Thousands of people in Sussex suffering from the chronic long-term illness ME receive vital support from a Brighton-based group – and its yoga classes have proved a huge success.
The Sussex ME Society was set up more than 30 years ago by Colin Barton, who after being diagnosed with the condition discovered there was little information or advice for people.
Myalgic encephalopathy (ME) can sometimes follow a viral infection or trauma and is classified as a neurological disorder. Symptoms include profound physical and mental fatigue, concentration and working memory difficulties along with mild confusion.
Colin, a Brighton resident, was diagnosed with the condition in 1987 – six years after he fell ill with glandular fever.
Now the Sussex ME Society has hundreds of members, and its achievements include campaigning for a specialist ME service in Haywards Heath.
“Things have got progressively better,” Colin said. “We did not have a specialist service 30 years ago or have the information 30 years ago.”
While the group has helped many to recovery, Colin said: “Although many can improve significantly or recover many do not and often remain ill for a long time.”
Colin sends out quarterly newsletters with the latest research, people’s experiences and notices about events for those with ME.
One of those events, which has had a profound effect on those with ME, is a yoga group each week in Hove.
Jonathan Burrell of Hove, who has now recovered from ME, said: “When trapped in the vice-like jaws of ME, hopes of recovery can seem forlorn and unobtainable.
“My own struggle began in 1989, when I was diagnosed with ME having spent the previous two years travelling round the world. Before long, I was housebound having moved back to live with my parents, and in need of a great deal of care and support.”
But he missed sport, which he said ‘had always been a large part of my life’.
He joined the ME Society and started a ‘Yoga for ME’ class in Hove.