Who Am I?

Who am I is the question we ask ourselves over and over again, both in our minds and in conversation. We want to know who we are, where we’re going, and what our strengths and weaknesses are. As we grow older, we’re able to figure out more about who we are – and we continue to discover parts of ourselves that we never knew existed.

However, it’s easy to get confused about what it means to be who we are. For example, we may feel that a certain person or event defines who we are, but that’s not necessarily true. According to John Locke, a philosopher, personal identity is based on the sameness of consciousness. This means that the version of yourself that carries on after your death is you, and it’s up to you to decide how you wish to express yourself.

One of the biggest challenges that people with ME face is figuring out who they are when their health is limited. For many, the illness leaves them unable to work or study, and can lead to depression and isolation. The good news is that there are some strategies you can use to help keep yourself mentally healthy, no matter what your circumstances.

ME, also called myalgic encephalomyelitis or CFS, is an illness with severe, debilitating symptoms that can affect all body systems and lasts for years. While the cause is unknown, in many cases it appears to be triggered by an infection. Some examples of these include herpesviruses, bacterial infections like E. coli or hepatitis, and even COVID-19.

Unlike most other chronic illnesses, ME is not well-understood, and there’s no cure or FDA-approved treatment. Symptoms include post-exertional malaise (PEM), unrefreshing sleep, cognitive problems, pain, and orthostatic intolerance (problems regulating blood pressure when you go from lying down to standing up).

Many people with ME have additional diseases or conditions known as comorbidities, such as fibromyalgia, PTSD, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Researchers are working to determine how these diseases relate to ME and what causes them.

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association, also known as Solve ME, serves people with ME and their families. Resources for patients, caregivers, and professionals are available at Solve ME. For those who have been severely affected by ME, there are resources to help them apply for disability, receive assistive devices, and obtain accommodations in the workplace and at school.