Article Index

Chronic disability and the inability to work

Your experience with ME/CFS and FM and the inability to work often falls into one of three categories:

1. Your illness is of moderate or lesser severity so you are able to continue working over a continuing length of time without making the illness worse—but often only if there is some reduction of work load/work tasks.

2. You become acutely ill with severe symptoms that do not improve, and despite trying to continue to work at your job, you find out fairly quickly that you cannot do it. You are so sick that more and more days must be taken off. After some weeks or months, despite determined efforts, you make arrangements to work part-time with a less strenuous set of work tasks. Finally, before too many months pass, you find you cannot keep the job under any conditions.

3. You, who after becoming ill, continue to work over a long period, sometimes years—although you are often very sick. You come home exhausted, have a quick dinner, and go to bed—only to repeat the pattern. For economic and or other reasons, you continue to make superhuman efforts to work. But the illness remains severe, and these efforts often prevent any chance for slow recovery. At this point, your body begins to give you no choice but to stop working. Or, before this point is reached, you realize that to continue working is truly jeopardizing your long-term health, and it would be better to stop working in order to try to facilitate recovery over time.