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Why I'm Thankful to Musician Stuart Murdoch for Sharing His Experiences With ME/CFS

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Songwriter and frontman of Belle and Sebastian, Stuart Murdoch, opened up about living with ME/CFS in a 2015 interview. Being a fan of the band, and having ME/CFS, this was big news for me. It meant our community welcomed a new face. A face that has a platform to reach many, many people. A platform that brings exposure to not only ME/CFS, but to normalizing life with chronic illness.

Normalizing our experiences is so important in the chronic illness community. Especially for anyone who is like me, and is surrounded by people who are healthy. It’s common to feel like an outcast and outsider because your life is so fundamentally different. Having conversations like this one makes us feel like a part of something — like a club of sorts. We’re all in this hard place together, and we’re trying to get to the other side in some way, shape or form. What that other side is, is a different answer for each and every one of us. When we are able to see, relate, understand and talk to each other in our own language, we’re able to be there for one another. This is something Stuart Murdoch speaks about, and I couldn’t agree more. This is how we learn what each other is doing to cope, and how we ourselves learn to weave chronic illness into our own lives.

Stuart Murdoch was young when he became chronically ill with ME/CFS. He’s had to adapt and work his life around it. He’s built a successful career as a musician doing just that. He’s making beautiful music from his experiences of living with chronic illness. I’ve always admired artists and their ability to be master alchemists – transforming pain and suffering into something beautiful. One of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, was most notable for that.

Now when I listen to Belle and Sebastian, I hear it as music from one spoonie to another. I hold each song a little closer to my heart, as they carry a deeper meaning. I hope this interview encourages more people from the entertainment industry to come forward and talk openly and honestly about living not only with ME/CFS, but with other chronic illnesses as well. We need more representation in art, music, television and literature. I think what’s beautiful about these art forms is how chronic illness doesn’t become the sole focus. The sole focus is on experiences within a life, where chronic illness just happens to be a piece of that life. At times it’s the main piece, but it’s still just a piece.

When one person stands up, we become less afraid to. When thousands stand up, we feel empowered to. There is safety to be found in numbers, as there is strength. The more people that speak about their experiences, the less power stigma and shame have over all of us. This helps break the bridge between the lives of the healthy and sick, and create a culture of inclusivity. Thank you Stuart Murdoch for speaking so truthfully and honestly. Watching this interview was what gave me the courage to stand and start speaking. I hope it does the same for others. It was a nice reminder to feel we are all in this together, and I’m not the only one living with these experiences-and neither are you.

Watch the full Solve ME/CFS interview with Stuart Murdoch here:


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Screenshot via SolveCFS YouTube video

Originally published: November 10, 2017
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