#10: Curse or Blessing?
This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Freelance Traveller.
I’ve been struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis as it’s often known in the UK, for the last four years or so. It appears to be getting worse, though the decline is very slow. My workplace has made accommodation for three ‘stops’ a day, where for half an hour I’m supposed to lie down, relax body and mind, and not even read or listen to music. (This is remarkably hard to do for several reasons.) I’ve had to reduce my involvement in church activities, from leading an AV team to drumming and occasional preaching. I’m finding physical things (exercising or driving), and social things (big or small) increasingly exhausting. And, sadly, there’s no cure. Exercise regimes, special diets, drugs–nothing appears to work. The best the medical profession can offer at present is ‘management’ of energy levels (such as the ‘stops’). At least there’s general recognition now that it’s not “all in the mind”–an attitude you might have encountered a decade ago. I assure you it’s not. But you can imagine how difficult this is for someone in their 40s who ought to be in the prime of life, or how much it also impacts wife and children.
However, out of the darker moments I’ve experienced, there has been a surprising upside. I wrote last time about tablets as an aid to writing and creativity and that’s certainly been one factor. However, as I’ve reduced other activities in my life and had much enforced thinking time–sometimes I just can’t switch off!–as well as lying awake in the small hours unable to sleep because of pain or, ironically, tiredness, I’ve had more time to come up with Traveller support material from adventures and animals to vehicles and worlds. Indeed, I can fill ideas folders with far more than I can keep up with writing. I’m also sure I share with other writers the fear that one isn’t producing anything of quality, but I’ve been encouraged by the acceptance of articles by Mongoose, The Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society, and of course Freelance Traveller, to name but three.
It remains to be seen whether I can continue to referee at TravCon, given the drain of travel to the venue, attending the con and the utter exhaustion of running a four or six hour game. Booking a day off following the con helps, but not enough. But I’ll keep at it while I can. Meanwhile, one great thing about writing is that I can do it in my own time and at my own speed as strength permits. Of course, I would give up the CFS/ME tomorrow if I could, and healing may yet come, but it’s interesting to note this one unexpected positive that’s come out of it and I can only hope that readers have enjoyed some little piece or another to read, or to use, or perhaps even as an inspiration for their own creations.