Vikki George is 26 and from Surrey. She is bedbound due to Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), but has dedicated her energy to raising awareness of the condition and helping others by blogging on TheSite.org and co-founding Post Pals, a website community for chronically ill young people.
I used to be a healthy teenager. I went to school and was fit and active with lots of friends. Aged 11, I caught glandular fever, but while most people recover from this virus, I just got worse. I managed to keep going in to school until I was 15-years-old, and since then I’ve spent almost 24-hours in bed every day. I have heavy black-out curtains on my window, because bright light dazzles my eyes and makes me feel nauseous. I take all my meals lying down and often vomit after eating. I am in constant pain and always exhausted.
I was chatting on the phone to a friend I’d met through an ME charity when I first heard about TheSite.org. I was 21-years-old, and had spent the last six years in the same bedroom, predominantly bed-bound. Having ME means I don’t have the typical lifestyle of a girl in her twenties – I don’t go out, meet boys, drink alcohol or get in to trouble. I once went nine months without seeing anyone except my parents – not even a passerby outside my window. The illness came as a great shock and I quickly felt isolated and alone, and now my school friends have grown up and moved on. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the outside world.
TheSite.org talks about everything important to young people and speaks completely honestly and openly. Often I don’t feel like I have any problems that I need help with. My condition is ongoing, and I just get on with it, but I do try and give advice to other young people. I think it’s so important that young people realise we all have the same problems, but experience them differently. That was one of the main reasons why I set up Post Pals – to help ease the solitude that comes with serious illnesses.
When I saw TheSite.org was looking for young bloggers, I realised I could help raise awareness of ME and share my experiences. One of the worst things about the condition is that people think it means you are just tired or can’t be bothered. Most people have no idea it can be as debilitating as it is for me – even doctors. I was delighted when TheSite.org asked me to start blogging for them.
I’m always been completely honest and open in my blog because there’s nothing to be gained from hiding the truth. That’s why TheSite.org and I get on well – because we both believe in the same philosophy. Keeping the blog has reminded me how much I love writing, and now I’ve started to write a book. I go through phases of using TheSite.org, but I always know it’s there if I have a problem, which is comforting. I once heard someone describe TheSite.org as the ‘Bible for people growing up’, which is how I feel about it. I’ll be seeking its non-judgemental advice for many years to come.