Today I started reading the next book on my ever growing TBR (to be read) pile. It's a women's literature book and I've only read the first few chapters, but I just had to share a few sentences. The first sentence is from the end of the first chapter:
Five years ago Eileen had been diagnosed as suffering from M.E. and ... there was a limit to what she could do.Eileen is the main character's mother, so while she's not (so far) a big part of the story, she is in the main group of characters in my mind. So when I read the above sentence, I actually had to stop and reread it. Surely I had got it wrong. Surely the author didn't mean the same M.E. that is the debilitating and life-changing (and not usually in the good way) chronic disability that I live with.
And later on:
Eileen wasn't getting enough rest, and if that went on for too long, Harriet (the main character) knew her mother would be stuck in bed for days. ... Just as soon as she started to feel well and her energy levels increased she invariably overdid it and was back to where she'd started, feeling ill again.And my favourite:
...before M.E. sneaked its way into her life and sapped her energy...So why did these references surprise me so much? Because, other than books that are specifically written about M.E., I have never come across it in fiction before, and definitely not so casually added to the story. And as you know, I've read a lot of books.
While this book isn't 'new' (2004), I can't help but feel a surge of hope at seeing M.E. included in a book this way. It marks, at least to me, the idea that people in general are becoming more aware of it. When you live online, talking mostly to people with chronic disabilities, it's easy to forget that the rest of the world doesn't have much of a clue of what is happening to us.
In some small way it also felt like a validation. I know it shouldn't have, I know what I live with and what it has done to my life and to others' lives, but seeing it in print made it suddenly seem more real. While this may not be a bad thing, especially if M.E. starts to be seen as 'real' by many who currently disagree, it has made the little bit of hope that this is just a bad dream die a little more. Just to be clear, I'm still hopeful and positive about improving. And I'm not so blind as to think that I can just wipe these years out of my mind. But it is pretty overwhelming and ignoring my reality is sometimes the only way I can cope.
Okay, so this post ended up going in a completely different direction from what I planned, but hey, that sometimes happens. And if you're curious, the book is 'Love and Devotion' by Erica James. Is it bad that I'm thinking I'll have to read more of her books just because of this?