Pain caused by chronic fatigue syndrome is real

“It’s all in your head.”

Try telling that to someone who is so riddled with pain and fatigue they are confined to their beds, or if they do get out once in a while, it’s with great difficulty.

The Peter White Public Library last week hosted a screening of the film “Unrest,” which depicted the struggles of its filmmaker, Jennifer Brea, who suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis, more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

ME/CFS affects an estimated 1 million to 2.5 million Americans. That might not seem like a lot percentage-wise, but to each person afflicted with the condition, it’s debilitating.

“Unrest” showed that debilitation, particularly with Brea, who at various times in the film was seen crying in pain on the ground or simply finding it hard to move.

There are many facts surrounding ME/CFS, but two seem to stand out: about 75 percent of sufferers are women, and it receives far less funding than what’s needed to make a serious effort at finding a cure.

What’s also noteworthy about the disease, if you want to call it noteworthy, is that for too long sufferers have been dismissed, with the medical community saying their symptoms are psychological, or even “hysterical.”

In 1989, a two-part episode of the popular television show “The Golden Girls” was aired. Titled “Sick and Tired,” the character Dorothy started to not feel well.

The first doctor she saw dismissed her, while a subsequent doctor she saw took her seriously, saying her condition had a name: chronic fatigue syndrome.

She later came across the first doctor in a restaurant, with Dorothy confronting him on his belittling treatment of her.

You would hope things would have changed after almost 30 years.

You also hope the fact that the vast majority of ME/CFS sufferers are women has little to do with patients not being taken seriously, or the condition being unfunded.

If 75 percent of sufferers were men, would the situation be different?

That might never be proven, but the medical community and the public at large can believe and empathize with ME/CFS patients.

They also can educate themselves about the disease and advocate for greater funding.

The fact that ME/CFS isn’t fully understood is a good reason for increased attention.

Mining Journal (Marquette)