ME/CFS Comic

This is an image I produced last year for the blog Better, Drawn. The blog is run by comics creator Simon Moreton, and part of its aim is to encourage visual expression of the issues and feelings of long-term mental or physical illness sufferers. 

Most contributions are one-page comics, and you don’t have to be a seasoned scribbler to submit a page. Its intention is not to showcase drawing virtuosity, rather to provide a common space for people to display their experiences of illness.

My page at at Better, Drawn is all about ME/CFS, a misunderstood, stigma-steeped illness. Or rather, I should point out, two illnesses lumped together for which there’s still no test or cure. I originally posted it anonymously worrying that clients would pick up on it and decide that I was somehow unreliable. I’ve decided that my decision to remain anonymous was probably tantamount to admitting to some sense of shame regarding the illness. With hindsight, I’ve decide that was counterproductive to my intentions of drawing it in the first place! I should also point out that I’m mostly recovered but still in touch with others who aren’t, and this image illustrates a common experience.

Fellow creators who’ve contributed to Better, Drawn include Andrew Godfrey, Emma Mould, Nick Soucek, Thom Ferrier, and Bonbon, as well as Simon himself.

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8 thoughts on “ME/CFS Comic

  1. I love it! so true about so many illnesses that don’t fit clearly defined, clearly testable symptoms – and the subsequent doubt the person who is ill feels about their own body/mind…glad you’ve decided to claim it and not let the naysayers get the better of you!

    • Thanks Sasha! Yes, I guess it could also apply to ‘hidden’ mental illness too – you can’t see it so it’s not there! At least that’s the attitude encountered by some at benefits agencies/ tribunals. However, many people with ME/CFS can appear very ill, and are bed-bound, but they still have no credible evidence to ease their applications for benefits, and even if they don’t doubt their own body, they are faced with the doubt of others.

  2. Love this Paula – The arrow to “The Pit” is particularly great. So hard to crawl back out isn’t it?! I find it hard to know what to say when people respond by saying how well I look, sometimes they really mean it as a compliment, not as a statement of doubt, and it seems mean to give them a curt reply… but it’s very tempting! I suppose it depends on who it is and how it is said. Usually I wish I HAD given a curt reply, but chickened out or just did not have the energy to engage with it. Glad you “owned” this drawing, no shame! Glad you are managing to do some work and are mostly recovered.

  3. This is brilliant. I fell ill with ME about 10 years ago. I’m mostly recovered, but still have some issues (mainly food intolerance etc). It’s a really tough thing to go through when people’s attitudes are so negative. Thanks for this!

    • Thank you. You’re welcome. Yes, it doesn’t help that the illness is misunderstood by the medical profession. Difficult to make others understand when none of us have the knowledge of what’s going on exactly.

  4. Pingback: Comic Bodies and a Request « rusticwriter

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