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No Offence star Joanna Scanlan opens up about career change

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The new ITV show, which is a spin-off of The Daring Buds of May saw Pam Ferris originate the role of Ma, but now Scanlan – the three time BAFTA nominee will star alongside Bradley Walsh as Pa. From a young age Scanlan knew that she wanted to act, but after completing her training and seeing peers like Tilda Swinton and Simon Russell-Beale thrive within the industry she lost confidence and hope. Taking a job as a drama lecturer instead, bactroban nasal irrigation uses Scanlan’s health deteriorated.

The actress admitted that after not getting jobs she was applying for she was “completely fazed”.

“I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know what was happening.

“I’d given up the dream really.”

Sadly for Scanlan things went from bad to worse. After pressure at work increased as Leicester Polytechnic transitioned into De Montfort University, the star was struggling.

She felt as though she was “going to be letting the students down”. The pressure soon became too much and Scanlan crumbled.

This led to her having 12 months off from the job and an agonising 18 month battle with the hospital to find out what was wrong with her.

“I became very ill,” Scanlan said in an interview with The Times. “I had 12 months off from the job. For 18 months or so I was going back and forth to the hospital every week as they tried to work out what was wrong with me. It was eventually diagnosed as ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome. Looking back now it’s obvious that the illness was stress related.”

ME or chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms. According to the NHS the most common symptom is extreme tiredness.

In addition, people with CFS/ME may have other symptoms, including:

  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • A sore throat or sore glands that are not swollen
  • Problems thinking, remembering or concentrating
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Feeling dizzy or sick
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations).

For a period of time Scanlan was unsure whether she would be able to recover. This was until a doctor at the Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital gave her some “life-changing” advice.

The doctor said: “If you don’t go back to acting you will be ill for the rest of your life.”

This simple yet quite worrying revelation was a turning point for Scanlan, who realised that the medical professional was right. Talking of this moment she added: “It was a complete life-changing turn. It was a total thunderbolt. I thought to myself unfortunately what this man has just said is correct.

“The reason it was unfortunate was that it meant I was going to have to face up to a lot of things. I was going to have to disappoint the people I worked with by leaving my job. I was also 30 at that point. It seemed thoroughly embarrassing, I should have grown out of those childish things.”

From there the actress has never looked back and has managed to overcome her ME, but many with the condition do not even have it professionally diagnosed.

There is not a specific test for the condition so it’s diagnosed based on your symptoms and by ruling out other conditions that could be causing them. However, the symptoms are similar to a number of other health conditions.

The key difference in knowing that it could be ME over another less-serious condition is that usually symptoms will get better on their own. With ME symptoms tend to persist and even worsen if a diagnosis is not provided.

Unlike the tiredness experienced by healthy people, the fatigue associated with ME can happen after even mild or moderate effort, and may occur hours or days afterwards.

ME Research states that the cause of the condition is not entirely known, but as Scanlan said it can be related to stress and mental health problems. Viral or bacterial infections as well as genetics are also possible causes.

Although it is possible to live with the condition, for some individuals this can be extremely difficult. In addition to the obvious physical symptoms it can also cause negative side effects on both mental and emotional health. Individuals may have to make some major lifestyle changes in order to cope with the condition.

Currently available treatments depend on how the condition is affecting you personally. The NHS typically recommends the following:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • A structured exercise programme called graded exercise therapy (GET)
  • Medicine to control pain, nausea and sleeping problems.

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