March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD).
This year we encouraged all our followers on social media to comment with their own experiences of the myths that we’re ‘choosing to challenge’ and to share our post to mark the day.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is often considered a “women’s disease” because an estimated 75% of people who live with the condition are women. This has had a very real and unfortunate impact on how seriously the condition is taken. Like other so-called women’s diseases, ME/CFS research has been underfunded, patients’ medical care neglected and their symptoms dismissed by the medical profession.
This also affects men who live with so-called women’s diseases like ME/CFS.
The theme of this year’s IWD is #ChooseToChallenge. We choose to challenge three myths about ME/CFS:
Myth 1: “Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a psychological disorder”
Research has found many physiological abnormalities in the bodies of people with ME/CFS. Most of these do not show up on routine medical tests, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Myth 2: “But I’m tired all the time too”
In our busy society, everyone is tired, but tired is different to being sick. People with ME/CFS have a wide array of disabling symptoms caused by the disease. These include crippling sleep disturbances, problems with memory and concentration, flu-like symptoms, headache or migraine, chronic pain and many others.
Myth 3: “People with chronic fatigue syndrome can get better if they put their minds to it”
ME/CFS is a biomedical condition, affecting many different systems in the body. There is now good biomedical research evidence that the disease is caused by problems with energy production at a cellular level. There is also increasing evidence of changes to the central and autonomic nervous systems, and immune system. These physiological problems can’t be fixed with positive thinking, more effort, dietary changes or therapy.
Emerge Australia fights for ME/CFS to be taken seriously. We are working to ensure that ME/CFS has more research funding, better education for medical professionals and is more widely understood by the broader community.
You can support our work here: https://www.emerge.org.au/appeal/supportemergeaustralia