12 Reasons Why Fibro and Mental Health Issues Coincide

Sunday, May 12th marks the beginning of Fibromyalgia Awareness Week. Coincidentally, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. So, for now, Fibro and Mental Health have a bright spotlight placed upon them. This is great, bringing attention to a disease that ravages the life of 6-12 million Americans alone, adding many of us to the 44 million Americans who suffer mental health conditions. I wish, however, that this spotlight shone the rest of the year and that sufferers, providers and those that they love had better insight into how these two life altering illnesses directly coincide with one another. And a bright, halogen, flashing, disco spotlight should be shone, because Fibro sufferers commit suicide at a rate of ten times that of the general population.

So why does a disease, now proven to *not* be strictly a mental health condition, so dramatically affect the mental lives of Fibro sufferers? Here’s my take:

  1. There’s no cure. So that’s it. An acme iron is dropped on the heads of sufferers once a diagnosis is finally made and that’s it. No cure, no hope. It paints a pretty bleak life picture for those afflicted.
  2. Lack of disease specific medication and/or treatment. As of this moment, there are no FDA approved drugs specifically created for the treatment of Fibro. That often leaves us relying on anti-depressants, anti-malarials, anti-epileptics and anti-anxiety medications. As for treatment; the same disastrous cornucopia of non specific alternative treatments apply: Accupuncture, Yoga, Therapy, Reiki and Meditation.
  3. Loss of life. Most people I know with Fibro, including myself, report a widespread loss of life. Employment, family, friends, financials and hobbies all typically fall by the wayside as sufferers contend with widespread, multi system, unpredictable symptoms that make their old lives difficult or impossible to sustain.
  4. Financial burden. I wish now, 8 years later, I had kept a running tally of the overall cost of being sick. Between the loss of income, doctor visits, medications and alternative therapies, it’s well over 6 figures for me and not improving any time soon.
  5. Social isolation. Many of us can no longer work. Some of us have difficulty driving. Most all of us have difficulty being “dependable”; all for reasons completely out of our control. As work and friends begin to dwindle and sufferers become more reliant on being home, social isolation and loneliness sets in.
  6. Social stigma. Fibro is one of the very few, if not only, illnesses that is often not believed. It’s sufferers are labeled fakers, drama queens or people just interested in “living off the system”…..I struggle to understand ANY of this line of thinking. WHY on earth would we fake???
  7. Wide range of systemic symptoms. Most patients suffer from a wide range of symptoms, such as: pain, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, vertigo, migraines, fainting, clumsiness, brain fog, temperature sensitivity and difficulty speaking (shall I go on??). The wide breadth of symptoms, affecting various parts or processes of the body, make it even that much more difficult to control.
  8. Unpredictability of symptoms. Just yesterday, I got all excited and dressed for my BIG outing to Lowes. I was all excited to finally get out of the house. Ten minutes into the drive, we had to turn around so I could go home to bed. I was fine one second and desperately in need of getting to my bed the next. It makes even a trip to Lowe’s impossible.
  9. Vulnerability of patient. I have always been an independent and headstrong woman. Well, until now. The unpredictable symptoms and often severe, widespread issues, render even the most bull headed of us vulnerable. Trying to carry on as before just isn’t possible. Things as simple as getting groceries or running to the mall often become huge hurdles and make us wary of ever trying to do these things on our own. That dependency on others can be quite terrifying for those of us used to being self sufficient.
  10. Lack of specifically trained medical professionals. We often get kicked around from provider to provider, chasing a myriad of symptoms, across multiple health disciplines. While Rheumatologists often end up treating patients, I now rely on my Primary Care Physician for most of my treatment.
  11. Lack of professionals understanding the correlation of wide ranging symptoms. I can’t tell you how often I see a Doctor and have to deliberately ask how this current health challenge is affected by my Fibro, or if it will trigger my Fibro or that specific symptoms are interconnected. It’s often me explaining the disease and it’s widespread effects.
  12. Lack of support. Often, we lose family, friends and coworkers. It’s tremendously difficult for us to keep up with people who have no limitations. Likewise, those without limitation often find it difficult to understand constant cancellations or modifications that need to be made.

I am not necessarily sure that I have articulated ALL of the issues comprised from having Fibro. What I am hoping, is that I have well highlighted a few that contribute to, or cause, the anxiety and depression that also accompanies Fibro. For most of us, our lives have quite literally been turned upside down. It can be a very lonely life to try picking up those pieces alone. This isn’t a one month of the year issue. Mental health and Fibro are a 365 day triathalon of pain, suffering and illness. So as our lights shine on it, this month, please remember that next month we will still continue to suffer. Be kind to yourself if you’re sick; be compassionate and understanding. If you are not sick, please remember: we didn’t choose this and we are doing our best.

As always, I will be pulling for you <3 Stace

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Fighting with Fibro and Living With Purpose. Mom, Wife, Blogger and animal lover. Fighting with Chronic Illness on a minute by minute basis; sometimes winning.

16 thoughts on “12 Reasons Why Fibro and Mental Health Issues Coincide

  1. people never see the every day effects .i, have m.e .ibs..migraines .long list health issues .i take part in a

    lot lot research peoples views/judgements are very Snotty Nosed

    my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com

    1. It can be really tough to handle other people’s opinions of what we live with. Since we can’t change other people’s opinions, I don’t have those people in my life anymore. Anyone I don’t know, who makes judgements-well, that’s on them. We never truly understand what it’s like to live in another person’s shoes. <3

  2. Wow. I rarely look at statistics, so I was blown away by the numbers. I think you came up with a great list of contributing factors. I think nutrition also plays a big role and we get so many comorbidities that affect the CNS and our hormones. It’s a really complex problem for us! Thanks for shedding some light on it.

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle. You are so right, there are so many contributing factors that go into it, including nutrition. And with so many comorbidities, they all sort of collectively gang up on you. Every day can be a real battle!

  3. A brilliant way to show how fibromyalgia is so much more than the physical side of things, it can have a significant impact on other areas of our life and affect our mental health in ways that many don’t necessarily consider. You’ve raised excellent points and I found myself nodding to all of them. It’s a sad nod, as I wish nobody had to experience these things. No cure, loss of so much in our lives, finances & ‘career’ related stuff (I find this a huge worry & trigger for me since losing my job), stigma, lack of support even within the medical profession it’s still hard to find those who know much/anything about it (and some who still don’t seem to believe it exists!)… I think you have covered these brilliantly & this is a must-read for those without the condition to get a better feel for damaging mental health impact this can have.

    1. Thanks so much, Caz. I am extremely fortunate to not suffer from constant depression-but I certainly have my bouts, like SO many of us do. I think it’s only natural when we face such loss of life. But if it’s hard to understand our invisible physical issues, certainly nobody will understand the resulting mental aspects of it. It’s SO important though, because the added anxiety and depression we all regularly face really affects our overall quality of life. I wish more people and providers genuinely understood that. ❤️

      ps the whole loss of career killed me too!!

  4. Fantastic post Stacey. I have chronic migraine which seems to have many similarities with fibromyalgia. I can relate to every point you’ve raised.

    1. Thank you so much, Holly! Thank you for reading and commenting!! I hope you will follow my Blog! It’s great to meet you!! Wow. 1995? That’s a long time!

    1. You’re so welcome. I think becoming vulnerable and losing your independence is a tremendous struggle. It scares me for the future. But, in the end, we’re all vulnerable. That vulnerability doesn’t make us weak. ❤️Stace

  5. Great summery! I relate to all of this. Thank you. More awareness is so needed .Unless you have this syndrome , it’s impossible to understand it. Too complex and too invisible. It changes a person into someone else and this is hard to explain.

    1. You’re so right, Barbara. It’s far beyond just the pain and I think that’s a common stigma for those of us that live so limited. There’s no aspects of life untouched and that affects me deeply and everyone else like me. Eventually, the more we talk, I really hope the more compassion and understanding others will have for all we live with. I’m so glad you related, although it always makes me sad to hear from people who live this way. I’m really grateful you took the time to comment. Thank you. I’m wishing you well <3

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