Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is undeniably complicated in every conceivable way. The disorder has been around for decades, but the medical community has yet to assemble a clear picture of it. The condition is characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be explained by any underlying medical condition. Physical or mental activity can make it worse, but rest doesn’t make it better.
There’s no single test to confirm a CFS diagnosis, and experts so far have mostly only alluded to a cause with many believing it’s brought on by a combination of factors. One thing is certain: if you have CFS, it can make your life utterly miserable. Your level of functioning will be very low because you simply don’t have the energy to do anything, namely work and daily tasks. Those around you find it hard to understand what you’re going through and you feel sick, sore, exhausted, and alone.
How do I know? I suffered through CFS for much of the 1990s and dealt with these 10 common misconceptions concerning this misunderstood disorder…
1. CFS Is Not “All in your head”
That’s right, CFS is a real disease. Though the word syndrome refers to a pattern or set of symptoms, CFS is an affliction unto itself. Those who suffer from it aren’t just “tired all the time.” They experience a range of debilitating symptoms that may include sleep disturbances, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, headaches, and memory problems. Some complain of feeling like they’re in a state of “brain fog” where concentration and focus is difficult, if not impossible. Because there is no definitive test for diagnosing CFS, many doubt it exists and it has long carried the stigma of an invisible, or made-up, condition–one that just happens to have afflicted millions of people worldwide.