ME/CFS is a complex, multifaceted disorder characterized by extreme fatigue and a host of other symptoms which can worsen after physical or mental activity, but do not improve with rest. Managing ME/CFS is a difficult task and many people, who are healthy, have no idea whatsoever of the burden undertaken by victims of permanent disability.
There has been an increase in the number of cases, in our law firm’s experience, of people who have suffered trauma which has then led to not only chronic pain (which is a separate topic), but ME/CFS.
Coping with ME/CFS
Dealing with ME/CFS presents its own unique problems. The first problem is that fatigue is considered the poor cousin of chronic pain by the medical establishment. In other words, people with chronic fatigue don’t receive the medical support their chronic illness deserves. This blog post offers some tips to those suffering from ME/CFS.
In dealing with ME/CFS you have limited energy and you must apportion your energy accordingly. There is often a great temptation to exceed your “energy envelop” today at something enjoyable, or out of necessity, but you will then suffer the consequences tomorrow and the next day. This can lead to the well-intended instruction to constantly set aside activities you would like to do today so that you don’t have fatigue tomorrow.
Being present-moment oriented and enjoying the moment is a counterbalance to this focus of preserving energy for tomorrow. You need to recognize and value some achievements today, appreciate the little things in life today, embrace gratitude, be present in the here and now. You must allow some time to engage in an activity that will make you happy today regardless of your fatigue.
What does it mean to live fully in the present moment? It means that your awareness is completely centered on the here and now. You are not worrying about the future or thinking about the past. When you live in the present, you are living where life is happening. The past and future are illusions, they don’t exist. Living in the moment is not easy, but it is something you should be aware of so that you can continually, gently, pull yourself back into the present moment.
But the foregoing does not mean you don’t plan for the future. It is important for you to find new, lower energy ways of working (if you are still able to work), lower energy ways of having a fulfilling social life, and lower energy ways of having fun and finding laughter.
By becoming present in the moment or by focusing on happiness here and now you are indirectly investing in a better future at the same time. The happier and more relaxed you are the less energy you will use on tension and stress and the more resources can be oriented towards repair and healing. The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
So it comes down to a balancing act, if you spend all of your time and energy focusing on getting better you must be aware progress will be slow with a chronic illness and if you don’t learn to enjoy the here and now as it is, you’re condemning yourself to a life of misery. When you’re miserable, motivation will decrease and you will then indirectly be negatively impacting your rehabilitation efforts.
Brent L. Handel Q. C.