“Don’t doubt me just because I am quiet”Posted by Sand on Jul 12, 2013 in 52 week photo challenge, depression, Fibromyalgia, Symptoms | 0 comments
Regular readers of this eclectic little blog may have noticed a shift in subject matter. I seem to be focusing less on the creative process and more on the emotional and physical effects of living with a chronic invisible illness.
Part of this is because of the new group blog – now there’s a dedicated place for art activities and similar, but I guess it may also be due to a worsening of Fibro symptoms.
I’ve mentioned more than once here that I’ve had a life long battle with depression and that since Fibro hit me and i was prescribed an SSRI this has been the first time in my life that I’ve not been depressed. The irony of which amuses me…
A lot of people don’t really understand me when I say this though, mostly because people don’t really understand the difference between being sad/fed up and being depressed. During a brief Twitter surf I noticed that Stephen Fry had written a blog post about loneliness, and in it he makes a good job of describing depression.
How can someone so well-off, well-known and successful have depression?” they ask. Alastair Campbell in a marvelous article, suggested changing the word “depression” to “cancer” or “diabetes” in order to reveal how, in its own way, sick a question, it is. Ill-natured, ill-informed, ill-willed or just plain ill, it’s hard to say.
Loneliness is not much written about (my spell-check wanted me to say that loveliness is not much written about – how wrong that is) but humankind is a social species and maybe it’s something we should think about more than we do. I cannot think of many plays or documentaries or novels about lonely people. Aah, look at them all, Paul McCartney enjoined us in Eleanor Rigby… where do they all come from?
So yes, I still get sad and fed up of being mostly housebound, having hardly any energy and being in pain all the time, but it’s not the same as that irresistible crushing black hole of despair.
The change has been gradual and varies from day to day or week to week and I’m pretty sure it’s because of my age. My hormones have begun their slow adjustment from fertile to – (what word should I use? All the ones I can think of sound so…final.) not fertile. As I’m pretty convinced that oestrogen plays a major role in Fibro this onset of the menopause is causing rather a lot of problems.
The physical side effects I can deal with, the mental ones are taking some adjusting to, plus I know that this is a state of flux and that there’s just no predicting what/how I’ll be. I’ve pretty much stopped making plans, partly due to the physical repercussions and partly because, well, I’m feeling the need to withdraw. That’s something that’s always been there because I’m shy – but there’ve been times when I needed to conform and teaching in particular forced me out of my comfort zone and into developing an outgoing friendly persona.
Humans are social animals and people fascinate me, plus since becoming ill making friends online has been a life saver. Not just because it helps me to understand this wretched disease but because it helps enormously to know I’m not alone.
So why am I withdrawing from the world so much?
I know when Fibro symptoms are especially bad I hit the wall of sensory and emotional overload much quicker. I also know that a symptom of depression is losing interest in things. I’m fighting against becoming isolated, but its hard because I’m not lonely. I’m at ease with my own company and unless things are very bad, I never get bored.
Then I stumbled across this very interesting post later the same day that I read Fry’s blog. It outlines recent research about loneliness.
In a way, these discoveries are as consequential as the germ theory of disease. Just as we once knew that infectious diseases killed, but didn’t know that germs spread them, we’ve known intuitively that loneliness hastens death, but haven’t been able to explain how. Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer—tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.
Who are the lonely? They’re the outsiders: not just the elderly, but also the poor, the bullied, the different. Surveys confirm that people who feel discriminated against are more likely to feel lonely than those who don’t, even when they don’t fall into the categories above.
Put an orphan in foster care, and his brain will repair its missing connections. Teach a lonely person to respond to others without fear and paranoia, and over time, her body will make fewer stress hormones and get less sick from them. Care for a pet or start believing in a supernatural being and your score on the UCLA Loneliness Scale will go down. Even an act as simple as joining an athletic team or a church can lead to what Cole calls “molecular remodeling.” “One message I take away from this is, ‘Hey, it’s not just early life that counts,’ ” he says. “We have to choose our life well.”
Am I compromising my health when I fight against the desire to withdraw or would I be better following my feelings? I suppose part of this could be that I need time to think about and understand the current jumble of changes.
I also acknowledge that I do have a tendency to over think everything.
*Title Lyric – Writer(s): Andrea Martin, Richard Vick Iii, David James Ball. Copyright: Deconstruction Songs Ltd. I’ll post a free ATC to the first person who comments/mails me which song the lyric is from. I trust you to be honest and not just google it…