Having M.E. can be thought of as similar to being a house of cards. You know how as a kid (no matter how big or small!) you’d find entertainment from a pack of playing cards, balancing them against each other in triangles and building it up layer upon layer? I don’t suppose kids do that any more and I’m probably just showing my age, but still.
You spend time slowly, painstakingly carefully putting these cards together to form a ‘house’, but the slightest breeze can cause it to collapse. You then set about picking up the cards and start putting them back together, building it up again. Hoping you will get nearer to the top of the card house this time round. The bigger you aim, the harder it is to achieve.
With M.E. you spend time slowly, painstakingly building your life back together; managing your symptoms and balancing rest and activity. But it just takes the slightest knock (a virus, stress, sleep deprivation etc.) and it collapses around you. So you have to pick up the pieces and start putting your life back together, building your activity level up again, ever so slowly and carefully. Hoping you will get beyond the point you did last time and be able to do that little bit more, for a little bit longer, possibly even recover.
Not every knock takes you back to where you started; some are like one level of a house of cards coming down, while the foundation layer, or more even, remain. Other knocks lead to a more substantial collapse of the house.
Living well with M.E. is a balancing act of rest and activity in order to keep your health the best it can be, and like a house of cards, it is nigh on impossible to reach the top and stay there unless conditions (atmosphere, environment etc.) are perfect.