Hi. I have started a relationship recently with someone who has had chronic fatigue for a couple of years. She tells me that she is feeling a lot better in the last while. I'm not sure how I can give her support with this though as I can't imagine what having CFS is like. Is it better to give someone space in a rough patch?
Personally, I wouldn't want space, but maybe just to hang out. I have to be careful of the energy I expend, and when I do expend energy, I like to make it worth while.
Lounging on the sofa with some favorite foods or watching a movie together is good for me when I can't function. Being somewhat horizontal is a tremendous help.
I wish I could be of some help, because I've been trying to help my husband and friends understand.
Be there for her, and also understand when she just needs to take it easy.
Nachos, I applaud your desire to support your girlfriend, and your initiative in asking for input. Way to go. It's hard to be dating when you have CFS, because you want so badly to be "normal" and you never know how people are going to handle it. I've had some boyfriends who were fine with it, and could appreciate all the great stuff about me, even with my limitations, but also had one that said he couldn't keep dating me because he wanted someone who could go hiking and biking with him (I was well rid of him!) So...my advice is to ask your new gf how you can be most supportive. Ask her what you could do together, that wouldn't make her symptoms worse. Try to focus on the great things about her, one of which may be her courage in dealing with CFS and trying to live as normal a life as possible, within the circumstances. This illness CAN cramp your style, but like any difficult situation, it can make people emotionally stronger, more compassionate, and more able to appreciate small things in life...like a boyfriend who just likes to be around them, even if they're not feeling so well. Good luck!
I met my husband during a few months of feeling dramatically better only to move in together 3 months later and then go back to my usual fatigue, pain and so on. I tried really hard when I met him to explain I was doing really good at that point but couldn't say if it would continue. I didn't want to become a burden is what I kept telling him. I really wish he would have been more interested in learning about what I deal with, so good for you! Ask your GF if she has any books she really likes that are helpful for understanding CFS, make sure she's read them first as not every book out there gets the message across the same way she may see it or feel it. Then take the time to at least read important sections. My husband still really doesn't understand and gets upset about the house being a mess or me not getting things done on occasion but I know he is most happy when my mood is better (= I feel better) so I forgo doing some things in order to be able to do things with him. Just remember if she does the same it doesn't mean the mess doesn't bother her too but she is placing you as an importance in her life. It is a real give and take on energy. I rest all week so on the weekend we can at least do something together (we both like movies so we rent alot, order pizza or take out alot, and he even drags me to the movie theater and it does feel good to get out without it being something I have to overly exert myself at and I don't have to fake how I feel in a movie theater-key though is that he drops me off at the front and then deals with finding parking on his own!) Weekdays I sleep as late as I want and do mild clean up sometimes. When things are really bad my mom comes and cleans at least once a week. I don't really discuss how much I sleep with him because he doesn't comprehend that I need that time to rest up. Weeknights he does his thing on his computer, I make a very simple dinner and he never complains no matter what it is. I have a stool in the kitchen that helps me while I'm in there. I also use it to make him a lunch for work, just a little touch that to him,shows I care to put the extra effort in our relationship even when I don't feel good. It is important to give space when she needs it but be upfront that you want her to be honest when she needs it and when she needs to be comforted. You don't want to assume she needs space when she doesn't and have her think you're becoming cold or backing off just because she's having a hard time or relapsing. It is important to find things you both enjoy that is easy for her to do and really make sure you enjoy that time together. When she feels good don't let her over do it as it risks relapse but do make sure during that time to do special things that she normally wouldn't feel up to. My husband and I have 2 shows a week that we both watch and we do it together (usually laying on the couch) and it is a sort of time we can connect plus we always talk about our day or whatever is on our mind for about 15-20 minutes after we crawl in bed. I don't know where you relationship is but one thing I love is bubblebaths and my FM feels better when I take one so some nights I'll take up to 3 sometimes my husband visits me other times he knows it's my way of getting away like on weekends when I need a little me time. My husband and I have found relaxing in a hot bath a couple times a week is a nice time for us to unwind together (without it having to be sexual.) He even washes my hair for me sometimes. I can't tell you how much that helps when I'm just too fatigued to keep my arms up to suds up all my hair and then have to try to rinse it all out! The key as with every relationship is communication but it's even more important when one of you has CFS to be really open about expectations. I wish you good luck in your relationship, you've gone out of your way to look for advice and that is really impressive.