Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – how it starts

Living With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – How It Starts.


The Beginning Of It All

Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is different for each individual. I’d like to share with you my personal experience with this debilitating illness and how I contracted it in the first place.

It all started with my mindset and how I thought I was pretty tough, in fact I thought I was some sort of modern day superwoman. I led a pretty healthy lifestyle, ate healthy and mostly organic food, didn’t drink or smoke, and got regular exercise.

chronic fatigue syndrome how it all starts

However, I was pushing myself and working too hard day after day and this eventually took its toll on my body. I mistakenly thought that my generally healthy lifestyle was good enough insurance to ensure robust and glowing good health forever, no matter how hard I worked.

I had a lot to learn about living life in a balanced way. It would take me years to eventually begin to get work and relaxation into some sort of normal ratio.

Little did I realize that getting up at 5am most mornings to exercise, putting in a long and stress filled day at work along with lots of business travel, would after a few years eventually take its toll on my health. I didn’t know then that the effects of stress on the body and mind would eventually lead me to being unable to work in a full time capacity.

Stressful Work Environment And Conditions

My job was challenging and whilst I was working in the politically charged and male dominated environment of a large corporate business I loved what I was doing and knew I could make a difference in the role.

There were many improvements I could make in the division I headed up, ultimately making more money for the company and its shareholders. This is what I was employed to do, make money and improve the bottom line for the company. I thrived on the challenge, at least at first I did, or thought I did.

Feeling Extremely Tired All The Time – The Early Signs

The first sign of my faltering good health started to show itself about two and a half years into the job after a particularly stressful period in the workplace. I was fighting to show the changes I had made would bear fruit and struggling with the never ending office politics, constant company policy changes and brutal back stabbing in the office.

I knew my business strategies were right but I needed time for the changes I was making to flow through as a positive result and show up on the bottom line.

At first the only symptom I had was feeling a bit ‘off’ and a general lack of energy. I didn’t feel sleepy but felt as if my body lacked enough energy to get me through the day.

After work, I would arrive home and flop on to the sofa and remain there watching TV all night until it was time to go to bed. After a few weeks of feeling extremely tired all the time I visited my local GP as I thought a check up was in order.

chronic fatigue syndrome how it all starts

My GP advised that I most likely was suffering from Post Viral Fatigue. Post Viral Fatigue? As far as I could tell I hadn’t had any virus, so how could I have Post Viral Fatigue? This diagnosis didn’t make any sense to me.

Going Down The Natural Healing Path

I’ve always leaned more towards alternative health methods rather than western medicine, so after a few more weeks of still feeling bad I decided a visit to a naturopath was needed. Blood was taken and tests run which showed I was anemic and that my thyroid hormone levels were on the low side of normal.

Finally, after several months I had a diagnosis which made some sense to me. I started on the supplements recommended by my naturopath, and after a month or so started feeling better. During this time I continued to get up early each morning to work out at the gym and work full time in my enjoyable if busy and demanding job.

After a few months the symptoms of fatigue started to become apparent once more, so I returned to my naturopath who tested my thyroid again. The tests revealed that my levels had dropped to a lower level and it was unlikely that the homeopathic supplement she had given me for my thyroid would be able to raise the levels back to normal.

chronic fatigue syndrome how it all starts

This time I started to take a natural form of desiccated thyroid hormone. Once again after a couple of weeks I started to feel normal again. I continued on the natural hormones for several months and felt good.

I was starting to see good results in my professional life from the hard work I had been doing. I knew that I had achieved what I set out to do and began to ask myself ‘what next’?

At this time, on the lookout for my next professional challenge I asked the company to transfer me to their office in China.

A challenge it certainly was, living and working in China was new, interesting and a huge adventure. Every day in the professional environment was grindingly frustrating. Just trying to be understood in a culture completely different to the one I had left was brutal.

chronic fatigue syndrome how it all starts

Once again I was working hard and traveling for business even more than before. In addition, I was dealing with the stress of living in a very foreign environment dealing with a completely different business culture whilst trying to learn the rudiments of a new language.

Besides the business stressors there were also some obvious physical ones.  I was living in a city of 14 million people, a concrete jungle. I badly missed natural spaces, clean beaches and green parklands.

Air pollution levels were shocking. Some days I couldn’t see across to the other side of the road. Looking out of the office window, the view or should I say lack of it, was nothing but dense grey smoggy pollution.

chronic fatigue syndrome how it all starts

You guessed it, after about eighteen months my fatigue symptoms returned. At this time another symptom made its appearance. I was waking up at around 3 am every morning, wide awake and unable to go back to sleep again. This was strange, I had always been a great sleeper.

On doing some research I found a western naturopath in Hong Kong who diagnosed me with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Nowadays the term Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is quite common. In those days it was just starting to appear and I had certainly never heard of it. Learn more about how to recognize adrenal fatigue here.

Luckily I had a week-long holiday at that time and he told me to go home and do absolutely nothing for the week. No travel even for pleasure, no socializing, do nothing but rest.

chronic fatigue syndrome how it all starts

I was to sleep as much as I could to catch up on lost sleep, eat healthily and take the prescribed natural supplements. Sure enough, following my naturopath’s advice once again I rebounded and made a good recovery. Discover the importance of sleep here.

However, I did nothing to change my attitude towards the way I worked and continued on with business as usual. Of course once again after several more months I was back in my naturopath’s office. This pattern continued for several years leading me to be almost bedridden for one month.

By this stage I realized my condition had deteriorated and was now not just adrenal fatigue, but I now had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

My naturopath tried suggesting that my attitude towards the way I worked would need to change and that living in China was not the best choice for me. But I wasn’t finished with my China adventure and his good advice fell on deaf ears.

In order to keep on keeping on, I swallowed a ton of supplements and herbal remedies which were propping me up and allowing me to be semi functional, but my health was in a slow decline. I could no longer exercise and could barely function each day.

After each business trip, on arriving home I would drop my suitcase and crawl in to bed spent, with not an ounce of energy left.

Attitude Change And The Right Help – It Saved Me

The light bulb moment finally occurred when I was dealing with so many symptoms that I could no longer function normally. I had to face the fact that my lifestyle had to change. Perhaps, more importantly my attitude towards thinking I was superwoman had to change.

chronic fatigue syndrome how it all starts

Every person has their own individual limit as to how far they can push themselves. Personal tolerance to various forms of stress is different for everybody. I now understood mine.

I moved out of China, reduced my workload and enlisted the help of a wonderful naturopath specializing in fatigue issues.

With her expert guidance I finally got to the bottom of what was causing  my personal form of chronic fatigue syndrome.

We worked slowly and surely towards reducing all of the various symptoms I had.  This time I listened and fully complied, finally making a  full recovery that took two years.  I hate to think what my life would be like today had I not met her.

Please leave a comment below.






  • roamy March 25, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Hello Ann
    Thanks so much for sharing, I read your post and felt like it had been written by me or was written with me in mind.
    I have suffered from chronic fatigue for years that is has brought my life to a stand still.
    Like you, I did not know what was wrong, I was this healthy, hard working, hard playing person so I could not understand why I was so tired without a good reason until after many hospital visits gave me an answer chronic fatigue syndrome.
    Over the years, I have learned to accept my condition, I now work in a different field that does not demand too much and was lucky enough to find a job very close to home and only work 3.5 hours a day. People do not understand that after only 3 hours at work I need 2 hours or more lying down to get my energy back enough to do housework.
    Your post was really helpful,just to know there is someone out there that really understand how I feel. thanks for sharing.

    • Ann March 25, 2018 at 11:40 pm

      Hi Roamy

      Chronic fatigue syndrome can be very debilitating. However it sounds like you have taken the first important step in recognizing you do have an illness, and you have adjusted your lifestyle accordingly. I hope as I continue to add new posts to my site you can find interesting information that msy help you.

  • Louise March 26, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Wow, what a story. It sounds so tough and I admire you for not only keeping going but knowing when to seek help and admitting to yourself that something needed to change. I’m so pleased you have made a full recovery!

    I am lucky to have never suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, however, I used to get very stressed in a demanding job and it got to the point where I knew it was having a damaging affect and couldn’t do it to myself anymore. I gave up the corporate lifestyle and now teach piano and write a travel blog – and I haven’t looked back since, it was the best thing I could have done for my health and happiness.

    • Ann March 26, 2018 at 11:28 am


      So glad to hear you realized the damage you were doing to your health before it led to any severe health issues. You are smart!! Great to hear the changes you made worked so well for you.

  • Olivia Anderson March 27, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    This is an extremely brave and self-less post. Reading this story will help so many people relate and hopefully help them to lessen their work load. As a cardiac ICU nurse, I see patients when they don’t take charge of their health the way you did. The only thing left to offer when symptoms are ignored and lifestyles aren’t changed is pain relief and advanced care options. At home I practice homeopathy, organic eating, exercise, and keeping my stress levels low. I am in total agreement and understanding of the importance of lowering stress.

    When talking about exercise, I have been guilty of doing heavy weight training and long running. After I had my first child, my body simply couldn’t do that anymore. As much as I wanted to. I have finally found peace in less strenous exercise that aids my body in health without taxing me too much!

    • Ann March 27, 2018 at 11:00 pm

      Hi Olivia

      Thanks so much for your kind words. In writing this story my hope was to engage readers and help them understand that they can find a way to heal from chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • Mick April 1, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing and I read your article with interest as it brought back memories to a time in my life, although it didn’t get as bad as what you have gone through.

    The difference being I got out early and took back control of my life and ended up going freelance.

    In your case, you were competing in a business arena dominated by men which wouldn’t have helped, not to mention working in a country that is so heavily polluted.

    It looks like you are on top of it, so my hat off to you.

    • Ann April 2, 2018 at 5:35 am

      Hi Mick

      Sorry to hear you were in a similar position, but happy to hear you recognized the situation you were was in was not doing your health any good. I guess it takes each individual their own time to “wake up”.

  • Lace April 8, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Reading your story and about your thyroid function, I wonder if you’ve looked into the iodine protocol? It’s not something I know about extensively but it’s directly linked to thyroid function and deficiency in iodine is widespread. Also, if you haven’t already I’d supplement with magnesium as this plays a huge role in energy levels and reversing fatigue. I wish you all the best.

    • Ann April 8, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Lace thanks for your comments and info. Yes those are both supplements I’ve used in the past. As with many chronic fatigue sufferers the thyroid was only one part of the jigsaw puzzle. It took a lot more work to fit all of the pieces together and finally recover.

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