CFIDS Pen-Pals: My Best
By Ann McErleane
Originally published in
Youth Allied By CFIDS, Winter 1996
my diagnosis of CFIDS in December 1992, the emotional impact of having a chronic
illness set in. I had to withdraw from my first year of college and come home.
At home, I was housebound and bedridden the vast majority of the time. While my
heart was filled with many emotions I had not felt before, the most prominent
feeling was a sheer desperation for contact with other young people with CFIDS.
I still had my old friends, but they were
all off at school and had no understanding of the life that had enveloped me. I
started a frantic search for other young PWCs. I found a group of adult PWCs
and, although they were suffering from the same disease, their attitude and
problems greatly varied from those of young people. In time, I came across
Sharon Walk's pen-pal group for youth with CFS, CFS Youth Outreach (CYO). I
immediately wrote to the group and later received my list of pen-pals.
This opened several doors to a new world
for me, enabling me to cope with and surmount CFIDS in various ways.
Through CYO, I found other young people who
were just like me, also facing the same problems I was. I realized that there
were other kids out there with the same feelings, desires and goals as I have
who were also facing CFIDS. Without them I would have been lost.
My CYO pen-pals were my only link to the
outside world, providing me with support, information and entertainment. Writing
and receiving letters was the sole activity I could engage in for about a year.
All the people I wrote to generally wrote to the same people as I did. We all
got to know each other and became our own "clique" of friends.
I have continued to keep in touch with most
of my pen-pals for almost three years now and they have been my support through
many rough times. Their support, kindness and willingness to help never waver.
They provide a different understanding and an ability to relate because of their
own experiences with CFIDS.
My pen-pals are my best friends. Even now
that I have greatly recovered and plan to return to school this spring, they are
behind me 100 percent, giving me all the support I need for this major change. I
feel that through my pen pals I have established a group of best friends who
will provide a lifetime of friendship and support to one another.