A YOUNG woman from Bromsgrove who suffers from M.E. is stating a new online 'selfie' campaign to raise money for research into her condition.
Clare Cartlidge, 24, has suffered from M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitiswhich), a condition that causes amongst other symptoms persistent exhaustion, for as long as she can remember.
"I always had problems all the way through school; feeling ill, having lots of time off, always being tired," she said.
"I worked from the age of 16 and work was as difficult as school. I always struggled to finish a shift and I often asked a manager if I could go home early.
"Eventually I had to stop working, which was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but I was waking up every day in pain. I was diagnosed in 2010 and life for me now is pretty dull; I have to sleep often, but I can never fall alseep. When I do, I wake up in pain."
She explained that she cannot walk far without a walking stick and for longer distances she needs to use a wheelchair. She suffers from depression, uncontrollable mood swings, confusion, lack of concentration, anxiety, memory loss, extreme muscle and joint pain and extreme exhaustion, which is made worse by uncontrollable changing sleeping patterns.
"This is why it's so important to raise funds to find a cure," she added. "Too many people suffer from this and there currently isn't one. We are an army but we cannot fight without soldiers."
To mark M.E. Awareness Week, which starts on Monday (May 12), she has come up with the idea of taking two pictures of herself - one on a good day and one on a bad day - and will post them online for all to see.
"I thought that the cancer awareness no make-up selfies were a great idea and I took my inspiration from that," she explained.
"The idea is that the one picture is how the world usually sees us, the face we put on, the brave face, while the bad photo is to show the reality of what the illness really is, how bad we truly look and feel under all the make-up.
"One picture is of me on a rare good day, when I have the energy to do my make-up and get dressed. The other picture is how it really is, how I really feel, and how I usually look pretty much every day.
"It's what we are calling The Two Sides of M.E. and, of course, I am worried about my bad photo - its awful - but if it helps people to understand and take notice then it's something I'm willing to do."
Clare is asking anyone willing to post their good and bad selfies online to do so and anyone who wants to donate can visit justgiving.com/ClareStephanie-Cartlidge. It is also possible to donate by texting 'CCME90' with the amount to 70070, for example: CCME90 £5.