Trigger warning: This article mentions suicide.
David was misdiagnosed with depression for nearly two years - but was depressed because of how ill he was. Many people with M.E. experience additional mental health issues - coping with a long-term condition can be challenging. David has support from a specialist and his partner Becky.
I first got ill in June 2015; I was sat in work and all of a sudden. I felt like something just clicked in my head and I started getting symptoms straight away. Foggy head, anxiety, my body just felt exhausted. I went to the doctor and they said that my symptoms were just depression. They prescribed me antidepressants and I took them for four months. Nothing seemed to change and more symptoms started to develop - light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, panic attacks, cold hands and feet and my memory started to deteriorate. Over 19 months I went back to my doctor numerous times for different blood tests.
After months of the looking up my symptoms and seeing what could be wrong with me, every test continued to come back negative. I thought I was a lost cause and my current doctor continued to dismiss my declining health as depression so I decided to go see a private doctor. I told her all my symptoms and showed her all the blood work that I had had done. She then suggested M.E./CFS. I went away from the appointment not feeling my best; I had hoped that she would be able to tell me that I had something worse. At this time, I had always presumed that M.E. meant just feeling tired.
I did some more research about M.E. and spoke to my girlfriend’s Mum who also has M.E. and she told me about a specialist. Within two hours of meeting the specialist, he diagnosed me with M.E.
Having M.E. is difficult because I used to be a very active person; I played five-a-side football twice a week and lacrosse for my local team every Saturday. I had to stop doing this when I got ill and this had a massive impact on my mental health, causing me to develop depression and leaving me feeling suicidal at times. As I can now only leave the house when I feel well enough, I have had to become very unsociable and my social anxiety is very bad now.
I have been been out of work for about five months on sick leave. Now that I have a treatment programme in place, I hope that I will be able to recover enough to be able to work again. Before my M.E. I really enjoyed my job and although my health comes first, I cannot wait to get back there.
When I was at my worst, I could not get out of bed. My muscles in my legs felt like the energy had been drained out, my foggy head was so bad I could not keep a line of thought together for two seconds and my head was pounding nonstop. My anxiety was through the roof, I was sweating but my hands and feet were freezing cold. Living in this way made me very suicidal. I would think “how am I supposed to live like this?” On top of this my GP was telling me that I was feeling this way because of my depression – but I was depressed because of how ill I was.
M.E. has affected my relationship with my partner Becky for better and for worse. A positive is that it has brought it closer together. On the other hand, we cannot do the things that we used to, like go to the cinema, out for meals, socialise with friends. I do not see my parents as much and do not feel as close to them. The illness has made my memory so bad that sometimes I do not even recognise my family, which is very scary.
My journey to diagnosis has meant that I will probably never go back to my local GP ever again. After being misdiagnosed with depression for 19 months, I couldn’t help but feel like all they did was dismiss me and try to get rid of me in less than five minutes. They did not really listen to my needs and symptoms. Because of specialist help, self-care, and support from Becky I can see a slight difference in myself. I just wish that people understood how severe and debilitating M.E. actually is. It is so much more than just being tired.