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Meet the group challenging the way we approach chronic fatigue

PUBLISHED: 16:57 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 13 June 2019

Julie Briggs founded the Wymondham ME and fibromyalgia group to help sufferers connect. Photo: Submitted

Julie Briggs founded the Wymondham ME and fibromyalgia group to help sufferers connect. Photo: Submitted

Archant

Muscle spasms, extreme fatigue and debilitating flu are among the long list of symptoms experienced on a daily basis by people with ME.

The Wymondham ME group at their latest meeting, held at the White Hart, Wymondham. Photo: SubmittedThe Wymondham ME group at their latest meeting, held at the White Hart, Wymondham. Photo: Submitted

And according to 45-year-old sufferer, Julie Briggs, the impact these symptoms have on sufferers' work and social lives is equally hard to cope with.

Ms Briggs, a self-employed project manager from Wymondham, was diagnosed with ME in 2006, but said she had experienced symptoms for a decade before that.

With a 13-year-old son and an active worklife to maintain, Ms Briggs said she was struck by how isolating the disease left her feeling as she struggled to keep social commitments.

She said: "Planning ahead is difficult because you don't want to make plans only to let people down if you have a flare up. Socialising ends up falling by the wayside. When you have flare ups you might not see people for days on end."

In a bid to combat the problem, Ms Briggs took to social media to see if there were any sufferers in Wymondham interested in meeting.

The response was instant.

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Within weeks the group had attracted more than 60 members, who have been meeting regularly at the White Hart pub in Wymondham ever since.

Ms Briggs said the group had helped members gain practical tips as well as comfort and reassurance.

There is no known cure for the illness and NHS advice centres on taking 20-minute breaks every two hours.

But according to many sufferers, this is not a practical approach, made harder by societal pressure to push through.

Ms Briggs said: "We live in a world obsessed with what you can achieve and if you have to take a slower pace it can be difficult. The group has been amazing because being around others who are managing the same restrictions is affirmation that it's okay not to push yourself too far."

On Saturday, June 22, the group will hold a free treatment taster day at the White Hart, featuring a range of alternative therapies believed to ease symptoms.

Ms Briggs said the event would be a great opportunity to speak to experts and sample new coping strategies.

Free tickets can be ordered here.

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