Review: 'Through the Shadowlands’ describes Julie Rehmeyer's ME/CFS Odyssey
I should note at the outset that this review is based on an audio version of the galleys and the epilogue from the finished work. Julie Rehmeyer sent me the final version as a PDF, but for some reason my text to voice software (Kurzweil) had issues with it. I understand that it is...
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BBC-article distinguishes clearly between having ME and being burnout.

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Kalliope, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. Kalliope

    Kalliope Senior Member

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    This was an interesting read from BBC by David Robson telling about Anna Katharina Schaffner, who, after having suffered from exhaustion, decided to explore its history with her book "Exhaustion, A History".

    The article describes the phenomenon as something rather common for today, but also of its history, the difference between depression and burnout, neurasthenia etc.

    While reading the article I was waiting for ME to get mentioned, and sure enough it was. However, the passage surprised me:

    "...Nor should burnout be confused with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which involves prolonged periods of excruciating physical and mental exhaustion for at least six months, with many patients reporting physical pain at the slightest activity."

    I take it as a sign of movement forward in society concerning understanding ME as a disease. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2016
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  2. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    "Anna Katharina Schaffner"

    I seem to remember thinking her work was pretty rubbish. Difficult to see how anyone could do a worthwhile job of a 'history of exhaustion' though.
     
  3. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    Earth
    1900 - "Tired"
    1910 - "Still tired"
    1920 - "God, I'm knackered"
    ...
     
  4. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    2016 - "I must be tired as I'm not working beyond.my best abilities. Hand me my nootropics"*

    *Does not apply to our community. We aren't "just tired". I take nuvigil for a good three hours of being at 60%.:(

    Edit. I will let those who are more talented fill in the gaps.
     
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  5. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    1956 - "Bloody hell, I could do with a kip"
     
  6. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    Fish? :lol:
     
  7. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    My hunch is that burnout may be just a milder manifestation of ME/CFS, possibly triggered by the same viruses such as coxsackievirus B and echovirus that are associated with ME/CFS.

    When the enterovirus that triggered my ME/CFS spread to family and friends, there was noticeable personality change in most people — changes which to some degree resembled burnout syndrome.

    The main symptoms of burnout are more or less all found in ME/CFS (but ME/CFS has many more symptoms tat are not found in burnout).

    The three main symptoms of burnout syndrome are:
    It's interesting that emotional overload occurs in burnout syndrome, because we see very similar emotional overload and emotional sensitivity symptoms in ME/CFS.

    The stomach pains and digestion issues of burnout are probably a direct result of an enteroviral infection; a lot of people who caught my virus developed chronic recurrent stomach pains.

    And the sudden appearance of cynical attitude is something I noticed in many people who caught my virus.

    And lots of people with my virus started having memory problems, and word recall problems.
     
  8. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    While the type of burnout you reference may be seem prior to me/cfs, how many people have these burnout symptoms yet rest and recover.

    Wht would it be CFS/ME verses other diseases that may cause the same symptoms before becoming full blown?

    I think they are not the same and if they are it would be in a tiny percentage.
     
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  9. Horizon

    Horizon Senior Member

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    I think with proper rest, lifestyle and stress management burnout could be handled whereas the same isn't true for CFS. Its interesting to compare them but they aren't the same in my opinion.
     
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  10. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

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    For me, the term "burnout" refers to something very mental. Usually related to giving your emotional all to a job, vocation or cause, and just feeling like you can't any more. Often associated with a sense of disillusionment (although maybe not always). It resolves with relief from the task/job and a change of scene. A nice trip to Europe, perhaps. Its got absolutely nothing to do with CFS or ME. Unless people accidentally mistake real CFS for mere burnout.
     
  11. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

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    They do and that's the problem.
     
  12. Kalliope

    Kalliope Senior Member

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    I don't think putting burnout, chronic fatigue, neurasthenia etc into the same category as ME would do anyone any good. Here is a google-translated interview (from 2013) with a Norwegian doctor/historian who wanted to look into the history of chronic fatigue. But as she doesn't clearly distinguishes between ME and other diagnosis (neurasthenia), I really can't see what we can learn from this..


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2016
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  13. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member

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    The thing about looking back at the history of exhaustion is that you are looking through a lens of someone else's perspective or understanding. All you have to go on is their writing and opinions. What you are really looking at is attitudes to conditions that have exhaustion as a symptom.
     
  14. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    The symptoms of burnout may be mental, but that does not mean the causes are mental. The cause could be something physically amiss in the body, such as a chronic infection throwing a spanner in the works of the central nervous system.

    The problem with many psychiatrists and psychologists, as we know, is their over-eagerness to ascribe psychological / psychosocial causes to mental symptoms (ie, they say the cause is something unhappy in your life), and their tendency to overlook possible physical, biological causes of those mental symptoms.

    Just as in ME/CFS, if you are studying burnout syndrome, you need to look at the possible physical, biological causes, such as viral infection, etc.



    So you are suggesting a psychosocial etiology to burnout syndrome? I think we need to be looking at possible biological causes.



    I don't think burnout syndrome has been well studied, so I doubt the long term course of burnout syndrome has been examined much.

    I can tell you from my own experience of my enteroviral infection (likely coxsackievirus B4) spreading to 30+ people, that even a decade after people contracted my virus, there is no sign of anyone substantially recovering from the personality changes induced by that virus — changed that included increase pessimism and cynicism, and easily frayed nerves and emotions. These all appear to be long-term or permanent neuropsychological symptoms precipitated by a Coxsackie B virus.

    I think people often do change jobs when they are hit with burnout syndrome; but I don't think the syndrome resolves; it's just that people will choose a new job that has less responsibilities, places less burdens on their mind, is less stressful, and is less ambitious.

    So they then appear to be coping better, but I think that's just because they have moved into a much easier job.



    My own experience of what a ME/CFS-triggering enterovirus can do when it infects others around me indicates there may well be a connection between burnout syndrome and ME/CFS.

    I saw that lots of classic ME/CFS symptoms suddenly appeared in these 30+ people who caught my virus.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  15. Kalliope

    Kalliope Senior Member

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    Agree. And the funds used for these explorations could and should have gone into biomedical research.

    Here are som pieces from a google-translated interview (from 2014) with a Norwegian professor in sociology who has taken an interest in ME. But as long as she doesn't distinguish ME from other diagnosis, I can't see how her work can move things forward for ME-patients, which is so desperately needed.


     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
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  16. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

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    @Hip, then you don't believe that people can "burn out" from their work alone? Entirely due to feeling overworked with no ongoing biomedical illness? I do, we see it all the time in clinical psychologists. They don't have ME or any illness, they've just given all they have to give and can't give any more. They usually go and do something else for a while or go part-time for a while.

    What I think we need to do is keep that concept separate from CFS/ME. Its something entirely different.
     
  17. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Senior Member

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    I don't know that I agree with that. I got very burned out from a job I had, but once I left the company, I recovered quickly. Viruses had absolutely nothing to do with it - I was over worked, worked for a family business with one set of rules for the family, and another set for the employees, and because I was the office supervisor, somehow it was my responsibility when one of the bosses kids screwed up (kids in their mid 20s to early 30s).
     
  18. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    It's not so much that I don't believe this is possible; it's just that the general public and psychiatrists alike automatically assume a psychosocial cause to burnout, without any investigation into possible organic illness underpinning it. I question this widely-held psychosocial assumption, and would try to encourage more research into organic causes, especially viral infection.

    Traditionally lots of mental disorders (eg, schizophrenia, bipolar) have been assumed to have a psychosocial origin, but biomedical research is now showing there are organic, physical abnormalities in the brain and body of patients with these disorders. I think in the future, we will find abnormal mental symptoms and mental disorders are primarily underpinned by organic, biological factors, much more than psychosocial factors.


    Often with burnout stories that you hear of, or read about in the newspapers, people in high flying jobs were doing very well, and loved their jobs, and got a great buzz from the stress and excitement of their work. Then often within a very short time, suddenly, everything changes, and the stress they were previously thriving in just a few months earlier now becomes a horrendous burden they cannot cope with.

    Outside of extreme PTSD-causing events, my feeling is that someone cannot go from functioning very well and getting high on the stress and excitement of the work, to suddenly not being able to deal with it at all. I think this occurs too fast to be psychosocially-caused. I suggest a much more likely explanation for such sudden burnout is that the person caught a neurological virus, and this screwed up their high performance and high functioning brain.

    This study looked into the link between burnout syndrome and infection. It found that those with burnout tended to report flu-like illnesses and gastroenteritis prior to the onset of burnout. So this study provides evidence that infections may be the cause burnout.

    I think more research needs to be done on this burnout–infection link.



    I am not equating burnout to ME/CFS, although there is some interesting similarity of symptoms. But what I am saying is that burnout is likely caused by contracting a viral infection, and it may be that the same viruses that are associated with ME/CFS (like coxsackievirus B, echovirus and Epstein-Barr virus) will also be found associated with burnout.



    Are you sure you had burnout, and not just disillusionment with your particular employer? I have had one or two jobs that were quite soul-destroying because of the miserable work, miserable environment and miserable people, and I was so happy to leave those jobs, and felt much better when I did, but that's not burnout.

    A closely related phenomenon to burnout is nervous breakdown. You come across stories of people who for years were doing very well with their work: with their career going well, or running their own successful and expanding businesses. But then completely out of the blue, they are hit by a nervous breakdown, and can no longer cope with their career, or can no longer hold the reigns of their own business. They inexplicably become riddled with anxiety and/or panic attacks, and their minds are no longer the master of the situation, so suddenly they can no longer cope with the work that some months earlier they had no difficulties at all with.

    I think this sudden, out of the blue nervous breakdown / burnout, that can occur almost overnight, is most likely the result of catching a neurological virus, which affects the brain and nervous system. The speed at which nervous breakdown / burnout hits I think is too fast to be explained by psychosocial factors.

    If it were psychosocially caused, you might expect a slow gradual degradation in the ability to cope, perhaps appearing over decades. But with nervous breakdown / burnout, people can be fine one month, and then in a terrible state a couple of months later. To my thinking, only the contraction of a neurological virus could explain such a rapid change of brain functioning.
     
  19. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Senior Member

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    Trust me, Hip, it was burnout. When a person is working insane hours, not taking breaks, taking work home and working evenings and weekends, there is only so much shit a body can take before it says ENOUGH. And I did that for a couple of years. Yes, it was burnout. Not a virus. Not disillusionment. And it wasn't a sudden occurrence. I had friends for months try to convince me to quit my job because they could see that things weren't right with me.
     
  20. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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