I thought it may be useful to have a page I can just direct people to reading on my two conditions.
A good succinct “official” overview can be found at http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Chronic-Fatigue-Syndrome-/-ME.htm
Essentially, the way I view the condition is as an energy management issue. The body’s own ability to manage its energy efficiency has been impaired for some reason (research continues). As just keeping the body functioning (breathing, heart beating, etc) uses up much of its energy, there is very little left to do other things and what there is must be rationed and used sensibly.
Unsurprisingly, when the body begins to run out of energy, cognitive processes are affected – memory recall, concentration, etc. It cannot handle sensory input – light, noise, touch. Activity becomes painful in a self-defence mechanism to stop the body from using energy. Fatigue is overwhelming as the body starts to conserve what little energy it has for its own purposes (ie breathing, heart beating, etc).
The condition is very individual in nature as is the treatment. What works for one person won’t work for another. I kind of think this is obvious given the nature of the condition – our body chemistry is very different person to person depending on diet, genetics, etc. Energy and body chemistry go together in biological terms so one must affect the other.
Again, a good succinct “official” overview of the condition can be found here http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Fibromyalgia.htm
Essentially, the way I view the condition is as a pain management issue where pain manifests in the joints although its actually the muscles which are inflammed. I have to admit that I describe it incorrectly as arthritis when talking to others – simply because people understand arthritis in short-hand whereas you say fibromyalgia and people look at you blankly.
While there is a constant state of pain, flare-ups of this condition are triggered by stress for me. Physical stress is the most usual trigger – driving, strenuous exercise, travelling in general. Emotional stress is the next usual trigger – luckily these are usually rare as they tend to be “big” moments. Mental stress is the next trigger and that’s usually when there is an overload of stress in terms of the work environment (deadlines, responsibility, etc).
In both conditions, management of diet, exercise and stress is a key component of treatment.
For more information, there are links from the Patient UK information to charitable organisations providing support, information and advice.