Hope for the Helpless!
By Paul Shearstone
One might think that because I am a Chronic Fatigue Survivor,
caring for others battling this insidious disease, would be easy.
Sadly, that is not the case!
In my book “Until You’ve Walked the Path” about
with CFS, I refer to Danny, a good friend of mine that made a
miraculous recovery from years of Chronic Depression. With the
right medication and treatment from the Homewood Clinic, Danny
finally found his way back to the light and put his depression
behind him. That was a decade ago.
Recently, I received news that Danny had slipped back into a
depressive chronic state to the point where he needed hospitalization.
For whatever reason, Danny had decided to go off his medication.
In a tiny white hospital room on the third floor with no TV,
no pictures and barely enough space to hold a single bed, I visited
my friend. He had already been there for a week. He looked terrible!
Our conversation was strained and mostly one-sided. I understood
and empathized due to my own firsthand experience with his condition.
When one is that depressed, simple conversation is often a chore.
Nevertheless, I persevered or more aptly put, we persevered.
While we talked, I found myself reminiscing the feelings I had
back in the early 1990’s when doctors knew little about what
once coined the Yuppie Flu — a disease most people at the
had trouble believing was even a disease at all. Malingerers!
That’s what they thought we were. How more wrong could they
I remembered how fatigued and depressed I was and how difficult
it was to articulate the gravity of my condition to others. And,
for those fortunate enough to have never experienced ‘Real’ depression
believed the tough-love “Suck-it-Up Soldier” to get
over a little
despair should surely work — shouldn’t it?
No… it never does.
As my conversation with Danny grew more one-sided, I found myself
trying hard to be patient and even harder to hide any sign of
impatience from him. It was then I caught my reflection in a tiny
mirror on the clothes cupboard door in his room. Seeing the look
on my face made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I had
seen that face before. That distinct, exasperated expression,
I had witnessed years ago on the faces of my family and caregivers
who loved me enough to genuinely want to help, but felt so totally
helpless in their efforts to do so. And, after all that, there
I sat, this time, fortunately, on the other side of the fence,
but nonetheless, feeling equally helpless in my efforts to help
Chronic Fatigue / Depression does not limit itself to the individuals
who suffer from it. It also takes families, friends and loved
ones hostage, rendering them unwitting victims to its demoralizing
What makes this all so potentially worrisome is the recent statistics
from studies done by the AMA and the CMA that purport: One in
four people in North America are currently suffering from some
form of Chronic Fatigue and/or Depression and eight out of ten
of us will do battle with these diseases in our lifetime. Many
will give up and lose the battle.
On a more positive note, those afflicted with these challenges “Can” recover.
I am living proof. Clearly, specialists today are
much better at diagnosing and treating these problems as is the
success rate from medications now widely available that can be
tailored to suit the express needs of any individual.
The most important advice I can give is for sufferers to seek
out the right specialist IMMEDIATELY! Time is of the essence when
it comes to chronic issues like Fatigue or Depression. The longer
one takes to address the problem with the right treatment, the
longer and more difficult it is to recover from it.
The second most important issue for those affected or those caring
for it, is, Don’t Ever Give Up Hope! If you address the problem
with the right prescription and management, renewed health — the
experience of simply ‘Feeling Normal’ again — is
As for Danny, he has a challenging road to recovery ahead of
him. Where he is now and the medication he’s receiving is
right solution for getting him back to where he needs to be. It
won’t be easy for him or his caregivers, but it will happen.
/ they, have done it before.
My advice to caregivers is, the best medicine for your friend
or loved one is your patience, your understanding and your steadfast
belief that they can and will get better. Remember that the Helpless
will look to you, to embolden their Hope! •
© 2005 Paul Shearstone
About the Author
Paul Shearstone is President of The CFIDS Foundation of Canada
He is an International Keynote Speaker, Author, Writer, Motivation,
Sales, Time & Stress Management Specialist. Paul enlightens and
challenges audiences as he informs motivates and entertains.
comment on this article or to book Paul for your next successful
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contact Paul Shearstone directly @ 416-728-5556 or 1-866-855-4590 www.success150.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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new book, “Until
You’ve Walked the Path” please visit www.paulshearstone.ca [also
available at www.Amazon.ca and www.Chapters.ca]. 09/04/05