Lessons Learned Living With Chronic Fatigue

If you’ve never heard of chronic fatigue, it doesn’t simply mean you’re “so tired” all the time. If it did, we would all have it.  CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is a set of symptoms used to describe a host of confusing symptoms, often mimicking the flu or chronic aches/pains/fogginess. Basically, you are ‘diagnosed’ (or left to diagnose yourself) with this after all other medical conditions have been ruled out.  It’s said that this can be brought on by viral infections, which in my case was true.  CFS can make the things you used to do easily seem like climbing Mount Everest. The good news is … it’s not all bad.

If we look at everything in our lives as an experience.. something like an adventure.. it can lessen the blow when things go wrong.  Of course it is a daily reminder to look at things this ways, and I certainly get frustrated with my symptoms on some days.  I went from having energy 24/7 and being an overachiever to fighting through flu-like foggy feelings almost every day.  Luckily, i’ve learned quite a few lessons from my little friend.

1. I Learned To Be My Own Best Friend.
Prior to getting sick, I didn’t know myself too well. I knew I was a perfectionist, a driven, motivated individual who was always on the go and hated being alone.  When I was sick, I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere so I was stuck with me, myself, and I. At first this was the absolute worst part, but by the end of the worst fatigue days, I was becoming my own best friend.

This helped me to develop a deeper respect for myself and my needs, as well as to learn more about what I actually like and dislike. It was like having a sleepover with a BFF after awhile.

2. I realized life is meant to be enjoyed.
In the days before getting sick, all my days were regimented and full of extracurriculars, study time, working out, and doing other things I really hated.  I remember one time I was on the treadmill running and thinking (as I often do), and realized I hadn’t seen the sun in a few days. I had been so busy that I hadn’t been outside in actual sun for a few DAYS. That’s crazy.

Fast forward to now.. I fill my days with as much fun as I can because at the end, that’s what I hope my life has been. Fun. Filled with love, meaningful connections, and adventures.

3. We are not our accomplishments, our social status, etc.
While I used to get caught up in material items like a new designer purse or purchasing $250 jeans, I now realize how ridiculous that all seems.

The things that matter most in life are not things.

We are not our GPA, our wealth, our social circle, or the car we drive. Those things have nothing to do with who we are when you get deeper into why we’re all here on Earth.

4. Most people won’t really care, so when you find the ones that do, hold on to them.
Most of the relationships we enter into – sadly – are very surface-y.  Having a chronic, exhausting “syndrome” is something that makes you reevaluate who you keep close in your life, and who you let go of.  Surface relationships have become unimportant in my life, and it’s become increasingly easy for me to let go of people who don’t have my back in the good AND bad times.

5. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do for yourself.
I used to think that sitting around all day was lazy, unproductive, and just gross. Obviously I was a real stress-ball back then, but that’s just how I thought a successful person was supposed to think.

It took me awhile to realize that ‘lazing around’ was going to be a real part of my healing – something I would have to allow myself to do without guilt in order to have better, more energetic days.

Through this i’ve realized it’s totally okay to take a break from life for a day or two. We NEED it. Our bodies CRAVE it. Your job is just to slow down and listen.  My body just seems to scream it a little louder these days 😛

Lots of love,
Katie

2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned Living With Chronic Fatigue

  1. Sending you some extra love and strength in your healing process of cfs.
    My sister has/had it and there is certainly not enough support and understanding out there. But from what you wrote it seems you are on the right path for better health and success despite the major obstacles cfs can put in your way!

    But it can and will get better, I’ve watched my sister grow stronger and stronger year after year!
    All the best xx

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