Mental Podcast Show

Chronic fatigue syndrome; all in mind? Battling the intangible, the inexplicable can make a person feel irrational and utterly hopeless. With no real causes and no available treatment (other than modest attempts to alleviate one’s symptoms), chronic fatigue is more on the metaphysical side of ailments than most maladies.

The wound it uncovers multiplies by one’s helplessness. “Darkness imprisoning me; All that I see, absolute horror · I cannot live, I cannot die.” – (Metallica, one of America’s finest bards of heavy metal, perfectly describes the condition) Chronic fatigue is a state of peculiar confinement – one is simply unable to discern whether one’s mental or physical bed conditions the shape. Be it as it may, we mustn’t look at it as an entity – it organically intertwines and affects our mental health. Here are the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Defining Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Let’s attempt the impossible. How do we define CFS? Chronic fatigue syndrome or ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) is a long-term illness (defined by fatigue that has lasted for at least six months and its severity obstructs our day-to-day activities) that affects numerous systems in our body. It substantially differs from our standardized understanding of “fatigue,” as it is a different, more intense type of tiredness than what we usually experience when overworked or stressed.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

Chronic fatigue syndrome and various psychiatric disorders often occur comorbidly, as they share similar phenomenological features. The debate among the “whitecoats” on whether neurasthenia or chronic fatigue should be considered a syndrome entity distinct from various disorders is ongoing. Many associate CFS with depression, as the two share key symptoms and differences. So, what are the symptoms?

● a perpetual feeling of extreme exhaustion – to the point of experiencing difficulties with
executing day-to-day activities
● the condition usually worsens after mental or physical exercise
● resting or sleeping fails to recharge our batteries; we feel the same
● it takes a long time for us to recover after any physical activity
● sleep problems; insomnia or waking up frequently during nighttime
● issues with cognitive functioning: concentration, memory, thinking

Other symptoms may include:
● sore throat is a frequent occurrence
● headaches
● joint or muscle pain
● flu-like symptoms
● dizziness
● nausea
● heart palpitations (irregular heartbeats)

Effects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A person’s subjective experience suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome: “I drag my weary existence across the earth’s plane. Until I am no more.” We can deem it poetic or stoic; however, the suffering is more than tangible. We talk about “holistic” philosophy, whose narrative is infallibly positive. Nevertheless, we mustn’t exclude the negative spectrum of interconnectedness – the domino effect—the holy trinity and its invisible thread: the body, the mind, the soul. If one starts to erode, it’s only a matter of time before the remaining layers of one’s existence turn to rust. So, in what ways does chronic fatigue syndrome affect our mental
health?

Weep, don’t sleep

Chronic fatigue and insomnia? An oxymoron. Or so it seems. “At least you get some sleep, am I right?” Ironically, no. In truth, no amount of sleep can recuperate one’s incurably perpetual tiredness. Individuals suffering from CFS/ME are found to report frequent awakenings during sleeping hours, primarily due to pain.

And here’s where the vicious cycle unfolds: ceaseless sleep disturbance inevitably leads to a reduced pain threshold during conscious hours. And so, physiological arousals during sleep (a vigilant state) massively contribute to daytime hypersensitivity, pain, and fatigue. The adaptive stress response is thought to be a common factor between chronic fatigue syndrome and insomnia. For this reason, many CFS sufferers use substances for pain and fatigue alleviation. And how does alcohol affect sleep? Without any emphasis on fatalism, the impact on your sleep cycle is simply – detrimental.

Cognitive functioning

The effects of chronic fatigue syndrome are more than a hindrance for those suffering from the condition. Statistically speaking, almost 90% of CFS individuals report cognitive abnormalities caused by recurring and relapsing fatigue. One of the cardinal symptoms is a form of cognitive impairment that we today recognize and describe as “brain fog.” The general reduction in one’s cognitive ability reflects in working memory, poor concentration, information processing speed, and memory loss. Frequently posturally driven, dizziness or lightheadedness leads to neurocognitive impairment. Fancy terms? Agreed!

To summarize, those suffering from CFS struggle daily with basic cognitive functioning, be it work, interpersonal relationships, or something seemingly undemanding, such as reading a book or watching the news. “What were they saying? Where were we?”

Buzz Killers

Have you ever worn a shoe too tight? A thrilling experience, isn’t it? Two hours in, and you’re looking for potential manslaughter victims. You can’t make sense of anything; gravity holds no meaning, your ancestral wounds open, and somehow, through association, you remember how that one time your mother forgot to pick you up from kindergarten. – and you say: forget, but not forgive. In a word: utter mayhem caused by nothing but a half-size smaller shoe.

A minor inconvenience. Much like the shoe (shoutout to Cinderella), chronic fatigue makes us moody and, at times, borderline sadistic. Dealing with constant pain loosens our otherwise sensible take on anything from interpersonal relationships to multiverse theories. We become irritable, hostile, and cynical, and our mouths forget which muscles form a sincere, genuine smile.

Assorted nuts and effects

When something is wrong, our entire being is in mutiny mode. We might not be able to identify
the very culprit, not on a conscious level, at least, but the being knows. The behind-the-scenes
of our psyche works tirelessly, even when we’re willingly trying to disassociate. Other effects
include:
● decreased libido
● no optimism/absence of enthusiasm
● fatalistic approach
● anxiety
● depression
● cynism

Final words

The effects of chronic fatigue syndrome are more than noticeable for those suffering from the condition. There are no beautiful mornings and starry nights when we’re in pain. The hues of beauty are indefinitely dimmed. There’s only pain—and perpetual cloudiness of the mind.

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