Jessica-Lauren Butterfield from Lee Mount, Halifax who became ill when she was 22, said: “Viral meningitis turns your life upside down.
It’s vital that it’s treated seriously by the public, health professionals and employers.
Now 24, she is supporting our fourth Viral Meningitis Week, Vocal About Viral, which takes place between 2 and 8 May, to dispel myths and raise awareness about the long-term problems sufferers can face.
Jessica said: “Because it was viral meningitis, everybody was like ‘oh, you’re fine aren’t you?’, but you don’t feel fine.
“After about day three of being in hospital, I’d not really been told anything about meningitis. They just kind of discharged me – they didn’t give me any information about recovering.
Still plagued with headaches
“Then it’s three weeks down the line and you still feel dreadful; and then months down the line I’m still plagued with headaches. I struggled a bit with depression afterwards. I was really struggling with the fact that something so serious had happened to me – it was unbearable to think about.
“If I have a particularly bad headache I get so panicky and I’ll ring my mum in tears. I’m terrified of getting it again; honestly I can’t even explain to you how scary that thought is.
“You don’t understand why it’s happened to you, why your life’s been affected so much and why you can’t do the things you used to.
Just don’t have the energy
“I was really fit before; I was really active. That all stopped because I just don’t have the energy. I’m actually an opera singer, so I used to be out rehearsing at least twice a week and I’d be dancing all the time.
“It was so hard to keep up when you’re not well. Now singing just reminds me of really struggling, which is bizarre, but it does. You miss what you used to have; you miss being able to do whatever you wanted to do.
Rachel Robinson, our Director of Services and Education, said: “It’s vital that everybody understands how serious viral meningitis can be and that those suffering it, and their families and friends who are also affected, are not afraid to speak out about it and seek the support they need.