Wednesday, 21 September 2016



Hello! I'm Jen. I was born in the early 1980s. I'm a Pisces. I have an irrational hatred of astrology. That picture is of me planting native plants in an old shopping trolley. I'm turning an old swimming pool into a frogprog. I live in Tasmania, which is why I am wearing a wetsuit. 

Just in case you are not my facebook friend, and a random stranger on the other side of The Internet who has no idea who I am (to tell the truth, I have only hazy ideas about who some of my facebook friends are), I thought I would introduce myself, because I the blogs I like the best are those in which the authors are most candid. I am quite awed by how brave some people are in putting themselves out there for all the world to see. I am quite open about having chronic fatigue, as I feel no shame in it, however there are many other things that I probably won't reveal, because there's people I don't want to hurt or embarrass. (Ummm, mainly myself). So here we go. The Great, but Partial Revealing of Myself to The Internet.

Oh what the hell, since I already put the effort into writing it, why don't I just copy and paste the paragraph I wrote about myself for an Internet dating site, 3 or 4 years ago, after the conclusion of a 9-year relationship that occupied the most of my 20s. (The half-hearted foray into Internet dating hasn't yet yielded any luck, but I have tried to give a few blokes a lesson on HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION. Bloody hell, there are a LOT of lame conversationalists out there. But that, is another story). So, “LOL”, here it is: 

What makes me happiest is living in Tasmania, getting outdoors, riding my bike, walking up mountains, sea kayaking and body surfing in the wild southern ocean. I also quite enjoy eucalypt forests in the mist. I love hanging out with people who care about sh*t and do things. I am alternative-thinking and concerned about the state of the world. I'm in into growing food, ecology, yellow gums, sustainability projects, transition towns, the post growth economy, community events, laughing, games, fun-for-free, food experiments, friends, sharing and looking at clouds. And yes, I have been known to hug a tree or two. I'm dressed and furnished from the tip shop and I'm not interested in being anyone other than myself. I'm down to earth, practical, earthy and always honest. I'm really quite happy - I've got lots of great friends, interesting projects, and I live in Tassie, my favourite place in the world! So apparently nowadays internet dating is the way to find something other than your trusty hot water bottle to keep you warm in winter. (Although I do have a fantastic hot water bottle cover. It was knitted by a CWA granny and its got spotted quolls on it). So here I am giving online dating a go. How awkward.  I much rather prefer hanging out with real people, walking on the mountain and going swimming at the beach than spending time on the computer, so sorry if I'm really tardy to reply. And please note, I'm not interested in anyone who doesn't compost, and I probably won't reply to you if you just say "Hi" in a message").

Ha ha! Hilarious. I thought about deleting the bits about hot water bottles and being awkward for this blog, but actually, I think they're quite funny, so I'll keep them there. (Ha ha! Take that awkwardness and embarrassment! You are revealed to The Internet!)

So until recently, life for me was all about having loads of wild, exuberant fun in the outdoors in Tasmania, trying to save the world through organic food co-ops, community gardens and tip shops, working as a track ranger in the wilderness, studying an online diploma of science teaching, wondering how I was going to find a new boyfriend. 

But now it's not just me in my life! I have a co-inhabitor! And no, its not the type I was hoping to find on the Internet dating site. Its a GODDAMN VIRUS! The Epstein Barr Virus! AKA glandular fever! AKA 'the kissing disease', and I didn't even get to snog anyone!!! Or at least it is remnants of “The Glandj”, (as I affectionately call it), in the form of post viral fatigue. And for reasons still unknown to science, I now have HARDLY ANY ENERGY and I feel sick when I try to exercise. I can't do any of those things that I used to use to define me as a person! Ha ha! How hilarious. Its like a great universal joke or something, except I don't believe in that sort of stuff.

So here's most of what I spend my time doing nowadays:

  1. Sleeping
  2. Lying in bed
  3. Restorative yoga (aka lying on the floor)
  4. Crocheting beanies and jellyfish for my friends whilst listening to ABC radio national podcasts
  5. Reading kids storybooks (adults books are way too hard and serious).
  6. Sitting in the bush out the back of my house watching my chickens dust bathe, watching ants and sometimes pretending I'm sitting under the water in a kelp forest. 
  7. Hanging with my housemate's dog
  8. Looking through my binoculars at the mountain. Aka: Adventures on the mountain from Bed!
  9. Sometimes, if I'm lucky managing to do the basics of looking after myself like shopping, cooking and cleaning.
  10. Learning how to ask for help for the basics of looking after myself
  11. Meditating, or trying to
  12. Feeling frustrated and sad and scared and worried about having chronic fatigue
  13. Feeling zenful and at peace about being a slow person instead of a busy person, and enjoying that I get to lie in the sunshine and I don't have to go to work, and that being slow and unbusy is kind of rebellious. 
  14. Checking facebook on my smartphone a million times a day and wishing people would be more interesting
  15. Writing things

(Here is me reading Lassie to Shasta the dog.)

Right now it is September 2016. This time round I got fatigued in March this year. Its been 6 months. But I've had it 2 times before.

The first time was during the winter of 2011, and I don't remember much about it, except that is was a stinking horrible flu that took 3-4 months to fully recover from. 

The second time in January 2015, when it was diagnosed as the Epstein Barr virus. That also took about 4 months to recover from – starting from when I first noticed something was weird: “ Hmm. I don't want to go swimming in the freezing cold Tasmanian ocean, which is usually my favourite thing. And I'm tired in a weird sort of way. Something is not right”, to when I declared myself fully better, as I was able to ride my bike all the way up the very steep Hobart hill that I live on without stopping, and feel awesome and only 'normal tired' at the top. (I'm not bragging, but you've got to be a pretty fit and healthy to do that : ) : ) ).

In between stints of “the glandj” and until this time too, I have been disgustingly healthy, charging about doing all sorts of ridiculously outrageous, adventurous, exhausting and fun things. Rafting the Franklin, volunteering on an organic garden project in Indonesia for 8 months, 3 weeks of nonstop bushwalking and swimming in the northern territory, sea kayaking around Maria Island, jumping on trampolines, riding my bike everywhere, playing games, studying, working, composting, gardening, having a lot of friends, swimming in the ocean, buying a house and turning an old swimming pool into a frogpond. 

Both previous episodes of glandular fever were pretty uncomplicated. I got sick. It took a long time to recover, but my progress was sure and steady. The second time I even enjoyed myself. “It's just like a holiday in slowtown, it's quite lovely, I'd even recommend it if you need a break” I said. Huh.

This year in March, towards the end of my season working as a track ranger, I started to feel the now familiar fatigue again. I assumed I'd just be down and out for 3-4 months again, maybe less. But 6 months in and I've probably just had my lowest, crappiest month yet. I am a Long Long way from Healthy. (You can read some of my other posts, especially the one called “The Worst of It”, to see how battered about I'm feeling at the moment.)

But I'm learning stuff. LOTS of stuff. And hey, what should I do with all my TIME, but write yet another Chronic Fatigue Blog for The Internet? Everybody with Chronic Fatigue is doing it! While some are mundane, several have actually been really helpful to me and I'm really grateful to their authors. It's reassuring to have my symptoms validated by other people, and to hear some really valuable insights and practical tips from others who've been down the pathways and pitfalls of chronic fatigue. 

So. There you go. That's me, my life AND the Epsteinn Barr virus.

Its nice to meet you, in an Internetty sort of way, and if anybody enjoys what I have to say, then I am greatly honoured : ) My best regards, Jen

PS. The three best CFS blogs I've read are
  • Green Girl Fights Fatigue (practical)
  • Turning Straw into Gold by Toni Bernhardt (Buddhist.)
  • Health Rising (Science).

THANK YOU to their authors : ) 

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