Wednesday, September 5, 2012

not depressed

Years ago when I was so ill but didn't know what was wrong, I was finally (or so I thought to be the final diagnosis) diagnosed with "Fibromyalgia".  I saw one of the best rheumatologists in CA and was referred to a "Fibro Rehab" clinic where they helped you in physical, social, and psychological aspect of your lifestyle/syndrome and I was told, "We can get you to have ONE good day a week!"  Being young and still confused as to why I was so so sick, that wasn't encouraging news.  I remember going home and crying that day.

But I figured since that was THE final diagnosis, I needed to make the best of it.   My husband was deployed in Iraq for 15 months and I was doing worse than ever physically.  My biggest complaints were pain and lead-weight fatigue that prevented me from doing even the simplest of tasks and even taking care of my toddler without help.  I would literally crawl to the bathroom, use the bathroom, then have to sit in there for 15 minutes or so before I could muster the energy to return to my bed or the couch.

Something that stuck out to me, though, and still bothers me to this day because of how I know others are faced with this same question and worse, were the multitude of inquisitions as to whether I was "depressed".  I got asked it so much I truly searched and searched my mind to see if I was.  I had a test I finally implemented when someone would ask.  I'd think, "Do I find joy in my daughter?  Yes.  Do I find joy in God?  Yes.  I am not depressed."

I wasn't unable to get up and move around because of lack of motivation or depression, I truly had a physical ailment that prevented me from mustering any extra energy to move.  But it's sad how many times doctors and people ask you if that is the cause of your problems because they truly just don't understand your disease or how to diagnose you since all tests come back "normal".

When my husband was deployed it seemed that the various doctors I saw would ask the depression question even MORE often.  At the "Fibro Rehab" place, I had a long initial session with the psychologist where I took a 100 question fill-in-the-bubble "test" (how awful is that when your brain is fuzzy?) and then after he interviewed me.  He asked me SO many times if I was depressed; he asked it 20 different ways.  He acted suspicious and acted like he was trying to trap me into admitting I was depressed.  Finally, after the 20th question, I lost it.  I raised my voice a bit and said, "I'm not depressed! I WANT to be able to do more; I WANT to clean my house.  I WANT to hold my baby girl and read to her!  I'm not depressed!  Any sadness I may harbor comes from BEING SO FRUSTRATED BY MY SICKNESS AND NOT GETTING AN ANSWER THAT PUTS ME ON THE PATH TO HEALING!  But it doesn't mean I'm depressed."

He stopped asking me about depression and scribbled something on his notepad.  Shortly after I began sessions at the clinic I was put on another path by a separate doctor that would eventually get me diagnosed with Lyme disease so I never did have to see that psychologist again.

Now, I should make a side-note here that a real symptom of Lyme can be depression and I do know some who suffer from this, so if you are depressed, take heart that there is hope to help with that aspect of your illness.  But for others of us, we haven't been depressed - we've just simply been so incredibly discouraged that no one could tell us what was wrong and help us get better.

I am SO thankful that I am doing so much better after 2 years of treatment.  I continue treatment and continue to heal.  Someday I hope to be fully well.  But the memories of those darker days when my illness was a mystery and it seemed that no doctor appreciated or tried to help and wished to label me as "depressed" is still fresh in my mind and it causes me to pray for some of you who are on this same journey of trying to find answers and being met with skepticism or just plain bafflement.


  1. For me, the constant diagnosis (or should I say 'misdiagnosis') was anxiety and stress. Yes, I had anxiety! That was a result of the Lyme changing things in my brain. And who wouldn't have additional anxiety from being sent from doctor to doctor with NO answers? The anxiety wasn't CAUSING my physical symptoms, though!!!!! Doctors really need to be taught about 'neuro-psychiatric' Lyme.

  2. Gary got asked that a lot too, when he was in the early stages of his dementia. He also had to do a "100 questions" test. (not sure if it was the same, but He HATED IT!) It was really hard for him, because of the confusion. Depression can cause confusion and cognitive impairment, so I can see why it kept coming up, but it was really frustrating for us too. Finding out the root cause of his confusion, though difficult to hear "Alzheimer's" was a relief in a way. The truth is freeing.

  3. I am so thankful that you were finally diagnosed correctly and have received the treatment that has brought you such restored health. You are a wonderful mom and wife, but you always were, even at your sickest!