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March 01, 2007

The Invisible Illness


Over the years many medical professionals have wondered whether Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is actually a real disease. But now things have changed. The Center for Disease Control announced in 2006 that the condition isn't "merely" psychological, that it's real.  It's also launched a $4.5-million public awareness campaign.

Never in my nightmares did I imagine I would be disabled at 35 and forced to move home with my mother and accept disability income. -Julie Levy

Julie Levy was a successful pharmaceutical representative when she was diagnosed with what was then called the "yuppie flu".

Julie's first reaction was laughter and disbelief.  Then the life-altering effects of her condition became increasingly pronounced and she got depressed. But she's since learned to live with the disease, and now she's able to laugh again.

Katrina Berne is Julie's clinical psychologist. Katrina knows first hand how debilitating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be, because she has it as well. She talks to Dick about her journey from being a Type A personality to a Type "Z-z-z (sleepy)."

During the first 2 years of the illness I did not know slowing down was an option. I tried to fight through it and assumed it [CFS] would go away.

-Dr. Katrina Berne

  • Read Julie Levy's essay on living with CFS and see her painting
  • Find out more about Katrina Berne
  • Learn more about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME here and here
  • Find out more about the CDC's Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Campaign 
  • Do you have CFS? Find out here
Music heard in this story:
Blackberry Winter (Take 9) and Treasure Island, both from the album Priceless Jazz Collection: Keith Jarrett
Little Girl Blue from the album Keith Jarrett Trio: Tribute

Keith Jarrett also has chronic fatigue syndrome.

Your Story - Touched By Kindness - Halima Voyles

Halima Voyles grew up in Pakistan, the daughter of a diplomat. Last summer, she went back to one of her family's homes for a visit, and was disappointed in herself when she realized she couldn't remember any of the domestic staff's names.  But she'll never forget one staff member, the household driver, who showed her an incredible act of kindness that Halima continues to find both humbling and exemplary.

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