THE pain and strain of living with an illness which brings overwhelming exhaustion is being outlined through a new campaign with a York woman’s story at its centre.

Alison Bramley has battled myalgic encephalomyelitis – more commonly known as ME or chronic fatigue syndrome – for years and admits it can leave her struggling to cope.

Now she has agreed to be part of a poster, leaflet and website campaign called The Faces Of ME, which will be launched next week by a charity which funds research into the debilitating condition.

Action For ME is using the photographs and personal tales of people across the UK to drive home the effect it has on sufferers, and 63-year-old Alison is among them.

Telling her story, Alison says she believes she had the syndrome – which leaves those who have to deal with it exhausted and with muscle pains, headaches, poor sleep, memories and concentration and digestive problems – some time before she was diagnosed in 1992.

“The doctors did not believe in it – I had to battle to get a diagnosis,” she said. “I think the trigger could have been a virus I got when expecting my youngest daughter, Jo, in 1983.

“I have had really bad bouts when I overdo things. Most of my friends don’t understand so I don’t talk to them about it much. I feel as if I can’t cope, but I do because I have to.

“I try to rest every afternoon. I get pains in my legs when it is really bad, pressure on my head, cognitive dysfunction and I get tongue-tied. Words don’t come out right.

“I have got used to it and live with it, and it is horrible. I really envy people who don’t have it – I just want a cure.”

The campaign ties in with ME Awareness Week, which runs from May 10 to 16.

Peter Spencer, Action For ME’s chief executive, said: “At least one in 250 readers of The Press is likely to have ME and we want them all to tell their story.

“I know from those we have received already that they will be stories of courage, determination, endurance and, above all, hope.

“That is why we campaign so hard for more research into the causes and development of this invisible but often very disabling illness.”

About 250,000 people across the UK are affected by ME, including children as young as two, and the charity also wants their parents to share their stories.

• To add your photography and story to the charity’s website, log on to and click on Faces Of ME, or email You can also write to Action For ME, PO Box 2778, Bristol BS1 9DJ.

Action For ME offers information and support to people with the syndrome and their carers, both online and through its helplines. For more details, visit the website address above or phone 0845 123 2380.