Christchurch Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Sufferer Told It Was All In Her Head



By Oliver Lewis in


An estimated 16,000 to 20,000 people in New Zealand have chronic fatigue syndrome. Despite this, the debilitating condition remains poorly understood. OLIVER LEWIS reports.

Gillian Watson calls it the year she forgot.

The Christchurch woman was struck down with flu in the latter half of 2015 and never really recovered. She didn’t know it at the time, but looking back she thinks the illness was the trigger for her chronic fatigue syndrome.

By 2016, she had left her job, exercise made her feel worse, and she was sleeping more and more. An eloquent, well-educated woman, Watson went from dealing with complicated math to struggling to balance her household budget. She was living in a haze.

“It doesn’t exist for me,” she says of 2016. As well as the cognitive and energy issues associated with chronic fatigue, she was also living with sleep apnoea, a serious sleep disorder. “It was like white noise. I was living with white noise, constantly.”


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