(Excepts pulled from http://www.cfids.org/about-cfids/default.asp)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and by other names, is a complex and debilitating chronic illness that affects the brain and multiple body systems. On this portion of our website you can find detailed information about CFS, its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, important research findings and how it affects the lives of those who live with it everyday.
Whether you are a person with CFS, a medical professional, a caregiver or just curious, we hope that the information you find here will improve your understanding of this devastating illness that affects more Americans than multiple sclerosis (MS), AIDS or lung cancer.
Suggestions for Friends:
Friendships may become strained, may be strengthened, or may dissolve in the face of chronic illness. The give-and-take in a friendship becomes unbalanced when one person is ill. Many ill people become reclusive and distant, especially during relapses, as spending time with people requires energy. Since energy is in short supply, your contact may be less frequent than in the past.
- Recognize that although the person may seem "normal" when you're together, you may not see the relapse which follows activity. Many people with CFS want to function at their best when with their friends, but privately pay a price later.
- Your friendship is needed now more than ever. Show that you care.
- Discuss feelings of rejection and try to work through misunderstandings. Ask questions about things you don't understand. Discuss options and set ground rules for continuing the friendship: Will there be less contact? Who will call whom? Will it be clear when he or she needs to end a visit or conversation?
- If you have doubts about your ability to continue your friendship, examine the reasons for this: Fear of contagion? Anger about postponed plans? Tired of hearing about complaints and symptoms? You may be able to solve these problems together and continue the friendship with mutually agreed-upon changes.
- If you are unable to continue your relationship, express this in a straightforward, yet caring manner, rather than simply disappearing. Let the person know that he or she is not the problem; the illness is.
I am posting this in the hopes that people will become more educated about this. I am still learning more about it myself and trying to adapt and understand it. Thanks for reading.