Family and Friends

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a serious and complex disease marked by numerous symptoms including post-exertional malaise (PEM), disabling fatigue, problems with information processing and memory, flu-like symptoms, pain in the joints and muscles, dizziness, nausea, sleep disorders and headache.

Strong support from family and friends is very important to people with this debilitating and poorly understood illness as they work to integrate the challenges of ME/CFS into their lives.

The keys to helping a person with ME/CFS are education, communication and emotional support. Stay informed by reading our publication archives, visiting other areas of this Web site where you’ll find detailed information and strategies that will help you as a ¬†caregiver, partner, family member and friend. Our hope is that the information here will help you learn to adjust and thrive in spite of a chronic illness.

Keep the lines of communication open and listen. Your willingness to listen will help validate and acknowledge the seriousness of the disease. But be cautious about your well-intended comments that may be perceived as insensitive. Instead of saying “I know how you feel. I have a lot of the same symptoms as you,” keep your comments constructive and caring such as “I’m sorry that you’re feeling so poorly.”

Be as understanding and kind as you can, reassuring the person with ME/CFS of your love and support. Try to continue to enjoy activities together, modifying them as necessary to create a new “normal” with your friend or partner. You can also show you care by helping in tangible ways; things like running errands, balancing the checkbook or walking the dog.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that ME/CFS also presents challenges and brings changes to your life. Take time for yourself and give yourself credit for being there for someone who needs and appreciates your love and support.

Related Information

  • For Those Who Care¬†Fact Sheet (pdf)
  • Family Member Stories
  • Association publication archives
  • Tips for Parents