Mum lost her business after sleeping all day
A mum was forced to close her 10-year-old business after sleeping all day due to a condition that causes extreme tiredness
Fitness coach Ellen Murray, 34, lost her family’s sole income when her life was taken over by symptoms like fatigue, swollen glands and ulcers that made her throat too sore to eat or speak. She’d spend hours in bed after meetings, or lie on the sofa all day after the school run as she recovered from exhaustion. But the cause of her symptoms was a mystery.
The “high-achieving” mum of two young children ignored symptoms for years before her “body just gave up” in June 2020 amid the stress of the pandemic. An infection sparked the sore throat and swollen glands, but instead of bouncing back like normal, her flu-like symptoms continued for four months.
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Ellen, from Rainford, said: “I went to the doctor and started doing tests, and everything was coming back fine. I knew there was something, but I just had to go on my own journey of figuring it out because I wasn’t getting many answers until six months later when I got the official diagnosis.”
The entrepreneur, who has chronic fatigue syndrome, stars in a new documentary from SamEvansVisuals Productions, telling the story of her search for a diagnosis and her path to recovery. Available on the YouTube channel of new digital broadcaster Truu+ from June 24, Unstoppable is the first feature-length documentary by Whiston-based film maker Sam Evans, creator of Truu+. Sam, who starred in the CBBC’s documentary series ‘Show Me What You’re Made Of’ in 2016, said: “Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness which isn’t talked about nearly enough. This documentary aims to start conversation and raise awareness on how detrimental this illness can really be.”
Ellen felt “vulnerable” doing the documentary, but she’s keen to raise awareness of the “misunderstood condition” of chronic fatigue syndrome, also called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which affects up to 250,000 people in the UK. The 34-year-old said: “It’s almost the last thing doctors diagnose you with. It’s like they rule everything else out first, and there’s still that bit of misunderstanding. Some people are like, ‘Is it a mental thing? Is it a physical thing?’, but it very much is a physical illness.”
She “felt a bit of relief” to have an answer when she was diagnosed, but grief soon hit and she found herself lying on the floor wondering how she was going to adapt. Ellen said: “Teaching fitness, which was my business, I just couldn’t do it anymore, so I had to make huge life changes.”
Ellen deliberately sought out positive support and role models to help her rebuild her life with this incurable condition. Her life is “completely different” and more balanced now, to such an extent she said, “I’m grateful for what I’ve been through”. She keeps a regular sleep routine, and walks or does yoga instead of high-intensity workouts every night. She spends time in nature, mediating and doing reiki and acupuncture to relax her mind and body.
Now, she’s building back her coaching business, but she has to limit how much she does. Pushing herself too hard could trigger symptoms, so she questions whether each activity is worth the cost to her energy. Ellen said: “I look back at that person who always put so much pressure on herself, and I’m like, ‘Why?'”
She added: “As women, we do just give to others first – to career, to family, to keeping up the house, like men do as well, but particularly high achievers, women who are quite driven, who are leaders, who are running their own businesses or in management. I feel like the pressure on them is even higher, or they put themselves under so much pressure to spin all the plates. It’s important to be kind to yourself and not put unreasonable pressure on yourself to the point where you’re stressed and your body is starting to show you.”
You can watch the trailer of Unstoppable here. The full 60-minute documentary will be available on YouTube on June 24.