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How Fibromyalgia and Depression Are Like the ‘Chicken and the Egg’

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This is a post I have been thinking about for a while but couldn’t decide if I wanted to actually write it. Writing about my physical illness is hard enough, but my mental status feels even more intimate. Can I make myself even more vulnerable than I already have? Can I say anything that would be helpful to anyone else, or will this just be an outlet for myself? These are important questions to ask because although I get to let my feelings out in this blog, I want to do it in a way that helps others. So, let’s look at the connection between fibromyalgia and mental health.

First, we must accept that fibromyalgia and mental health is one of those “chicken and the egg” type of situations. Are people with mental illness more susceptible to fibromyalgia or vise versa?

I have lived with depression for a very long time, possibly my whole life. I was always a shy child and often felt alone. However, as a teenager, my depression went to a very dark place. The depression was so debilitating that I couldn’t even feel anymore. I turned to harming myself just to feel something. Granted the feeling was pain, but at the time it seemed better than numbness.

With the help of my mother and a therapist, I was able to pull myself out from the darkness. However, it would not be the last time I would go there. I have been so depressed that I thought dying would be better than my current despair. Thankfully, I never took that step. When I had my first child, I think I experienced postpartum depression but was so used to feeling depressed that I didn’t realize I needed help. In this case, my beautiful daughter was the one that pulled me out from that darkness (and I’m not sure she even knows that).

This last year has been my first huge fibro flare (since diagnosis in 2014) that I have had the worst time overcoming. Depression and fibromyalgia feel so similar sometimes that it’s hard for me to tell which one is affecting me. They both make my body, mind and spirit hurt. The pain feels like I have heavy rocks strapped to my body and I’ve been thrown in a body of water. At first, I fight it, but then I get so tired, so overwhelmed, I just let it take over me.

Both these subjects, fibromyalgia and mental health, mean so much to me since they affect me so personally. When I reached out on social media to see if there was anyone else feeling the way I did, I was blown away by the responses. It breaks my heart how many people not only are fighting fibromyalgia but mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It is important that we talk about these subjects openly and honestly.

Please do not feel alone. If this post has triggered you in any way, please reach out to me. I am not a physician and this post, along with any of my posts, is not intended as medical or mental health advice. Please seek the help of a professional if you are experiencing any physical or mental illness.

A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog.

Getty Images photo via AntonioGuillem

Originally published: December 3, 2019
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