Verity Red’s (veri tyred’s) story begins in April, her favourite month of the year. She loves to see yellow. The yellow of daffodils in springtime, sunflowers, and sweetcorn on a fresh pizza. But lately, she has been seeing red. Not the nice red of fresh plump strawberries, tomatoes, or red peppers – the bright red of anger towards medical people who treat her badly.

Every day she endeavours to find ways not to feel blue. The blue of coping with M.E., boredom, and stressful situations. She would rather gaze at a springtime blue sky, bluebells, Prussian blue in a jigsaw puzzle, or her turquoise (an energy giving colour) tee-shirt from Top Shop.

A friend gives her a herb cutting for her birthday, so it’s not long before she is seeing green. The green of mint leaves growing in a terracotta pot. And when her partner buys flowers, she delights in purple and orange hues.

Sometimes on rainy days, Verity enjoys umbrella spotting (golfing ones being her favourite) and if the sun appears, she can play find-the-rainbow.

Scroll down for extracts and illustrations…

Sunday 6th April

2.50 p.m. I’m thinking of past birthdays, when I had M.E. more severely. I’m so fortunate now I can sit upright for quite a while, without feeling exhausted or in pain. I can tolerate the heat of a bath for more than two minutes, without feeling madly ill. When I climb out of the bath, I don’t have to lie on the floor for an hour or two, to find the energy to dry one arm. Then another arm a few minutes later, while the rest of me dries in a big towel. I don’t have to lie in bed, in silence, in a darkened room, on my birthday; texting people to thank them for their birthday card, and saying I’m having a lovely birthday (so I don’t make them feel sad). Or texting my man to say I’m having very nice birthday, in the company of my cats, when all I want to do is weep into their fur. I don’t have to spend my birthday wishing it was my death day. Or wishing I was having a death day party like the ghost Sir Nicholas, in one of the Harry Potter films.

Monday 7th April

Late morning sunshine, shone brightly and warmly through the bathroom window; as I perched on the side of the bath, resting after washing my hands, and brushing my teeth. I gazed sleepily at the silhouette of tulips and lilies, weary after yesterday’s excitement (I was weary, not the tulips and lilies, although they may have been weary, after enduring my bathtime singing), opening cards and presents, and the effort of blowing out all those candles, one by one. But I did make lots of lovely wishes.

I was pleased to see that, although the tulips were opening, the lilies were still closed up (like lips tightly shut, green with envy). Hopefully, they will bloom when the tulips get M.E. and their petals drop off. But for now, the tulips are laughing with cheerful tu-lips.

I thought my tired M.E. eyeballs were seeing things when I noticed movement on the tulips. Were there small beetles on the petals? On closer inspection, I noticed the tiny creatures were our usual visitors at this time of year. Ladybirds.

Wednesday 9th April

I felt quite excited today, as I dipped toast soldiers into golden duck egg yolk, and sipped After-Eight-box-coloured peppermint tea. Excited, about an unusual birthday present that arrived on Monday from a friend. It was a small lump of damp soil. Yes. A lump of soil. It was in a plastic bag, cocooned in a jiffy bag with a note. Intrigued, I looked closely inside the bag (tentatively, in case something alive and wriggly emerged out of the soil), and discovered little white roots, and a couple of short stems with the tiniest sprouting leaves (alive, but not wriggly). A most unusual gift. A most thoughtful and amusing gift, from one of my pen-friends, Jim, who has M.E. He knows I like peppermint tea and chocolate (especially mint chocolate), so he sent me a cutting from a chocolate mint plant. Wonderful!

I’m looking forward to watching Minty (it’s a boy, weighs 2 ounces) grow in a pot, that I will sit in the big bathroom window, where there’s lots of light and laughing tulips. The bright happy atmosphere, love, and nurturing, will help him grow from tiny baby leaves, to a mature confident grown-up plant.

Tuesday 22nd April

After my bath I felt less hot and bothered, as I flicked through magazines in the garden. A cool breeze sometimes turned the pages for me. This always amuses me, especially on megatired days. I was interested to read an article in Weekly Wife, about foods that help with depression. Asparagus is abundant in tryptophan, which helps make serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. And spinach is packed with magnesium, a nutrient essential for the biochemical reactions in the brain that boost your energy levels. I read about the herb sorrel in Weekly Witch, the ancient Celts associated the leafy plant with leprechauns. In Irish folklore, there are many images to be found of little green men, clutching a sorrel leaf. It can make a great substitute for spinach too. I may try that.

I felt too weary to read much more, so I just sat. And sat. Until I found the energy to shuffle indoors, make a minty tea, and pick a pocket or two of After Eight mints.

Wednesday 30th April

Fortunately, by lunchtime (and after just one Cornetto) I was in a more joyful, Dolce & Gabbana reds, yellows, orange, and minty-green mood. The sun shone on the bluebells at the bottom of the garden, and as I gazed at the beautiful sight, two tiny blue butterflies danced like fairies over the purplelyblue haze. I smiled, and counted my blessings. I’m so lucky I have my sight, to enjoy blue butterflies, fluttering over bluebells, under a soft-bluebelly-butterfly-blue sky. Did I feel poetic? No. Not today.