John Falk: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Psychotherapy
Until now, I've told no one except a small inner-circle of family that my mysterious breakdown in health, vitality, and cognition that started the night of May 5, 2007 was not due to an exotic virus I picked up in the Congo while on assignment for National Geographic. The truth? I'm actually a textbook case of someone with CFS, a syndrome I sniffed at until it happened to me. For the sufferer CFS means a total health breakdown, like a plane that inexplicably begins tearing itself apart mid-flight. Together, all the various dysfunctions associated with it leave the patient in a state of health more debilitating than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, or multiple sclerosis.
There is no known cause for CFS, and most terrifying from where I sit, no cure.
I've now decided to come out of the closest -- so to speak -- because it's ultimately self-defeating living a lie. Plus, someone has to start owning this syndrome in public. The more people who fess up to having it -- and there are many more who have it than let on -- the better off we all will be in the end.
When you have CFS one of the greatest battles you fight are the ignorant smirks and expressed disbelief of those who think it's all in your head; that is, those that don't live with you and live the truth of CFS everyday. Negativity and doubt amount to an energy drain you can ill afford. It's the reason I have refused up until now to identify myself as a person with CFS.
That which medicine can't explain we tend to label psychosomatic and blame the patient, a cruel phenomenon all too familiar to those who've had MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, and a myriad of other ailments in decades past.