‘It’s like being a slave to your own body in a way’: a qualitative study of adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome, by Berit Widerøe Njølstad, Anne Marit Mengshoel & Unni Sveen in Scand J Occup Ther. 2018 Apr 1:1-10.
Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a relatively common disabling illness in adolescents that may limit participation in daily life.
This study explored interactions between the illness experiences of adolescents with CFS/ME, their occupational lives and expectations for the future.
Seven adolescents with CFS/ME were interviewed. The interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Three themes were developed. ‘Being ruled by an unfamiliar and inexplicable body’, which illustrated that altered and strange bodies seemed to separate and disrupt the participants from their former occupational lives. ‘On the sideline of life with peers’, which demonstrated that the informants spent time at home, doing undemanding activities instead of participating in activities with peers. ‘A coherent connection between present and future life’, which was reflected by how the participants eventually accepted their situation and rebuilt a meaningful occupational life and value of self.
CFS/ME made the body unfamiliar and disconnected informants from participating in their usual daily occupations. A coherent interaction between body, occupational life and social self was achieved by taking their new body into account and adjusting their occupations accordingly. This practice enabled the participants to hope for a better future life.