Fibromyalgia sufferer Lesley Tapp has set up a support group in Trowbridge after receiving such a good response when she spoke out about her illness to the Wiltshire Times last year.
Mrs Tapp, of Soprano Way, Trowbridge, aimed to raise awareness about her struggle with the ‘invisible illness’ and has since set up an informal support group for other Fibromyalgia suffers.
The group, which recently moved its meetings from The Albany Palace to The Shaw Trust, Palmer Gardens in Trowbridge, gives sufferers an opportunity to meet and discuss the illness or just socialise with people in the same situation.
Mrs Tapp, 50, who lives with her husband Chris, 52, has suffered from the disease for over 10 years, and has lost friends and her job as the chronic pain, fatigue and sleep deprivation it causes has progressed.
She said: “The response I got after the Wiltshire Times story was incredible – people were recognising me and stopping me in the street to put me in touch with others with Fibromyalgia.
“We have got quite a few members now who come to the meetings, but it does depend on how everyone is feeling, which is why it is quite informal and relaxed.
“It is free for anyone with the illness who wants to come along and chat about whatever they like.
“Many sufferers feel like they are going mad before they are diagnosed, as there is something of a stigma about it, but talking to others in the same situation makes you feel better.”
Mrs Tapp was only diagnosed with the condition just over three years ago, after a succession of doctors failed to explain the severe pain in her face and hands, and later her shoulders and back.
Other symptoms include forgetfulness, often leading sufferers to fear they are developing dementia, and sensitivity to lights and sounds.
Mrs Tapp added: “We have even had partners of people with the illness come along to the meetings to learn more about what they can do to help their loved ones.
“MP Duncan Hames contacted me after the last article to offer his support to our cause, which was great to hear.”
Anyone interested in attending a meeting of the Trowbridge Fibromyalgia Coffee and Chat Group can email trowbridgefibrogroup @hotmail.co.uk or go to the Facebook group at www.facebook.com/trowbridgefibro group