With the easy accessibility of blogging and video blogging, it’s little wonder people take the opportunity to share their concerns and interests. Artefact spoke to Meg Says about how blogging helped save her from the despair of being diagnosed with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). Meg was diagnosed with ME in her first year of university but had suffered from various fatigue related illnesses for a long time.
I went to meet her at her home as most days she is not well enough to leave the house. Even just wearing slouchy clothes and slippers she is striking – her hair is long and blonde and her voice gentle. She welcomed me in and offered me a cup of coffee.
Meg lives in a big house in the country with her parents and has done since she was forced to take a leave of absence from her degree course two years ago. ME is an invisible, incurable, disabling and chronic neuroimmune disease with a wide range of symptoms including chronic pain, chronic fatigue, sleep dysfunction, immune dysfunction and post-exertional malaise (crashing after exerting energy). There are many different symptoms which have plagued Meg and thousands of other ME sufferers to a greater or lesser degree for years.
“I was just watching the weeks go past lying in bed and I felt I wasn’t achieving anything.
When we met she seemed to be on good form but sadly, as with many ME sufferers, it’s not always easy to see from the outside just how much they are suffering.
Meg Says is her online persona and it spans Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as the blog and website.
She told me why she had created her online presence: “When I went on medical leave from uni it was such a massive jump to go from that to being in bed. I just needed something to do. It is common to start feeling low because you can’t do anything and there’s nothing you can do about it. So I decided I needed to do something with my time and put my energy into something. That was when I was at my worst. I could only prop my head up on a pillow for just a few minutes. But I got my laptop out and I would type one line at a time.”
She added: “A friend of mine, Hayley, had a blog and she was really encouraging and told me that it’s so therapeutic and such a good way to get your feelings out. So I just started putting blog posts together one at a time. It made me feel like my time was worthwhile because I was just watching the weeks go past lying in bed and I felt I wasn’t achieving anything.”As we sat on her sofa, I asked Meg about the reception to her blog and what it meant to her. “I didn’t expect it to go the way it has, I didn’t expect to meet so many people. Now I have met people in real life and Hayley is one of my best mates now. We talk every single day. I used to write anyway and even when I was writing blog posts and not posting them I still found the writing process therapeutic. I think the most beneficial part is when you post something and people start responding. You get people who say ‘you’ve put how I feel into words’ or ‘I feel the same way and now I don’t feel alone’. It just makes you feel ten times better about the situation. If I didn’t have the internet and stuff like that I would just feel completely shut off from the outside world.
“I don’t think I would cope very well if people started criticising me. People might think ‘she can’t be that ill if she’s gone out with her friends…’ for example my holiday, I had a really awful time on holiday, I needed a wheelchair for most of it and had to stay in bed. I always try and put a positive spin on things because I am naturally optimistic. I think if it [my blog] was to get any bigger, a few people who don’t understand it would have a a few things to say.”
Reading Meg’s blog and the comments she has received makes it hard to believe that anyone would ever try and attack her; it is mostly full of supportive information for other people who are suffering.
On the success of YouTube stars Tanya Burr and Zoella Sugg, Meg said: “I tried to make it more of a lifestyle blog because I’m not just an ill person. I still have interests that I can pursue while being ill. I don’t have a lot of regularity in my blog because I haven’t been able to get up and take photos even though I can sit in bed and write. I think people will follow you but they expect you to have weekly posts and videos, whereas I can’t commit to a schedule because I don’t know how I’m going to feel. It’s frustrating because I think I could do a lot better at it. I look at bigger blogs and think I could so do that if I was well. Other people can spend loads of time editing and taking lovely pictures but that isn’t possible for me.”
On the future, Meg said: “You don’t know when or if you will get better. So you don’t know if this is going to be for the next decade or longer. If I could work from home and be self–employed… well that would be brilliant.
“The only thing I regret is not doing it sooner. I’m doing it for the people who’d do it if they could but can’t.”
Find out more at: http://www.meg-says.com
All images courtesy of Meg-Says.com