Children Who Live With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

            An inaccurate hypothesis presumed about this disease is that a child has a lesser chance of experiencing this illness than a grown adult does. This statement can't be any further from the truth. A young person can agonize with this sickness to the same propensity as an adult. The sensations and degrees of discomfort are very alike. Any individual can suffer from this viral infestation no matter what the age. Chronic fatigue syndrome doesn't age discriminate!

            A minor who is tolerating this sickness has a harder time being diagnosed than an adult because he may not fit under the same criteria that a physician may use in diagnosing an adult. In general, a youth's level of debilitation should be identified by a loss of at least half of his or her activity level equivalent for six months and there should be no pre-existing disease that would rationalize the perplexing list of manifestations. A list of a child's symptoms is basically the same as an adult's list: fevers, overwhelming fatigue, joints ache, headaches, loss of short and long term memory, chills, continual sore throat, muscles ache all over, eyes hurt, night sweating, sleeping problems from sleeping too much to insomnia, pain in lymph node areas in neck, chest, under arms, and in the groin, light-headed, stomach pains, and dizziness.

            Diagnosing a young person with this illness is more arduous than trying to find out what is wrong in a grown-up. A smaller youth cannot express in detailed adult terminology what is wrong with her. How can you explain aches and pains that you don't even understand? How can you compare them to anything else in your life when there has never been anything to contrast them to? A younger child is also expected to itemize her symptoms based on an adult's perception of what discomfort is and how much tolerance she has based on what an adult would anticipate that this individual could endure. If a pediatric physician is aware that these presuppositions exist, there will be less time wasted on criticizing and critiquing the youth when you have a difficult time explaining your symptoms.

            On a daily basis, confrontations with your manifestations are more consistent than an adult. You have to deal with a constant, day to day reminder of aches and pains. There is no one symptom that tends to be predominant as is common with an adult. On one day, you may suffer from one particular symptom and the next have a completely different one. The only uniform factor in this predicament is that the intensity of your agony with any sign of sickness is the same. So, if you had a nagging sore throat yesterday that was so bad it was almost unbearable, you can count on the fact that a bad bout with abdominal pains today will be just as unwavering in intensity. Because of this nonstop irregularity of reported symptoms, it makes diagnosing this disease in you almost impossible. The physician in charge may feel that she is close to determining the source of your symptomatic aches and pains just as you notify the doctor of another distressing sign that totally inverts the assumed diagnosis. The physician is right back to square one.

            A minor who undergoes this CFS journey should have a primary care provider that can discern and focus objectively on the entire array of symptoms, not just any particular one. The doctor should be keenly aware of the entire complexity of your entire situation. A physician is trained to observe and seek out specific conclusive signs of disease in a sick being. There is an elimination as well as a calculating process that occurs as the doctor is examining his patient. If he doesn't pay close enough attention, a simple manifestation can be overlooked that may have been the key to determining what is wrong with your health. As the physician closely scrutinizes and mentally details your exam results, he must be conscious of each and every symptom in ciphering what could be wrong.  However, there is also the danger of concentrating too much attention on the individual symptoms as well. He has to be unbiased and unprejudiced in reviewing all of the necessary data. A doctor who decides to address each individual symptom without taking all of the other ones into consideration is only causing unnecessary suffering for you. It may be essential for you to receive a particular course of treatment to be able to tolerate the agony that this symptom emits.

            Yet, this way of accosting each ache and pain is only going to create frustration in you and your parent/parents. They will question what the course of action is for challenging your sickness and for totally curing you. Why should the physician only take care of ministering one consequence if she can't remedy all of them at once? Why is it that there is always another symptom surfacing when one is healed? Back and forth trips to the doctor's office for numerous visits will not only cost your parent/parents lots of money, but also the possibility of losing precious time at work and rest time for you. Your parent/parents can't afford to pay for the office visits if they are fired from their job for missing so much time. Another issue that can cause tremendous agitation for you and your parent/parents is what damage the nonessential prescriptions that you are taking (via the medical practitioner's orders) are doing to your body. These medicines may not even be the right treatment to use for your overall health problem. These are some of the many reasons why your primary medical health practitioner should be careful and systematic in addressing each portion of the puzzle in determining your diagnosis. The doctor shouldn't be too quick to pass judgments or conclude that you are making up your symptoms to gain some kind of attention. It is very easy to get frustrated in not being able to help a child in need. Since there may not be any specific documentation that verifies your claims to be seriously ill and that you have so many varying symptoms, the actuality that you could be really that sick seems improbable. The pediatrician may perceive that your appearance doesn't affirm the vocal pronouncements of sickness and concurs that you are either feigning the symptoms or truly aren't sick at all.

            Nevertheless, you are very ill and are left to fend for yourself. Your physician doesn't have the capability or desire to explore your claims to illness any further. Maybe the medical practitioner has an egocentric selfish view of her inferred power and knowledge and discovers in this particular situation that there is an inadequacy with her own proportion of medical knowledge. She doesn't have any idea what is truly wrong with you. The physician may not be able to admit her deficiency to you and your parent/parents so the doctor reaches a summation of this predicament based on his or her own bias towards believing only in what can be proved through scientific research or test results. There is no allowance for you telling the truth about your experiences or the reality that you wouldn't make up this degree and type of discomfort for no apparent reason. If you really wanted to get extra special attention from specific people in your life, wouldn't you make up something that is less painful or have symptoms that would only occur a few days a week or once a month? Why would you desire to self-inflict this much adversity in your life? Instead, the physician chooses to believe that you imagine your symptoms and thinks that you aren't ill because there is no apparent illness that he can see and deal with. You deserve the same sense of respect and believability that an adult does in this same situation. There is no reason for a doctor or parent to doubt your word when there are other obvious signs that you are not feeling well. If you have utilized deceit and lying in the past to get something that you wanted, it shouldn't be assumed that the identical procedure is being used again. You do have a serious health malady that should be addressed by a doctor who will give you the benefit of a doubt before even examining you. A child is a person who should be treated as such-like a person.

            There are two different types of initial appearances of chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome in children. One is a gradual onset over a length of time and the other is an intense, immediate beginning of symptoms. A child who has had a moderate, even-paced increase in manifestations usually exhibit signs of this sickness in his primary to junior high school years. As you tolerate the sensations and symptoms of having this illness, you are maturing and reaching puberty. During this length of time, you get accustomed to the aches and pains and no longer perceives your experience with this disease as being any different than fighting off an extended flu bug. You don't consider what you are coping with as something serious because there has been plenty of time to adapt and conform to your limitations fairly well. Your life has been full of aches and fatigue for so long that you acknowledge this susceptibility as a real sense of living life. There is no sense of a loss of control in your life because you have considered the illness as a dominating influence in it and has ceded to its precedence. You have a life that includes this disease as part of it, not that the illness has invaded your life.You operate on a different level than most children do. You learn to live with the constant reminders of how much discomfort that you are in by recognizing your reduced level of energy and instantly adjusting your activities to coordinate with the decrease in movement. There is no apparent mental denial that you are ill because you have been slowly calibrating your life style over time to correspond to the drain in energy.

            On the other hand, if you are one of the young people who will have a vehement outbreak of symptoms all at once, you will more likely than not undergo this experience in your teen years. There are individual cases where children have had an acute experience with CFIDS in their earlier years but these range few and far between. If a younger child encounters a quick appearance of this disease, there is usually an obvious "trigger" such as chicken pox that instigated the initiation of the illness. Usually you will initially sense a flu-like sensation or feel that you may have contracted mononucleosis (which is referred to as the "kissing" disease). Having this particular type of onset means you will immediately sense a drastic change in your energy output. You will feel overly exhausted and fatigued. There is no warning or preparation for the initial beginning of becoming symptomatic. The most intense bout with this sudden onset of sickness will occur in the first six months of being ill. Being an adolescent means that you are going to have a harder time understanding what is happening to you because you can't comprehend what would create this instantaneous suffering. The aches and pains seem unbearable. You won't help but wonder if this is a part of puberty that people forgot to tell you about. Because you are going through puberty, you are more aware of your body than a younger child is so the extreme changes going on are more apparent to you. Your body is already stressed and disturbed from the chemical and hormonal changes in your system. When this syndrome commences, your universe will appear totally disrupted. You can't control what is happening to you. This sense of loss causes you to exhibit and undergo the identical feelings of denial and grief that an adult sufferer goes through once he or she acknowledges the loss of control in coping with chronic fatigue syndrome.

            It is a difficult concept to understand that you are chronically ill with a long term sickness. You are so used to enduring temporary childhood illnesses that have closure to them. For you to ponder being sick for a long time is unacceptable. Society teaches you in many various ways that being ill is a sign of weakness and frailty. You are old enough to comprehend and deduce what this speculation means to your involvement in the outside world. It is hard enough to survive as a healthy teen in today's environment without being ill. Your imagination can't help but now envision the impact and havoc that this syndrome is bringing into your life. You refuse to want to cooperate with it. You want control of your own life back and to have the complete independence that you crave so much-especially now you are in your teen years. Yet you can't help but notice that there is a discernible difference in the energy level that you used to have as compared to what you have now that you are ill and not capable of doing very much at all. Your body isn't functioning properly so the necessary pep that would be needed just to keep up with your family, friends, and classmates is non-existent. Even though your mind says that you aren't going to give in to being sick, there is no conscious choice in the matter since your body is doing the opting for you.

            No matter what your age, play is a very important part of your existence. A child has to have the time and capability to relax, unwind, and enjoy. It is a natural part of living. Animals and insects even play. The majority of play activities involve some kind of physical or mental exertion in a specific type of environment. The process of play enhances positive growth in you. During this animation, there are many chemical changes occurring in your body that improve and excite mental and emotional sensations. You begin to experience a total upgrade in your physical stature and your overall health condition can improve when you have play time. What about the social advantages of being able to communicate and interact with others? The sensations of sharing and learning how to reciprocate through body movements, spoken word, and hand gestures are created within the realm of play. You learn the valuable lessons of truth, sharing, and honesty within the arena of friendship when playing with siblings or friends. You discover how to express yourself, learn how to defend your position when challenged, and how to get along with others. There are many benefits to playing, but for you who lives with CFS, these benefits turn into losses. Since you have barely enough energy to get up out of bed in the morning, there is no reserve of verve to even consider playing. All precious energy is focused on sustaining your body to fight off the syndrome. You are so fatigued and exhausted the majority of the time that the idea of play becomes a fleeting thought. You wonder how you could even consider using up any extra effort to play. Your aches and pains are so severe just lying in bed at times. How can you think about going outside to play knowing it means that there will be more moving around and with more activity also comes more agony? The sensation of "good" exhaustion from physical exertion is instead replaced with a formidable, dreadful fear of more aches and pains.

            There is a tremendous amount of discomfort you will withstand during your battle with this affliction. Even an adult would have a hard time coping with the intensity of pain that you endure. No where in your life from birth to adulthood is there any special preparation that transpires to help you ascertain how to live with severe aches and pain. You can only learn from the direct experience. There are no comparisons to contrast these sensations with from any previous occurrences in your life. All you know is that this sickness equates a lot of physical agony and discomfort. No one or nothing can totally eliminate the misery. You just have to endure it and go on living. No one can tell you what to expect in living with this illness because every young person who has it suffers in different ways. This sickness may make you feel symptoms one way and someone else who has this same syndrome sense something else. It is hard to be sick with any illness because other people can make you feel and think that you are some sort of "bad" person because you got sick. This is not true! You are an individual who got sick with a viral infection that is not very different than catching the flu. You are a good person who is very sick and will get better in time.

            You may not be aware of the mental ravages that this disease is raging inside of your mind. All of this disruption occurring at a time when you are having rapid growth and development in the brain could constitute for a disturbing childhood experience. You should be constantly exercising and expanding your mental capacities. When a chronic viral infection interrupts this process, you are mentally restricted and limited at a time where there should be growth and development. Your bouts with losses of memory, dizziness, confusion, and not being able to concentrate could be so blended together from day to day that your clarity of your actual thinking process is in disarray. There is no lucid distinction between what you used to be sure of and what you can think now. An adult has the ability to conceive that there is a loss in his or her thoughts because he or she has learned over time what "normal" thinking involves. There is no definite difference in what you perceive as your "normal" thinking processes. Because you have had little life experience in understanding the complexities of thinking thoughts, there is no sensation of loss or trepidation due to the realization of loss. Instead, you will exhibit signs of mental deficits in one of the most important and involving environments of your life-school.

            Suffering with chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome means that you will have some problems with your school work. Because the brain, as well as body, is directly affected by the viral infestation, your concentration abilities are interrupted. You can't keep your attention focused on anything that is going on around you for any length of time. As with an adult who also tolerates this syndrome, your ability to read and comprehend what you see as written word is reduced to being almost non-existent. You may not be capable of remembering what was said by the teacher and/or classmates in the classroom a few minutes or a half-hour ago. It is possible that you may be able to think of a thought that you wish to express aloud to participate in class room activities, but when it comes time to address it, the words get all scrambled up in your mind. Instead of a well thought out sentence coming out of your mouth, you can hear a fragmented, incomplete statement slip out. The awareness of how much you are affected by sickness becomes apparent once you connect these disruptive thought processes to your bout with CFIDS. If you have a quick commencement of this ailment, you may find yourself more upset, panicky, and distressed over losing time at school because you are suddenly ill as compared to a young person who gradually has had this syndrome creep into his or her life. She is used to living with the premise of being thought of as "sickly" or "sicker" than most other children her age. This minor has adjusted to being absent on a regular basis and absenteeism doesn't hold any negative connotations to her. It simply means that she had a really bad health day where coming to school was not a viable option when she got out of bed that morning.

            If you have had a slow onset of chronic fatigue syndrome, you will not perform up to your potential while in classes. You may even find yourself being diagnosed as having a learning disability. You may not be able to think clearly or comprehend what you read among other symptomatic signs of education problems. You have to really apply yourself to try and pass subjects and can still find yourself flunking as compared to the student who has had a sudden onset of symptoms who can usually sustain a similar standard of achievement as compared to his or her pre-CFS school days even with missing a lot of school due to sickness. Since you have to live with this disease, you have to work harder than most to maintain your grades. You have to overcome many obstacles, such as low energy, poor concentration, and high distractibility to be able to complete your school work. It is a phenomenal effort to force your mind to work to the best of its capability under such duress. There is no delight in doing home work when you have to focus so hard on what you are doing, is there? A teacher instructing you may create many suppositions about why you are absent so much from school. He may think that you really don't really want to attend school and are concocting the entire "imagined" illness to get out of coming to classes. What about the premise that you are lazy and just don't want to work at all? Saying you are sick and being out of school creates an image of a relaxed, easygoing, take-it-easy day at home watching television or playing video games while your parent/parents are working in your teacher's mind. Another common supposition that he or she may make is that you don't want to succeed in any way, shape, or form. You have no desire to push yourself to strive, prosper, and flourish. A teacher may think that you only want to stay as "average" or "below average" as you can be. He perceives this presupposition as if you have surrendered to a destined fate of failure and negativity. Your instructor may yet feel that you are having emotional disturbances, such as a fear of school itself or a lack of personal reassurance, that are inhibiting your desire to attend school. You are discerned as a frail, fragile creature that should get some professional help in dealing with your perceived emotional stresses. The teacher then assumes that if you can overcome your ineptitudes, there may be a more natural desire to attend classes.

            The truth of the matter is that even if all of these reasons are justifiable in a teacher's mind they aren't in yours. You are actually living and experiencing a chronic viral illness that directly upsets and disrupts your life in various ways. There is no hidden agenda or insecurity that is the root of your absences. This situation is simply no different than if you were out of school with a cold. You are ill and weak. You are staying at home resting until you have enough energy and good health to return to classes. If a teacher has a negative, condescending attitude about coping with you while you endure this syndrome, she is only taking a difficult situation and making it much worse. It isn't your fault that you are sick nor is it the teacher's right to judge and moralize if you should miss as much time at school as you have. What a teacher can do for an ailing you is to show concern for your plight and to steer you and your parent/parents in the proper direction to getting some help for you while you are ill. An instructor can be an outstanding resource for everyone involved since she is knowledgeable about all of the available help that can be received from the school departments, teachers, and the administrative processes. If a teacher can alter his or her perspective about seeing this malady as an "imaginary" illness and ratify that it is no different than any other chronic sickness that any other student may suffer with, she will contribute to helping within this set of circumstances instead of abridging them.

            You now have to see the entire process of learning from a new perspective. No longer can the old ways of teaching and learning apply to this set of circumstances. You have to work in coordination with your parent/parents, class room teachers, administrators, and special education teachers to coordinate and cement a current plan of action in attempting to get an education. There may be a question of what to do if you can't attend school because of coping with this sickness and these options should be discussed in detail with the school's administration and special education department. Everyone is there to help make the way easier for you to exercise and sustain your educational rights. Nevertheless, even if there is an agreed understanding that you are to be home schooled or tutored, it doesn't alleviate the emotional entanglements that will occur as a result of being at home. You will have no social contact with your class mates and friends in the school environment which is one of the most important locales to shape your emotional sense of being. There will be occasional visits from friends but this won't have the same impact as actually being involved with others at school. All you can do is sit and listen to your friend's version and update of what is going on in school. It just isn't the same as being there. It's almost as if you are involved with school but also uninvolved as well. You may be keeping right up with the homework assignments and maintaining a good grade level so that you are staying even with the class. Yet, you aren't participating in the social aspect of school and are feeling more and more neglected, apathetic, and lonely for each day that you have to stay home sick.

            The emotional drawbacks of having this syndrome for you are as dramatic as an adult. You don't feel like a real person any longer. There is a definite, recognized perception from early into the disease that you apprehend yourself as being different than other individuals. You can see that you can't do things that other kids do. Going to school is impossible for you, yet others seem to be able to go every day. These young people aren't always tired and exhausted. Why are you? Suffering with this disease means that you could lose the bulk of your sense of identity and being. You can no longer seem to figure out where you fit into the scheme of life any more. Everyone around you has a life that is full of activity and motion. Your life exists of quiet and boredom. The laughter, joy, and happiness that most young people exhibit are stunted in you and all that can be mustered up is an occasional smile. Depressive thoughts enter the picture and you begin to have feelings of sadness and melancholy. Why is your life like this? What did you do wrong? Why you?

            A teen will be even more affected by these intense feelings than a younger child because of the strong emotional responses during puberty. You are supposed to be experiencing a grand social life with lots of dating and socializing. Instead, you find yourself lying in bed, alone in unbearable pain, crying, and having thoughts of just giving up. There is no positive outlook for the future in your eyes. Compound onto these emotions the negativity that you get from the doctor, family, and friends, it is no wonder that you begin to contemplate an ending to your suffering.

            Sadly, suicide among teen age sufferers has been documented over and over again. You sense feelings of isolation and alienation from life in general. There is no indication for you to see and feel that your direct involvement in life is important. You become unsure of yourself and anything in your life. Nothing appears real any longer. Every portion of life has a surrealistic quality about it. No one treats you the same any more. There is nothing that has remained the same since the illness took over your life. It just seems easier to give up and let the sickness take over. A defeatist attitude reigns and from that feeling emanates a sense of abandonment. You see it as no one appearing to truly care about you any longer and every one seems to act as if nothing has changed in their lives. You feel that they never take the time to notice that your active life style has basically come to a halt. You want them to feel as if they should stop and mourn your loss of your old life style with you. In your estimation, they should care more than they do about what you are going through and you begin to question why they don't. The assumed conclusion from observing their behaviors is that if they don't care about me, then why should I care about myself? If these individuals don't value your life as being meaningful, then why should I? What about the anxieties about perceiving the differences in how the family treats you now that you are ill with chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome? You are very aware of all of the tensions that have been created by you since the illness became part of everyone's life in the household. You can't help but hear your parents argue about dealing with the school and their legal battles with the school over your absences, who's going to take time off of work to bring you to the doctor's office, the phenomenal cost of the tests and doctor's visits, and their frustrations in coping with seeing you sick all the time. Brothers and sisters see the sick you as getting more attention than them and being a burden and embarrassment to the entire family. Your siblings can't go and do activities that they used to as a family because you aren't able to participate and your parent/parents refuse to omit you from the fun times. There is a created lack of intimacy where they are concerned from a fear that they will contract the syndrome if they hug or kiss you like they used to. The only being in the house who seems to treat you the exact same way is the family pet. It seems like the entire house turned upside-down once chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome came to live with you. It is no wonder that a youngster with this illness tends to get more withdrawn and quiet as time progresses. Consider all of the sensations that you have to undergo in your day to day living. You are a young person with no true understanding of adult agendas and interactions. There appears to be such a small outpouring of sympathy and hope from everyone around you. The only person/people that you can instinctively know will be there to lean on and trust in your time of need is your parent/parents. You have always believed in your heart and soul that no matter what, they are there to help because they love you and this is a part of the responsibility of being a parent/parents. You will detect though that you may have to oppose and adapt your childhood belief that your parent/parents are going to take all of the pain caused by this disease away from you. Somewhere deep inside of you exists the realization that you have to endure all of the painful manifestations of this sickness all by yourself and no amount of wishing for Mom and/or Dad to take it away will work.

One of life's lessons that you will learn from this ordeal is that you have to live with the pain the best way you can. There is no magic wand that your parent/parents can wave over your body to change that actuality. It does no good to be angry with them about it either. Your parent/parents can't help the fact that there is nothing that they can do to help you get better quicker. It is no more their fault than yours that you are suffering with this syndrome. It is normal to be angry and mad about having a chronic illness, but you should try not to take it out on them. You should keep an open mind though when it comes to communicating with your parent/parents though. There is no one in the entire world that you should be able to trust more than your parent/parents. If you are sensing depressive thoughts and just want to give up the fight of enduring this illness, you should seek out a parent/parents to discuss your feelings with them. Withdrawing and isolating are not the answers when you feel this lonely and desperate.  This illness is a difficult burden and ordeal to experience. There is no doubt about that. It may seem that the last thing you want to do is to openly talk about what is going on inside of you. Yet, if you try to do it, you will sense relief, feelings of release, and a lightening of the overwhelming load you carry in being ill. Your parent/parents can be a great source of love and understanding. They may not be actually suffering with the aches and pains as you do every day, but they are tortured just as much as you are. Imagine how hard it must be for them to see you suffer every day and there is not a thing that they can do to stop it or to help you feel better. They love you so much and it feels as if someone is inflicting pain directly on them each time you hurt. You should make an attempt to discuss your feelings with someone, anyone, if you don't feel comfortable in talking with your parent/parents. You should solicit some kind of help immediately if suicidal thoughts have entered your mind lately. Taking your own life is not any kind of answer! You have to stay alive. You may not be seeing it very clearly right now, but your life affects a lot of people in many wonderful ways. Talking about how you feel and having someone who cares there to support and help you cope with this disease is the right thing for you to do for yourself. You should talk to anyone who will listen to you when you are feeling this despondent. There are many organizations that are available to help you in your community. Call a local crisis hot line that is listed in your telephone book. A visit to the school counselor or psychologist to chat can help. Go to the doctor and talk to him or her because everything said there is in confidence. How about calling a place of worship and asking if someone could come to talk with you at home if you are bedridden? Speaking with someone who you feel is a true friend and confidant can make a world of difference or even a one-sided conversation with the family pet can help make you feel somewhat better. If none of these ideas are acceptable for you, going to a professional counselor who can offer undivided attention and long term advice may be the best option. Even if you were a mature and healthy adult, it isn't easy to live a happy, full life. You shouldn't feel badly or be hard on yourself for not being able to cope with this disease. The important thing for you to remember is to trust and believe in the love that people have for you and that this love can be enough to help at this critical time. The value of staying alive and living a life should be more important than any thing or any feeling that is going on inside you at this time. You will overcome these upsetting emotions and triumph over this disease. You just need to give yourself a chance to do so.

            A young person with this illness is different than other children. There is no doubt about this fact. You are unconsciously forced into maturing quicker than most children your own age. The entire experience of tolerating a long term illness coupled with the intensity of the agony and empathy that you have to have for yourself as well as others creates a set of circumstances that can only result in accelerated growth and development. You become someone that you would have never envisioned yourself to be. It is almost as if your internal growth has progressed many years as a result of this one encounter. The focus of your life is no longer seen with the same child-like perception of other adolescents. Your new perspective colors the way that the present and future are viewed. No longer is it realistic for you to dream away your time imagining fantasies of what you wanted life to be like. There is an established significance to everything that you do and not one moment is wasted on anything that is trivial. Life has more meaning and more definition. You become more serious and dedicated to your personal goals-especially ones that include helping others either in the same situation or in a similar one. There is silent compassion and unexpressed empathy for any human being who has to suffer in any way. A minor with this syndrome feels with more passion and verve than other children his age. The depth of strength and love seems endless in you. There is a new found meaning and appreciation of nature and all that it encompasses. You can now perceive life as a gift that should be opened slowly and gently with loving thoughts. There is no longer the rush of youth to live life dangerously and/or quicker than it is meant to be. You relish the rhythm of life and cherish all that is experienced.

            There are many different affirmations that you can aver to help yourself get better. You may feel totally out of control as a result of agonizing with this disease but should be reminded that you do have the capability to alter your attitude towards the sickness and your life. Your quality of life shouldn't be totally focused on your illness. It is about living life to its fullest. You should enjoy what life that there is that you can delight in. Even if there is just one activity that you are able to participate in then you should go for it. The only reminder is to take it easy and not push your body so hard that you are in bed for weeks after recovering from the activity. There should be no hesitations in having as much fun (within reason, of course!) that you are able to do. Remember that your body isn't as strong as it used to be and that you should pay attention to the many messages that it will give you when you have had enough movement for that day. Find a person to share your deepest desires with and let that individual know how important it is to you to be able to try and fulfill these dreams. When you talk and confide in someone about the most important things that you are thinking about, it is a sign to that person of how special you consider her to be in your life. It is a compliment to her to be loved that much by you! Your friend will want to help you be happy, encourage you to reach for the stars, and to keep having faith in yourself the whole time that you are sick.

            You have learned a valuable lesson from having this disease that you aren't probably aware of at all. Don't you sense that you enjoy things about your life that you really took for granted before? Any activities are more pleasurable because you can appreciate them more now than you used to thanks to being chronically ill. An example of one activity that you might have not really thought about-reading. It may have been something that you did every day, but you really didn't take the time to read anything just for the fun of reading. Nowadays, you have all the time in the world to read any book that you desire because your life has slowed down and you have the time now that you are sick. How about taking a walk outside or sitting out in the yard? Have you noticed that these experiences have taken on new meaning in your life? These possibilities present chances to absorb nourishing sunlight, relish in the smell of fresh air, and pay attention to the sights and sounds of your neighborhood. You may have taken it for granted in the past that you would be able to go on school outings with your class. You and your pals found these school trips boring, but they did get you out of having to be in school all day long. Now, you realize that you would be happy just to be able to go on one of these uninteresting trips. There is even a possibility that you would have a somewhat good time. All of the simple things in life appear to have improved somehow-ice cream tastes creamier, the clouds in the sky are puffier, people are being nice to you, and even chocolate chip cookies taste better than ever. Life has somehow gotten better and you didn't even notice because you were too busy being sick. No matter how bad, negative, or depressing things seem to have been since you have been ill, other aspects of life have enlightened themselves. You just have to look for these good parts of living and they are right there waiting for you to be a part of them.

            Another meaningful message that you have learned from your experience with CFIDS is what it feels like to be seen as "diseased" and how people treat you when they find out that you are sick with something that they don't understand. Do you remember how you used to deal with physically challenged, mentally impaired, or terminally ill kids that you came into contact with before you were ill? You probably felt sorry for them, or were afraid of them, or made fun of them because your friends did too, or thought you might catch what they had and you ran off as quick as possible. You only saw what was on the outside of the person. Did you ever take the time to consider that there was a real person inside of the sick body? You never could understand how it felt from their point of view to be seen as a "freak" or some kind of "monster". There was no compassion for the pains that these young people had to suffer day in and day out. You were only concerned with your life and the fact that these people weren't a part of your life because they weren't the same as you. You were healthy and they were sick. You have learned how it feels to be treated differently because the situation is now reversed. You are the one who is ill now and has no choice but to see life from their perspectives. Although chronic fatigue syndrome isn't visible on the outside of your body doesn't mean that other people can't see how it affects you on the inside and how it is changing who you used to be to them. There is no doubt that at least one person you know has acted differently towards you or has no contact with you since you have contracted this sickness. How about the way that your friends at school have changed and don't come to see you a lot? Have you had anyone say that he is afraid of you because he doesn't want to catch what you have? How did that make you feel? It isn't a good sensation to be treated differently because you have a disease that you can't control or do anything about, is it? You didn't pick to be sick with this syndrome. It just happened to you. Now you can understand how those young people that you made fun of felt. They didn't choose to have the disabilities that they have in their lives either. Their lives are complicated enough with all of their aches and pains. Their situation is very similar to what you are going through with having chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome. You can comprehend what they must have been thinking when you were near them because you have had others treat you the same way. You can change the way that you think and feel about people with disabilities because you have had a disability yourself- your bout with this disease. You should take the time to empathize and understand what people with disabilities live with daily. The next time that you come into contact with someone who is disabled, you will see them in a whole different way. The person who lives with it will be who you see first, not the disability. There are many disabled individuals achieving great feats and accomplishments. They don't allow their health deficits to control their lives. These people keep striving to live life to its fullest no matter what the odds against them. They don't let other people's ignorance stop them from being who they are. You should follow their example and live your life to the best capability that you can. Don't let other people's ignorance about CFIDS and what it does to you make you feel badly about yourself. You are a good person who has a difficult disease and they can't even begin to imagine how hard it is to live a "normal" kind of life with this syndrome. It takes a phenomenal amount of courage and strength to be able to confront this disease and overpower it. Give yourself some credit for all that you are going through. You can't expect others to be kind to you if you can't be compassionate to yourself!

            Right now, it may seem that you have been sick forever and that this illness will never end. Your journey with having this syndrome may seem like a long time, but in reality, it won't be that long at all. Even if this disease lasts for a few months to a few years, it still isn't that long when you look at the length of your entire life. You have many years yet to live your entire life. You should focus on how much health and happiness your future holds for you. Someday, when you are done coping with this disease and are healthy again, you will look back on this time and realize that your entire battle with this disease was only a small portion of your childhood. You may even find yourself forgetting that you ever had it once you have reached your adult years. You will acknowledge how insignificant that this sickness will really be to you as compared to the rest of your life experiences. For the most part, life is supposed to be a joyful, happy encounter. Yes, you will have no choice but to alter your life style to adapt to living within the boundaries of this syndrome. Yet, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't be excited about encountering life. A positive attitude, lots of love and positive attention from and to all who come into contact with you, lots of self-respect, and self-love all add up to a successful outcome for any young person who suffers with chronic fatigue syndrome.