Running in a race after six months of being bed-bound with chronic fatigue syndrome seems like an impossible feat, but Jessica Paterson is not your average teenager.

The Tokoroa teen was determined to prove to herself, and everyone she knew, that she wasn’t going to let the condition stand in her way.

Jessica, 17, (pictured on the left) took part in the Rotorua Marathon (the 5.5km race) in 2016, not only to meet a personal goal, but also to fundraise for the Mental Health Foundation.

Training for the race was arduous for Jessica, who was very weak from her recent chronic fatigue syndrome flare-up.

“I just did what I could, depending on how I felt. Sometimes I would go for a little walk. It was very hard, but I thought, ‘Yes, I can do this’.”

“I’ve had a lot of depression and anxiety as part of my condition, and I wanted to help out,” Jessica says.

“I wanted to help people like me. I know how it feels to be alone. I got to the stage where I didn’t want to do life anymore, because my whole life was being stuck in my bedroom.”

Jessica also went on to complete the Tough Guy and Gal Challenge last August.

Optimistic about the future

To keep well, Jessica eats a super healthy diet, stays hydrated, sticks to a strict sleeping pattern to get enough rest and does gentle exercise when she can. She manages her depression with medication and counselling.

Schooling is done by correspondence and social outings are carefully planned around her energy levels.

“It’s important to have a positive outlook, and for people to know there are options to feel better," she says.