Thank you to Marissa, author of “depression introspection” for pointing out this article on chronic fatigue from the New York Times, because yes, my previous post is all about what this article is talking about.
For exactly the reasons stated in this article—the fact that people just don’t get what chronic fatigue means, I rarely use the words. I also, frankly, don’t really want yet another diagnosis. I’m just trying to live my life as best I can. But this article does help explain my reality in an objective sort of way.
Two excerpts from the article:
Q: What is it about chronic fatigue syndrome that makes it so challenging for many people — patients themselves, doctors, family members?
A: Fatigue is a universal human experience, and in fact most people are very hard-working and feel fatigued a lot of the time. And severe fatigue is one of the most common complaints that people bring to their physicians. Because so many people have general fatigue and continue to function, they think, “What’s that? That’s not a disease, it’s just a fact of life.” So there’s a perception both among medical personnel and the lay public that it’s something that you push yourself through, you deal with it. There’s a tendency to think, “Well, you’re stressed out, get some better sleep, take some antidepressants.”
With heart disease or cancer or AIDS, you have an immediate feeling from your family, your work associates, your friends, that this is something we need to be sympathetic to, we need to make accommodations for. What’s strikingly different about this illness is that the majority of people not only have to deal with a particularly debilitating health problem, they also have to deal with the stigma and societal reaction and disbelief and illegitimacy, and that is crushing, Your work colleagues say you’re malingering, medical personnel say there’s nothing they can find so they’ll refer you to a psychiatrist, and your friends begin to complain that you’re never calling them, you’ve rejected them. So this person is in the whirlwind of a terrain of disbelief that is probably in some ways unique……(emphasis mine)
Q: There are many people who think C.F.S. is just a form of depression. What’s the connection between the two?
A: The fast answer is, if you want to do a quick diagnostic test, you could say, “If you were well tomorrow, what would you do?” And the person with C.F.S. would give you a list of things that they want to get back to in their life, and the person with classic depression would probably say, “I don’t know.” (emphasis mine)
And God yes, there are a ton of things I want to do!! I’m so glad this article stated this for me. Because I know a lot of people read this blog and just imagine I’m depressed. The truth is I suffer from chronic fatigue triggered by psychiatric drug addiction and withdrawal. I am not mentally unwell. I am dying to live my life. I want to hike, I want to work, I want to go to concerts, I want to have a beer, I want to dance, I want to go rafting, I want to play with my nieces and nephews, I want to go to parties, I want to have marathon phone conversations with my friends I’ve left behind…oh god, I want to do so much and I would if I wasn’t so damned tired all the time. What I do is mourn the life I don’t have, but I’m not depressed. The minute I feel any brief reprieve from my symptoms I go out and do.