A SUPPORT group for people suffering from ME is looking to promote the work it does in Swindon as part of national campaign raising awareness of the condition.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis is a long-term chronic illness and , which sees sufferers experience a range of symptoms including chronic fatigue, sleep problems, muscle pain, cognitive dysfunction, sensitivity to sound and light, depression, anxiety, irritability and mood swings.

It affects one in 250 people.

On Monday, ME Awareness Week will began yesterday with events highlighting the support available to those who have the condition.

In Swindon, the town has a support group which meets every third Wednesday of the month. Its next session takes place at Manor Farm pub in Haydon Wick between 7pm and 9pm on Wednesday, May 20.

The society launched 20 years ago but stopped briefly before being relaunched by Julie Cushion in 2009.

“When I was diagnosed, I immediately looked for a support group and it has helped me with my illness because of the friends that you make,” said Julie, who was diagnosed with ME in 2008.

“My marriage ended because of my illness as my husband didn’t understand it. The group gives our members that feeling of not being alone as we can all relate to what everyone is going through. It is a life-changing condition that ensures that things for the sufferer are never the same again. It attacks people of all ages, social classes and ethnic origins.

“The cause is unknown but is generally initiated by problems with the immune system, hormone imbalances, traumatic events, genes and emotional trauma.

“The best outcome that you can hope for is to get well enough to be able to manage your symptoms on a day by day basis, known as pacing. Some people experience severe symptoms and can be left housebound and bedridden.”

Sensitivity to food, digestion problems, dizziness and fainting are other problems faced by those with ME, she said.

Julie describes ME as an invisible illness and believes an awareness is vital to help the people understand the problems encountered by those with the condition.

“The illness is very unknown and it is crucial that we help people understand more about it,” she said.

“The symptoms vary from person to person and fluctuate with good and bad periods, so from an observer it is hard to understand why one moment a sufferer can complete a task and yet an hour or day later it is physically impossible.”

For more information about the Swindon support group call Julie on 01793 614643 or visit www.swindonmesupportgroup.org.