International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day – May 12, 2023

International Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E./C.F.S.) Awareness Day is observed every year on May 12. It is a day to support and recognize people with M.E./C.F.S. and other chronic immunological and neurological diseases by raising awareness and providing useful information. The holiday was created by Thomas Hennessy, who also lived with M.E./C.F.S. May 12 was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who experienced symptoms of what many believe to be M.E./C.F.S. or fibromyalgia.

History of International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day

International Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E./C.F.S.) Awareness Day was observed for the first time in 1993. May 12 was decided as the date by Thomas Hennessy to observe International M.E./C.F.S. Awareness Day because it commemorates the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She also displayed symptoms of an illness with resemblance to M.E./C.F.S. or fibromyalgia. In an interview in 2008, Hennessy explained, “After reading Byron Hyde’s great book on the history of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, I decided to look up his hero’s birthday, and lo and behold, May 12 was Florence Nightingale’s birthday. (…) I decided that her birthday, May 12, would be the day.”

The annual awareness campaign not only raises awareness about M.E./C.F.S. but other chronic immunological and neurological diseases (C.I.N.D) as well, such as fibromyalgia, Gulf War syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, Addison’s, Alzheimer’s, and Lyme disease, among others. The purpose of the campaign is to increase public awareness, educate people about the symptoms of the aforementioned diseases and advocate for more research funding.

M.E./C.F.S. is a chronic, long-term disability that causes unusually severe fatigue after a person exerts themselves. This fatigue is not relieved by rest and occurs even after minor physical, mental or emotional exertion which the person could easily carry out before the onset of the illness. Other symptoms include joint pain, unrefreshing sleep, headaches, dizziness, nausea, depression, stress, anxiety, thinking problems, difficulty concentrating, pain, and worsened memory. This disease affects a person’s quality of life and limits productivity. In some cases, chronic fatigue may last as long as six months. However, the exact cause of M.E./C.F.S. is unknown.

International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day timeline

1820
Nightingale is Born

Florence Nightingale is born in Florence, Italy, on May 12.

1987
Hennessy Develops M.E./C.F.S.

Thomas Hennessy becomes ill with M.E./C.F.S. after a severe battle with the flu.

1993
Awareness Day is Established

International M.E./C.F.S. Awareness Day is observed for the first time.

2006
The C.D.C Steps In

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C) mounts an educational campaign to raise awareness about M.E./C.F.S.

International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day FAQs

Is there a cure for M.E./C.F.S.?

There is no known cure for M.E./C.F.S., but treatments are available to alleviate symptoms.

Do people with M.E./C.F.S. recover?

Yes. In fact, 40% of M.E./C.F.S. patients recover after several years.

Who discovered M.E./C.F.S?

Reports of an illness that bears similarity to M.E./C.F.S. were first published by Sir Richard Manningham in 1750.

How to Observe International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day

  1. Spread awareness

    The purpose of this holiday is to spread awareness about M.E./C.F.S. and similar conditions. Many people are still not aware of the existence of these diseases so spread the word by posting information online and talking to people you know.

  2. Wear blue

    The main color of International M.E./C.F.S. Awareness Day is blue. Wear a blue shirt or a blue ribbon to show your support for the cause.

  3. Donate

    Fundraising and donations go a long way in helping patients with M.E./C.F.S., as well as providing funds for research. Donate to a charity today.

5 Things You Should Know About M.E./C.F.S.

  1. Women are more susceptible

    Women are four times more likely to be affected by M.E./C.F.S. than men.

  2. There are risk factors

    Inactive and overweight people face a higher risk of being impacted by M.E./C.F.S.

  3. Public awareness is low

    About 84% to 91% of people with M.E./C.F.S. are not even aware that they have it.

  4. Average onset age is 33

    The average onset age of M.E./C.F.S. is 33 years, though it can influence those who are much older or younger.

  5. M.E./C.F.S. patients are vulnerable

    Many people living with M.E./C.F.S. experience social isolation and depression.

Why International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day is Important

  1. Awareness is created

    Awareness of M.E./C.F.S. is so low that most of the people affected by it are not even aware that the illness exists. This day helps to spread awareness about the illness so that those suffering from it can get a proper diagnosis and embark on the journey towards recovery.

  2. Myths are debunked

    One of the problems faced by people living with M.E./C.F.S. is that they are often misunderstood by people who believe they are “faking it.” This holiday helps people to understand that M.E./C.F.S. is a real illness and not a figment of the imagination.

  3. Support is raised

    This awareness campaign encourages people to provide support to patients of M.E./C.F.S. by donating. The funds raised can be put to good use for research and treatment for those who can’t afford it.

International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day dates

YearDateDay
2023May 12Friday
2024May 12Sunday
2025May 12Monday
2026May 12Tuesday
2027May 12Wednesday

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