Living With CFIDS
The Quest for
By B. Schroeder
Those of us with chronic
fatigue and immune dysfunction
syndrome (CFIDS) and those near and dear to us who feel its impact are often overwhelmed by the illness
and its consequences. CFIDS is such a personal catastrophe that we find it almost impossible to cope with
all of its manifestations and complications. And once we get through the initial shock, dismay, and confusion,
we try to find a way out, a way to go forward, or a way to get around it. And although the well-known
serenity prayer seems almost impossible to attain, it holds out the hope that we can at least make a start
in the direction of achieving some inner peace.
Accepting our illness.
Accepting that we have CFIDS is necessary if we are to get past the frustration and anger we may feel
toward doctors, employers, insurers, and even friends and family. Acceptance means recognizing that we
can’t change our condition or circumstances by waving a magic wand. Acceptance means not getting stuck
on “Why me?” or even “Why?” It is up to us to take responsibility for ourselves, for what we say and do,
and how we are going to cope with it all.
Perhaps most difficult for people with CFIDS is accepting
our many and painful losses. CFIDS is devastating and life-changing and can leave us feeling helpless.
While we mourn our losses, we must learn to reach out to others to help us along our way. Acceptance can
be the most difficult part of our quest for serenity, but it is also the most helpful in learning how
to cope with our illness.
Having the courage to change. The other part
of the quest for serenity involves the courage to change the things we can. It takes courage to move beyond
acceptance and make our altered life as good for ourselves as possible. It takes effort, time, and energy.
We may go off in many directions—directions that later prove fruitless and disappointing—but we must keep
As we strive to change the things we can, we get to know ourselves better. We discover,
or rediscover, our strengths and weaknesses and what we really can and can’t do. We decide what is important
and what isn’t. We learn what and who is helpful to us. We learn who increases our distress. We learn
to be our own best friend.
Trying to change what we can’t. In seeking
serenity, we need to let go of our past. We have enough to cope with in our present, let alone the future.
We must try to dump old burdens of all kinds. Visualize wiping the slate clean and turning over a new
leaf by reinventing yourself. Try dealing with only the concerns that really must be dealt with and let
the rest go. Don’t get involved with new projects unless they really improve your well-being. Let your
Achieving serenity. The wisdom to know when to accept circumstances
or when to change things in our lives develops with time and experience. But as our wisdom grows, it gives
us the power to attain the serenity that we yearn for. That serenity is enhanced by feeling better about
ourselves. That serenity may be found in the new life that we try to live. That serenity makes us feel
happier and more at peace with our world.
All the best to you on your quest.
B. Schroeder is a physical
therapist with a master’s
degree in family therapy. She has had CFIDS for 10 years.
God grant me the
the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things
I can, and the wisdom to