CFIDS Profiles: Jake
Changing Negatives to Positives
By Jake P.
Originally published in Youth Allied By
CFIDS, Fall 1997
the fall of 1995, a metamorphosis was occurring. The body which once handled the
most demanding physical and mental tasks with alacrity and ease was slowly
degenerating into a befuddled heap which, like the blindfolded person in a
foreign land, was hopelessly lost.
This is a description of my onset and
nearly two years later, I find my body firmly transfixed in a massive state of
disequilibrium. It seems as though some insidious and malevolent force has found
an environment that it just doesn't want to leave. My body has been dropped into
a gloomy and sinuous labyrinth and can't seem to find the light at the end of
If you are reading this, most likely
someone close to you have CFIDS and, like me, have experienced first-hand its
debilitating effects. I am 21 years old and, until a year and a half ago, was a
forestry major at Iowa State University. Then, as though a tornado had passed,
my health was gone.
However, I have realized that I can
many positives despite this negative situation. I have adopted a strategy for
healing and gained many things from having this illness. I have also learned
that there are socio-political factors that must be changed to increase
acceptance and avoid minimization of the disease and people who have
My Healing Strategy
After a year and a half of experimenting with
virtually every nutritional supplement and herb known to man, I have adopted a
new healing strategy: Faith! Although I see faith in God as important, that is
not necessarily what I mean. Faith in yourself, your nutritional regimen and,
most importantly, the knowledge that someday you will be much healthier are
essential. If you don't truly believe you will someday get better, you probably
I've begun to meditate on the many
strengths that can be found in this extreme weakness. These strengths, like
faith, are individual. The bottom line is that I must do what is best for me and
not under any circumstances second-guess myself.
I spend my limited "up" time reading
writing and studying the dictionary to hopefully enhance my leadership
capabilities. I know that compared to other 21-year-olds I have significantly
greater mental toughness and maturity. After all, people with CFIDS have
experienced adversity that most other young people haven't and, though we lack
physical power, we have a mental clarity and drive gained only through
What is the Purpose?
Perhaps the best line you can repeat to yourself in
times of total debilitation is this: there are no coincidences in life,
everything has a distinct purpose. So what is our purpose? I believe we have
First, when explanations of our illness
met with contempt or disbelief, it is imperative that we aren't apathetic. We
must learn to get assertive with these people and advocate so the illness will
gain the recognition it deserves. I believe the best way to spread awareness is
to detail the scientific theories that pertain to the illness and make it known
that the illness is heterogeneous and quite serious, not just simply tiredness.
I have found that developing an expertise on the disease helps immensely.
I believe our second purpose is to
strong advocates of environmental restoration and preservation. There is
evidence that environmental degradation and increased pollution cause
over-activation of the immune system, possibly playing an integral role in
CFIDS. Until sweeping changes are made in environmental policies, CFIDS will
continue to spread, creating a large financial burden on our economy. Many
healthy people aren't aware of this because our society tends to grasp at
panaceas which achieve short-term gratification and prosperity, but have lasting
We must strive
to create long-term
plans which place health above wealth and success in business. If you have
CFIDS, you probably know that all the amenities in life mean nothing without
health. Both conclusions engender this idea: the only way for evil to flourish
is for good people to remain silent.