Depression & Hope
When dealing with chronic pain, depression is inevitable. There is no way anyone can live in constant pain and not be depressed. The trick is to keep the depression under control and not let it control you (whenever possible). I understand that sometimes so many factors converge upon us at the same time that a deep depression is sometimes inevitable, but my hope is that some of the tips below may help you avoid the "black cloud" as much as possible.
There are many triggers to depression that everyone should be aware of and should avoid:
Emotional stress. Everyone has occasional emotional stress, but if it is a constant in your life, you NEED to look at what is causing it and find a way to eliminate or reduce it. I know it sounds easier than done, but in truth, I have done it and it does help. Was it easy? NO. It was painful and it is still an issue, but it has reduced the level of the stress in my life drastically. When I realized that my husband was never going to even try to understand this illness and not make an effort to, and I had to make a decision to split with him. It has been hard because I really do love him, but it has also been very healthy for me emotionally. I no longer feel bad about myself, as he isn't there to constantly remind me of what I am not able to do. There are m any people in your life that can put you into constant emotion turmoil (not just husbands) and each case is different, but just taking a serious look at the problem will help you to start the process of "digging out" of the hole of depression.
Allergies . Exposing yourself to allergens will put an added stress on your body and will cause depression. I have serious food allergies and when I stray from my special diet, I become depressed. Corn especially depresses me (and its in everything as corn sweetener). If you have not been tested for allergies, I urge you to do so. It is one of the easier things to do to help reduce depression.
Giving your power away. My last message was about personal power. When you give it all away you will become depressed. Learn to stand your ground and don't let anyone suck the life out of you. Practice at "reading" people and learn to avoid or confront those that intend to steal your power. Anyone who is interested in learning more about personal power can read "The Celestine Prophesy" if you haven't already. I think its one of those books that everyone can benefit from re-reading every few years.
Feeling sorry for yourself. It sure is easy and tempting in our situations to feel sorry for ourselves, but please trust me on this one, it could put you into a tailspin that you will regret. I went into a tailspin a few months ago; I was feeling so down and so sorry for myself that as a result, I kind of lost the last few weeks of my dog's life. He passed away during a period when I was feeling very sorry for myself. While I could have been rejoicing in his life, I was feeling sorry for myself and not spending as much time with him as I would normally have. He had a great life and I loved him dearly, but I do feel bad that I lost that time with him. When I look back at that bout of depression, it seems like nothing compared to the pain I have endured after losing him. Please remember to honor and cherish every living soul in your life every single moment - and please try to avoid feeling sorry for yourself . I know this is difficult to do and harder to recognize, but ask yourself this when you are down in the dumps: What would do if you lost someone dear to you or a catastrophe occurred---how would you feel then? Would you look back on that bout of depression as real and necessary or as feeling sorry for yourself? Maybe that will help you get some perspective.
Medications. I am convinced that most of us need to be on antidepressants in order to function. If you haven't found the right meds yet, please don't give up. Keep trying to find something that helps. Be assertive with your doctor if what you're on doesn't work or has unpleasant side effects. There are so many meds out there--there has to be something that will help, even just a little. Sometimes it is a combination of meds that is required. Whatever you need medication wise, please make sure you get it. Don't give up or just stop taking your meds.
Money. Its not worth being depressed over. If you are broke, what does spending your energy on being depressed going to do about it? Spend that energy in a positive way to find yourself some money. Faith in the Universe is necessary; I have always found that when the chips are down, something will always happen to pull me out of the hole. There are many things that we could do if we had money (pay the bills, fix the roof, an operation that someone needs), but if we don't have it, being depressed won't help. Make the best of what you do have and remember that God provided plenty of food for the birds to eat, but He doesn't drop it into their nests. Please remember this when reading this - I am broke and I understand the stress it could cause me if I let it.
Miscellaneous. There are more events, people and conditions in life than I can possibly mention in this message that could cause depression, but please, if you are extraordinarily depressed, please take a hard look at your life and try to pinpoint the reason(s) for your depression. Most of them can be dealt with. You just need to recognize them and then take some action. If you are going through a break-up or the loss of a loved one, that is understandable. You need to go through that. It is when you are living a day-to-day life and you are extraordinarily depressed that you need to try to find the reasons.
Hopelessness. This is also a huge hurdle to overcome. Lainie sent me a beautiful message about hope today and I am printing it here because I think it is so important to keep hope in our lives. We will get better, we will be out of pain, we will remember things, we will not have to contend with depression all our lives.
Here is a poem that focuses on hope instead of hopelessness:
If you can look at the sunset and smile,
YOU are an important part of the Universe; YOU are loved. When depression strikes, remember that you have friends. I don't know of any FM patient that wouldn't help you. I am here for you and so are many others.