Depression and Fibromyalgia

Depression, Posts, What is fibromyalgia?

Author’s note: A while back, I had a little help coming up with a post idea, and I wrote it up, but never got round to finishing it. Well, here it is, finally completed, more than a year later. Better late than never, I guess…

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My wonderful mother-in-law gave me an idea tonight whilst I was talking to her, so I decided to take her advice and write a post on it.

She told me that I should look into the effect that fibro has on my mood (and vice versa) to see if (and why) there may be a correlation between the two. My response is this:

Yes, fibromyalgia does have an impact on my mood. A BIG ONE. The multitude of horrible facets that fibro gives you; the pain, the tiredness, the forgetfulness, and so on, mean that it’s very difficult to stay positive. For me personally, antidepressants are a must, but there’s loads of other things I try to do on top of that to help me stay happy. I keep tidy (OCD plus chronic illness is a recipe for disaster), eat healthy, do things that I enjoy, and surround myself with positive people, plus many other little touches; all of which keep me happy(er). Obviously the odd low mood is inevitable once in a while, but I try to keep it under control as much as I can.

Furthermore, my mood ALSO has an impact on my fibro. We all know that having depressive symptoms can leave you feeling under the weather in terms of your motivation, but it also effects the physical body too. I find that when I am down, my pain levels reflect this and my energy levels drop as well. In addition, I have a greater sensitivity to temperature change, noise, and brightness, and my cognitive abilities begin to deteriorate. I can safely say that yes, my mood does impact my fibro, although why I have no clue.

Funnily enough, it shouldn’t be a surprise that my mood and my fibro are interlinked, as they are co-morbid with each other. This makes sense, since both are thought to stem from issues relating to the nervous system. Due to this, I have been prescribed a very useful form of medication known as an SNRI. If you are unfamiliar with these, they are a type of antidepressant which effects chemicals within the nervous system (serotonin and norepinephrine, to be exact), and has the simultaneous effect of dulling my pain and lifting my mood. Bonus.

Now, back to the original question, I can safely say that my mood and my fibromyalgia are interlinked, especially since they are co-morbidities. However, the exact reason as to why can only be explained with the development of fibro related research. As for now, we can only guess that it is due to neuropathic structures and the role of the nervous system. I wrote a similar post to this, explaining a few theories as to what causes fibromyalgia, so you might want to check it out here. I will also be writing a few more posts soon which will relate to this topic, such as what symptoms are common, what co-morbidities may be linked, and some more scientific explanations surrounding fibromyalgia.

In the meantime, let me know if you have any of your own science-y questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them (no promises- it’s been a while since my A-levels!). Likewise, if you think you have an answer, I’m sure we would all love to hear it.

 

This will help if you feel suicidal.

Depression, Help for friends, family, and significant others, Help for sufferers, Posts, Uncategorized

Having been away on a volunteer trip for the last two weeks, I somehow managed to mess up my antidepressants. Oops. I’ve been in a bad way recently, and most of my blog is on hold for now. However, I thought it was urgent to post this, so here goes…

This is what you should do if you find yourself in a similar situation; feeling depressed or even suicidal.

1. SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY.

Call a friend, a family member, or a helpline.

Having someone to talk to can help calm you down and rationalise what may potentially be an irrational bunch of thoughts. And besides, at least it gives you someone to rant to! Getting help can make a difference in what could potentially be a life- threatening situation.

I’ll add some useful helpline links at the bottom of this post for anyone who may need them, but a quick Google can do just as good.

2. Be mindful.

Practice breathing, focusing on your body, and acknowledging (and then dismissing) your thoughts. By spending a few minutes doing this, you can help yourself to relax and think more rationally. This is especially useful if you have no one there to help and have to rely on your self to calm down.

Another mindfulness trick I like is to count out loud three taps of my dominant thumb onto each finger of my dominant hand, starting at my pointer, working to my pinkie, and then going back along to my pointer again. Basically make a pinching motion three times with each finger and repeat until you feel calm. This helps you to focus on something physical, grounding you to the present.

3. Get to your safe space.

It is very important to find your safe space, somewhere where you can relax and feel comfortable. Often, this will be under your duvet, in the bathroom, or in another quiet place. However, if you are feeling suicidal, it is important that there is someone else available to you if you need help. I would advise that you have a ‘secondary’ safe space, at a friend’s house, for example, where you have the added benefit of another human for comfort and support.

When feeling severely depressed, this is a good method of reducing any external stimuli, which may otherwise impact any anxiety or bad thoughts that you may be experiencing.

4. Treat yo’self.

Eat your favourite food, read a book, listen to your favourite song, or watch a film. Whatever it is that helps you to feel better.

Personally, I like to hide under my bed covers (safe space) with a good book and loads of food (think: ice cream, chocolate, cheese, crisps), or I’ll run a bath and sit mindfully whilst it is filling. Locking myself in the bathroom with the noise of the tub filling gives me a chance to get away from the stress of the ‘outside world’.

Anyway, that’s all for today, but I’d like to round up by asking my usual request, let us know if you have something to share! And one last thing..

You are loved ♡

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International:

https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

https://www.befrienders.org/need-to-talk

UK only:

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.mind.org.uk/

********http://chronicallyme.org

Dealing with a diagnosis

Diagnosis, Posts

One of the first bridges I had to cross on my fibro journey happened when I had my initial diagnosis. You can probably relate: after days and weeks and months of consultations, you finally got a letter in the post. It isn’t anything special, in particular. Just a white envelope, stamped as usual and containing a message from the doctor. For me, it was what that message said which caused a problem.

My family and I had expected, if not hoped, that I would have fibromyalgia; not because it was the easy route, but because it meant that I didn’t have to worry any longer. What we weren’t expecting, however, was the impact that it would have on my mental state. Funnily enough, getting a diagnosis of a lifelong illness (and a painful one, at that) is a nasty experience.

I had a whirlwind of emotions that day; relief, regret, resignation, but most of all, it was the churning sensation in the pit of my stomach that hit me hardest. In the time it took for me to read that letter, my life had changed. I wasn’t the same person as I had been two minutes earlier. The bubbly, motivated, fast-paced girl everyone once knew and loved had been replaced by a walking misery.

Because how can you be happy when you have to spend the rest of your life in pain? What’s left to live for when laying in bed takes effort, and getting out of it is even worse? Why would anybody choose to spend the rest of their life suffering, knowing that there is no cure? It took me a long time to figure it out.

The answer is this: there is more to life than your own body and mind.

It’s selfish, I know, but as an 18 year old girl I only really knew what it meant to push onwards and upwards, to “achieve” and “progress”. For me, that had always meant a good career, a wealth of knowledge, and a secure home in which to build my empire. That was my future. What I now realise is that, as wonderful as all this sounds, there is more to life than the future. There is the now. Like that cheesy saying goes, “today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present”. It might sound silly, but it’s true. Don’t take what you have for granted and, likewise, don’t knock it. What you have is beautiful- the people, the places, and the sea of memories that you collect as you go. Most importantly, make the most of it. Don’t waste your time worrying about that thing you’ve forgotten, or why your fibro fog made you leave your keys in the fridge, instead, laugh about it and use it as an excuse to call your friend up.

So then, what does all this mean?

Well, at the end of the day, we’re all stuck here on this earth, and nobody really has it easy. Yeah, you might feel depressed, and yeah, you might not be able to make it downstairs today, but why let that get you down? Why be miserable when you can change that?

My advice to you? Change your today so you can achieve the tomorrow you’ve always dreamed of. But in the meantime, enjoy what you have, even if it’s only a handful of painkillers and a season or two of your favourite Netflix binge.