The ME adventures: a comic about energy and exertion in ME/CFS

The M.E. Adventures comic: energy and exertion #MEawareness

Laura’s Pen presents a comic for ME Awareness that demonstrates the difference between energy and exertion in a healthy person and someone with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis…

Today is ME awareness day, and to make a change I thought I’d make a comic. When I decided to do this I didn’t quite realise just how long it would take and how many spoons, but hopefully it’s worth it.

Introducing Maddie, a girl with ME, who in this episode, Energy and Exertion, is meeting her friend, “Normal” Nancy, for coffee. Let’s see what happens…

Comic: The ME adventures - energy and exertion


I find explaining Post-Exertional Malaise to people to be incredibly difficult and this is the reason I set about creating this comic. It is hard to see how truly ill a person is when the worst of it happens behind closed doors.

However, something I would like to add is that there is also a lot going on beneath the surface of someone with ME when they are over-exerting themselves like this even though they may seem okay.

They may be struggling with the noise of the chatter around them, the bright lights, or just the energy needed to follow a conversation. I tend to feel quite shaky and overwhelmed when I am out, which is a very clear warning sign that I am over-exerting and will suffer for some days following.

It is a shame that Maddie is yet to go on any more adventures, but creating her turned out to be a very exhausting task and took a long time to recover from. Hopefully, you can understand why after reading the comic!

I hope you enjoy my comic and hope that it has raised a bit of ME Awareness. It can also be found on The Mighty, where they have made a short video out of it (at the bottom of the page).

If you would like to print the comic to share in a public place or to give to other people, a lady called Von Jones has made my comic into a printable version.

Many thanks for reading,

Laura’s Pen


Laura Chamberlain

Laura is a writer blogging about living with chronic illness, namely Lyme Disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and Fibromylagia.

She likes food, cats, bad jokes. Unfortunately, her boyfriend is allergic to the last two...


  1. Love it! Good job!

  2. Laura really liked your comic.
    Could you sometime do a non-gender specific one if you have the energy?
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Scott, it took a lot of energy and time (only because of my lack of the former) so may be a fair while before I do another but I wasn’t planning on sticking with Maddie if I do future ones so could easily mix up the genders a bit more.


      1. Thanks Laura and good wishes for a energy excess 🙂

      2. Haha! Scott must not suffer much from ME or he wouldn’t ask you to even read a comic let alone create another one! Very important piece of work you have done, it is perfect for our short attention spanned friends.

    2. Thanks ever so Much Laura, here via ‘The Mighty’.
      I have fibro, and this expresses my life perfectly. Right to the subtle point that 80% of fibro sufferers are women. Having said that though, and with respect, I truly don’t think that the gender of a comic character is particularly relevant, I mean for all we know Nancy’s name on her birth certificate could be Norman 😉

    3. Way to completely undermine the point this comment was making by making it about something it’s not trying to address. This isn’t about gender whatsoever.

  3. That’s excellent. Well done Laura!

  4. Brilliant Laura, well done!

  5. This is wonderful- I am sharing it with my daughter who has ME/POTS/fibromyalgia. Hope you can save up enough spoons for a sequel one day. And it can be as gender-specific as you like- people can use their imaginations!

  6. This is great! Not to be exhausted for days after just a cup of coffee (even at home) but the way you explain it. Thanks!

    Greetings from a ME-sufferer in Sweden who had coffee (or “fika” as we call it) with a friend yesterday, to celebrate our day

  7. Love this, it explains just what it’s like. I love the way that you explain that this is a high energy activity for Maddie.The other bit that is sometimes in there is that Nancy may think and may tell their friends that Maddie is OK/ not too bad/ getting better/etc because she doesn’t see the repercussions for Maddie.

  8. Yes, pretty much sums it up!

  9. I love this post, a great way to help people understand how ME/CFS affects people.

    Lennae xxx

  10. Thanku Laura. Hope this goes ‘viral’ (geddit?)

  11. Laura, wonderful job. Sometimes just trying to meet someone for coffee is thwarted by symptoms suddenly presenting. Likewise, sitting for any length of time presents problems for some. Looking forward to more adventures….collect those spoons.

  12. This is really good, my Daughter suffers and this sums it up without having to explain time and time again how even the smallest thing can have such a major effect on her x

  13. This is excellent. I have focused on physical as well as mental health, and with your kind permission would love to reblog.

    1. Hiya, absolutely fine as long as you link back to me. But if you’re on WordPress and use the reblog tool it will do this anyway! X

      1. Thanks — great image.

  14. Reblogged this on brenda's Blog and commented:
    This is such a perfect explanion for ME or Chronic Fatigue ! Thank you for this !😌

  15. A wonderful comic strip that really tells it as it is – and a great way to show those who can’t, or don’t want to, believe that it’s either just being extra tired, or that we’re faking it! 🙁

  16. Laura, this is a great comic strip that really expresses what it’s like to have ME/CFS. Thank you so much for all the time, effort and subsequent exhaustion and sickness it cost you.

  17. Thank you so much, I see I can post this on facebook which I’m going to try to do and maybe it will help others to understand. Big hugs, restorative sleep and all I can say is brilliant work

  18. Such a way with words.

  19. I LOVE THIS! You convey so simply and clearly exactly what its like. Add in a migraine attack or two, and that’s me. Thanks for getting this out there for us to send to people who just don’t get it.

  20. LOVE this! Perfect explanation 🙂

  21. 🤯mind just coooompletely blown… I was laughing/crying hysterically when I found this comic!! My name is Mattie 😝 and after 4 years of insanity I was finally diagnosed with ME. Ohh this just completely made my week!! Thank you so much🖤🖤🖤

  22. Perfect – apart from the fact my name’s Nancy and I have M.E 😂

  23. Lovely! They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s really true. Thank you for taking a complex problem of self defense and the feeling we have to justify ourselves in so much, and giving so many chronic sufferers a tool that showcases what we are going thru in an easy to understand format. You’ve helped so many people. And I’m sure that as people continue to find this throughout the years that number will steadily grow.
    You’ve made an impact. Well done.

    1. Many thanks for your kind words x

  24. Why everything has to be non gender specific these days I don’t know. Usually it comes from males. You don’t hear females saying “Why can’t (absolutely everything) be a female character?” When it gets to ridiculous levels we do speak up about it and then we get backlash and dismissal.
    JK Rowling knew this bias and so made her main character, Harry Potter, a male, and only used her initials because a lot of males won’t read books about female characters or by female authors. Whereas females identify with both males and females and will read about them all and no matter who writes them.
    Maybe you should make one for someone who is uncertain of their gender with a non gender-specific name just to get the balance right hahaha. Or make them an alien or dog or cat.
    Females are 50 per cent of the population but some males still think using a female character is too fringe. Even if the author or artist happens to be female.

  25. Thank you for this. Anything that helps family and friends understand in a fun way is so welcome! – Nina – dx ME/CFS 1993.

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