An Open Letter To Gwyneth Rees, MailOnline Reporter

15 Mar

I am furious.

My husband has severe CFS/ME, and has had it since 1996.  I read your article in MailOnline.  You, Gwyneth Rees, gleefully suggest that your readers should use the new Skiver app to come up with a suitable illness to get a day off work:

You could just have a one-day migraine, for instance, or you may be struck down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, accompanied by severe headaches, high fever, stiff neck and sore throat. Poor you.

I get that it is a light-hearted piece but it is inappropriate and insensitive to CFS sufferers – and they do suffer, believe me; I see it every day, pain etched into my husband’s face.  Try substituting Cancer/Multiple Sclerosis/AIDS for CFS in that quote, and see how many cheap laughs you get.  (And before you accuse me of being as flippant as you, a random search for ‘List of chronic illnesses’ threw up all of those and CFS, every time.)

I wonder how many migraine sufferers find your comment amusing?  Incidentally, migraine is one of the many symptoms CFS patients have to deal with.  Try having that on top of arthralgia, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, dizziness, nausea, sleep of such poor quality that all it gives is a respite from the daily grind of simply existing, and, of course, fatigue, which is not simply a case of feeling over-tired after a busy day, but prevents you from getting out of bed on your worst days and gives you an hour on your best day, if you’re lucky, in which to do the thousand things your brain wants to do – because there’s nothing wrong with your mind – but of which your body is incapable.

This is not a comprehensive list of CFS symptoms, by the way; merely the most prevalent in my husband’s case.  Every sufferer is different. 

Your article was crass and irresponsible and you bring shame on your profession.

26 Responses to “An Open Letter To Gwyneth Rees, MailOnline Reporter”

  1. nrhatch March 15, 2011 at 23:17 #

    I just read the article and comments. Seems you’re not alone in your outrage. Several people have registered complaints with the trivializing of CFS.

    And one registered a complaint against the lazy-ass, unpatriotic types who would further worsen the economy by trying to take a sick day when they weren’t sick.

    Hang in there, Tilly. Don’t let the bastards get you down.


  2. sarsm March 16, 2011 at 00:01 #

    Tilly this article is shocking. I,too, have written to them to complain.

    I have known others with ME and it is a truly terrible illness. This woman’s ignorance and open dismissive attitude toward the suffering of ME victims like your husband, is unforgivable. As is the headline grabbing selfishness of her editor.

    It is completely irresponsible journalism, and it makes me mad. So you must be livid.

    Take care, Tilly and know that we wish you and your husband well.


  3. gigihawaii March 16, 2011 at 02:13 #

    That was a very insensitive report and insulting to all CFS sufferers. Good that you caught it and gave her a piece of your mind.

    Having CFS is no laughing matter.


    • Tilly Bud March 16, 2011 at 22:42 #

      That’s true, but often laughter is a good way to cope with it. Thank you for your support.


  4. slpmartin March 16, 2011 at 03:11 #

    Well said!


  5. Paula Tohline Calhoun March 16, 2011 at 03:25 #

    You go, girl! Such comments as made by that ignorant columnist speak volumes about the attitudes of people who have avsolutely no idea what chronic illness is like, nor how it affects not only the sufferers but those around them. i hope she takes note and wises up. Perhaps she will recognize her error.

    I wish that people who made such off-hand comments knew how much those who have serious chronic illnesses would give to NOT have them. Who wake up each day hoping that it will be a good day, and that they can go to work – that they want to got o work, to be “normal,” to not be treated or seen as the illness or ailment, but as themselves. I absolutely HATE being identified by the illness I have, and I’m quite certain most chronically ill people feel the same way.

    God bless you and your Hubs. Keep writing it like it is!


    • Tilly Bud March 16, 2011 at 22:44 #

      You got right to the heart of it. Thank you.


  6. earlybird March 16, 2011 at 07:00 #

    well said, Tilly. How about we change our bus destination and come with you to London? What a very stupid woman. (stop reading the Mail?)


  7. Cindy March 16, 2011 at 07:36 #

    Bravo, Tilly!


  8. Michelle March 16, 2011 at 07:41 #

    I agree – some people just don’t think before they make comments.
    No, wait a minute, some people just don’t think – PERIOD !


  9. vivinfrance March 16, 2011 at 08:14 #

    Your comment on the Mail website was mild compared with the one I have posted, having gone through their ridiculous rigmarole to leave it. I have suggested that the Press Complaints Authority will have something to say, and I shall follow it up.


  10. vivinfrance March 16, 2011 at 08:44 #

    Darn it, they haven’t shown my vitriol! And I’d omitted to copy my words, so I’ll have to try and reconstruct them. I’m not letting them get away with it!


    • sarsm March 16, 2011 at 09:59 #

      They didn’t post mine either, probably because I informed them they’d broken their own house rules:

      Rule 5: No libel or other abuse

      You must not make or encourage comments which are:
      • defamatory, false or misleading;


    • Tilly Bud March 16, 2011 at 22:57 #

      You are such a good friend 🙂


  11. vivinfrance March 16, 2011 at 10:19 #

    I think my fault may have been to infer that the personnel dept should look with grave suspicion on any claim to being sick made by that reporter. I’ve looked at the Press Complaints Commission guidelines, and they only consider complaints from people directly affected by the article in question. Tilly it’s over to you now, and we’ll all back you up.


    • sarsm March 16, 2011 at 11:00 #

      Go for it Tilly!!


    • Tilly Bud March 16, 2011 at 22:58 #

      Thank you Viv. I’m going to address your point in a post.


  12. musings March 17, 2011 at 00:03 #

    Good gosh! I’m sorry I missed this post. Some people really don’t think before they open their mouths or put their jokes in print. Good for you for bringing it out in the open, standing up for your husband and all CFS sufferers.


I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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