Martine McCutcheon has opened up about her health struggles and how she's learnt to cope with her conditions, including ME, fibromyalgia and the bacterial infection, Lyme disease. Speaking exclusive to HELLO! in her role as guest editor of our Christmas Digital Issue, Martine revealed that she struggles the most with ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
"I'm coping really well, like a lot of people out there, my disease is invisible and it can make you feel unsupported or misunderstood," she said.
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"It can make you tired and it can be unpredictable, which I hate as I love routine and being reliable. But in a way, I look at it as my friend now rather than my foe."
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The actress added: "I look at it that when I get symptoms or when my body starts clanging, it's a sign for me to pace myself, rest. And I think it gives me that when somebody else would just logically think, 'Oh, I need to just take a rest', mentally, I don't do that, so my body does it for me. So, yeah, I've definitely learned to look at it as a good messenger rather than something that simply gets in the way.
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Martine is battling ME, fibromyalgia and Lyme disease
"And it's something that, be it diabetes, Crohn's disease, mental health, it's something that you manage, and it's something that you don't expect to be perfect every day. And I think when you realise that and you accept, acceptance is a big thing, it doesn't mean that you give up. Acceptance just means that you live your life with it rather than fighting against it."
The Love Actually star, 45, also noted how sensitively the subject of health should be approached. "I also think that when we talk about it, we do it in a delicate, personal way and we don't just make it 'Instagrammable' all the time," she said. "The illness can turn your world upside down and everybody's situation is very personal and unique to them. I think that it's key to remember that."
"My disease is invisible and it can make you feel unsupported or misunderstood," she said
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Martine was first diagnosed with ME in 2011 - a long-term illness that causes extreme tiredness - and was then diagnosed with Lyme disease, an infectious bacterial condition passed on from being bitten by an infected tick. Fibromyalgia, meanwhile, causes pain all over the body.
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