Since I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in spring of 2008, my life has been a series of ups and downs and of opportunities to learn from my experiences. Adding aging and a couple of other chronic medical conditions to the mix, my life has been a challenge to say the least. At my point of collapse in September, 2007, I had struggled with pain that had increased in frequency and magnitude. I had fought depression with the suggested tools of my doctors--counseling and antidepressants, and I blamed my fatigue on depression.
However, now that I understand what has helped and not helped me, I realize that everything that had been going on in my body up to that time was interrelated, and that includes the depression. I am not going to get into what helped me in 2008, because that is not really the purpose of this post. What I want to say is that I mistakenly thought that Post-Exertional Malaise was Depression. I thought I was fatigued, because I was depressed. However, I really think I was depressed, because hormones and other functions of my body were out of balance. That was one of the reasons the anti-depressants did not keep me from getting "depressed." My doctors blamed my inability to get things done on depression; however, my "lack of motivation" was because my body was not working properly. I simply did not have sustainable energy. Also, I did not understand that every time I had enough energy to get things done or exercise, I was taking myself past a point I could recover from, so I was frequently in a state of relapse.
If I had not taken charge of my own health, found doctors that look past the depression, and had not continued to study and research how to handle my fibromyalgia and depression, I doubt I would feel any better now. Through much prayer, as well as reading, when I felt well enough to get through the brain-fog, I finally found a doctor that looked at everything that was going on. And, even after that, I kept learning to manage my medical conditions and my life, sometimes doing it well and sometimes not so well; but, I never gave up. In saying that, I have to be clear that there were many times I felt like it was too hard. However, there was always that hope in my heart that God would cure me or help me find something that would strengthen my body. After all, I had been this way for a very long time. In fact, I now realize that I cannot say for sure how long I had fibromyalgia, but I suspect I had it in the 1980's. Now, I think I have had it for a much longer amount of time than that.
Some people look at illnesses like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as the results of deconditioning. However, I see that as an insult to those of us who exercised and did hard physical labor until they could Not! Sure, my body has become softer and flabbier over all the years that I was unable to do regular exercise; and, that is a Result of my illness. My illness is not a result of being a couch potato. Prior to what I call "the great collapse", I was a person that pursued physical fitness, because I simply loved being active. I loved playing tennis, dancing, and going to jazzercize classes. I loved swimming. Also, I was regular runner before I hurt my back. I loved rowing, ballet, modern dance, bike riding, volleyball, and hiking with my family.
So, let me repeat, the deconditioning of my body was due to Not being able to endure sustained physical activity. Moreover, every time I had even an ounce of energy, I tried to get back to my former life, and I could not do it. There was always the relapse.
My very long introduction brings me to the purpose of this article, which is sharing Adrienne Dellwo's latest post from About.com with you. It brought back the memories of all I have been through in this journey, including what I have found that has helped me the most. I think one needs to understand Post-Exertional Malaise to understand this person who looks normal does not have a normal functioning body. I have even heard that people who suffer with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as ME, feel as sick as someone who has cancer; however, the cause of feeling ill is different; and, CFS / ME and Fibromyalgia are something one endures for years, often with finding little relief. In fact, it kind of like an illness marathon. Now, that is a horrible analogy, but it is long and hard to live with, so I think it fits.
Okay! Enough of me talking. I am going to post the links to Dellwo's articles, and I hope you read them. Just knowing that an expert in scientific journalism takes the time to do the research is a comfort. She is an excellent writer, and she has lived the pain. Adrienne Dellwo knows what it feels like to have Fibromyalgia and related conditions, because she experiences it daily.
Causes of Post-Exertional Malaise in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
What is Post-Exertional Malaise?