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What's wrong with ME? NI people on living with the illness

As the world's largest genetic study into myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) starts, Linda Stewart talks to three Northern Ireland people living with the illness

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No energy: tiredness is one of the major symptoms of ME

No energy: tiredness is one of the major symptoms of ME

Getty Images/Maskot

Struck down: Gary Campion

Struck down: Gary Campion

Gary in hospital

Gary in hospital

Joan McParland

Joan McParland

Joan with son Stephen

Joan with son Stephen

Joan with son Stephen

Joan with son Stephen

Home life: Paddy Bateman with wife Maggie and son Beckett

Home life: Paddy Bateman with wife Maggie and son Beckett

Paddy Bateman

Paddy Bateman

No energy: tiredness is one of the major symptoms of ME

Gary Campion (38), from south Belfast, had a career in PR and tour management in London for many years, working with groups like The Saturdays, Girls Aloud, Mel C and Liberty X, before returning to Northern Ireland.

He developed ME following a serious equestrian accident - in which he also suffered a serious leg injury - and was diagnosed by a private doctor four years ago. The condition has seen him go from enjoying working out at the gym five days a week and running the Belfast marathon to suffering from debilitating fatigue and pain.

One of the key symptoms for Gary is extreme pain in the brain. "It is not a headache or migraine," he says, trying to describe exactly how he feels. "It's like my brain is on fire at times. I can't concentrate and I can have trouble finding words mid-conversation - as someone who was a born communicator, it is extremely frustrating at times."

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Struck down: Gary Campion

Struck down: Gary Campion

Struck down: Gary Campion