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By Sheila T.

From Fall 2015 Forum

Do you know where your children are? Have you hugged your dog today? When was the last time you told your spouse “I love you”? Guilt! We’re raised on it from the time we’re infants. It’s reinforced throughout our lives. Did you get an “A” for effort in the fourth grade physical education? Try harder! And now you’re all “grown-up” (or maybe not quite) and it’s still lurking around the corner.

Your friends are healthy. Why aren’t you? Why are you so tired? “I’m tired, too.” “Think positive.” “Try harder.” “What did you do to make yourself sick?” “Did you abuse your body?” “Are you STILL sick?” “What are you doing about it?” Guilt.There is one thing you CAN do. It won’t make you get better, but it will help you feel better: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. You didn’t go out seeking illness. Maybe you were burning the candle at both ends, but so were others and they’re not sick. And what about all those other people that have CFIDS? Hundreds got eight hours of sleep, ate their well-balanced meals, jogged daily and still got sick. That’s why it’s so important to move that huge monster called “GUILT” aside. It has no place in your life. You have enough to contend with being a victim of CFIDS. Keep in mind that is exactly what you are… a victim! Fate dealt you a bad blow but that’s all it is. You aren’t being punished for being bad. This isn’t your fault. Do not allow others with less knowledge about your illness try to convince you that you’re not trying hard enough to get well. They haven’t been where you are. All the positive thoughts in the world may brighten a cloudy day but they won’t eliminate the sharp, stabbing pain or those swollen glands or bring your mind into clear focus or energize those weak muscles. No one expects a paraplegic to think positive and get up to dance. You know how you feel. Don’t expect a smile to help you do the rumba when lifting a glass of juice is all you can handle.

Bury guilt. Easy to say! Not so easy to do. Accept the fact that you’re sick. Accept the fact that you have little control. Then go into action for yourself. Educate yourself. Share your feelings at a support group. Ask if others share your frustration. What do they do to cope? If there is no support group in your area, send for the NCF’s guidebook and begin a support group. Will that cure you? No, just knowing the cause is enough to know there is no cure but that doesn’t eliminate being able to block what is doing the damage in your body on a daily basis and that’s where our research is headed.

No one wants to give up a happy marriage, a good career, travel and social activities for bed rest and some disability money from Uncle Sam. Don’t let guilt twist reality. A chronic illness is a painful experience that nobody wants. One recent medical journal article by a group from Stanford is just now finding out that women’s immune systems are different than those in men (Cell Systems, July 2015, Chang et al) and may actually provide information on why all autoimmune illnesses affect women so much more than men. Whether you’re male or female, accept your illness by dealing with it. Guilt has no place in reality. Is your sink full of dirty dishes from this morning? They’ll wait. Treat yourself with paper plates tomorrow. Let those who are in better health save the trees or let them do your dishes and they’ll be grateful that fate has given them better health! Start now and eliminate guilt from your life.

The National CFIDS Foundation * 103 Aletha Rd, Needham Ma 02492 *(781) 449-3535 Fax (781) 449-8606