I posted over at Fibrant Living today, about the difference between fibromyalgia and depression.
There are many people, especially doctors, who claim that fibromyalgia is just a symptom of depression. I’ve had both, and I know the difference quite well. They are very, very different.
Being in pain all the time can certainly lead to depression. That’s just logical. There are, however, people who have fibromyalgia who are not clinically depressed. Depression can also manifest as physical pain, but it is does not meet the criteria for fibromyalgia.
I was treated for depression for years before I developed FMS, though, and I truly believe that if I’d gotten proper treatment for mental health issues in my childhood (post-traumatic stress disorder and all the complications it brought, including major depressive disorder) I probably wouldn’t have developed FMS.
I never have trouble distinguishing between the two, or between either of them and CFS/ME, which I also have. They’re all quite different.
With FMS, the pain causes fatigue, and together they can (but don’t always) have an affect on your emotions. You may feel like doing something, but your body absolutely will not cooperate. There have been times when I’ve been feeling great, gone out to do something I was SO looking forward to–and nearly collapsed in the middle of everything when my body said, “All right, that’s it, no more. Done. Where’s the bed?” (We’ve joked that if I ever manage to get a scooter or electric wheelchair, it will have to have a remote control feature so that Sam can steer me on home when I’ve passed out.)
But serious clinical depression…it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got the physical energy or not. Logic doesn’t matter. Knowing that you’d feel better for having a nice, hot shower is utterly irrelevant. The fact that the telephone ringing is contributing to your headache, and you could make it stop by merely lifting up your arm up pushing a button, is irrelevant, because lifting your arm would take too much damned effort. Yes, somewhere, on some level, you may know that you’ll lose yet more function for not getting up and doing your exercises, but it’s less important than staring at the ceiling, or the pillow, or whatever is in front of your face right now. Not that you really make any kind of conscious value judgment or anything, but the staring has inertia going for it. Even if nothing IS hurting, even if you have all the energy in the world and you could do anything you just don’t care.
Remember that, the next time you hear someone claiming that FMS and depression are the same.
Religion and the jargon of the helping/hindering professions are comprised largely of literalized metaphors. That is why they are the perfect tools for legitimizing and illegitimizing ideas, behaviors, and persons.
Ordinary language combines all of these qualities. It can be used literally and precisely, to convey meaning; metaphorically or poetically, to move people; or ‘religiously,’ to blind and numb people, making them feel elevated or debased.
“In the natural sciences, language (mathematics) is a useful tool: like the microscope or telescope, it enables us to see what is otherwise invisible. In the social sciences, language (literalized metaphor) is an impediment: like a distorting mirror, it prevents us from seeing the obvious.
That is why in the natural sciences, knowledge can be gained only with the mastery of their special languages; whereas in human affairs, knowledge can be gained only by rejecting the pretentious jargons of the social sciences.
Thomas Szasz, The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary
I haven’t actually finished Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World yet, so it’s probably weird for me to be doing a review. It’s a really meaty little book, though, and I haven’t finished it because I keep going back to re-read sections or copy some of the quotes scattered through the text.
The focus of the book is on persuasive writing. I like the fact that Pipher acknowledges the power of stories and fiction to inspire change.
I’ve got to return it to the library (it’s way late, because I didn’t want to let go of it), but I’m definitely going to find a copy of my own soon. As I really don’t buy that many books, preferring to read them from the library, buying a copy after I read the library’s copy is pretty high praise.
I’ve admired Pipher for years, since reading Reviving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other, but something I learned today raises her even higher in my esteem. Last year, she returned an award she received from the American Psychological Association to protest the APA’s continuing support of torture by the U.S. government. The article includes her letter to the APA, and I encourage you to read it.
My therapist, L, is no longer with the practice I’ve been seeing for the last couple of years. It took a year to get to her — first, they assigned me to M, who was a total pain in the ass and didn’t listen. Not that I was inclined to talk to her, anyway. And she didn’t return phone calls.
So I finally got beyond the “getting to know you” stage with L, and she understands our family and some history and such, so she can put things in context. And I think they fired her! They weren’t even going to tell me she wouldn’t be there for my appointment this evening. I called to ask her something and her number had been disconnected, which prompted me to talk to the office idiots.
I. Am. Not. HAPPY! It’s a major PITA to break in a new therapist. I mean, it is for anybody, but when you have a bunch of interlocking issues and heavy history crap, then you add in chronic illness/disability, and just for fun mix in that whole bi/pagan/poly thing, believe me, it’s worse. And some therapists aren’t up to it. In fact, the one I saw a couple of times before seeing someone at this practice told me and Sam at the second session that she was in over her head and needed to refer me elsewhere.
Oh — the new person doesn’t do evening appointments, either. Which means that the only way I can be sure of getting there is to take a taxi, as I have not had good experiences with using MARTA for anything time-sensitive. Expensive, but not as difficult as having Sam take time off from work. But L coordinated my appointments with Katie’s appointments with another therapist in the same practice, which was nice. Who knows if this one will be as helpful?