Monday, June 6, 2011

Butterflies and Lilacs and Fibromyalgia, Oh My!

Photo by Cathy Mentzer
My favorite flowers and a beautiful close up of a butterfly by a Facebook friend.  Wow, I wish I had a camera with a zoom like that!  What an amazing shot.  Cathy, another huge thank you for sharing this picture with me!

I woke up today still being pummeled by the fibro flare that started on Friday.  My sleep has been fragmented the last few nights for various reasons.  The dog in particular has decided that barking at thunderstorms and the paper boy seem to be a good idea and has been waking us up.  Fragmented sleep is not good for anyone.  For me, it means I am useless the next day. 

After several nights of bad sleep, I start to look for manic symptoms.  My psychiatrist has told me that the single most important thing for a bipolar person is to get decent sleep every night in order to stay on an even keel.  With the fibro flare foremost in my mind and a recent hypomanic incident pretty much behind me, all I feel right now is simply exhausted down to my toes.  But it feels good that the hypomania is being used to accomplish good things now, as opposed to the more destructive manias of my younger 20's and 30's.  When I feel the energy now, I turn it towards something that needs to be done and do it. 

I was going around and around in my head this morning about what to write about today and the thing that kept pushing at the back of my mind was which came first - the depression or the fibromyalgia?  People with chronic illnesses are often depressed (for obvious reasons) but people with depression don't always have chronic physical illnesses.  The two things do not always go hand in hand, although they often do. 

It makes sense that you would feel depressed if your body isn't doing what it is supposed to be doing or you are experiencing physical pain on a daily, unending basis.  When the pain won't let up, it's right to feel sad and upset and down, right?  What amazes me is that not all people who have chronic pain are depressed.  How can you maintain a positive attitude when you hurt all over all the time?

I believe that for me, the depression came first.  I can remember struggling with it in high school, long before my first fibro symptoms showed up.  The mania came later and the mania and the fibro are in direct contradiction to each other.  When I am manic, my mind takes over and pushes my body to do things that I shouldn't be doing and will pay for later.  A good example - my decluttering frenzy over the last two weeks.  My psychiatrist told his medical student that this was a perfect example of hypomania.  (I love this doctor, but that was kind of demeaning.  I was sitting right there!)  When I get an idea in my head that something needs to be done, I have the compulsion to do it immediately and totally and so...the clutter in the house suddenly all needed to go right this minute.

But it took us almost six years to build up the clutter and why should I be able to declutter the entire house in two weeks?  It just isn't going to happen, but I really gave it a good shot.  Now, my body has shut down and insisted that I take it more slowly.  I have not wavered in my desire to get the crap out of my house.  I have simply realized that I physically have to do it a little more slowly.  Or a lot more slowly.

When I feel sad that I can't do much, I like to look at the picture at the top of this post.  It's the background for my desktop on my computer and it puts together two of the things I love the most on earth - lilacs and butterflies.  Looking at beautiful things can sometimes lift the depression.  It's hard to be sad when you are looking at something so wondrous, so perfectly created.  And the butterfly has come to symbolize so many things to me - Juliana's spirit, of course, first and foremost.  But also the fact that my spirit can soar like a butterfly even when my body is weighing and letting me down.

Writing today is kind of like slogging through wet sand...depression or fibro?  It's the chicken and the egg.




  1. Hi Chelle, I'm just checking out your blog to see what is involved in leaving a message for you.

    * Ah, I notice the Word Verification is turned on. That can be turned off in settings so there is one last step.


  2. Chelle,

    I know for me, the depression came before the Fibro. I got depression around age 14, and the Fibro was diagnosed when I was 20 or so. I know they tried to blame all my physical symptoms on my mental health, which may or may not be connected, but for me, later, the mental health morphed into Schizoaffective Disorder and now that has been a more serious issue to deal with than Fibro. I also have other health issues though, of course, like most people with these types of disorders. I think it's interesting how many people with Fibro have depression, and how many with mental illnesses also have chronic pain. I've read that the Fibro is not necessarily connected to depression other than that any chronic pain will make people depressed, as you said. I've also read that people with mental illnesses like Schizoaffective Disorder die 25 years younger than most other people, because of their physical health not being taken care of, for one thing.

    Anyway, I understand wanting to declutter your house. I have worked on this a lot in recent weeks myself. I get into spurts like yours, only I don't really get hypomanic much. At least, not that I am aware of. I do get into very bad clutter that lasts for very long periods of time before I clean it up, which makes it an overwhelming task! So I understand why you cannot clean it all in two weeks. That would be a tall order for anybody.

    I think it's great that you are working on your house when you can, and it might make you feel better to do so. I know it does for me, when it's done. Just try not to over-work yourself or get worn out, and physically have to pay for it later. Fibro can really be a killer when you overdo things.

  3. Thanks, Jen. I am so paying for what I did! I am not sleeping at night and having trouble doing anything during the day.

    I read your post about getting your sheets and comforter and curtains for your bedroom and I know exactly how you feel. I love it when my environment is comfortable and I sleep better when my sheets are clean.

    We don't have excessive, hoarding type clutter (except maybe our basement and the workshop area). I would say it's just the normal "stuff" you accumulate through living life. But I have so many drawers, cabinets, closets that are so disorganized and so many things that I have absolutely no need for and I really would like to be more like my mom - a place for everything and everything in its place. She has always been able to decorate beautifully without it being too much and you can always find anything you need at her house because she will know exactly where it is.

    Thanks for the encouragement and I love your blog, by the way! I am still wiped out and feeling it today, but it's still early. Maybe I will get up on my feet here soon.



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