A keen photographer, who is often hospital-bound by invisible illnesses that cause exhaustion and extreme pain, is using her skills to challenge perceptions of disability.
Milly Banks from Cheltenham has lived with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and Fribomyaglia since the age of nine and says she is fed-up with people who do not believe she is unwell, because there are no visible symtoms.
Her conditions cause debilitating fatigue, painful joints and chronic headaches.
With Fixers, Milly is holding an exhibition showing photos of young people with invisible illnesses, who explain their condition in captions below. Her idea is to show that not all disabilities can be seen.
The 23-year-old says: ‘As I was not diagnosed officially until I was 18, there was almost 10 years where I had no idea what was going on.
‘I had no explanation for why I was struggling, so naturally this was a very difficult time for me and the people around me.’
She says: ‘I got detentions at school for being ill as they didn't believe I was unwell.
‘My attendance was down to 42% at one stage. Despite all this I got myself through, school, college and then onto university where I studied part time for 4 years.’
After discovering a love for photography and art, she now hopes by showcasing some of her own work she can create some compassion.
She says: ‘I want to encourage people to educate themselves about invisible illnesses. I also want to show other people suffering that with positivity and support things can get better and you can still do so much and not to give up.’
To view some of the images that will be displayed click the image below.
Milly, who writes a healthy lifestyle blog in her spare time, has learnt to manage her conditions, and refuses to let them limit her goals; she has travelled unaccompanied to the United States and achieved a Diploma of Higher Education at university.
Now working as a gallery assistant and volunteering for a charity supporting people with disabilities in arts classes, she says: ‘My main message is to not let your illness hold you back or control your life.
‘I know better than anyone this is easier said than done but it is what I tell myself every morning and it keeps me going.’
Milly is launching her Fixers photography exhibition on April 14th at 7pm at that Art Couture Painswick (ACP) Gallery in Painswick.