“You don’t look sick.”
That is the line we’ve all heard a million times. Yet its frequency doesn’t make it any less frustrating, hurtful, or isolating. Why is it that chronic fatigue is such an infeasible concept for so many? My thought has always been that unless it happens to you, you can understand what it feels like to have a constant anchor weighing you down. To this day, even after 16 years of living with this illness, I still second guess the validity of my fatigue. Am I just being lazy? If I just get up, would I feel fine?
Why would anyone torture themselves like that? Because, for years many of us have been made to feel like it is in our heads, that we lack motivation or drive. We’ve been judged, looked down on, and seen way too many eyes roll when we explain that we woke up tired.
Well, a recent article published in The Washington Post by offers us hope for vindication. In his article “Chronic fatigue syndrome is a physical disorder, not a psychological illness, panel says”, he writes about about the group of experts that met at the Institute of Medicine, where it was finally said what we’ve all known for so long.
“We just needed to put to rest, once and for all, the idea that this is just psychosomatic or that people were making this up, or that they were just lazy,” said Ellen Wright Clayton, a professor of pediatrics and law at Vanderbilt University.
Although the recognition of what we Fibros feel to be a very real symptom feels vindicating, it doesn’t at all feel satisfying. Just because an EXPERT understands we are telling the truth, for many of us, the people in our day to day lives just don’t get it yet. However, I can find hope in the fact that the ball is rolling in the right direction. Someday, Chronic Fatigue will be as valid to most people as Clinical Depression has become this day & age, where “seeing” isn’t the end all to believing.
Sixty-seven percent to 77 percent reported in surveys that it took longer than a year to receive a diagnosis, and about 29 percent said it took longer than five years. The vast majority of people with the disorder remain undiagnosed, the panel said, estimating that between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans have it.
They say the first step to recovery, is acknowledging you have a problem. We, as a country have a huge problem when it comes to believing that there are people who can’t show the struggle they live in a tangible way. This panel is proof to me that we have begun to recognize that Chronic Fatigue is one of the illnesses that we don’t see. Now, my hope is that we can move forward in a big way, and not only find real treatments for this, but societal acceptance.
What do you think? Does this give you a sense of vindication, or peace? Comments are welcome!