Private Fibromyalgia Support Group

Healtheo360-logo

Healtheo360 has launched a private support group for people with fibromyalgia I am moderating.   I’d like to see you there.  Come by, become a member of Healtheo360 and join the support group.

Healtheo360 is a community for patients with chronic conditions and their loves to share their stores, motivation and support.  It is a also a great place to find out clinical trials related to your condition.

Why don’t you check out the Healtheo360 community and let me know me know your thoughts?

 

Recognizing and Dealing with Toxic People in Your Life

 

You deserve to surround yourself with people who love, accept and encourage you and your fibromyalgia diagnosis.

Recognizing and Dealing with Toxic People in Your Life

Living with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses means minimizing the things in your life that make your symptoms worse. Sometimes, it might even mean eliminating people, especially if those people stand in the way of your health. Other times, it means recognizing the ways in which you can minimize their effect on your life.

Toxic Relationships Worsen Your Health

People can be as toxic as chemicals. Toxic people will run drain your energy and ruin your self-confidence if you let them. “This person is not your cheerleader,” explains Ann Clark, MFT, a San Diego human services expert who has authored books on toxic relationships.

Steve Albrecht, PHR, CPP, BCC, instructor of stress management programs in San Diego, defines toxic relationships as being dominated by hurtful comments, constant sarcasm, passive-aggressive encounters and belittling behaviors.

Numerous studies have shown the damaging health effects of toxic relationships. One study from Michigan State University found out that people in toxic relationships have a 34 percent increased risk of heart disease. Another study out of the University of Copenhagen found that constant conflict in relationships was a cause of early death.
Read more at http://www.fibromyalgiaconnect.com/fibromyalgia-articles/445-recognizing-and-dealing-with-toxic-people-in-your-life#L786MXfvuHa5ZfBI.99

3 Ways Psychologists Help Chronically Ill Patients

3 Ways Psychologists Help Chronically Ill Patients

Chronic illness takes its toll – and not just physically.

The psychological needs of people with chronic illness are often overlooked and patients find themselves dealing with an uncertainty that often makes coping difficult. Patients struggle with emotional stress caused by illness along with anxieties towards the future and the type of support needed.

Psychological needs that must be addressed include working towards making sense of a life after diagnosis, managing stress and emotional health and realizing that chronic illness affects loved ones.

Read more at Arthritis Connect.

When Chronic Illness Causes Depression

 

 anxiety_depression_may_raise_stroke_riskAt least one-third of people with chronic illness suffer from depression. Further, depression is one of the most common problems reported by chronically ill patients. When patients are faced with a life altering diagnosis, it can be easy for depression to set in.

When I found myself depressed, I hid my symptoms from my doctors and even family and friends.  It is hard to deal with a combination of depression, chronic illness and life’s challenges and it is even more difficult to ask for help.  At some point, I broke down and told my doctor about my symptoms which included sleeplessness, feelings of hopelessness, racing thoughts, constant sadness, loss of energy, fatigue and loss of interest in relationships. Over time and with medication and therapy, I learned that the depression wasn’t my fault and my outlook on life greatly improved. Seeking treatment and support bettered my life tremendously and it helped me to keep things in perspective.    

The Stigma Associated With Depression

Our society associates such a stigma with depression that it forces people to hold their emotions and feelings in.  It is such a stigma that 75% of those who are depressed do not seek treatment.  The idea that our families, friends, or coworkers reacting to depression paralyzes people and keeps them from getting the help that they need.  Unless someone is going through a major life event, such as divorce, death of a loved one or other trauma, people cannot even begin to understand what depression is or what it feels like.  Our society views emotional pain as personal weakness and not a symptom of a physical disorder, chemical imbalance or nutritional deficiency.

Chronic Illness and Depression Go Hand-in-Hand

For many with chronic illness, depression and chronic illness go hand-in-hand.  When your body is sick, it is not unusual to become depressed because of pain and fatigue and as a result of fears about your health.  Chronic illness also threatens your financial security, your relationships and future plans.

No one knows for certain why people with chronic illness are at a higher risk for depression but some theories include the diseases themselves, ineffective treatments, side effects of medications, difficulty coping and strain on relationships.  Regardless of the connection, getting treatment for depression can help you to manage your illness effectively and successfully.

Recognizing and Treating Depression

Depression is more than just persistent sadness. If you are unsure as to whether you or someone you know is dealing with depression, there are some common signs to look for.  These include:

•           Continual sadness lasting more than two weeks.

•           Lack interest in relationships and feeling unmotivated to participate in life.

•           Feelings of irritability and frustration about things that didn’t used to bother you.

•           Irregular sleeping patterns such as trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, and sleeping too much.

•           Excessive weight loss or gain that is unexplained.

•           Low self-esteem or feelings of low self-worth and/or feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

•           Worsening chronic illness symptoms.

•           Thinking or talking about death or thinking that you would be better off dead.

These symptoms are the most common in patients who are depressed.  Watching out for these symptoms can help you to recognize what depression may look like.

There is no one-fits-all solution to treating depression.  There are many different ways to treat depression and methods apply differently to each individual situation.  The basic principles include medication, talk therapy, and treating the root of the problem (i.e. a chronic disease or traumatic event).

Depression is not Personal 

I have learned is that depression isn’t personal. It is a part of biology and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.  Seeking help for my depression was the intelligent and informed choice. Now that I am treating my depression and finding better methods of coping, I have stopped worrying about whether being depressed makes me weak, incapable or even crazy in anyone’s eyes. I am stronger and better for doing what I need to do in order to be a healthier.  In the end, all I want to be is the mother my children deserve and with each passing day, I am getting stronger and I am appreciating life with a much clearer perspective.

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of.  It is a medial disorder, like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia and it needs treatment.  There are plenty of influential people that have suffered from depression, including actors, Harrison Ford and Hugh Laurie. Footballer, Terry Bradshaw has also suffered and has since become an advocate for removing the stigma of depression.

If you are feeling depressed or experiencing the symptoms of depression, don’t be embarrassed or try to convince yourself that you can just will it away.  Please talk to your doctor and believe that you will get the help you need and deserve it.  Trust me, you are worth it.

What I Really Mean to Say

Living with chronic illness and pain is something that isn’t easily understood by people who are not going through the same thing.  Moreover, the effects of illness are an emotional and personal daily battle.

Most people have this notion that if you look fine, you are feeling good or having a good health day.  Many also don’t realize that even when we say we are fine, we really are not.  At times when I say I am okay, I really wish I could share with people who don’t understand my ordeal how chronic illness and pain truly affect my life.

Every now and then, when I say I am okay or I am fine, I really mean to say:

(1) I hurt more than I can effectively express. The physical part is often easier than the emotional part. I have people in my life who don’t believe in the extent of my sickness and pain so I keep how I am actually feeling to myself and experience has given me many reasons to do so. I have had people who I once called friends and loved ones who have walked away because my being sick was too inconvenient for them. While I have learned that their actions had more to do with them than anything I did, it still saddens me because I would have been there for them.

I don’t have a lot of emotional support so I seek help therapy and I look for solace in prayer and in the things and the people that I love.  These things have allowed me to a stronger person – both in conviction and in the ability to see past my limitations.  So, yes I hurt both physically and emotionally but I have found strength I never thought I had.

(2) I am scared. I have read up on about Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Fibromyalgia (FM). I know there is no cure for either and I don’t see remission in my future. I also know that I will never return to perfect health. I worry about what the future holds and where I will be in ten years or twenty years. I am only 37 so I have a long life with RA and FM. I worry about how I will take care of myself if things get worse and who will take care of my kids. I have valid questions but I know that these questions don’t have concrete answers.

Taking life one day at a time is all I can do and that is scary in of itself. I will never be my former self but I am working on maintaining some level of sanity when it comes to my health. While I am scared, I try to focus on the here and now so that I can make the best of my life with chronic illness.

(3) Life is just not fair. I am not always able to make plans because I don’t know if I will be able to follow through. I don’t know what the future holds because I have to take life as it comes. I can only be hopeful and I am. Chronic illness has taken a lot from me but I have taken a lot back.

No one said life was fair but it is worth living.  While I truly believe that, I just sometimes want to vent and say that life just isn’t fair.

(4) It is not my faultBeing sick is not my fault but sometimes I feel like it is. I worked hard at every aspect of my personal life and professional life before illness and even harder after illness. I am a good parent and my kids are turning out just fine but sometimes I feel guilty that they can’t have the parent that I wish they had. I was a faithful and loving spouse but my spouse wasn’t.  As a result, my marriage ended and while I know that had nothing to do with chronic illness, it happened after I was diagnosed and sometimes, it makes me second guess myself. I have been a successful employee and I have been a great volunteer in the community. I am a patient advocate and I am good at what I do. I have accomplished so many things despite and with chronic illness.

What went wrong – my getting sick – that wasn’t my fault and the bad things that happened after weren’t my fault either. All the good things were due to my hard work.  Nonetheless, if I could I have protected my health, I would have done everything in my power to make sure I stayed healthy but I couldn’t.  Further, I had no control of the awful things that happened afterwards. That just goes back to life simply not being fair. So, I didn’t mean to get sick – I really didn’t – that’s all.

Right now, I am feeling better than I have been in a long time – both physically and emotionally. Sometimes, I actually feel fine when I say I am and other times, I am not fine at all. When I am not feeling well, I have things to say.  Yet, it is not always easy to say them.

***This post was originally a guest post at http://laborpain.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/what-i-really-mean-to-say-guest-post.  

Hurt Feelings on Health Social Networks

social-networkHealth support social networks can be a great resource for chronically ill people but they can also be a place of hurt feelings.  The internet has allowed the opportunity to be involved health support networks without leaving our homes.  Only on the World Wide Web can you wake up at 3 am dealing with pain and other symptoms and find someone else online who is awake for the same reason.

As noted, online health support networks also bring with them annoyances that we also find in face-to-face interaction.  Things can escalate further because people are not feeling well and temperamental.  In addition, people are more likely to hit the send button when they have something to say and there is no face-to-face interaction to consider.

Hurt feelings on health social networks are bound to happen.  How do you resolve these emotions of feeling hurt in your health support communities?

Some things to consider when you find yourself angry or feeling hurt while looking for online health support:

  • Step away from the computer.  When someone posts something we don’t like, we generally are tempted to type a rebuttal and the guess what, the faster you type, the more upset you will find yourself.  Sometimes, stepping away from your computer can also to cool down and also save you and others hurt feelings.
  • Apologize.  If you find that you are the one who has said something hurtful or inappropriate, acknowledge it and offer an apology rather than avoiding the person you have said it to and hope it just goes away.  The fact is it is very common for someone to say something without thinking when they are up late and dealing with pain, other symptoms, and depressed feelings.
  • Kindness.  Use kind words because you never know what kind of day someone is having.  They could be having a bad /painful day or a whole bunch of them.  Remind yourself that that your words in this type of setting are powerful because there are so many people dealing with sensitive issues and with rejection from family and friends.

How have you handled hurt feelings on health support networks? How to you keep your emotions in check so that you do not hurt the feelings of others?