A Very Guilty Pleasure


“Guilty Pleasure: something, such as a film, television programme, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.” Google

I would personally expand this to: anything you derive enjoyment from but that you feel embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed to admit to others.

Everyone has guilty pleasures. It could be something you watch or listen to, activities or hobbies, things you eat, things you buy. I know I have various guilty pleasures and – shock horror – not all of them are related to ME/CFS. In fact I’d say the majority have nothing whatsoever to do with the condition. However, the one I’m going to share with you today does.

Shared experiences are important to people. Having just one other person understand what you’re going through, how you’re feeling, makes you feel that little bit less alone, maybe not quite so different. It’s a bit of a weird thing though, because although people can go through the same things – an illness, the highs and lows of a particular job, the triumph of achievement, the loss of someone they love – each person will ultimately experience and react to the event in slightly different ways. And no-one can really know how someone else feels.

For ME/CFS sufferers that dual weirdness of knowing/not knowing goes double, because even if someone else has the condition (and knowing you’re not the only one is something of a comfort) you will most likely have very different symptoms from each other. Also, depending on your situation and personality, you cope differently.

I am getting to the guilty pleasure bit, honest.

A few years ago there was a Christmas bug going round, and two people I know got it. I think it was the same one because they got ill about the same time, got better about the same time, and had similar symptoms bar one. One of them said it was like their brain stopped working: couldn’t concentrate, had difficulty finding words and talking, basically they struggled to do much of anything. The other said they could think but had no energy.

I said, put the two of you together and that’s how I feel when I get ME/CFS ill. Only it tends to last twice as long as you’ve had it. They stared at me. So long I started to worry. Suddenly I was engulfed by sympathy and questions and wow, they never knew. . .watercolor-1904317_640.jpg

More recently I overheard someone talking. They were saying they’d been feeling so tired the last few weeks- No, not tired. Drained. Like it was too much even to think of doing something, and nothing helped. I was about to go on my way when I heard them continue with: ‘if this is anything like how she feels I don’t know how she stands it.’

I knew they were talking about me. It made me feel like crying.

So that is perhaps my worst guilty pleasure. I don’t want other people to feel bad or be ill, and I certainly don’t get any enjoyment from their suffering, but  I can’t help feeling a certain thrill of something when I think someone really realises a measure of what I go through with ME/CFS. I wouldn’t wish this condition on anyone but at the same time, if they could feel it just for a day, a week, people would have such a better understanding – and appreciation – for it. It’s one of those things, ‘if you could walk a mile in my shoes. . .’

(Images from Pixabay)


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