Luke raises awareness of ‘invisible illnesses’

Luke Murphy (22) was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in February 2016.
Luke Murphy (22) was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in February 2016.

A young Bellshill man is raising awareness about a rare genetic condition that causes him significant pain on a daily basis.

Luke Murphy (22) was diagnosed with connective tissue disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) in February 2016.

With Fixers – the charity that gives young people a voice to campaign – he has made a film to educate the public about long-lasting illnesses in young people.

Luke said: “I want people to be aware of how chronic illness can affect people’s day-to-day lives.

“It’s also important to me to show others who may have a disability that it doesn’t make them any different and that they can have their voice heard too.”

There are varying forms of EDS, but Luke’s causes hypermobility which means his joints are much more flexible than they should be.

He can’t lift anything heavier than a pint of milk, while even holding a pen poses a challenge because his fingers bend backwards.

Luke said: “EDS affects me in every day-to-day task I do. Because of it, I am a full-time wheelchair user so a lot of activities aren’t available to me because of a lack of access.”

As well as the pain, the condition also means Luke suffers from chronic fatigue and gastric issues, can be slow to heal from cuts and bruises, and has battled with his mental health.

He said: “The inability to get out and keep up with others my age affected my confidence and self-esteem, I’ve had periods of severe low mood and thoughts that I couldn’t continue with my life.

“But thanks to my very supportive family, friends and partner, I’ve overcome that and no longer feel any held back due to my condition.

“Now I want other people to understand what life is really like for young people with chronic illnesses like mine, in the hope they may be more understanding towards us.”

Luke wants to highlight ‘invisible illnesses’ and draw attention to the fact that it might not always be immediately obvious that someone is unwell, especially if they are young.

He said: “People often don’t understand that a young person might have a very genuine reason for needing to use a priority seat on public transport or a disabled toilet – and abuse them as a result.

“It’s unhelpful and makes our lives much more difficult than they already are.”