Ad-man highlights chronic fatigue with fundraiser

18:22, Jan 29 2013
RJ Singh
RAISING AWARENESS: Chronic fatigue sufferer RJ Singh has organised an "epic event" to raise awareness for the condition that plagues many New Zealanders.

RJ Singh never thought his life would be confined to the four walls of his bedroom.

About 10 years ago the once active, successful and happy life the advertising worker led was taken from him and is now a distant memory.

Singh, 35, suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis, more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and is organising an ''epic event'' to raise awareness for the disease he and many other New Zealanders live with.

Singh said the problems began in 2000 as he was working to get into the advertising industry. 

''I began developing early symptoms of CFS but I pushed through to stay employed, but third strike and I was out,'' he said.

''In the beginning it was absolute torment. It constantly felt like I had run an incredibly exhausting marathon and was bereft of all steam and stamina."

He suffered from sleep deprivation which wasn't curable with anti-depressants or sleep medication. 

He was unable to recover physically from gym workouts that he had been doing routinely for several years.

''I would go for a run and the whole earth would keep moving. The exhaustion was one of the last things to kick in,'' he said. 

''My entire youth I was fully active and involved in everything. If you had met me before all this had happened I wouldn't have had the faintest idea this would happen to me.'' 

Doctors suspected Singh was suffering from depression or anxiety.

''I knew something was wrong but I didn't feel depressed. 

''Depression counselling didn't help. It was more frustration and confusion than depressing.'' 

When Singh's path crossed with New Zealand CFS expert and Howick GP Dr Ros Vallings ''everything began to make sense''.

''She put me on the right path and helped me develop strategies to cope.''

Singh said realistically he will never lead a ''normal'' life again. And he is not alone.

Singh estimates there are about 60 people in the Howick/Pakuranga area alone living with chronic fatigue syndrome. 

A community fundraiser will be held to raise awareness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on February 9 at Howick's Uxbridge Arts Centre. 

The event is called You and ME and is a live art auction showcasing work contributed by East Auckland artists.

The night will feature live folk bands, speakers on chronic fatigue syndrome and provide information to allow people to better understand the condition.  

Proceeds will fund the development and commission of a local area field worker to aid and assist administration of East Auckland CFS Support.

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