In itself this is not an inaccurate description of frequently seen characteristics of Fibromyalgia and CFS sufferers. However it is so broad that it can describe sufferers with a multitude of other conditions.
human body is
as with all
there comes a
appear to be a
to develop CFS
A lesser but analogous example of stress related conditions are those referred to as “burnout", or simply stress and I quote.
of a close
have all been
The initial trauma that was the notable “trigger” of your CFS or Fibromyalgia is usually cited as a bacterial/viral or chemically invasive attack of some kind, but it has been noted that in some sufferers extreme acute stress and anxiety, such as bereavement, divorce, bullying, extremes of overwork may also be a trigger for CFS symptoms in the absence of a notable infection or exposure.
This makes sense in that scientific evidence has shown conclusively that stress lowers our immune defenses against infection as witnessed by white blood cell and lymphocyte counts.
Also, stress and anxiety have been shown to directly affect the body in the short to medium term causing extreme fatigue and more disabling problems such as migraine, impairment of concentration and memory, interrupted sleep patterns and depression.
Fortunately, as a society we have been woken up to the negative effects of stress and anxiety.
As is often the case it has taken the negative economic implications of excess anxiety and stress to spur employers and healthcare providers into action.
Sufferers no longer have to fight against the labeling that was common with previous generations which took the basic premise that “stress, depression and anxiety are all in the mind and are a sign of weakness”
Stress, depression and anxiety are known to slow down and in severe cases prevent recovery from infectious illnesses, and this is partly where the confusion and malpractice surrounding the CFS/depression arena was instigated and fed by general practice and psychologists over the last few decades.
The dividing line between the two conditions can appear very fine to the untrained eye, but on closer inspection CFS and Fibromyalgia do in fact have a totally unique subset of features when compared to depressions of all types
To further muddy the waters both CFS and depression cause physical symptoms which can be similar to each other on initial presentation and also there is definitive crossovers of the symptoms of various infectious illnesses of the rheumatic and auto-immune spectrum.
Unfortunately, establishment apathy and nonchalance regarding the true nature of CFS and Fibromyalgia have lead to it being sidelined as a subdivision of psychology and particularly depression.
Historically, when help is sought, sufferers are sometimes left feeling isolated and misunderstood to the extent that they will begin to hide their symptoms, living in denial, worried about other peoples reactions, and press on regardless while understating their illness.
But this time, the body is not playing! These typical reactions only serve to heighten overall stress and anxiety levels which is precisely the opposite of the reaction we are seeking to promote - recuperation. And so the sufferer experiences a further exacerbation and worsening of symptoms.
A lot of sufferers understandably avoid further professional help.
In the early stage, sufferers work very hard to find a cure and convince people that CFS/ME/Fibromyalgia is a real illness. This leads to sufferers experiencing a desperate urgency to recover and find the magic bullet which does not exist.
All this while sufferers are feeling threatened, scared, angry, stigmatized and generally ill.
The stress and anxiety cycle goes even higher, and the result, sufferers sink even lower.
There are times in a person life, (most all of it), when it may simply be too difficult to actually be ill at all.
For example as a carer of an ill relative, or a baby or young children, during a period of house renovation or construction, the demands of work as primary source of income.
In the absence of people that can help practically and emotionally in these life scenarios it can be very difficult to actually say “STOP”
Traditional medicine understood the importance of recuperation, rest, relaxation and contemplation as an important therapeutical facet of overcoming serious illnesses and infections.
Hitorically, in the presence of a frightening array of diseases which are now largely purged from modern society, and the absence of powerful antibiotics and antivirals, painkillers and analgesics, the body was largely left to its own devices.
In Traditional medicine sufferers were often treated with herbal tonics and natural cures, a lot of these were incidentally quite effective but have now been largely forgotten, dismissed or banned from the shelves, to be reproduced in synthetic form to provide the basis of 75% of modern pharmaceuticals.
However the primary strategy of the era involved long periods of rest and recuperation.
By contrast, modern medicine and society place more importance on masking the symptoms, "keeping a stiff upper lip", "knocking it on the head" and "getting back on the job" as quickly as possible.
A "get well quick" mentality which unfortunately is completely at odds with a recuperative strategy for illnesses such as CFS and Fibromyalgia.
Learning to control and reduce stress and anxiety is an important and essential adjunct to any CFS and Fibromyalgia recovery strategy.
You will need to learn how to recognize stress and anxiety patterns and how to short circuit the sequence of events that lead to a "stress spiral".
Techniques of physical and psychological relaxation are essential and very effective.
Learning when to say NO is essential and avoiding all events and activities that place you under unnecessary stress or anxiety are essential in the short to medium term.
In my next article on this subject I will be talking about techniques that can be used effectively to short circuit and alleviate stress and anxiety at home, in the car and at the workplace.
Clive L. Haslam, (B.A, M.Sc, PgDip)
CFS/ Fibromyalgia Research
CFS/ Fibromyalgia Sufferer