• Kedren Elliott

ME and mental health

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

In last week's podcast, we spoke to Annie Taylor about her diagnosis of ME, how she managed her symptoms when she first realised she had the condition, and how she looks after herself now.

What is ME?

ME (which stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis) or as it's also known Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or many people called it CFS/ME. It's a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness.

CFS/ME can affect anyone, including children and is more common in women usually developing between their mid-20s and mid-40s.

Living with CFS/ME

Living with CFS/ME like any condition can be difficult. Extreme tiredness and other physical symptoms can make it hard to carry out everyday activities as Annie described when she first started experiencing symptoms. She also talked about making some major lifestyle changes to help her manage her condition in terms of her work but also relationships.

CFS/ME can also affect your mental and emotional health and negatively affect your self-esteem. As you would expect from a condition that generally makes you feel quite unwell and can also include sleeping problems, headaches, problems thinking, remembering or concentrating amongst a range of other symptoms.

Advice on dealing with CFS/ME

Annie's advice on tackling these feelings and symptoms was that first, you need to believe that you can get better, but also finding out what is going to work for you.

As well as asking your family and friends for support, you may find it useful to talk to other people with CFS/ME and do some research, ask questions and stick with it.

Annie also talked about complementary therapies and findings someone who really understands your condition and symptoms so they can help you. And if you try one thing and it doesn't work, try something else. Or you might need a combination of treatments to help you with how you feel mentally and physically, everyone is different.

Fatigue is one of those symptoms that has been mentioned by all my guests during this series of the Happiness Hub. It's a big one when your experiencing it because doing small everyday things can seem such an effort or impossible, including asking for help.

We've had some great advice from our guests on tackling fatigue, from writing self-care plans to planning everyday tasks to make them easier. Our guests have been very inventive with the ways they cope and live their lives around these conditions. I think it was Karen in episode 39 who said the doctors and MS nurses were great at helping her treat her condition but had no advice on how to live her life with her condition.

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