If you are asked to describe yourself in an interview, your response can be the difference between landing a job and losing it. In order to impress the interviewer and send the right message, you need to find words that will convey your personality and character. If you have ME/CFS, the most important thing to remember when answering this question is to stay positive and avoid using negative adjectives.
In a world where ME/CFS is so misunderstood, it is critical that people understand the true nature of this disease. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a complex chronic condition that causes severe fatigue and post-exertional malaise, which is worsening of symptoms after a period of activity. This is very different from the ordinary feeling of tiredness that most people experience after a long day at work or after a night of rest. The onset of ME/CFS can happen suddenly, or develop over months and years. It can affect any age group and racial and ethnic groups, but is more common in women than men.
The causes of ME/CFS are not well understood, but it has been found that it can occur after certain infections such as Epstein-Barr virus or Q fever. It may also be triggered by changes in the way the immune system responds to infection or illness. Many people with ME/CFS have had serious mental or physical stress before becoming ill. There is no one test for ME/CFS, but doctors must evaluate a patient and consider the symptoms of ME/CFS and other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
During an ME/CFS flare, patients experience post-exertional malaise (PEM), unrefreshing sleep, and cognitive problems and orthostatic intolerance (problems with balance). In addition, some people with ME/CFS have periods of bloating and constipation and have difficulty regulating their temperature. These symptoms can make it difficult to perform daily tasks and activities, even simple ones such as going to the store or brushing your teeth.
People with ME/CFS may look healthy on the outside, and the common blood tests ordered by their doctors often show nothing out of the ordinary. However, ME/CFS is a very real illness with significant and devastating effects. On the worst days, most people with ME are unable to work or attend school, and up to three out of four are bedbound.
Managing ME/CFS requires both medical and non-medical interventions. Psychotherapy is helpful for people with ME/CFS, as it can teach coping skills, help deal with family and social challenges, and improve mood. Support groups can provide a place to meet other people with ME/CFS and to discuss issues related to the disorder. People with ME/CFS can also benefit from physical and occupational therapy, which can include teaching new ways to do daily activities. These treatments can help people with ME/CFS maintain their independence at home and work, and keep them from having to rely on friends and family for assistance. Research is needed to develop effective therapies for ME/CFS and to find better ways to help patients cope with the illness.