Katie’s face

I’m at the end of two weeks of ‘just about managing’. So I thought I’d share some of it with you.

To be honest, my motives are also somewhat selfish. My rose-tinted brain has a knack of forgetting these moments so I want to be able to refer back and remind myself to stop doing the same bad things over and over again.

It’s also an ode to my friend and work colleague Katie who does the most brilliant ‘told you so’ face when I start telling her that I’ve not been looking after myself properly.

And it’s all rooted in a cycle I can’t seem to break where, once I’m having a good spell by – for example – doing two days of work spread across a week – I then take on a bit more. And a bit more. And a bit more. Oh I can see Katie’s expression in my mind!

This past few weeks I’ve done my usual couple of shifts a week with ITV News, which I truly love. There’s little more thrilling than reporting on the day’s top news story, filming and editing my report and doing a live link or interview on location. This past few weeks I’ve covered a heartbreaking child abuse story, the suspension of a senior politician, Brexit (of course) and the amazing story of an 80 year old woman who took on 80 daredevil challenges. Life is varied.

In between I’ve been doing a bit of private writing work, recorded a couple of podcasts, penned by column for the local newspaper and presented the breakfast on the local radio station when the usual host fell ill.

Even writing that last paragraph has given me all the clues I need about taking on too much.

My blurry edge of field of vision, ringing or totally blocked hearing, stabbing pain from my head down to my feet and general brain fog that regular left me grappling for the right word was all far more pronounced than usual. Indeed there were two days this week where the pain was so severe I couldn’t even lie down at night as the touch of the mattress and bedding on my body became so unbearable.

Yet, like so many people with ME that I’ve spoken to, aside of in front of my ever-patient husband, I kept my game face on for everybody else.

Why do we do that?

I think it’s for my own sake – to attempt to feel fine by appearing fine, but also to avoid being a burden or drag to anybody else. But on the flip side, when I get frustrated that other people don’t ‘get’ what it’s like, I can hardly blame them if I, effectively, hide it.

The joys and contradictions of this thing!

Anyway, I’ve written it out now. I’ve also pulled back on my work schedule for the next month. I’m still doing stuff, just what should be a better amount of it.

Here’s hoping I come back to re-read this from time to time. And here’s hoping poor Katie doesn’t have to pull ‘that’ face any time soon.

(Thank you for reading my latest post. I’d be so so grateful if you felt able to share it on your own social media channels to help spread the word. x)


  1. Hi Gary,

    Its good to see you (if you know what I mean😁).

    Your post just hit me like a ton of bricks!!! The minute we get a slither of feeling “normal’ we begin to get exicted, a small look at what life used to be like & then the cogs in the brain see’s a future without M.E. then Bang!!!! The M.E. steps up to show who’s the boss.

    I think anyone who has this awful illness can totally relate to putting on a game face when inside your crumbling, its as if our subconcience tells us ‘fake till you make” but having M.E. is anything but mind over matter, because if that was the case none of us would be suffering. It must be & is confusing for those around us, but so much more for us, how can we descibe to others the symptons/emotions/pattern/what helps?????? because we dont even know ourselves as it can change from hour to hour.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts & feelings about your illness, you put it across so well that I feel like am looking in a mirror & it feels like a big relief that its not just ME who feels like this.

    Your an inspiration, Thank You

    Love Michele xx💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s exactly what happens Gary, I still haven’t learnt after over 20 years. I always think maybe this time I’ll start to get better, it’s nice to feel like you want to and can do but not very nice when you suffer the after effects. It would be great to be able to plan something and not have to say ‘that’s if I’m ok’. Take care xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Gary, your blog makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. My husband has a “Michelle face”. I will go out into the garden, which I used to spend hours in, planting things, trimming and tending. Because it is now beginning to resemble a wilderness I will bend down to pull up a weed or two. My husband knows that even five minutes of this can make me ill for the rest of the day and I will look back at the house and see his “you are doing it again” look. Why, oh why do we do it? It’s because we all want to, just even for a moment, feel that we are who we used to be. I agree with Michelle who has posted here. If it was about trying we would all have got better because it is that urge to try that drives us on.
    I am lying on my settee today in unbelievable pain, so sound sensitive that I have to put on my most attractive Bob the builder ear protectors that we got from the builders merchants, and all because at the weekend I believed I could be driven over to my daughter’s house to have a cup of tea with her and see her newly decorated spare bedroom that she had just completed. Why I believed that, I don’t know, again it is that desire to be who you once were, and yes I put on my game face so nobody knows how ill I really am. I knew I would suffer because I can’t even speak on the telephone for more than a few minutes but there is that little thought in your head that somehow this time it will be ok.
    It is a comfort, and a sadness, that there are others out there going through the same experiences. At least knowing that there are other people who truly know what you are going through is a help as there are no words that can convey the true torment of this illness so that anyone else could understand.
    Please Gary, and all of the people that read this blog, take care of yourselves as best you can and hope one day that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. X

    Liked by 1 person

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