Many are of the opinion, including some in the medical profession, that M.E is all in the mind. All you have to do is pull your socks up and get on with life. I used to think a bit like that, until I experienced the illness first hand. I then discovered that the physical symptoms are real enough. Some say it’s like having ‘flu all the time, but it’s more than that.
Even after mild exercise and without warning, fatigue can set in. Not just tiredness, it goes far beyond that, it takes over and affects the whole body. Also the brain is fogged affecting concentration. At worst I would be laid up and have to go extremely carefully for a week or so before I could venture into anything physical.
Faulty body temperature regulation is a problem. I sometimes describe it by saying that “my thermostat is faulty!” Even a minute or so of cold wind could catapult me into deep chill, taking up to two days for my body temperature to recover, during which time I would be wrapped in layers of clothes. Alternatively if I got over warm I could go “on the boil.” Abrupt changes in outside temperature or humidity affects sleep affect sleep and I can wake in the night bathed in perspiration. So disturbed sleep patterns mean waking tired.
I would experience muscle pain, even after light exercise, depending upon the muscle group involved. Alternatively muscles can ache if they lack exercise, the secret is to determine which.
Some people still call M.E. a depressive illness but this is not correct. I feel down sometimes when fatigue is at it’s highest – this was especially sop in the early days, but I was never in a state of depression.
Other symptoms I experienced in the early days, included nausea, breathlessness, headaches, abdominal discomfort and digestive problems and allergy to certain foods. These have long vanished, the others are much reduced and fatigue is less severe now, but I still have to live within a restriction.
You may have wondered what the image above is. It’s a photo of algae growth on the surface of a stagnant pond.