'I want people to understand my invisible illness'

Image source, Fixers Scotland
Image caption,
Luke Murphy has made a film to highlight the challenges in having a long-lasting illness

A young North Lanarkshire man is giving a voice to people with "invisible illnesses".

Luke Murphy has a rare genetic condition that gives him significant pain on a daily basis.

But the 22-year-old from Bellshill is trying to show people what day-to-day life is like with a chronic illness and that it doesn't have to hold them back.

He has made his own film to show it might not always be obvious someone is unwell, especially if they are young.

Luke was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in February 2016.

The type Luke has causes hypermobility which means his joints are much more flexible than they should be.

Social Isolation

It means he can't lift anything heavier than a pint of milk, not even a kettle to make a cup of tea.

Even holding a pen poses a challenge because his fingers bend backwards instead of forwards.

He said: "EDS affects me in every single day-to-day task I do.

"Because of it, I am a full-time wheelchair user which means that a lot of activities aren't available to me because of a lack of access."

As well as being incredibly painful, the complex condition means Luke suffers from chronic fatigue and gastric issues, can be slow to heal from cuts and bruises, and he has battled with his mental health.

"I've suffered long periods of low mood and a lot of social isolation due to my condition," he said.

"The inability to get out and keep up with others my age has drastically affected my confidence and self-esteem.

"I've had periods of severe low mood and thoughts that I couldn't continue with my life living with this condition.

"But thanks to my very supportive family, friends and partner, I've overcome that and no longer feel held back due to my condition.

"Now I just want other people to understand what life is really like for young people with chronic illnesses like mine, in the hope they may be more understanding towards us."

Image source, Fixers Scotland
Image caption,
Luke thinks it is important to show others with a disability that their voice should be heard too

The film was made with the help of Fixers - a charity that gives young people a voice to campaign on the issues that matter to them.

Luke wants to educate the public about long-lasting illnesses in young people, and the impact of his particular condition.

'Makes life more difficult'

He said: 'It's also important to me to show others who may have a disability that it doesn't make them any different and that they can have their voice heard too.'

To get his message across, Luke is planning to share his film on social media.

He hopes by seeing his struggle, people might not be quick to judge if they see a young person using disabled facilities.

"People often don't understand that a young person might have a very genuine reason for needing to use a priority seat on public transport or a disabled toilet - and abuse them as a result," says Luke.

"It's unhelpful and makes our lives much more difficult than they already are."

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