Depression is listed as one of the secondary symptoms of Fibromyalgia and it is fair to say that I have at times fallen victim to it. However, I don’t think the Depression I have experienced is purely a side effect of the Fibro, but something I have lived with even before the Fibro reared its head. In this post, I am going to look at the relationship between Fibromyalgia and Depression from my perspective and also what others say about it.
What Depression means for me
My version of Depression, that I have sometimes experience, is a much milder version of Bipolar which one of my immediate family members suffers from. To be exact it is the rapid cycling version. Because it is so mild it is not even to the level it required discussion with a medical professional. I am simply self-aware enough to know it was happening. I am lucky in that, in general, I control it rather than it controlling me.
A typical experience would be having an idea to do something and it would feel amazing, I could picture all sorts of fantastic results coming about it I did the thing… then a very short period of time later (anything from minutes to a few days) it would suddenly seem completely pointless and be of zero value.
Looking back on these experiences, it is frustrating to know that quite often the idea I quickly dismissed was carried out by someone else to great success. I would say there is a very fine line between low level of depression and imposter syndrome. I still deal with imposter syndrome now but recognise it as that and there is no sense of low mood attached.
My Fibromyalgia and Depression Experience
So a typical response is that I want to do something. I am mentally feeling great about this and seeing whatever the activity I want to do as being massively beneficial. Then I go to do the activity and find that the Fibromyalgia pains won’t let me or the exhaustion sets in quickly and I have to stop the activity. This experience causes my mood to drop quickly. I feel really low about myself for a while until I think of another less physically challenging idea and then I am on the rise again.
In general, I am quite lucky. Although I may crash into these small pools of depression quite regularly, even several times a day. It is rare I stay in them for long, if I stay down for a whole day or two that is rare indeed although hard to manage. I have my own mantra that I’m sure you have heard me use before:I have lost so much physically to Fibromyalgia that I refuse to allow it to control me mentally Click To Tweet
Meditation to reduce Depression
Yes, I am once again going to make reference to the fact I have started meditating each day. I should be sponsored by Headspace, lol. Since I have started this practice there is a real sense of separation between Fibromyalgia and Depression. I am far more able to deal with pain reducing my activity without being effected by a low mood. Wouldn’t it be good if my subscription was covered by the NHS? I have heard that people have had it prescribed for short periods of time, but as anyone who meditates knows, to be effective you have to continue with the practice.
Fibromyalgia and Depression in others
Depression at it’s worst
For many people who suffer from Depression either as a symptom of Fibromyalgia or as a separate condition. It is mentally crippling, even life-changing and yet so many people are still unaware of the symptoms of it. How to recognise these symptoms in themselves or others. Thankfully the stigma attached to admitting you are suffering from depression or other mental health problems is gradually reducing.
What is and can be done to raise awareness
The Time to change campaign has grown massively in recent years and they now have a global impact their mission is singular, to help end the stigma of mental health. The Heads Together Campaign is also doing fantastic work to help reduce the stigma of mental health. Building a relationship with the Football Association was, I believe, an inspired move. They are able to reach a community who, I imagine, includes individuals who were probably the furthest away from understanding and respecting mental health.
The charity Mind is providing support in numerous ways including the use of creatively which I think is fantastic. You can find out about their Crafternoon fundraisers here. What is better than taking part in a craft event which as a mindfulness activity itself assists your own mental health. Whilst at the same time raising money to help those who are in real need.
Unfortunately one of the restrictions of my Fibromyalgia is that I very rarely get out (other than going to work). So I don’t get to participate in these type of events. But I do have my own personal mindfulness creativity and that includes my colouring which I talked about here. Here are the images I have coloured as a mindful activity (as opposed to the colouring I have done as part of cardmaking.
Avoidable Fibromyalgia and Depression experiences!
I don’t know if you read my post, Can Fibromyalgia Kill Me? When I was researching this, I was shocked to hear about the people who had tragically taken their own lives due to the lack of pain medication. A lot of this was caused by the epicentre of the opioid crisis. I have some (relatively low level) opioid medication which I take at my worst times. I am also pretty far removed from an example of a healthy person. However, my logical response to this is, which is better? A person taking painkillers which are not good for them? Or a person in so much pain that they can see no way out but to end their lives? How did this ever escalate to what it became?
I would love to hear from others about their experience of Fibromyalgia and Depression. Do you experience depression? What works for you? Why not drop a comment below and share your story? We are, after all, all in this together.