Coping Corner, Spring '97
Originally published in Youth Allied By
CFIDS, Spring 1997
Greetings from blossoming Boston, Massachusetts and welcome
back to "The Coping Corner"! I hope that this edition finds you reveling in the
signs of spring.
The first sprouts of green after the
New England winter always bring promise of fresh hopes and dreams and it seems
appropriate that this time of year is home to International CFIDS Awareness Day.
I hope that each and every one of you will renew your commitment to spreading
understanding and awareness this year. Remember that each step, no matter how
small, is better than no step at all.
If you have a tip for spreading awareness,
whether it is writing a powerful letter to a politician or local paper or simply
finding the strength to speak up for yourself at a family gathering, please
share it with us! Write to me at: Jenn Waterman, 103 County Road, Reading MA
I hope you'll find the following tips
You Are What You
The most popular New
Year's resolutions in this country involve dieting. For people with CFIDS, this
four-letter word can have a much different meaning than the desire to fit into
that little black dress. Persons with CFIDS (PWCs) often find that reducing or
eliminating some foods from their diets can relieve many symptoms. But although
we're all VERY eager to see the end result and feel better (even just a tiny
bit), it's often not easy to say goodbye to our favorite snacks.
Bek Oberlin, a 22-year-old PWC from
Victoria, Australia, has had experience with medical diets. For the past year
her doctor has had her on a diet that excludes dairy, yeast, caffeine and more.
Bek knows as well as any dieter the frustrations and temptations of these
restricted eating plans. Because of this she has found a number of ways to ease
the pain and increase her willpower and chance of success.
She advises, "Sit down with a bit of
an 'allergy-free' cookbook, and your imagination, and write a list of every
single meal or food you can think of that you can eat!" Bek says it has
helped her to post this list in a place where she can see it often, such as on
the door of her fridge. When you start feeling that there is nothing you
can eat and that you'll go crazy and starve to death on the diet, you can look
at the list and know this isn't true. She also suggests keeping a list of foods
that can satisfy your cravings without ruining your diet or causing you a severe
reaction or relapse. For example, she finds that mints can help her through a
sweet craving without causing her system distress. Keep the cabinets stocked
with the good foods that are okay and not with things that will constantly tempt
you. And if you do fall off the diet wagon once in awhile, realize that it's not
the end of the world. Just get back on and hang in there! You're not
How do you deal with medical diets?
are your secrets for success? Let us know!
Two "Coping Corners" ago I introduced the idea of a
Dream Box. This is a box that you cover with things that mean something to you
or say something about you, such as pictures or stickers and favorite
quotations. You fill the box with special things to pull out to occupy your
nights of insomnia.
Inside my Dream Box you'll discover
pads of paper along with pens, pencils, markers and even crayons. The times when
I am awake with insomnia are the times when I do some of my best thinking. It
helps me to have paper and a pen handy to record these rare and momentous bursts
of thought. When I can't sleep, the house is at its most quiet (if I ignore my
family's snoring) and the silence can bring a number of feelings to the surface
for me. Sometimes I am lonely and afraid - as I ponder the future and things
that go bump in the night. Sometimes I am sad. Sometimes angry. It helps me to
write these feelings down or to draw a picture. It often makes me feel more in
control, because when I write my feelings out I am able to better understand
them and what I can do to help myself. Just getting them down on paper can get
them out of my system and ease my mind a bit.
Sometimes I feel creative and I write
stories or poems and draw pictures. Sometimes I'll write letters to friends
because that makes me feel less alone. I often write "The Coping Corner" while
I'm lying awake at strange hours of the night! (I know, this explains a
As I lie in the dark, hovering between
being awake and asleep, with my mind just beginning to relax, I sometimes think
of things that I have struggled all day to recall - a phone number or the name
of a book that I wanted to get at the library. Having a pen and piece of paper
right by my bed keeps me from having to scramble and risk forgetting it all.
Marty Ratigan, a PWC from California,
agrees with these Dream Box fillers. She says, "I really think that one day
scientists will 'reveal' that doodling sends our brains down the path that leads
to sleep or at least relaxation." And we could all use that!
That's all for this time! Have a wonderful
May 12th and make a difference in your life this spring by promoting awareness.
Not only will it help every PWC, it will also make you feel good to be doing
something to change the world.
Many thanks to
Bek and Marty for
participating in this issue! See you next time in "The Coping