DAWN Poleon feels Blackpool-based charity The Butterfly Group saved her life.
The mum-of-two, from Layton, has suffered from fybromylgia and chronic fatigue syndrome for around 15 years.
She was not diagnosed until about eight years ago, after her new GP referred her to the hospital for tests.
At her lowest point, the conditions – which have left her unable to walk very far and stand for long, having to use crutches and cause her a great deal of pain – resulted in Dawn contemplating suicide.
She said: “It was a huge relief to get the diagnosis as I had been feeling like a hypochondriac – I was having all this pain, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with me.
“So knowing what it was finally was a relief.
“But I have Achilles tendonitis in both legs, plantar fasciitis in both feet, trochanteric bursitis in both hips, it is difficult for me to walk. I use crutches and also have a mobility scooter, which helps me get around.
“If I am really fatigued, then I have to use the wheelchair or just not go out.
“Even little things like standing to cook, I can’t do, as I can’t stand for long. Or grip a pan full of mashed potato. It’s hard to bathe myself.
“But my two beautiful daughters and my husband Steve were all wonderfully supportive.
“I did get very depressed and I even started to contemplate suicide, I felt like I was good for nothing and of no use – not living, just existing – but my husband coaxed me out of it, and showed what I did have and how much my girls meant to me. I would get panic attacks, I became agoraphobic, I was in my mid-30s and walking on crutches, my lowest ebb was probably around December 2009.”
But it was after walking into the Butterfly Group shop, on Deansgate, Blackpool, her life turned around.
“It was just after Christmas and we were shopping in the town centre when we saw the Butterfly Group. My husband convinced me to go in. I was very shy and very nervous. But Tina was lovely, I told her all about my symptoms and my condition and she gave me a hug and said ‘hugs are always free’ – I just burst into tears.
“I started going once a week and it just helped so much to talk about it, to people who understood.
“My confidence started to grow, and I began volunteering and going in more, and now I am on the committee of trustees.
“The charity saved my life. It gave my daughters their mum back and it gave me a whole new lease of life. Physically I still have the same problems, but mentally and emotionally I am a lot better. It keeps my mind active and the charity really does help its beneficiaries.”
Dawn will be joining the charity’s founder Tina Lukacs, along with other supporters, at the Butterfly Group’s first fund-raising ball, on Friday, October 21.
The event, which starts at 7pm, will take place at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool, and features entertainment from Britain’s Got Talent finalists Damon Scott and Bubbles, dance group Signature and music from DJ Stuart Holt. There is a red and green theme to the dress-code at the ball, which will include a four-course meal.
Sponsors of the event include Blackpool’s Che Bar, West Coast Hire and Events, Roof Teach Warranties and Blackpool BID.
Dawn added: “We all can’t wait for the ball now. All the money raised on the night will go to the charity and supporting the beneficiaries.
“It’s going to be a great night and it’s for an extremely good cause.”
For more details about the Butterfly Group or to buy a ticket for the ball, call (01253) 299990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.