April 2002      





  1. Contests
  2. What's Online At CSSA
  3. The Fine Print


1.  Contests

The Essay Contest

The winner is in!  You voted for Essay #2, Taming the Shadow, by Mary Anne.  The essay is shown below.

Mary Anne will receive a $35.00 Watkins Gift Certificate!  Second and Third Place Winners, Jennie Floyd (#4, Letting Go of Work) and Gail (#5, My Life with Fibromyalgia), will receive The Fibromyalgia Chef, by Mark Pellegrino, MD, which was generously donated by Anadem Publishing. 


Entry No. 2

Taming the Shadow
by Mary Anne

I did not slide gracefully into ME/CFS. Between one day and the next, I lost everything that I believed defined who I was: job, cycling, travelling, active social life, memory. The first months were bearable, filled with doctors appointments, tests, phone calls, cards and emails from concerned family, friends and workmates. Through fevers, laboured breathing, deadweight fatigue, brain fog and dizziness, I spent my limited energy reassuring others that I was ok, just suffering a temporary setback. It was about nine months into the illness that I realized this wasn't going to go away anytime soon, not by willpower and certainly not by anything that my doctor prescribed.

None of my physical suffering created as much pain for me as guilt. It hung around me like a shadow, eating away at my self-esteem. I felt guilt over deserting my job, that I could no longer share bike rides with my husband or travel to our favourite getaways, that I had to drop nearly all social activities, even phone calls, and the worst - that I had succumbed to an illness surrounded by controversy, with a name that no one could agree on. It was guilt that pushed me to try harder and set inflexible schedules, leading to one relapse after another. After months of this behaviour and no signs of improvement, I was losing hope of ever feeling well again.

While watching a television program on lupus one day, I listened to a patient describe how on her worst days, all she could do is breathe in and breathe out and it helped her get through the pain. After trying so many remedies that either made me sicker or poorer, this gentle approach appealed to me. I would lie on my bed, focusing on my breathing, in and out. My mind would start to race, thinking of all the things in my life I had screwed up by getting sick; I didn't fight it, I just concentrated on my breath. As simple as that. Very slowly, through these moments of calm, I started to come to terms with my life as it was; not a life on hold but a life in progress. This was my reality and I had to accept it if I was going to heal emotionally. I couldn't control what was happening to my physical body, nor was I responsible for anyone else's anger or frustration over my situation.

My physical symptoms haven't improved greatly, but I'm a little more accepting of my body's limits. I still have moments of despair and feel the tug of guilt nibbling away in the background, but it hangs around less and I don't react with the same intensity as before. I'm committed more than ever to being the person I want to be, with or without a disability and most days, I like what I see.

The Puzzle Contest

Gail is also the winner of the puzzle contest and will receive Tired So Tired and the "yeast connection", by William G. Crook, MD. 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contests!


2.  What's Online At CSSA

Even though The Syndrome Sentinel won't arrive in your mailbox monthly, don't forget the many resources at CSSA's website, which will be updated with new information on a periodic basis.

We've recently added a petition to be presented to Members of Congress for May 12 Awareness Day on 'invisible' illnesses, a request for participants in a doctoral research study on FMS and CFIDS, as well as an article by Kathy Houghton called "The Thief of Many Lives".  It's an excellent article, well worth the read.

Please also visit The Fibromyalgia Community for the latest, most relevant information and reports.  The Fibromyalgia Community, a CSSA partner, also publishes a weekly newsletter containing information on FMS and the other 'invisible' illnesses.  You can sign up for the newsletter at CSSA or The Fibromyalgia Community.

At CSSA's website you'll find:

Books, videos and reviews on 'invisible' disorders.  As an Amazon.com affiliate, your purchase will help CSSA and its partners remain online.

Bedroom Talk with Kelly, a great place for information on how to successfully maintain your intimate relationships while living with a chronic illness.

The CSSA Pamphlet which is intended to be distributed or placed in public locations for those who may be unaware of these chronic illnesses or may not have internet access. The pamphlet is available at CSSA's website and may be downloaded with Adobe Reader in its actual format. It can be copied for distribution as long as it remains intact and in its entirety.  Place them in your local area (libraries, doctors' offices, hospitals, pharmacies, churches, etc.) to further spread awareness.

Back issues of The Syndrome Sentinel.  In most respects, the information contained in these issues is timeless, based on the current state of research. The cause(s) of these 'invisible' illnesses is still unknown, and there is still no cure.

Patient Resources, which is set up specifically for patients needs! There you'll find Information about Medications by Devin Starlanyl, info on a site run by doctors with FMS, a downloadable pamphlet from MCS Health & Environment, links to online support groups and a host of other valuable resources.

Articles of Interest on a wide range of topics.

Links to CIND Overlapping Illnesses, Fibromyalgia Syndrome, Chronic Myofascial Pain, Gulf War Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Syndrome/Chemical Illness/Environmental Illness, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Related Illnesses, Chronic Pain, Complementary/Alternative, Additional Resources, Disability, Spiritual Support websites.

We would like to acknowledge and express our thanks to the people or organizations who have so generously supported our efforts since 1997.

please donate

Your donation of any amount will help CSSA and its partners Awareness Efforts.  Click here to make a donation through PayPal.


Support the efforts of CSSA and its partners by purchasing your everyday health, personal care and home care products and popular holiday gift items through our WatkinsOnline Store, where you'll find something for everyone!


7.  The Fine Print

Health Information Disclaimer

CSSA provides resources for informational purposes. Health information should always be carefully reviewed with your health care provider. CSSA will not be held responsible for misuse of information or any adverse effects of recommendations stated in these resources.

Some resource sites that represent commercial ventures are included because they are also of informational value. CSSA does not recommend the use of any particular company or product.

The views or opinions stated in the resources collected here do not necessarily reflect those of the CSSA or its owner.  CSSA assumes no responsibility for any discrepancies or errors contained in these resources.

Other Legal Stuff

You are receiving this e-newsletter because you have expressed an interest in receiving news updates from CSSA, by specifically signing up for the newsletter from CSSA.

This is the last issue of The Syndrome Sentinel Thank you for your support over the years!



Support the efforts of CSSA and its partners by purchasing your everyday
health, personal care and home care products and popular holiday gift
items through our WatkinsOnline Store, where you'll find something for
everyone! Make your donations count and enjoy the process! If you
order by telephone, please use
CSSA's ID #328108.



Copyright 2002  The Chronic Syndrome Support Assn., Inc. All rights reserved.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.