An ‘Overwhelming Illness’: Women’s Experiences of Learning to Live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

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Journal: Journal of Health Psychology. 2007 Mar;12(2):203-14. Authors and affiliations: Edwards CR, Thompson AR, Blair A. Barnsley. Primary Care Trust, UK. [E-mail: catherine.edwards@barnsleypct.nhs.uk ] PMID: 17284485 The processes through which people learn to live with CFS/ME are poorly understood and have not been rigorously explored within the literature. Semi- structured interviews were conducted with eight women and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Participants initially described being 'overwhelmed' by CFS/ME. Attempts at seeking help were unsatisfactory and participants described feeling let down and disbelieved. Participants reacted to this by identifying types of 'self-help' and assertively taking more responsibility for their illness and its treatment. Acquiring social support and greater knowledge were key mediating factors in the emergence of control and acceptance. The relevance of the themes to existing research and the implications for clinical practice are considered.

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