Chronic fatigue

When I first came across Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on the website of a well-known textpattern developer, a light bulb went off in my head. That was a few years ago and it was the first time that I came across a possibility that feeling tired all the time could actually be a medical condition.

This is not the first time I’ve written about my lack of energy. It is an issue that has persisted all my life. I tried to do some recalling, and I don’t remember feeling like I was ever “bursting with energy”. I hated physical education back in school, disliked anything that remotely resembled physical activity. My family thought I was just lazy, so eventually I accepted that I was lazy myself. It didn’t help that I had chronic insomnia as well, since childhood. So you can see the vicious cycle here.

I think it is very difficult for someone else to understand if they’ve never experienced chronic fatigue before. It is like having the kind of fatigue you get from flu, except I feel like that permanently. It is actually quite amazing I’ve gotten anywhere at all. But if someone can help write textpattern suffering from it, I guess I was still able to function, albeit very minimally, with maximum effort.

I wondered what exactly it was that caused me to feel this way. Lack of exercise? Poor diet? Lack of sleep? Stress? Hormonal imbalance? Dysfunctional brain chemistry?

If you look at my astrological birthchart, the lack of energy is very prominent. I have an aries stellium (sun,mars & venus) in the sixth house. The sixth house rules health, in traditional astrology, having any planets or luminaries in the sixth house was considered bad. That’s not just it, because I have Pluto opposing the entire stellium. Pluto is considered an oppressive planet in astrology, having that combination just doesn’t feel very fun.In other words, I was destined to have issues coping with health and energy. I do believe your chart would never set you up for deliberate failure. Challengers are there to be overcome for different reasons. Similarly, natural gifts can be a curse.

Anyway, imagine my excitement when I came across a tweet by @amyhoy saying that she had felt better after taking some supplements recommended by a doctor who wrote a book named, “From fatigued to fantastic (ebook link)”. The title of the book alone is enough to excite me. I am willing to change my diet and do more exercise, but if taking some magic pill was able to have a marked improvement on my energy levels, that would really make a difference to my life.

You have no idea how much time I spend each day trying to talk myself into doing things even though I feel awful. Mentally and spiritually I want to accomplish things, but physically and emotionally I just feel down. Of course I have thought about being born with a brain wired the wrong way and having a biological chemical imbalance, I have thought about the difference medication would make to me, but I don’t wish to go down that route and end up like David Foster Wallace.

I used to be pretty bitter about this, because I try so hard to be better and usually it doesn’t make much difference.  I feel tired feeling tired, if you know what I mean. I gradually understood why it had to be this way from a spiritual perspective. It forces me to utilise my resources wisely because I was not blessed with that abundance of physical energy others have. I literally cannot waste my life away because I fall sick each time I feel unhappy in any given situation. It makes me understand the fragility of health. I am driven to want to spend every waking, healthy moment meaningfully because I have no idea when I’ll go into a mood swing or have a terrible migraine that last for weeks. It gives me empathy for the misunderstood.

Because of my new-found understanding, I have actually sorta given up trying to feel better. I have accepted that this is going to be the way it is and thus designed my life around it. I understand I cannot function like most people, so even the work I take in has to be pretty specific. No rush, no late hours, no extended periods of working, no unreasonable stress. Out of necessity I had to be super selective, and ironically, this increased my happiness quotient exponentially.

If I didn’t have physical issues, I guess I would put up with unreasonable requests just to ‘survive’ in this world. Everybody is working their asses off, so I feel like I should do the same in order to feel sane. But I can’t. I got incredibly frustrated trying to ‘work my ass off’ and falling sick each and every time. Instead, now I am actually noticing an increase in the quality of my work because I am consciously trying to slow things down and paying more attention to details.

Still, despite all the good I get out of being physically weak, I would really welcome a day feeling refreshed and all new when I wake up. I am hoping that since I’ve had an internal shift, I wouldn’t need all those nasty migraines to remind me of my priorities in life. I have a few personal projects going on that are geared towards the community, and it would really be ‘nice’ to be able to have that energy to move them forward purposefully.

So, I bought the book that @amyhoy recommended, read through half of it, found a magic word “Ribose” (go google it now!). Half of the content of the book were not new concepts. That sleep, diet, hormones, brain function play a huge part in our well-being. I believe CFS is the same as what the TCM practitioners call an imbalance of “qi”. Basically it doesn’t take much brain work to figure out that if you don’t give your body enough rest and nutrients, sooner or later, all the major organs are going to be dysfunctional. I also believe that in the current state of society, it is virtually impossible to get that sort of rest for your over-stressed body to recover naturally (erm, who’s going to pay the bills if I go away for a six month sabbatical ;p).

According to the book, a virus infection could cause your hypothalamus to be dysfunctional, hence causing issues to energy production. I happen to have had a super high fever when I was a toddler which I had to be hospitalized, that would very much explain why I never stopped feeling tired even as a child. There could be 101 reasons. It could be biological or genetic. It doesn’t matter what reason I guess.

I am going to give the recommended treatments a try, hopefully in a future post I’ll be able to document some good progress. ;)