Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Friday, March 23, 2012

Maintaining Happiness with ME/CFS

Lately, I have been giving a lot of thought to whether it is possible to maintain my previous level of happiness now that I have ME/CFS. While I certainly wouldn't say that I'm unhappy now, I'm just not as supremely spirited as I was pre-ME. At first, I thought it would be impossible to be as happy as before ME. But after giving it more thought recently, I'm not so sure.

The concepts of quality of life and happiness, while similar, are distinct. The definition of "quality of life" includes physical and mental health, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging. Now, I don't think anyone, no matter how much they try to delude themselves, can deny that ME/CSF strikes a major blow to quality of life.

But is it possible to maintain happiness while suffering a reduced quality of life? Theoretically, I think the answer is yes.

I'm reminded of a lyric from the song The Will to Live, by Ben Harper:

Then I met a man who had to walk with his hands.
Born into a world he couldn't stand. 
Blessed with life but cursed as a man. 
Still he walks taller than most of us can

Most of us probably know someone who, despite being dealt a bad hand in life, seems inordinately happy. There's a gentleman that works in my office building who is confined to a wheelchair. I pass him in the halls and elevators, and we chat in the the lunch line. He seems, by all indications, to be one of the happiest people around. While I'm sure he deals with his share of pain privately, one cannot fake his apparent level of happiness on a consistent basis. He always seems to be laughing and joking and making new friends.

So I'm interested in how people facing such adverse circumstances manage to remain happy despite reduced quality of life. These examples tell us that it's possible, and I'm beginning to sense that I will get back there eventually. But how?

I don't have an answer yet, but I will get there. I'm interested in reading the biographies of other people who maintained happiness despite challenging circumstances; people like Helen Keller. I think I will incorporate my search for answers as an ongoing theme of this blog. And, as always, I'm interested in hearing from other people who've pondered this question...


  1. Hi Patrick!

    My name is Ash, and I've been dealing with ME/CFS/FMS & chronic Lyme & co-infections for about 20 years now. I'm primarily housebound - one trip out for doctor visits or groceries a week is about all I can handle, and even then, I have only about 4 hours of activity & only with the assistance of Nuvigil.

    It is possible to be happy in our situation, but there will always be periods when you just want it to end. The things that get me thru are my many friends in the ME/CFS community online, my family, and trying to hang on to acceptance.

    I wrote a post on my blog about acceptance that might (or might not) help you find your way:

    Meditation, spirituality (in whatever form suits you), and time outside, noticing the small miracles & beauty in the world around you, are usually key. This illness gives us time to literally stop and smell the roses, watch beautiful sunsets, and marvel at the natural world, and I think being able to find moments of beauty are key to my own happiness.

    Friendship with those who also have our illness can be a lifesaver, literally, as there are just things that healthy people cannot understand.
    Have you seen the ME/CFS forums here:

    That's how I found your blog :-)
    Many of us also connect thru Facebook. I can be found at if you would like to connect.
    Many of us blog, and that helps a lot, too!

    Wishing you happiness,

    1. Ash, I appreciate all three of the comments you left today. It always helps to hear the advice of those with years of experience with these issues. I'm off to check out your blog right now.