|Photo by Cathy Mentzer|
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.