Living in a Permanent State of Unrest

Imagine getting sick, and never getting better. That’s the reality of millions of people all over the world who suffer from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, AKA Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Like my UCTD, it’s an autoimmune disease, but with some key differences. Still, I can relate to a lot of the things filmmaker Jennifer Brea deals with.

When Jennifer asked if I’d like a screener of Unrest, I was thrilled. Not only was this a chance for me to learn more about ME, but it was also another opportunity for me to advocate for people like us—people living with invisible illnesses.

A woman lies with medical nodules attached to her head for neurological tests.

Unrest is too relatable. I nodded throughout the entire documentary, and cried quite a bit too. Like me, Jennifer went through a long period of going undiagnosed and untreated because her doctors didn’t believe her. Like me, Jennifer wonders if she’s bringing anything to the table in her marriage. And like me, Jennifer lives for the moments when she can push herself, even if she knows she’ll pay for it dearly.

While Unrest taught me a lot about ME, immunology, and the daily lives of people living with ME, it also made me fully appreciate that Jennifer filmed the entire documentary from her bed. That alone is impressive, but I’m also in awe of how much information she gathered. Let’s face it: it’s hard to get data on autoimmune diseases. Jennifer did it, though.

No one knows disease like a patient.

A woman suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome receives an EEG.The only thing I disliked about Unrest is how much it reminded me of my own situation; I hate that there are so many of us living with these debilitating diseases, yet modern medicine is barely beginning to understand how to help us. I see this as a good thing, though, because it’s my hope that able-bodied people will watch this documentary and gain a bit of an understanding of what people like us go through. Maybe it’ll make people uncomfortable enough that they won’t make assumptions about ME and other invisible illness patients.

Despite depicting the pain of living with ME, Unrest ends on a promising note.

Patients living with diseases like ME might be bedridden, but when we gather our collective energy, we can accomplish great things. It’s through our yearning for better lives and the support of dedicated physicians that we’ll continue to make advances.

Unrest is available for digital download (you can buy your copy here). It’s also available for streaming on Netflix starting January 15th.

Disclaimer: I was provided a screener of Unrest in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed in this post are my own. I’ve also included affiliate links, which allow me to receive a small percentage of your purchase.