CFS/ME definitely comes with the stigma attached. I’ve heard the first one here: “It’s a depression.” or “They just want attention.” or “Hypochondriac.” The first doctor to run a series of tests on me to eliminate the possibility of “real” illnesses shook her head and said that I must have the “yuppy crud.” She later implied it was all in my head.
Stigma creates a climate of shame and defensiveness. Eventually my anger won the battle and I diagnosed the medical profession with ignorance and put my health in my own hands.
One of the many gems I’m finding on The Optimum Health Clinic’s website includes this affirming bit:
“Stigma around the illness and lack of understanding in our experience directly reduces a patient’s expectation of recovery and creates stress. We have patients tell us stories like friends being diagnosed with cancer at the same time as they were diagnosed with CFS/ME and noticing the level of understanding, support and sympathy available with a clear, accepted illness. The friend would tell them they were happier to have been diagnosed with bowel cancer than go through what they would face with a diagnosis of CFS/ME.” – Taken from their paper entitled “The Application of Integral Medicine in the Treatment of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”
So far, this website has inspired me to order their info pack. Next is the interview. I’m very impressed.