Learning How To Manage Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Aleesha 1

Shortly after my third bowel operation in January 2021 I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - a diagnosis I saw coming for a long time, so it wasn’t a big shock.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness and generally feeling unwell. In addition, people with CFS may have other symptoms, including:

  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • A sore throat or sore glands that are not swollen
  • Problems thinking, remembering or concentrating
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Feeling dizzy or sick
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations)
  • Headaches

(NHS, 2021)

Aleesha V2

CFS can affect anyone, including children. It’s more common in women, and tends to develop between your mid-20s to mid-40’s. The severity of symptoms can vary each day, or even fluctuate throughout the day.

As the CFS diagnosis is still very new to me I am still learning every day about how to best manage my symptoms. I thought I would share the things that I’ve found help me so far:

  • I start every day by taking my over-the-counter vitamins. Some of my personal favourites to fight fatigue are the ‘Energy Gummies’ and ‘Busy Bee’ tablets from Holland & Barrett. (However, I would recommend discussing these with your GP before taking them!)
  • Day-to-day life can very busy and getting the right balance between work and home life can sometimes be tricky. It is important to listen to your body. Only do as much as your body allows you too - finding time to squeeze in a nap is a CFS human being’s best friend!
  • Telling my friends and family about my diagnosis has really helped. CFS can sometimes get in the way of my social life, so it’s important for friends and family to be aware that sometimes saying no to social gatherings, outings etc. is nothing personal to them.
  • If I’ve had a busy day, I tend not to plan anything for the following day as I know my body would need a rest day. For example, I am getting married in a few months, so wedding shopping is in full swing at the moment. It is important I don’t do too much back-to-back.
  • Not everyone understands your condition and sometimes people can think you are ‘lazy’ when your energy levels are low. I have had to remind myself not to take these comments to heart and not everyone will get it, and that’s OK.
  • CFS can also affect your mental and emotional wellbeing, having a negative effect on your self-esteem. It is frustrating when you wish you had more energy to do things. As well as asking my family and friends for support, I’ve found it useful to talk to other people with CFS.

I hope these tips can help anyone reading this who suffers with fatigue. Just remember, our illness does NOT define us :)

Aleesha V3

“Just remember, our illness does NOT define us.” - @gutless_warrior

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by Aleesha Verma

Aleesha Verma

About the author

My name's Aleesha Verma - also known as the Gutless Warrior! I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease at the age of 18 and now have a permanent ileostomy bag - not a Prada bag, unfortunately. You can also follow me @gutlesswarrior on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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