Dictionary Definition of Chronic Fatigue:
A medical condition of unknown cause, with fever, aching, and prolonged tiredness and depression, typically occurring after a viral infection.
Mayo Clinic Definition:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterised by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. The fatigue may worsen with physical or mental activity, but doesn’t improve with rest.
This condition is also known as Systemic exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID) or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
The cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is unknown, although there are many theories — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors.
What a simple definition of a very debilitating, potentially soul-destroying health and lifestyle challenge. It is also not very accurate as there are many nuances and day to day challenges that rear their ugly head with Chronic Fatigue.
Additionally, it is associated with other conditions such as hormonal imbalances, Fibromyalgia, Autoimmune Diseases, Mental Health Challenges and Early Postpartum Mothers.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Signs and symptoms may include:
Loss of memory or concentration
Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
Unexplained muscle or joint pain
Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
Other symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue may include:
Food sensitivities and allergies that are idiosyncratic
Irritable bowel symptomatology
Nervous system disruptions e.g. passing out
Textural and sound sensitivities
Difficulties Associated with CFS and Diagnosis
Chronic Fatigue is linked to many other health and mental health challenges and the medical profession wants to put the correct label on the collection of symptoms in order to treat – what to many appears – an untreatable challenge.
The traumatized clients who come to me have been through a gamut of disbelief, rejection and belittling, especially from the workplace.
Seen from an employer perspective the person has an intense history of absenteeism, is not always cognitively on top of their game and has no initial visible reason for the absenteeism and there is a lack of visible symptoms to justify being absent.
Disability does, in certain cases, become a factor as time progresses with the disease becoming chronic, leading to inability to walk due to fatigue, pain and other debilitating aspects.
Exercise definitely exacerbates the condition, even if it is just driving to work or walking for a bus.
In younger people it disrupts their learning, their socialisation and their potential earning capabilities, leading to further emotional challenges as time progresses.
Implications for Earning an Income
As you can imagine, it is very difficult to hold down a full employment position when you are unable to get out of bed, think clearly, move easily and remember what you are supposed to be doing. It does not help that there is disbelief and people telling you to “Pull yourself together.”
There are different degrees of Chronic Fatigue and, as mentioned, different causes.
Each one has to be looked at on its own merits. Employers are becoming more open and understanding as to allowing flexitime work, working from home and different employment posts.
Ultimately though they are in business to make money and that is the bottom line – their bottom line. It is difficult in smaller firms to have to accommodate someone who may or may not be able to fulfill their work tasks effectively and on an ongoing basis.
The person is caught between their illness, their employer, the legal system and the need to put food on the table.
In short, I never knew when I would suddenly experience an attack of fatigue and lapse into unconsciousness, nor were the periods of unconsciousness consistent in length. It happened while driving, shopping and at home. This was due to various back injuries, hormonal imbalances and lifestyle challenges. I was able to stay at home, have people look after my children and my husband took up the financial slack.
Not everyone is able to do this.
Possible Support and Solutions
Each country has their own system of grants and laws to protect both employee and employer.
Please look into what is available in your country.
It is a challenge for people enduring this, mainly unrecognized and acknowledged challenge, in countries like South Africa where there is not a supportive Social Security System in place for effective disability and other financial grants.
The shopping centres, places of learning and workplaces are also now slowly coming on board to accommodate people with disabilities and wheelchair access.
Home based businesses online and offline are becoming more and more possible solutions. Again, the challenge is the ability to be consistent in offering services and other income producing activities to their clients.
It is not always possible to predict when a flare up, fibro fog or any other challenge will present itself. It also becomes apparent and diagnosis is given when the person is in an advanced state of the Chronic Fatigue and related symptoms so there has been no time to establish, effectively, another source of income.
It is very important for the person to have support, care and understanding.
It is admirable that there are companies able, and prepared to, to provide the position suited to the person’s need to have to rest more than normal, be absent above average, work flexi time or remotely.
However, they are the exception rather than the rule.
Find the legal aspects applicable in your country as to grants, employee rights and disability pensions
Speak to your employers to see if there is a workable solution to remain in their employ
Look into alternative ways of healing and balancing of your energy
Have a family meeting to discuss the financial implications and home life adjustments as you emotionally and physically understand you are not your disease and despite the prognosis the medical world gives, there is hope and healing available
Ask for help looking into home based and online businesses. Keep in mind they all have their own associated challenges
Consider the energy implications of all steps in the beginning as emotions as well as physical exertion are really debilitating.
Make time to assess each step and avoid victim mentality so as to be open to all situations. Not easy and doable with support from yourself and others.
We are in a new world of digital availability that is opening up doorways to earning income, having support and walking into our own power that were not available before.
Be open to change, something different and understand your worth is not tied to your income or work, this opens doors to creating a way of life that is financially rewarding and more in alignment with what you are needing