Whether you’re in a job interview, on a date or at a family gathering, you may be asked to describe yourself to others. It’s an important question, and how you answer will have a huge impact on your life. You’ll need to find a way to express who you are without being too long-winded, and without using negative adjectives. It will also help to remember that you’re a complex person, but there are some things that everyone shares.
One of these shared characteristics is that we are all human. People change over time, and if you want to know who you really are, you have to look at the version of yourself that carries on through consciousness. According to John Locke, personal identity is made of “the sameness of consciousness.” This means that the version of yourself you carry on through consciousness is who you truly are.
Another thing that everyone has in common is that they are tired. There are many reasons why someone may feel tired, including a lack of sleep or an illness. But the type of fatigue associated with ME is different to the normal fatigue from a lack of sleep or an illness, and it’s not relieved by rest. It’s also not the same as being exhausted after a big event or working too hard. It’s the kind of fatigue that can leave a person housebound or bedbound and requires around-the-clock care on their worst days.
ME is a complex, disabling disease that affects the brain and multiple body systems. Research shows that people with ME have lower health-related quality of life scores than those who don’t have ME. It affects people of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is more common in women and can be triggered by a wide range of infections, most commonly glandular fever or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It can also be caused by herpes simplex or varicella-zoster viruses (causes chickenpox/shingles), enteroviruses, Hepatitis A, B or C infection, influenza or, in Australia, Ross River virus.
While there is no known cause, there is evidence that ME has a cellular origin and involves abnormal regulation of key metabolic processes. This includes cellular stress responses and impaired energy production. The most common symptoms of ME are fatigue and post-exertional malaise – a worsening of symptoms after physical, mental or emotional exertion.
Currently there is no biomarker for ME, so diagnosis relies on diagnostic criteria. All of the criteria used to diagnose ME must include post-exertional malaise (PEM). PEM is a global increase in symptoms that can last hours, days or longer, and can be triggered by light and sound, as well as cognitive and physical exertion.
OMF’s guiding strategy is to fund open, collaborative ME/CFS research so that precise diagnostic tools and life-changing treatments can be available for patients as soon as possible. To support our work, donate today. Your support will help us to accelerate the search for safe and effective treatments.