*DISCLAIMER - Before you begin reading, I'd like to be very clear on something. M.E isn't the sufferers fault, nor do we know what causes it. Personally I'm betting on a problem at a cellular level. All I'm saying in this post is that there is a strange similarity in a lot of people's stories, and that a Type A personality seems more commonly hit with this condition. I wanted to touch on it because the "laziness" argument goes right out the window when you take this factor into consideration. This post is merely a reminder to people to take it easy on themselves, and is in no way throwing blame or speaking for everyone*
If you ask an M.E sufferer to describe themselves in a few words, I'm willing to be something like "driven" or "determined" is going to be in there. Along with "tired", obviously. There seems to be some sort of link between overworking and myalgic encephalomyelitis. Now I'm not saying this is true for every single sufferer, or that everyone that overworks is going to get it, not at all. But it's a risk. And it's a risk I had never heard of until it happened to me.
There's a preconception that chronic fatigue is laziness. I know I've mentioned it numerous times but that's because it exists, and I'll continue to mention it until it doesn't. I've spoken to countless sufferers over the years, and every single one of them has a similar story. They were top of their game, active, career driven, and social. Until it hit them. And it hit them like a tonne of bricks. There are now millions of incredibly driven people trapped inside bodies that are broken. Where is the laziness there?
It's a well known thing that generally people take their health for granted until it's taken away. And they push beyond limits, if they're honest with themselves, that they know are there. Everyone has them. But it's so easy to say "after this deadline", "after this degree", "after this race", I'll take a breather. But then do you? Really we shouldn't wait until something is over to take care of ourselves. It's an ongoing process. Or it should be. There's now such a glamorised view of being busy, that no one stops to think whether it's worth it. Because of course it is, right? Everything is a race, apparently. I used to see it that way, and to some degree I still do. Because it feels like I'm falling behind.
But falling behind what? My peers? Social expectations? My own expectations of my former self? Who said everything had to be such a rush, who said we have to have everything as soon as possible? I don't know the answer to that and yet I still believed it to be true. Sad really, isn't it.
No one knows what causes M.E, so far there are just speculations. But for me I reckon if I hadn't pushed my body so far past the burnout zone I wouldn't have it as badly, if at all. Hindsight is a cruel thing. My body was already dealing with a myriad of health issues and yet I continued to push. And here I am. I don't believe I did this to myself, something physical caused this to happen to me. Something physical is stopping me from recovering. One day someone somewhere is going to prove that. But for now I'll admit I didn't exactly help the situation.
If you are healthy at the moment, please take some time to appreciate what you have. And to look after it. People think that being healthy is all about eating right and exercising. That's what I remember being taught in school. They didn't teach me that physical and mental rest are equally important. You deserve the breather, the break, the moment. Take it once in a while.
If you suffer from M.E - the fact you pushed is not your fault. You were just trying your best, and we're all taught to do that. Who knows, maybe it would have happened anyway. Most of us were the pinnacle of good health, until we weren't. How were we to know? I know for some people their story is different, and they don't feel like they pushed. I'm not trying to discredit that. Like I said, every sufferer is different. And until we know more about the condition we'll never really know how we got here. Maybe I'm talking complete bollocks and overworking's got nothing to do with it. After all, M.E can unfortunately hit young children, and that's certainly not from overworking. It's just hideously unfair.
What we do know is rest in recovery is vital. But it's still not easy is it. It's not easy to admit you can't do something, or that you shouldn't. I'm not trying to say overworking is the sole cause of M.E, but I can guarantee you it makes it worse. If it's required that you take some time out of school, or work, or that sport that you love - then please feel no shame in that. I've done it, and I'm still doing it. Don't let anyone call that laziness. If it feels like it's too much then it probably is. Sometimes it feels like you're drowning until you stop frantically trying to swim and realise you can stand still and your feet will touch the bottom. Sometimes standing still is necessary. You'll still be in the water, but it won't feel quite so much like sinking anymore.
M.E and laziness are polar opposites, no matter what it looks like. Rest in recovery is brave, not weak. "Doing nothing" isn't doing nothing. Sometimes it's a necessary action, ironically, in order to move forward. And the sooner people start realising that, the kinder the world will be to people like me.