Dealing with Shame in Chronic Fatigue

I spent much of my early days during my illness feeling numb. Nothing else, just numb. After I’d gotten a little bit better, all I felt was shame. Shame, anxiety, inexplicable guilt and shame. People talk about anxiety and guilt and fully admit to being in these states, but no-one seems to talk about shame. Why is this?

We’re ashamed of shame.

If you feel ashamed, you feel weak and vulnerable. You feel helpless and hollow. Shame feels gut-wrenching- it can pull the life-force right out of you in a second and it’s happened to me more times than I care to think about. It means you can’t speak up for yourself, so you sink back down. You can’t be courageous, so you decide to stay small or worse, invisible.

I am a huge, huge fan of Super Soul Sunday with the fabulous Oprah Winfrey, and have been an avid watcher and admirer of Dr. Brené Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability and shame. I was inspired to write a post about what I had learned and I still feel I learn so much about vulnerability every day. So, when Oprah announced that she was interviewing Dr. Brown on Super Soul Sunday, my heart leapt into my mouth. I was excited, but most of all….I was anxious and scared. I knew that a lot of my struggles during and post-CFS were founded in shame. This talk found me out- I couldn’t hide any more, and I still can’t.


Shame in Chronic Fatigue

I was ashamed of what people thought of me, even those who I knew were just concerned. Ashamed of my lack of career. Ashamed of being sick as such a young age. Ashamed of letting myself get ill. Ashamed of living at home again after leaving for University. Ashamed of now being me. Ashamed of being sick with anything, even a cold, after I was ill. Ashamed that someone would see me looking less-than-perfect leaving the house after a bad night’s sleep. Ashamed of letting people down, including myself. Ashamed of thinking negatively and being judgemental, towards others and myself.

Ashamed that I’d already wasted too much time and it was too late.

If you are in any way nodding along or feeling anything as you read these words, I implore you to watch Oprah and Dr. Brené Brown’s talk on shame. This is the 2nd part in a 2-part series, with the 1st one still being completely unbelievable and revolutionary, yet reassuring. Dr. Brown’s words are truly a revelation and I’m sure people all over the world are standing up and feeling her message. Brené is such a glowing, beautiful soul, fiercely intelligent and funny- it’s a pleasure to watch her speak about such sensitive subjects.

Shame is ok. Shame is not a weakness. Work with it and love it. Learn from it.

Unfortunately, this talk is no longer available on Super Soul Sunday, but watch out for re-runs in the near future!

In love and truth,

Katie    xx

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  12. This is a wonderful post, and totally and completely hits the nail on the head! Thank you! Absolutely love Brene and Oprah and SSS :) For me, as I’m sure for many of us, the prevalent misconception that CFS is psychosomatic has really accentuated my already nasty habit of hustling for approval. I’m so ashamed when it starts feeling like the evidence of my “laziness” and “weakness” is piling up and I can’t hide it anymore – no career, no income, no workouts, no social life, etc etc. I know – well some deep, lovely part of me knows – that my worth has nothing to do with what I do and produce, my mile time, my social connections, my bank account. But OUCH it is a loooong painful journey breaking away from those flimsy, false markers of self worth, coming to peace with what is lost, and digging out the true self from beneath all that hustling. Ultimately my true self is so much more loveable that all the accomplishments ever were; now if I could just keep her in sight long enough to weather the shame storms!

    • “Ultimately my true self is so much more loveable that all the accomplishments ever were”- bless you my love. Shame is such a difficult one to handle, and it isn’t an emotion we ever feel comfortable feeling or admitting to feeling.

      Sending you lots of love- thank you for sharing- xxx

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