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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is Real

By Irene

Five years ago, I was an active 35-year-old woman who worked full-time as an accountant for a small business, looked after my  two children and enjoyed jogging. I was often described as "full of energy" and always "on the go."

One day, I came down with a bad case of what I thought was "the flu." Two weeks later, I felt a little better, but was still tired and achy. I decided that I would go to work as I thought that getting "up and out" would make my feel better.

On the short walk from the subway to my office, I started to get a headache and felt extremely tired. After about an hour at the office, while reading my email, I could no longer focus on the words. I experienced an overwhelming fatigue that hit my like a brick. I was driven home by a colleague who later told others, "I practically had to carry her to the car."

Upon arriving home, I was bedridden for two whole months, barely able to get up the energy to brush my teeth! I had aches and pains all over my body at times, and felt cold and hot intermittently.

I tried to watch TV, but I couldn't concentrate on what people were saying. I felt totally debilitated, helpless and frightened. Very slowly, I regained some of my energy, but I was unable to ride a bike with my children, do routine household chores, work for more than one hour, or even socialize without experiencing severe fatigue afterward.  People started treating me differently, as if were making it up. They didn’t understand the limitations I suddenly had. I lost touch with many friends during this time in my life — they seemed to just drift away.

This was completely devastating to me, as I enjoyed my work, playing with my children and socializing with my family and friends. I also felt extremely guilty, as I was no longer contributing to the household income and my husband had to take over many of the household and childcare duties. This was putting a strain on my marriage.

After seeing a series of doctors, including a psychiatrist who diagnosed depression, I was finally diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Eventually, with the help of my doctor and a support group, I learned more about the illness. I learned how to pace myself to avoid "crashing" after I exerted myself. I also learned techniques to enhance my memory, reduce stress and promote relaxation. This helped my to cope with my illness.

As my health improved, I re-discovered a love for drawing, which helped my to relax. Within one year, I was able to return to work on a part-time basis. As my husband learned to understand and accept my illness, our relationship has also improved.



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