This student got her health and her life back through volunteering
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A chat with 22-year-old Holly Watson indicates nothing out of the ordinary. She sounds healthy and upbeat, ready for her next chapter in life of continuing to pursue her degree. She’s moving to London from her native Wellow, Somerset, and gearing up for the changes of city life. She has hobbies and passions and goals. But these normal parts of life were all put in limbo several years ago when Watson was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). A series of illnesses indicated that something was seriously wrong. “I had a series of one illness after another…I just never recovered”, she says. “I had really bad temperatures, aches and pains; I couldn’t really talk in full sentences”. With the help of a doctor, she finally had a name for her condition. “It was finally like, what I was feeling — there was a reason for it”. The sense of relief turned to a sense of feeling daunted as Watson came to terms with the fact that there is no cure for CFS. The symptoms kept getting worse until she was bedbound and left with no choice but to break from her studies. Her life became consumed by needing to sleep constantly. Even eating was difficult. “My mother would wake me up and kind of force-feed me a biscuit, and then I would go back to sleep”, she says. Meanwhile, Holly had to understand that her life would be taking a drastic turn. She had planned to be a physical therapist and eventually transition into equine therapy, following her interest in horses. She wanted to travel after university — Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and South America especially interested her. Her diagnosis stopped these plans in their tracks. “[I realised] that’s not going to be happening for a long time”, she says.
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