Jason McFarlane knows what it’s like to suffer.
The pain he experiences is hard to bear. That’s why his doctor has him on strong opiate medication.
“I’m praying every day that I will recover,” Mr McFarlane, of Shortland, said.
He suffers from a condition called fibromyalgia.
Symptoms of the disease include widespread pain and tenderness across the body, fatigue, sleep disturbance, irritable bowel, headaches and problems with concentration and memory.
The condition has been linked to an overactive pain system, a haywire nervous system, emotions, anxiety and depression.
But it remains one shrouded in mystery, with no obvious cure available.
Mr McFarlane, 34, was struggling with “a lot of pain, fatigue, memory and speech”.
“They’re the main culprits at the moment,” he said.
He has three children aged three, seven and 12 and a wife named Crystal.
At the moment, he can’t live a normal life.
“It’s a challenge even to go to the shops,” he said.
“My 3-year-old doesn’t understand. He says ‘come on dad, let’s go and do this’ and I can’t.”
Mr McFarlane is a qualified chef, who worked in the hospitality sector for years.
On his doctor’s advice, after a relapse of his condition, he resigned last November.
“One of the biggest challenges is not being able to work. Hospitality is my life and I’ve had to walk away from it,” he said.
His condition arose in 2010.
“I was having lunch with my wife at Westfield Tuggerah. I got back to my car and couldn’t move,” he said.
“I had more tests than I could list,” he said.
“I’m a bit like Homer Simpson. I could glow in the dark with the amount of X-rays I went through.
“It wasn’t until late 2011 that they finally diagnosed me.”
Awareness of the chronic illness had improved since then, with support groups available on social media.
Mr McFarlane said a person’s psychology plays a part in the condition.
“Some people don’t realise that and some do,” he said.
He struggled with his emotions.
“I used to deal with stress, I ate it for breakfast,” he said.
It was important to find a doctor who understood the disease, he said.
Gaining access to government services had proved difficult.
His inability to work meant finances were tight.
His wife said he was “constantly tired and irritable from all the pain he is in”.
The family had sought help from charities and other sources, but it was not easy to get the support needed.