it needed.

From being diagnosed and admitting these problems to my M.E consultant, life started to pick me. I finally knew what was wrong with me and I started to learn about my symptoms and more importantly how I could control them. There was one thing standing in my way: my job. So in August 2015, I made the huge decision to leave teaching. It was hard for me, but I realised that my health had to be more important than my job and I was living to work. I had just got married to the love of my life and I wanted to build a life with him and not have him on the side while trying to struggle with my job being the priority. I found a job which was still in education but removed the home workload and slowly I started to see an improvement. I had to give myself a good talking to and realise that just because I had to change careers didn’t mean I had failed at teaching.

The next stage was the food thing. Again, I sat myself down and thought “when I die, will people really remember me for how much I weighed?”. The answer is no. People will remember you for being a nice person, helping others, your achievements but certainly not what your body fat percentage is or the fact that you ate that cake last Tuesday. I started to eat properly and this also helped my symptoms as I had more fuel.

Although I like my new job, it is 30 miles away and I am now finding that I am struggling with the travel. But again, that’s ok. I have a job, I have supportive colleagues and managers and am also regularly submitting job applications closer to home. I know that if I’m patient, like I had to be with my illness, in time I will find something ideal for me.

I find with ME, you need to take the Rocky Balboa approach: one step, one punch, one round. Take your time, don’t let the relapses get you down, and most importantly never give up.

Chrissy xxx

1 thought on “Guest blog: Christina”

  1. I love this post. I’ve had to leave teaching too and having great problems with coming to terms with my limitations, compared to my previous work aspirations. Admitting to yourself that you need to set new expectations for yourself is really hard!

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