Have you ever felt like an 85 year old, with aches and pains all over your body, feeling tired all the time, and constantly highly emotional?
Perhaps if you are over 65 years old you have some idea of this feeling.
But imagine you are a young and healthy teenager, you are happy, active and always busy, but one day you suddenly become physically debilitated, having no energy and constant body aches, but no physical signs of it.
The cause is neither depression or loneliness. In fact the cause is unknown. Your own family and friends believe you are lying or pretending. The doctors cannot pinpoint the problem, and prescribe unorthodox remedies, such as "go have sex" or "go to a night club".
Because of this whole situation, your friends abandon you, not because they do not love you, but because whenever they invite you for activities, you are too tired to join them. You become incredibly lonely and begin to wonder if your sickness is all in your mind. So you decide to push through the exhaustion and force your poor body to do some or other physical activity, but instead of feeling refreshed and invigorated you end up bed ridden for 3 weeks.
The sickness has no set time limit, it feels like it lasts forever. For some people it lasts a year or two, for others it lasts up to twenty or more years.
It is a very real illness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (doctors tend to call anything that they cant understand a "syndrome") and it affects thousands of people. You likely know someone with it, perhaps your workmate, you neighbor, or even someone in your own family. You wont be able to tell they have it by just looking at the, as there are no physical signs. That doesn't mean they don't have it.
I know all of this because I have been the victim of this horrible sickness for 3.5 years, from 16 to nearly 20. I am one of the lucky ones, I am back to regular health and can go on with my life. But I have great empathy for those who do indeed have CFS. I have many friends who are sufferers or have suffered with it. I also can tell if you're just shamming and actually do not have it, as a sufferer from it, one tends to be able to see these little "tell tale signs".
So, if you know someone who does have CFS, please show them a little kindness. If you have got CFS, give me a shout and we can chat, I know sometimes you just need to talk about it. And if you have had it, reach out and let people know that this is a real illness, but that with time it can and will pass.