Every once in a while I have the urge to talk about ME. “Uh oh”, you’re thinking, here she goes again . . .
When I stopped taking a dopamine enhancing drug early last year I crashed. The exhaustion that accompanies, or perhaps drives, Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue hit me like a tidal wave. (Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome* seem to be over-lapping conditions for many people. The verdict is out whether it is one and the same or different maladies).
It’s so hard to explain what it is like to feel exhausted all the time. I’m not sleepy, not tired, not fatigued. It’s an exhaustion, a heaviness that seeps up from the bone marrow. It saps me, not only of physical energy but of mental energy too. I’ve been staring at the TV all day, sitting like a lump, no energy to get up and even do things I enjoy.
I often explain the fatigue as like running through quick-sand that is up to my eyebrows. I can push through it – only for a while . . .
The exhaustion is invisible. The loss of memory is often public. Yesterday I called 3 different clients the wrong name. My brain is in gear but the gears don’t mesh.
I’m blessed that I have a profession where I’m in control of the schedule. Many people are not that fortunate and have to go on disability, IF they can get it or it’s available. Men, I believe, often have it harder. When they have to give up a job, retire the stigma is harsher for not working, not being “productive”. And because fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue are disproportionately a “woman’s disease” men often do not get appropriate treatment or are labeled as malingering.
Estimates range from 2% to 4% of the population has Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue. Chances are you or someone you know is living with the symptoms right now.
*Chronic fatigue syndrome has eight official symptoms, plus the central symptom that gives the condition its name:
- Loss of memory or concentration
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
- Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise