Many people with ME feel that they have a powerful identity. They have experienced a very different reality to the majority of their peers and feel like they are a part of something larger than themselves. Some of them have even felt that they are a unique and valuable addition to society. These feelings can be very strong and can affect their self-esteem. Some people can have a hard time explaining these differences to others and may feel that they are not being treated fairly.
ME/CFS is a complex chronic illness that affects multiple body systems. It has a wide range of symptoms, from severe fatigue to pain and cognitive impairment. People with ME/CFS can be as young as children and as old as adults. It can affect men and women of all races and ethnicities. It is estimated that 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans have ME/CFS.
It is not known what causes ME/CFS, but it is believed that certain infections can trigger it. It is also thought that there are genetic factors and environmental influences that increase the risk of getting ME/CFS. People with ME/CFS often have comorbidities, which are conditions that occur along with ME/CFS. These include:
Symptoms of ME/CFS are grouped into categories called syndromes. Some of the most common are cognitive impairment, orthostatic intolerance and unrefreshing sleep. In order to be diagnosed with ME/CFS, the CDC requires that patients have post-exertional malaise (PEM), severe fatigue that is not relieved by rest and either cognitive impairment or orthostatic intolerance.
The PEM in ME/CFS is often more severe than what would be expected for the level of activity done by a patient. It can happen after any activity, from going for a jog to brushing your teeth. It can last for 24 hours or more, and it is sometimes delayed by up to 3 days.
People who have ME/CFS can develop a variety of comorbidities, including depression and anxiety disorders. They can also experience stress, which may make their symptoms worse. It is important to identify and treat comorbidities so they don’t interfere with the patient’s ME/CFS recovery.
It is important to use positive language when describing yourself. It can be helpful to use words such as “highly organized,” “self-determined” and “team player.” These words are particularly effective when used in conjunction with a job interview, especially if the company’s mission is a good fit for your skills and strengths. However, it is not appropriate to use power words such as “amazing,” “fantastic” and “incredible.” These can make a negative impression on the interviewer. They are also inappropriate when referring to yourself as a person who has ME/CFS.