I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Of all my symptoms, this is the one that has had the most profound effect on my life. Before I got ill (or iller than I already was), I led a pretty active life. At 30 years old, I worked full time at a University developing training opportunities for businesses. I also did some freelance teaching, freelance scriptwriting, and ran a small photography business. When I wasn’t working, I tended to my allotment, travelled, went out with friends and family at least twice a week, went to the gym every other day, walked 6 miles a day to and from work, attended gigs, gallerys, cinema and theatre, and spent alot of time enjoying these things with my amazing partner Liz.
And then I got really ill. I had 5 months off work, and after an initial period of recovery went back part time. I definitely was not ready to go back to work, but without my wage I would not have been able to pay for private treatment (I was outright refused treatment on the NHS). After a year I am still only part time, and the Chronic Fatigue persists.
My life is now: prep food for work, work, struggle home from work, sleep for an hour, then prep and cook food for the following day. By the time this is all done it’s usually around 8pm and then the fatigue really hits hard, and it’s just sofa and bed then until it all starts again the next day, This has been my routine now for over a year. If I try to walk anywhere, stand up for too long, or make extended mental exertions, exhaustion will set in instantly. Pretty depressing for someone who worked hard and played even harder for 30 years.
But hey ho, changes need to be made, and recovery needs to be done. Obviously my old lifestyle did not suit my body, so I don’t expect to be able to go back to my ‘old ways’. My main goal is to get back to a place where I can live through a day without suffering with fatigue, and without having to rely on other people to look after me.
The tenants for recovery from Chronic Fatigue that I follow – and yes, I do wholeheartedly believe that it can be overcome in the most part, despite my experience wanting to telling me otherwise – are:
Positivity is the key. And patience. The body naturally errs toward recovery, it just needs to be given the right conditions to do so. There have been times when I thought this was it for me, that I’d broken myself so badly there was no going back. And I still have bad days now when that thought creeps in, especially when I get delayed fatigue (the dreaded delayed fatigue – read about it here). But being ill has made me into an optimist – it’s like a default survival mechanism that has kicked in when I most needed it. Amazing really, for someone who lent toward, and sometimes fell deeply into, depression for 15 years. I think some of this is the healing effects of the diets that I have followed, more posts on this soon.
If you too have Chronic Fatigue, or suspect that you do, don’t suffer in silence; talk to people, get help from friends, and post here for support, guidance or just a good old fashioned moan – it’s good to get things off your chest once in a while!