I suffered from what I thought was chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FM) for 9.5 years. Below is a list of things that have helped me. I wanted to pass them along in hopes that they may help someone else. I am not a medical practitioner. Always consult a physician before starting/stopping any medication, etc.
How It Started:
On Thursday, Sept. 27th, 2001, I went to bed feeling fine. The next morning, Friday, I woke up feeling like I hadn't slept. No matter how I tried, I could not get going. I went to bed very early that night and slept for 14-ish hours. The same thing happened the next morning. I awoke feeling like I hadn't slept. Later I learned the technical term for this is non-restorative sleep. This continued day after day. I was able to push through it but after three weeks I became very concerned and went and saw my doctor. He said I probably have a virus (mononucleosis) and it will eventually pass. He was wrong and it never did go away. It got worse and I developed other symptoms. From my research I learned that it can be common for CFS/FM to have "sudden onset" after a traumatic experience or illness.
Here are some of the symptoms I had in no particular order (or maybe what bothered me most):
1) Non-restorative sleep. I would sleep and sleep and sleep yet never feel rested. This was not only a physical tiredness but a mental and emotional tiredness.
2) Fatigue and post-exertion malaise. I was beyond exhausted. Everything was an effort. I did not bounce back after any kind of physical activity. I couldn't even mow my own lawn. I did only what I had to do like pay bills and work.
3) Insomnia. It was terrible. I was dead tired and could not fall asleep and, when I did fall asleep, it was hard staying asleep. The slightest noise would wake me up.
4) Pain (FM). I hurt all over all the time. Eventually this started to steal the joy from every moment. It felt like my muscles would clench uncontrollably especially when I would sleep. I got a mouth guard because I was grinding my teeth. I had to get both a top and bottom piece because I was slowly wearing through the top guard. It was pricey, $300, but better than fixing cracked teeth.
5) Brain fog. It was hard to think. I felt drunk most of the time. I wasn't able to read or learn anything new.
6) Static in the brain. This is very hard to describe. The only analogy I have been able to come up with is it's like listening to an AM radio station with lots of static. My brain was working but there was lots of interference. To this day I still have trouble listening to music. It just doesn't sound right.
7) Sensitivity to noises. The tiniest noise would bother me. My neighbor had dogs that would bark all day and it drove me insane.
8) Sensitivity to smells. Certain scents, especially perfumes and the like, made me feel dizzy and sick.
9) Sensitivity to touch. I didn't like being touched. I had to stop wearing jewelry (e.g. watch, ring, necklace).
10) My vision started going black-and-white-ish. I saw colors but they looked dull.
11) Intolerance to cold. I was always freezing even when I was in bed with the covers piled high and sweating.
12) Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That's a euphemism for gas (both ends), bloating and loose, water stool. Worse, I always had this pain in my gut. Eating would make it worse. Sometimes I would be starving but I wouldn't eat because it would hurt so bad. When I did eat, food would travel through my in 5-6 hours.
13) Memory problems. It was hard to remember things.
16) Depression but, and I want to make this clear, it was a symptom not the source problem. The doctors always wanted to give me anti-depressants. I always said no but my wife kept saying I should try them. I tried three different kinds and I will never take an SSRI again. I made my wife promise to never, ever let the doctors give me one even if my life depended on it. The first one, Effexor, was okay. I had lots of side effects all pretty minor except the big one. My equipment stopped working. That was unacceptable. I tried Welbutrin (sp?) next. That made me feel like I wanted to fight with everyone so I stopped that pretty quickly. The last one I tried was when I was feeling really bad. I took symbalta. I started having spasms and I lost voluntary motor control of my limbs. It happened for approximately five minutes every three hours over a span of about 18 hours. I figured it was because of the time release capsules. It was an extremely traumatic experience when I was at one of my lowest points. Never, ever again will I take SSRIs.
17) There are more symptoms but it's hard to remember them all and I try not to think back too much less the darkness return (like how Beren would not speak of his passage through the girdle of Melian).
Things That Helped Me:
Here is a list of things that helped me. There are in order of most significant to least.
1) Submit to God. I always had plans for what I was going to do with *my* life. I got a B.S. in Computer Science and got a job programming. I planned to become a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and/or start my own company. I would acquire all the material wealth I would need to be comfortable including a nice house, car, etc. I would find a good wife. Raise a family. Maybe start a company. After I had established *my* kingdom I would then turn towards God.
I was/am Christian and I have always had pretty strong faith. Little did I realize how much my faith would be tested by my illness. As my illness progressed I was able to do less and less. Even fun things became a chore. My life was stripped away from me a little piece at a time. Towards the end I had only my job (teaching programming at a local community college) and my wife. Everything else was gone.
I have discovered that if I hurt bad enough for long enough that I have a breaking point. I found that breaking point. Had it not been for my faith and the grace of God I would have died. I was broken not once but about three different times (yes, I'm very stubborn). I started saying things like, "Lord, I give up" and "Lord, what do I do?", "Lord, take this burden from me or make it all stop, PLEASE."
I was flipping through the TV channels one day and I came across Joyce Meyer. I listened to her for a while and what she said resonated with me. I continued to watch her because I learned something helpful every time I saw her show. After a month or two I saw a show on submission. Something clicked. I started trying to submit to God. I began to *voluntarily* let go of all the things *I* wanted to do. After practicing this for a month or two I started to find the other items on this list. For me, the more I have learned to trust and rely on God, the better my life has become and not just in a physical sense. If I had to look back, I would say God used my illness to wake me up. I'm not saying He caused it but I think He used it as a teaching tool. Most importantly, it was His grace that let me find the other items on this list. At the end I'll explain the computer search techniques I used.
2) Hypothyroidism Type 2 (HT2). Most of the medical community doesn't know about HT2. They know only about plain hypothyroidism which Dr. Mark Starr calls Hypothyroidism Type 1 (HT1). HT1 is where your thyroid gland produces little or no hormone. This can easily be detected by a blood test. I have had the blood test at least three times and my results where always "normal."