Naomi Whittingham reflects on a life with severe ME since age 12 in her guest post at the blog of Anil van der Zee.
Last year I turned forty. For most people, such an occasion is cause for reflection. This is especially true when severe illness has formed a major part of life. Having been seriously ill with ME since the age of twelve, birthdays such as this are some of the only ordinary landmarks I’ve passed in my life. The numbers go up with alarming rapidity, but the life events which normally accompany them remain absent.
One faces the scarcely comprehensible imbalance of glimpsing middle age while still waiting to experience teenage milestones. My age says that I should be established in a career, with my own home, a partner and children. (Or at least some combination of the above.) The reality is that my world stopped turning in any normal way when I was still a child.
Major birthdays are a jolting reminder of just how much time has passed. I clearly remember celebrating my parents’ 40th birthdays with them. I am now the age that they were when I fell ill. (A particularly difficult fact to get my head round.) The babies and children of my early illness are now parents themselves. I have been ill for an entire generation