In the early days of the illness I found that I seesawed between the two extremes. On the one hand I was in danger of overdoing the physical activity and going into relapse. On the other, I found if I rested too much my muscles would start to atrophy. So I tried to alternate periods of rest with physical or mental activity and only attempt what I felt comfortable with. At first the activity was very limited, but gradually, after lots of ups and downs this has increased.
Before the diagnosis my life had a tendency to swing between periods of adrenalin-induced activity and days of chilling out. After early retirement I began to collect voluntary work at an increasing rate. I was taking on too much and giving scant recognition and time for my own needs. My involvement in counselling others grew to such an extent that my inside was screaming, “what about me?”
I really think that this was a major contribution to the CFS. I don’t say it was the only cause as there were other issues. With hindsight I’m convinced there is some sort of virus involved. Over several years prior to the diagnosis, I experienced some of the same symptoms at a lower level, particularly coinciding with persistent bouts of ‘flu.
I questioned how and why I got into this out-of-balance lifestyle of busyness. Why couldn’t I say no? I found the work extremely rewarding and stimulating. I even thought it was what I was made for. But I came to realise that I was getting much of my value and purpose from the work, instead of from within. Too much from ‘doing’ instead of ‘being!’ This seemed to have been a behaviour pattern that had been with me since childhood and perhaps I was living with the consequences.
I was faced with going back to scratch and finding new ways, God’s ways and God’s pace for my life.