Friday 19 January 2024



I'm sorry for the absence of my blog for a while but I had a lot of personal things and health issues to deal with. It then put me into a relapse. I'm only just beginning to recover from that relapse. 

I'll start by wishing you Bonne année et Bonne santé. It's not too late as we are still in the first month of 2024. 

I know it's customary at the start of a new year to reflect and make new resolutions. But surely reflection can take place at any time. In fact it might be a good habit to make regular reflections, to set aside time every week, to pause and take careful thought. Of course you could also keep a journal if that helps. 

Reflection should be honest and maybe the chance to look back and learn. Some of the questions maybe as follows. What am I grateful for? What have I learnt? What could have I done better? 

Therefore, I'm using this blog to take a moment to reflect and contemplate on my own situation and my feelings. 

Looking back I make the following observations 

  • don't ignore new symptoms which then lead to other severe health problems
  • listen to your body 
  • know your limits 
  • don't push yourself too much 
  • pace and rest 
  • don't be afraid to ask for help 
  • be more forgiving and understanding 
  • learn to appreciate all that you have, despite chronic illness 
  • be proud of your achievements, no matter how small 
In recent months I had also started to doubt whether I should continue in my efforts to raise better awareness and understanding of M.E. through my poetry and my blogs. After nearly 22 years of living with M.E. I began to wonder if I could write or say any more. After all it takes a great effort and sacrifice on my part. Is it costing me my health? 

But then something happens to make me think again and change my mind. When I see the never ending suffering I feel that I have to continue. When I see some ridiculous  proposition of how this illness can be cured it makes me angry. When I still come across people who have never heard of this illness. When I come across those who disbelieve in this illness. While there is still not one clear diagnostic test for M.E. and so doubt and confusion remains. 

So in 2024 I vow to carry on, health allowing. I can not give up now. I still have more to do, to write about and to share. 


Au revoir 
The French Femme 


Thursday 21 September 2023



Six years ago I published my second book of poems 'So many symptoms' about living with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). However, it was published in a hurry to coincide with May M.E. awareness month and was poorly done.  I've been meaning for a long time to go back and remedy that. At last I have succeeded in revamping the contents and the cover and republished. I've added some other poems, gone back and edited some of my poems, added my personal comments under some of the poems, added a contents list, page numbers and many links and references. Plus I found Sam Miller who so kindly volunteered to design a new cover for my book. I would like to thank Sam for her perseverance in creating a stunning cover. I would also like to thank Stacy Hart for writing a very kind and incisive foreword to my book. 

Of course with time and experience I have improved, as is the case with many things in life. You can always go back and improve on something. Besides Amazon is more exigent now in the format and requirements for a self published book. What's more the publishing costs have increased greatly. So that means I've had to increase the price of this book and all other books that I've published. Otherwise there will be no profit margin. I don't make much money for my books and I don't really do this to for monetary gains. I do this to raise better awareness and understanding of M.E. What's more I always donate a percentage of my sales to the charity Invest in ME Research. With each book I set up a Just Giving Page. I wouldn't be able to do that if there was no profit margin. My books are always available both in paperback and kindle versions and the kindle version is much more affordable for those living on low incomes. 

So at last I'm pleased to announce that my book 'So many symptoms' is available on Amazon in many countries throughout the world. 

Here are some of the links to my book  

Amazon UK

Amazon France 

So many symptoms

There are so many symptoms

that come along with M.E.

which make it extremely hard

to diagnose properly.


There are so many symptoms.

How do you know it`s M.E.?

With no one simple, clear test

it seems like a lottery.


There are so many symptoms

which are confused with M.E.

No wonder there is much doubt,

delay and anxiety.


There are so many symptoms,

that are difficult to see.

So doctor`s don`t believe us

and question our sanity.


There are so many symptoms

that come along with M.E.

A complete system breakdown

that affects the whole body. 


The poems in my book have been written from my own personal experience of living with M.E. for over 20 years. They are also inspired by and reflect the feelings of so many others who suffer the same as myself. 

I believe that my book is a must read for those living with M.E. or anyone else facing the challenges of a chronic and invisible illness. In this collection of my poems I mainly focus on the symptoms of M.E. and how they affect us.

I hope my poems help friends, family and anyone else wanting to better understand M.E. 

I also hope you will consider buying my book and help to raise better awareness and understanding of this illness, as well as funds to help the research into M.E. 

I would also appreciate it if you share my blog via social media and with your friends and family. Thank you. 

Au revoir 
The French Femme 


Thursday 11 May 2023



As we arrive into May awareness week 2023 I realise that I've been writing poetry about living with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) for ten years now. 

A lot has also happened to me personally in those ten years. 

Although in 2013 I was not unfamiliar with writing poetry I wanted to start writing about me and my illness. 

This was, I believe, the start of an amazing feat on my part. I had to overcome all the obstacles linked to M.E. It was to become a very difficult process and one that I wanted to abandon at times. It was a slow learning process with pitfalls and successes. Sometimes it was the cause of relapses. But sheer determination and will power has kept me going. I've been faced with criticism but at the same time I've received some lovely comments and support. 

In the last ten years I've 

  • written hundreds of poems about living with M.E. 
  • written many other poems, some even in French
  • I've written over 100 blogs 
  • I've self published 7 books of poetry on Amazon 
  • I've set up a page on Facebook 
  • I've shared my poetry, blogs and books over many social media sites
  • I've taken part in some interviews  
  • I've recorded a podcast about me and my life with M.E. 
Phew! I'm not sure how much more that I can do. After all there are only so many ways that you can write about a chronic illness. 

This was the first poem I wrote in 2013 

My first book 'My A-Z of M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)' was written and published in 2013. 

My first blog 'Why write poetry about M.E.?' was written and shared in 2013. 

Back in 2013 when I first embarked on my writing projects I was still married to a French man and living in a small village called Juigné des Moutiers in the department the Loire-Atlantique . 

I was so excited and proud when I successfully published my first book of poetry. 

Here I am holding a copy of that book 

However, by 2014 my ex husband decided on a project to buy a caravan, place most of our furniture and belongings in storage and move around France. He hoped to find work as a butcher in different places. I was not keen on this plan but he persuaded me that it would be good for me and would be like a holiday. So I went along with his project. 

The caravan 

In 2014 we started this adventure living in a caravan. At first I loved it and enjoyed seeing new places and relaxing on the campsites. One even had a lovely swimming pool which I was able to profit from. 

However, things soon started to go badly wrong. My ex husband had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and life was hard with him. He often developed problems with people and work situations. He couldn't handle stress very well but neither could I. Every time there was a problem we had to move on to a different camp site. During 2014 we stayed in three different camp sites. The caravan proved to be expensive and there was always something to be fixed or repaired. That added to the stress for both of us. Despite this I made the best I could of the situation. What's more I continued to write poetry and blogs. 

Without going into much detail a crisis was reached in October 2014. Living in a caravan was lovely in the Summer but not in the oncoming Winter. The caravan had never ending problems. The stress reached intolerable levels for me and my ex husband became very depressed. I left him in a case of urgency. I was placed in a studio and helped by an association for the next year or more. I was also helped by a fantastic women's support group. They helped me to find a place of my own and to start over. 

When I felt settled I once more embarked on putting together another book of poetry. Since then there's been no stopping me! 

Now I'm retired, still living in France with my cat. 

I have a few more writing projects planned. 

Until then I think it's time for a small celebration! 

A bientot 
The French Femme 

Tuesday 29 November 2022



Yes it's that time of year again. 

We are approaching Christmas and the New Year. 

For some it can be a happy and joyful time. 

For some it can be a difficult time. 

Some will be spending it alone. 

Some will be facing many challenges. 

Some may not want to or be able to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. 

There maybe painful memories associated with this time of year. 

Perhaps you may fondly look back and are reminded of what this time of year used to be like and long for those days again. 

For those of you with a chronic illness like M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) you may be too ill to participate in any festivities.

Perhaps you will be with family or friends who do not understand your illness and its limitations. You may eat or drink too much, especially those things that you normally try to avoid. You may end up becoming more ill or have a relapse in the level of your health. 

I myself will be alone with my cat. I can't help but think of years past and it's just not the same any more. Although, now I at least can please myself and stay in my pyjamas all day if I feel like it. I may have a few nice treats but nothing excessive. I may talk to a friends or family. At least there's no pressure on me to comply with the demands and needs of others. 

Are you going to be with family or friends over the festive season and find it difficult to explain your illness and how you feel? Then maybe you would like a copy of one of my books to help you. 

Perhaps you might like to treat yourself to one of my books. 

I have published books of poetry about M.E. over the last ten years. Some of my more recent books also include poetry on other subjects. 

My books of poetry are written from personal experience of living with M.E. for over 20 years. My books are a must read for those living the challenge of living with a chronic illness as well as M.E. They can also be used to help friends, family or anyone wanting to understand M.E. 

My books of poems are available in paperback and kindle on Amazon throughout the world. 

You can find all my books on my Author's Page as here 

Amazon UK

Amazon France 

As with all my books I donate a percentage of all the sales of my book to the charity Invest in ME Research  and I have a Just Giving Page 

All that remains to be said is I hope that despite everything you will be able to pass a restful and happy time. 

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 

Au revoir 

from the French Femme 


Friday 21 October 2022



I'm sorry that my blogs have been not been frequent this year. Since my last blog I had a bit of a health crisis with a long time for recovery. It made me reflect on my life and my priorities. A book that I've recently read has also contributed to making me reflect on my life and what changes I can make.  

So here I want to review this book and hope that it also helps you to reflect and maybe make some changes. 

It's entitled 'FINDING A NEW NORMAL - living your best life with chronic illness' by Suzan L. Jackson. 

The book is aimed to help you live your best life with chronic illness. Suzan has had ME/CFS, an immune disorder, since 2002 and also has Lyme disease. Both of her sons also became ill with ME/CFS. Her younger son is now fully recovered after 10 years of mild illness. Her elder son still has ME/CFS as well as three tick-borne infections. It's an amazing and positive story of how she has found a new normal for herself and her family. 

On reading the introduction of this book I was immediately amazed that Suzan's life had changed in March 2002 at about the same time that my life also started to change. 

She writes 

'I suddenly felt horrible, with a severe sore throat, aching all over and complete exhaustion. I thought I'd caught the flu, but it never went away' 

This is exactly what happened to me in the Spring of 2002. 

She goes on to say 

' For months my symptoms improved and worsened in a seemingly random pattern' 

This was the same experience for me. I'd recover a little and go back to work and then become worse again and so needing to go back on sick leave. 

Like me Suzan searched for a diagnosis or treatments. Like me she finally found a physician who diagnosed her accurately. 

She writes 

' I had an immune disorder known in the US by the cringe inducing misnomer Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Fortunately since then there has been much resistance to the name CFS and a return to M.E. or even ME/CFS' 

In her book Suzan shares her experiences personally as well as that of her family. She shares some valuable advice and help in finding a new normal. She has had to find her own path in living a new life in which she can still be full and happy. With no cure or very little care and treatment we all have to try and do the same as her. This is why I found her book to be a very useful tool in trying to achieve just that. 

Her book deals with emotional coping, daily life, relationships and improving your life. It's full of interesting and helpful tips. Some of these I have already adopted or tried for myself. 

Her book has made me reflect further on my own personal life. She discusses acceptance and hope and how keeping a balance between them is an ongoing goal. I believe that's the case for me and these two words often crop up in my poems and my blogs. 

I've written a poem about acceptance and a blog about turning the negative into the positive . This is much the same as Suzan expresses in her book. 


To say “this illness I accept”
Is such a very hard concept
To accept my life has to change
To accept it can’t stay the same
To accept how I must now live
To try not to be negative
To accept my limitations
To lower my expectations
To accept I need to take care
To accept energy is rare
To accept I need to have rest
To pace myself and do what’s best
To accept new ways of coping
To find better understanding
To not be demanding on me
To reject those feelings guilty
To accept help on a bad day
To be honest in what I say
To accept I’ll have some bad days
And to feel denial and rage
To stop fighting against my fate
To stop my anger and my hate
To again find myself grieving
To mourn that life I’m now missing
To accept does not mean defeat
To know this illness I will beat
To accept is not giving in 
But hope one day this fight I’ll win
To accept part goes to M.E.
To know it can’t take the real me!
I wish I could say “I accept”
But it is such a hard concept  

I further explored this area in another blog 'Can you feel happy with a chronic illness?' 


I used to be happy
Look forward to each day
Then M.E. came along
And took it all away!

My happiness was gone
Replaced by a grieving
Anger and frustration
And numb kind of feeling.

I thought life had ended
And chance for happiness
With all my days now filled
By this chronic illness

Yet slowly there has been
Acceptance within me
Adjustment of my life
New ways to be happy. 

Of course positive thinking is not always easy and unhelpfully can be claimed as a road to recovery! No amount of positive thinking is going to cure me!!!  

Suzan asks in her book if she should give up all hope of recovery. It's hard to keep on hoping, especially it seems as time goes by and nothing seems much to change. I've also written about 'Hope' and expressed feelings of hope in my poem

To have a better day
The pain to go away 

This fatigue will soon end
And my body can mend 

To find energy
Then start recovery 

To improve my pacing
Against all I’m facing 

I find new ways to cope
Which come within my scope 

To increase more awareness
So disbelief is less 

That I can work again
And all’s not lost in vain 

To better understand
This dreadful M.E. land 

For a future healthy
And at last M.E. free!

In another blog I write 'Holding on to hope and fighting to survive' and more recently I wrote again about 'Hope' 

Personally I try to hold on to hope and I'm generally a positive person. However, as I get older and the years go by I wonder if in my lifetime a cure will be finally found. In the meantime we all have to learn how to live with this illness, including me. That's why I feel that this book by Suzan is a very useful tool in doing just that and I fully recommend it. 

Unlike Suzan, I live alone and that also provides certain challenges. It can be a lonely path and recently Freddie sings 'Face it alone' which resonates with me. 

We are all forced to accept and carry on living despite having a chronic illness. We still have a life so we should try to find a new normal. I know that's not easy but we owe it to ourselves - don't we?  

A bientot
The French Femme

Tuesday 28 June 2022



I'm going to write a few blogs reviewing books written about living with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). These books have impressed me and influenced my thinking about how I live with this illness. 

The first in this series is a book entitled 

'HIGHER MAINTENANCE' by Marianne Granger. 

This is what I read on the back cover of the book which intrigued me 

' Author Marianne Granger suddenly found herself incapacitated at the age of 46. Devastated and with no cure for her illness in sight, she recounts how she went from victim to empowered as she learned to tame her "dragon" by mastering her emotions, her ego. Follow her journey to a fresh perspective on a life that can bring joy and serenity. Whether you or someone you love is struggling with chronic illness, you will find that raising awareness, forgiving and letting go are just a few of the liberating steps on the road to wellness. This is the path of Higher Maintenance.' 

The first thing that struck me on receiving and reading my copy of this book was that it mirrored my story and journey with M.E. 

I've underlined, ringed and starred many key words and phrases that resonate with me. There are so many that it would be impossible to share them all in this blog. However, I'll share some of the key ones with you. 

Marianne was about the same age as me when she became ill and at about the same time. 

She writes 'One morning I woke up to find that I could not get out of bed. I was weak as a kitten and my throat was very sore' 

On reading her book I discovered many of her experiences were similar to mine 

  • she thought that she was sick with the flu 
  • she thought that she was dying 
  • she pushed herself to go back to work too soon 
  • she lost everything 
  • she was told that she had depression 
  • she became isolated 
  • she became increasingly sensitive to so many things around her 
  • she spent a decade of online research 
  • she searched for tools to and ways to manage her illness 
  • it became increasingly clear that her life would never be the same 

She likens her illness to a dragon and she writes  

'I had to welcome the dragon into my life because, perhaps he was there to teach me something' 

She found online communities and resources to get answers. She joined a support group and then someone who referred her to an endocrinologist who had taken a special interest in ME/CFS and a lawyer who specialised in Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS disability cases. Like me she went through a battery of tests to exclude the possibility of other illness before concluding that she did in fact suffer from CFS. She was told that about 3% recover from this illness but that there was no cure and too little research. This was in 2005. She also eventually got her disability pension. 

She writes 'During that time of uncertainty, I had to find ways of nurturing myself. Once in a while I stopped at a nearby florist and bought myself one flower that I would enjoy for a whole week. On Saturday nights, I set a nice table, lit a candle and sat down with a cheap wine as I dined, listening to my favourite standards. I didn't feel alone or sad. I felt nurtured. I could do this for myself because I was worth it' 

'These were my first steps on the path of Higher Maintenance'

She writes about her inner strength, her loneliness, her grieving, her test of faith, the need to ask for help, becoming selfish to survive, learning how to stop feeling sorry for oneself, learning to set boundaries, learning humility and humour, listening to her body, mind and soul and learning how to accept her illness.
She writes about how we can get back control over our life, our health and happiness by various strategies. She writes about tools that can help us reach acceptance and how to live with a chronic illness. 

This book is about her personal story, her approaches to higher maintenance, how she manages her illness and what tools she uses to help her. It's full of useful advice and reflections. 

It's a positive and inspiring book. I recommend this book to anyone suffering with a chronic illness. I'm sure it will help you like it has helped me. 

A bientot
The French Femme

Thursday 12 May 2022



This year, 2022, marks the 30th International May 12th Awareness Day. 

The idea originated with Tom Hennessy, the founder of RESCIND, Inc. (Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases). 

Mr. Hennessy was based in the US but understood that it needed to be an International event. He designated May 12 as the International Awareness Day for the spectrum of illnesses he called Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND). 

May 12th was chosen as it coincided with the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the English army nurse who inspired the founding of the International Red Cross. Nightingale became chronically ill in her mid-thirties with a Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)-like illness. She was often bedridden for the last 50 years of her life. Despite suffering from a debilitating illness, she managed to found the world’s first School of Nursing. 

Each May I try to raise better awareness and understanding of M.E. through my poetry and blogs. 

At the same time I aim to raise funds for the charity Invest in ME Research. 

Here's a look back at my poems and blogs for May awareness. 

In 2014 I wrote about M.E. Groundhog Day 

In 2019 31 Days in May 

In 2020 M.E. Groundhog Day (again) 

In 2021 More of life, love and loss 

This year I'm pleased to announce the publication of a book of short poems for May awareness. 

It's entitled 'ANOTHER 31 DAYS IN MAY'. 

This book is a selection of 31 short poems to raise better awareness and understanding as well as to raise funds for the charity Invest in ME Research.
These poems have been written from my own personal feelings and experience of living with M.E. for over 20 years.
They also echo the thoughts and feelings of so many others who suffer like myself.
My poems aim to portray the harsh reality of living with a long term chronic illness.

It's available in paperback and kindle edition throughout many countries. 

Here is the link for Amazon UK 

I've set up a Just Giving Page and all proceeds from the sales of my book during May I will donate to Invest in ME Research 

After reviewing all my awareness raising that I've done for May since 2014, I wonder how much longer I will continue to do so year after year? 

Am I making a difference? 

I also ask if every year my awareness raising is preaching to the already converted? 

It seems to me that nothing much really changes. The never ending suffering, poor understanding, ignorance, neglect, abuse, lack of support, lack of help, lack of funding and inadequate research continues. 

Where will we be in another 30 years? 

Will the 60th anniversary of International M.E. May 12th Awareness Day be unnecessary? 

Will the cause or causes of M.E. be found? 

Will real research produce treatment and a cure for those of us with M.E.? 

Will there be proper recognition and understanding of this illness? 

I certainly hope so.

Although it may be too late for me and many others who have lost so many years to this illness - some a lifetime. You can't get that back. 

Please support me and Invest in ME Research. 

Thank you. 

A bientot 

The French Femme