Tuesday 19 March 2024


Crashing is what people in the M.E. community refer to when they experience a flare up of symptoms, usually quite significantly.

This is what a crash can look like: You become more hypersensitive to sound, light, touch, smells, even small amounts of sensory stimulation can be difficult even physically painful. Pain levels increase and energy levels decrease even more than usual. Muscles weaken, ache and spasm, you struggle to tolerate being sat up so you have to lay in bed, your immune system goes down and you experience cold and flu-like symptoms.

A crash can last a day, a few days, a week or two, or even months. Crashes are usually brought on by over exertion or an illness or such thing. Sometimes especially for those with severe M.E. even a small amount of ‘overdoing it’ can trigger a crash.

Living with M.E. is like walking on eggshells as I don’t know what will trigger a crash or when I will crash and when I do crash I don’t know how long I’ll crash for or how severe the crash will be. Sometimes I can predict a crash such as when I had my last surgery, when I was in the process of moving, when I leave the house, but I still don’t know the severity or length of my crash. Sometimes even just having a tidy up in my home and over exerting myself that way will lead to a minor crash lasting a day or two. Leaving the house definitely leads to a crash.

Sometimes I crash immediately afterwards like if I’ve overdone it on an activity and then I’ll spend the rest of the day and the next in bed with zero energy, in pain etc. Other times the crash can have a delayed onset, like it won’t hit me until the following day.

For me crashes are the hardest aspect of living with M.E. and they’re difficult for so many different reasons. The first few I’ve already mentioned: the heightening of my symptoms, the unpredictability in lots of ways. Also the emotions, like upset of the amount of pain and fatigue I’m in. FOMO: the Feeling Of Missing Out, frustration and regret wishing I hadn’t done what caused my crash but also frustration at my M.E. plus the isolation as well as grief. Then also there is the challenge of needing more support from my care team (PAs and carers) as I’m not able to do as much myself so there’s more reliance on their support taking away my independence and dignity. Finally with long term crashes there is always that worry and questioning ‘is this my new normal now?’ when the crash is no longer a crash but how things are for me from now on.