Today I saw yet another media article about ME/CFS and whether the condition was real. There is nothing unusual about this, each week another handful of these are written. The thing that made me write today’s post however, was a comment response to the article that said that people with ME/CFS don’t have a sense of humour.
He is entirely correct. Where our health is concerned, ME/CFS sufferers do not have a sense of humour. There is a very good reason for this. Every week since my diagnosis I have watched new articles released in newspapers, magazines, blogs or on television all looking at ME sufferers and how convenient it is that none of their illness can be proved. Occasionally a positive article will slip through the net describing realistically what it is like to struggle through each day with such a debilitating illness, or that gives a positive reinforcement to the neurological/physical aspect of the illness. These positive articles are extremely rare, however, and the media as a whole seems to continually spawn articles that confirm in the eyes of the general public that people with ME/CFS are lazy, lying hypochondriacs or are in some way mentally impaired and requiring psychiatric treatment.
For a physical, neurological illness.
There does appear to be a distinct lack of articles telling the sufferers of other severe debilitating physical illnesses (like cancer for example) that they can be cured with a little psychiatric treatment, or advice articles telling people with AIDS that its all in their head and a little bit of exercise and self-esteem would make it all better.
Of course there aren’t articles telling the world that sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis just need a bit more fresh air and exercise and to stop being lazy. That would be considered rude, politically incorrect and insensitive. Yet ME/CFS sufferers have no such considerations as many of these articles or documentaries are backed by medical professionals. If only we could cure all the cancer victims in the world by telling them they aren’t really sick. We can’t. Just as we can’t cure the ME/CFS sufferers by doing the same. It is socially acceptable to continually belittle and demean the sufferers of this misunderstood illness which has already taken much of their life away. How dare they not see the funny side?
I don’t have a sense of humour about ME/CFS, just as I wouldn’t find jokes about AIDS funny, especially if I were HIV+. Surely that is a natural reaction?