The Civic Buildings, the Old Town Hall Clock Tower and the Dromore Viaduct were just some of the local buildings to light up blue on May 12, as part of the international ME awareness day.
Local support group, run by Elaine Dickson and her husband Andrew, persuaded Banbridge Council to participate in the global initiative, with more than 16 landmarks in Northern Ireland being lit up, including Belfast City Hall.
Elaine was diagnosed with FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) and ME (myalgic encephalitis) in 2011 and later set up the ‘FMS/ME Awareness Dromore and Banbridge’ group, to raise awareness and support others who suffer with these Chronic illnesses.
“Raising Awareness is key, as people are very ignorant of what these illness are about” said Elaine.
Elaine had not felt well since contracting a severe flu whilst working with a charity in the Ukraine in 1999. It would be another 12 years of living with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, headaches, and nausea, before Dosctors finally diagnosed her.
Whilst she was relieved to get a name for her illness, she said: “afterwards I felt I was just left there to manage it alone. There seemed to be little else they could do for me. It’s a very isolating and lonely illness and I felt like nobody understood me”.
For this reason Elaine felt a support group would benefit others.
Among other things, the group is working hard to overcome the many misconceptions surrounding ME.
Elaine said: “I want to make clear that sufferers are not seeking sympathy at all. What we want is that finally people will realise ME and Fibromyalgia are real physical illnesses. Understanding and acceptance is all we desire.”
Elaine would also dearly love to see a central service in Northern Ireland dedicated to these illnesses and is encouraging people to join the campaign - google ‘fully adopt ccc for ME in Northern Ireland’ to find out more.
The support group meets every second Thursday in the month at 7.30pm in the DUP offices in Dromore. For more information, contact Elaine on 07526 980154.