Raising awareness Your stories Mark's story Mark became ill with viral encephalitis caused by the Epstein Bar Virus when he was a teenager. Now 33, he reflects on his journey. I feel ill in my first year of college at the age of 17. My parents told me at the time I was complaining of headaches in the run up to it, but i still kept very active playing rugby for a local club and my college as well as training 2-3 times a week. It was in the morning my sister was asked to wake me up and found me unresponsive, so my mum rang for an ambulance. Luckily, when i arrived at Accident and Emergency, they had a visiting doctor who just happened to recognise my systems as the other doctors were none the wiser. After a few CT scans, I was put on antiviral drugs which helped. I then spent the next four weeks in hospital, only being allowed home in the third and fourth weeks. I returned to college at the start of the new academic year, dropping one of my courses as I thought the workload may have been a struggle for me. Looking back, I'm not sure I was fully ready or committed to return to college, but I felt if I waited a year I would have never gone back. It's now 16 years later. I am 33 and still feeling the after-effects of the encephalitis. I am working full time as a technician at a university and I also still play rugby captaining the Second XV. Mark (left) and his dad (far right) I consider myself to be extremely lucky, as my everyday life is affected, but not to the extent of some of the stories you hear. My symptoms are more noticeable when I am fatigued. For example, I notice I will forget the words I want to use or stutter more and my memory will become worse. But, when this happens, it is a reminder to myself to slow down. I still find crowded or noisy environments difficult. But my friends, teammates and family all know that, although I may be quiet in these environments once I have reached my limit and brain overload, I am happy enough just listening to what's going on and being part of the group. Hopefully, my story can reassure people that you can still maintain an active and social life, but you need to be aware of your limits and when to push yourself and when to just sit and be still. Mark Fishing has helped Mark to switch off and 'reset his brain'