One of the participants, 24-year-old Cat from Oxfordshire, was there and told us about her day.
“I wanted to write and say how much I enjoyed the creative day yesterday. It was my first ever event with Meningitis Now, but it was obvious how much hard work went into the day - especially having to cater for so wide an age range. But it was all completely spot on and everyone had fun and mucked in on all the activities."
“I realise that this is why Meningitis Now really stands out as a charity. So many other charities provide direct support targeting specific issues around conditions, but don't do what Meningitis Now does: provide us with a community in the form of event days and residential weekends. Meningitis can be so completely isolating for anyone it affects, and for such a devastating condition I have found it is widely misunderstood."
“This event day made such a difference to me because it created a safe space to just let go of other stresses. It also allowed me to just be myself around people who understand that my life changed completely overnight, just as everyone else's did, and that meningitis changed and moulded who we all are."
“However, nothing about the day was actually centred on the experience of meningitis - which was particularly powerful because our individual experiences are a given. Our confidence and ability to meet other people are not."
“I found the after-effects of meningitis to be incredibly isolating, as I wasn't able to go out and socialise to meet people at Uni due to chronic fatigue. Many people just asked me, "So you're better now?" and I was never sure how to tell them that I'm not. The event day really channelled our shared experience into something positive like nothing else could. I came away on Saturday buzzing because I had got to talk to other people who had had similar (and also very different) experiences to me. This helped me understand and come to terms with my own experience far more than a call to a support line or counselling could ever do (as crucial a resource as this also is)."
“I often meet people who have M.E. But I had never met anyone else before yesterday who had had meningitis, and it was the most validating thing ever. I didn't have to worry about feeling I was "going on" about my experience in conversation, because others knew just how much meningitis changes your entire life, reaches into all of your daily decisions, and has shaped who I am. I didn't have to worry about other people possibly thinking, "Having had meningitis isn't a personality, Cat". This was honestly liberating, as I worry that I go on too much to other people, whilst simultaneously feeling like I have to explain some things that I have to do because of chronic fatigue amongst other things."
“The activities we did were so creative, creativity definitely being a part of myself I felt I had lost after meningitis. What with priorities like health and Uni taking up all my spoons, it has been so long since I just lay on the floor and painted or thought about creative writing, or made friendship bracelets, which all made me feel like I reconnected with a part of myself that I had lost. Ellie and Laura were absolutely wonderful at running the sessions, giving everyone so many opportunities to express themselves and get talking to others. It was obvious how much thought and planning had gone into every activity - I hope you guys get the recognition you deserve. I think I laughed all day and haven't had such carefree fun in a long time."
“It's so rare to find charities that do so many things so well, but Meningitis Now really goes so far to offer opportunities for people whose lives have been completely changed. It does so much with the resources it has, and clearly has some very creative minds behind what it offers people like me. I'm so glad I found out about Believe and Achieve and can't wait for the next event day. Thank you all so much.”