A SUPPORT group for people with a debilitating condition wants fellow sufferers to know they are not alone.
The Paisley and District ME Support Group, who meet today, has information for people who are newly diagnosed and can offer support on how to cope.
Chairwoman Theresa Bates was diagnosed with ME in 1996.
The former teacher wants people with the condition to come along to the group and realise they can get help.
She said: “It is ME Awareness Week this week so we want to raise the profile of the group.
“We did have up to 20 people coming along every month but the numbers have dwindled and at the start of the year we decided to meet four times a year.
“There must be a lot of people out there who need the support of others going through the same thing and that’s what we can offer.”
ME is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome or chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome.
It is estimated that 250,000 people in Britain are affected by the illness and all types of people at all ages can be affected.
Symptoms include severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, gastric disturbances and poor memory and concentration.
Paisley woman Theresa, 66, said people with ME can still struggle to be diagnosed by their GP.
She said: “There are still some doctors who maintain that the illness is psychological and as a result, ME patients have great difficulty getting benefits.
“One person I know has struggled for more than two years -– trying to keep on working, changed his job for one which is less physical, but as with any illness, stress has made it worse.
“He now realises that rest is the only answer and he will have to give up working if he wants his health to improve.
“This friend is having great difficulty getting Incapacity Benefit, without which he will have no income at all.
“He is not alone.
“Stress is not the cause of ME. Going to work with a heavy cold or a broken arm will lead to a higher degree of stress than is usual in a day’s work.
“So too will trying to continue working with ME. Eventually the stress makes it worse and ME wins.”
Today’s meeting will be held today at 2pm at the Disability Resource Centre, 74 Love St, Paisley.
Alternatively, contact Theresa at 0141 561 3426 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on ME Awareness Week, check the Action for ME website by logging on to www.afme.org.uk