12 Things Your Friend With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Wants You To Know

Natalie Allen
Natalie Allen

1. They aren’t just being lazy.

There is nothing lazy about chronic illness. This isn’t some Ferris Bueller situation and they’re faking it just to avoid responsibilities. Sometimes, life feels like an uphill battle that they’re terrified of losing. I promise, laziness is the last thing on their mind.

2. Their energy levels are different from yours.

When they need to rest after an eventful day, please understand it doesn’t mean they didn’t have fun with you. It just means their body functions differently from yours. To them, you seem like the Energizer Bunny while they’re trying to get by on fading batteries.

3. Yes, they’ve tried all those things you’re about to suggest.

Have you tried going to bed earlier? Waking up earlier? Adding this vitamin? More sunshine? Getting a gym membership? Acupuncture? Praying? Wishing it away?

You will not be the first person to give advice, and you certainly won’t be the last. But just remember, they’ve been dealing with this for quite some time. Every thought you’ve had, they’ve likely had too.

4. It’s a lot more than just being tired.

Chronic fatigue syndrome isn’t just feeling like you could use a good nap. It’s a misunderstood illness that comes with a whole host of symptoms. For example, intense headaches, swollen joints, unexplained and severe muscle pain, loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, restless sleeping, and enlarged lymph nodes. To put it more simply, it feels like you have the flu. All the time.

5. They’re self-conscious about their condition.

They don’t want your pity. And they definitely hate constantly feeling like they’ve got to educate people on what chronic fatigue syndrome even is. They’ve been met with enough judgmental looks to know what can happen when they open up about their condition. And you know what? It just sucks. It really, really sucks. There are times when they’ve felt a wave of shame and embarrassment. Even if it’s about something completely out of their control.

6. If they withdraw from you, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

If it seems like there are periods of time when texts go unanswered, phone calls aren’t returned, or you simply haven’t seen them in a while, please don’t assume it means they are mad at you. It might sound silly, but when things are really flaring, sometimes just communicating with someone (even someone they adore) can be really draining.

7. They don’t ever want to feel like a burden to you.

Bottom line, they never want to feel like dead weight. They don’t always reach out because they’re afraid of you feeling this way. They’d never want that.

8. On the really bad days, just existing can be painful.

When waking up is immediately met with exhaustion and aching muscles, it can be really hard to continue on with the day.

9. It can be really isolating.

Though they won’t say anything, it can be excruciatingly lonely to scroll through Instagram and see all the fun you’re having while they’re too weak to get out of bed.

10. They can still be incredibly ambitious and motivated.

It goes back to the false assumption that those with chronic fatigue syndrome are just lazy — um, nope. Not true at all.

11. There is no easy fix.

Because chronic fatigue syndrome affects people in so many different ways, there isn’t one specific treatment. Antidepressants are often prescribed (depression is a very common side effect from the syndrome). Sleeping pills are also used. Sleep studies/tests can get expensive FAST, and some of the medications come with long-term complications. Essentially, there isn’t a simple fix to the problem and it’s very frustrating.

12. Even if you can’t understand it, they appreciate your support.

They don’t expect you to understand their condition. And they’d never ask you to. Knowing you love and support them is all they could ask for. TC mark

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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