A MUM-of-two has revealed the realities of living with a misunderstood, debilitating illness this Christmas.

Gemma Allen, 35, spends most of her day lying in darkness having been struck down with the condition ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis).

Mrs Allen, a former quality assurance consultant from Earby, said she struggles to keep up with son Jack, seven, and Evie, two.

She is reliant on the help of her husband, Nathan, 38, and the use of an electric scooter on the rare occasions she does leave home.

She said: “This is the first year that selfishly I wish Christmas was not approaching.

“I have two absolutely gorgeous and funny children, but the guilt with ME is horrendous.

“My babies are missing out so much.

“While others are visiting Santa and being taken to see lights being turned on, my children are visiting me in bed with all the lights being turned off.

“I have very little energy and I feel like my ME is the Grinch.

“I normally love wrapping presents with a glass of red wine but there’s no way I’ll be able to wrap anything this year.”

ME causes extreme exhaustion, pain, brain fog, and a variety of other symptoms - with the cruel hallmark that they are made worse through bare minimal exertion.

Even going for a shower, or going to the toilet, can strike down a sufferer for days or even weeks.

Mrs Allen said: “When I am unable to get out of bed, I have to call in help, usually from my mum or dad.

“My husband has had to use his holidays to take me to the hospitals and clinics.

“My heart sank when my son first said that his mum was disabled. I’m unable to take my babies to the park, to run around with them in the garden, taking them to see Santa. I just don’t have the energy and the pain is overwhelming.”

“I absolutely hate using my stick and especially my electric scooter. I just feel so helpless, vulnerable and afraid of being stranded.”

ME affects around 250,000 Brits and affects some patients so severely that they spend their days in darkened rooms, unable even to watch TV or listen to music.

For them, even touch is intolerable and many are tube-fed. Yet their remain vast misconceptions about the illness, which some people - including medics - wrongly refuse to accept as real.

Less than £1 is spent by the government on each ME patient each year.

The ME Association is at the forefront of improving access to care, treatment and research and removing the disease’s stigma.

Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association, said: “There are thousands of people in the UK with severe ME, which is a truly devastating disease.

“The nature of the illness means they are hidden away behind closed curtains and desperate not to be forgotten about.

“We urgently need more funding for research into treatments for ME so people like Gemma can have hope of reclaiming their lives.”

For more information on ME, or to support crucial research, visit www.meassociation.org.uk