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Charlotte: "It's always possible to make a difference"

We are always inspired by those with M.E. who help make our work possible. Charlotte Green raised money for us during M.E. Awareness Month in May by dressing up as a princess. In 2016 her Princess Leia dress-up raised £1,100 and even drew the attention of Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. If you feel inspired by Charlotte, could you take on your own M.E. marathon? (Running absolutely not required.)

My name is Charlotte Green, and I have lived with M.E. for just over five years. It took me a year to get a diagnosis, and around another year after that to come to terms with my illness and adapt to the major ways it impacts my life.

I had to resign from my job as a teacher, I sold my car because I could no longer drive it, and I became completely dependent on my husband. My social life suffered as well. It is extremely difficult to maintain friendships when you are too ill to participate in everyday life.

We need research and understanding

It is not right that so many of us are ignored by society and are left to deal with a severe, debilitating condition completely by ourselves. We need research. We need understanding. We need support systems like Action for M.E. because so many of us are suffering from this incredibly isolating illness.

Through education, research, and sharing our experiences, I believe we can change the way M.E. is viewed by society, and make life better for the thousands of people affected by this illness.

Thank goodness for the internet

Being housebound and severely physically disabled makes fundraising kind of tricky, so thank goodness for the internet!

Through Twitter I was able to make virtual friends with many people with M.E., including the lovely Siân Wootton, who had the original idea to dress up as princesses for M.E. Awareness Day.

The idea behind it all was that for many of us, having M.E. is like being a princess from a fairy tale. Like Sleeping Beauty, many of us are stuck in bed year upon year. Our poorly bodies find it hard to get comfortable, just like The Princess and the Pea. We long to go to the ball and dance all night, like Cinderella, but instead are stuck in our ivory towers like Rapunzel, with no way of escape.

And, just like Ariel, the little mermaid, we would love to have proper legs so that we can walk, run, and live an active life again. So this is why, each year, Team Princess dress up as princesses for the day to raise money for a variety of different M.E. charities.

The event is specifically designed so that people can take part as much or as little as they like so their health does not suffer. All you need to do is dress as a princess, even if all you can manage is a tiara, then share fundraising links to your chosen charity online and post a photo of you in your princess finery.

For the last two years, I have taken part on behalf of Action for M.E. and have been totally taken aback by the response from family, friends, and some really lovely strangers.

It feels great to be able to contribute from the safety and comfort of my bed. As well as raising almost £2,000 for Action for M.E. I have made fantastic friendships and now boast the start of an impressive collection of princess outfits. This year, I dressed as Princess Leia from Star Wars, and even managed to get my photo seen by Luke Skywalker himself, actor Mark Hamill.

What you can manage is more than enough

It can be extremely hard for people with chronic illnesses to manage even the most basic self-care, let alone work out how to join in with fundraising.

My message is that it is possible to make a difference, even if all you can manage is to pop on a tiara, or some princess-themed pyjamas and lie in bed. It may seem a small thing to do, but if it's all you can manage then it is more than enough.

Each small step we take together is a step towards finding answers for this life-destroying illness. We are not alone, even if it sometimes feels that way, and the more we share our experiences, the more others will begin to understand what having M.E. is really like.