A few words for ME Awareness Week
Updated: May 10
This week is ME Awareness week, a subject close to my heart as it’s part of my own personal health journey.
First of all, what's the difference between tiredness and fatigue? Well it depends on who you ask! My view is that tiredness is a normal part of life, and should be alleviated with adequate rest and sleep.
The terms ME and CFS are often used interchangeably and I’ll do so in this article for ease. In ME/CFS, fatigue often comes hand-in-hand with a range of other debilitating symptoms(1) such as:
Brain fog & memory issues
Muscle aches & pains
Dizziness, nausea and heart palpitations
I was diagnosed with post-viral ME/CFS in 2013 (you can read my story here) and I experienced all of the above - it feels someone like flu and the worst hangover of your life, at the same time!
Something that was pointed out to me is that the language used to describe ME/CFS is often quite negative. Here are some current examples:
"...long-term disabling tiredness (fatigue)....The cause is not known."(2)
"You may have to make some major lifestyle changes."(3)
"There is no known pharmacological treatment or cure for CFS/ME."(4)
Being diagnosed with ME/CFS can be devastating and traumatic and when you start researching, it can feel like you've been given a life sentence. I know, I've been there, wondering if life would ever be the same - and such negative language may well add to someone’s anxiety and fear about their future, as well as increasing their symptoms.
Conventional treatment centres on managing and treating the symptoms, with no focus on identifying and addressing the potential underlying causes and contributory factors which can be multiple and vary enormously from one person to another. These may include:
Viral infection (post-viral fatigue)
Thyroid and/or adrenal dysfunction
But there is hope, people do improve and recover. It may be tough, and take time and effort, but it is possible. There are some great organisations and charities such as Action for ME working tirelessly to raise awareness of ME/CFS and support those affected. Other positive developments include:
“DECODE ME” - recruitment of subjects for the the largest genetic study of ME/CFS in the world is underway, and has now been extended to include people who have developed ME/CFS after Covid infection
NICE updated their ME/CFS guidelines in October 2021. Although there is a welcome inclusion of the "importance of a personalised management plan", the focus remains on "energy management, the treatment of specific symptoms, and guidance on managing flares and exacerbations".
The Chrysalis Effect offers an established step-by-step online programme to help support sufferers of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia on their journey to regain health and well-being. Their tried-and-tested protocol is also currently being piloted within the NHS. There is a FREE eBook to download, and a month’s FREE trial of the online programme.
I've undertaken additional practitioner training with The Chrysalis Effect (and continue to do so), and many of my clients are also doing the online programme, which supports and enhances our work together.
If you're struggling with fatigue, it’s important to visit your GP in the first instance to rule out other potential causes. Working with a complementary practitioner such as myself may be helpful to identify which contributory factors are relevant for you, and how they should be addressed in the order that's right for you.
Struggling with fatigue? Why not book a FREE discovery call to discover how nutritional therapy may help?
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My story video
Dr Sarah Myhill, ME/CFS specialist
The content on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.