Family and Friends
Although its name focuses on only one aspect of the illness, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a serious and complex illness marked by numerous symptoms including disabling fatigue, problems with information processing and memory, flu-like symptoms, pain in the joints and muscles, dizziness, nausea, sleep disorders and headache.
Strong support from family and friends is very important to people with this debilitating and poorly understood illness as they work to integrate the challenges of CFS into their lives.
The keys to helping a person with CFS (PWC) are education, communication and emotional support. Stay informed by reading theAssociation publication archives, visiting Research1st and by visiting other areas of this Web site including, Tips for Parents and For Those Who Care where you'll find detailed information and helpful strategies for caregivers, partners, family members and friends, and Family Member Stories for insights into how several families have learned to adjust and thrive in spite of a chronic illness.
Keep the lines of communication open and listen. Your willingness to listen will help validate and acknowledge the seriousness of the illness. But be cautious about your well-intended comments that may be perceived as insensitive. Instead of saying "I know how you feel. I have a lot of the same symptoms as you," keep your comments constructive and caring such as "I'm sorry that you're feeling so poorly."
Be as understanding and kind as you can, reassuring the PWC of your love and support. Try to continue to enjoy activities together, modifying them as necessary to create a new "normal" with your friend or partner. You can also show you care by helping in tangible ways, running errands, balancing the checkbook and walking the dog.
Finally, it's important to recognize that CFS also presents challenges and brings changes to your life. Take time for yourself and give yourself credit for being there for someone who needs and appreciates your love and support.