I will occasionally get an email from a new FQ sufferer, and sometimes a more veteran sufferer that reflects the utter despair that has over taken their lives as a result of the FQ damage. I have not been immune to this reality also, as have many; if not all of those who have had FQ damage. There are times when we are taken to the depths of despair as a result of the absolute uncertainty that goes along with our plight. Being down, or depressed, as a result of what has happen to us is a normal part of the emotional process. But what happens when the despair takes on an utterly dark tone, one that we are almost afraid to look at. This subject is not broached very much in the FQ community. I would like to take look at this entity that Winston Churchill call the “black dog” that has a tendency to hit us in during dark night of our soul.
To understand our depression we need to take a look at where it comes from. It is definitely not hard to make a correlation between the chronic nature of FQ damage and depression. FQ damage can cause tremendous changes in our lifestyles that limit our mobility and independence. These changes may make it impossible to pursue the activities that we once enjoyed or to pursue activities that we have not yet had a chance to do but would like to. This, in turn, undermines our self confidence and robs of us our sense of hope in the future. When depression arises from these limitations placed upon us it is usually identified as external, or exogenous, depression. This is sometimes called situational depression.
Another type of depression that the FQ sufferer can face is internal, or endogenous, depression. Commonly coupled with anxiety, this depression comes on us as a result of the internal changes caused by the FQ toxicity. This depression can strike us “out of the blue”. It literally comes from the inside out regardless of our situation and can strike even if we are happy.
Our depression, whether external or internal, is caused by chronic condition that has many other physical facets to it. When we experience depression it often aggravates other issues we face like pain and fatigue. Depression has a tendency to intensify pain, as well as fatigue and sluggishness. Because of this, it can cause the FQ sufferer to isolate themselves, which in turn is likely to exacerbate the depression. It can create a vicious cycle which in turn can interfere with the healing process.
All chronic illness sufferers can suffer from depression. Depression can rank high among those who suffer from illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis or Chronic Pain Syndrome so it is not unusual for FQ sufferers to suffer from it also. What adds insult to injury and causes greater despair is for the FQ sufferer is the fact that there are no treatment options available and most doctors do not even acknowledge the condition.
So, when should FQ sufferer seek treatment for depression? The answer is when we become depressed about being depressed. Make sense? Feeling down is normal and happens to all, but when it crosses over into the realm when we feel all hope is lost and we cannot cope, then we should seek help. To fear depression gives it undue power that it should not have in our life. Instead, it needs to be treated as any other symptom that arises. And, by recognizing and treating depression early, we can greatly improve our overall medical condition by re-instilling hope and in turn creating a better quality of life and a greater likelihood of sticking to a treatment plan.
There are many treatment options that are available that can be discussed with your medical professional. In some cases medication may be necessary to help you through a tough time. If your doctor has recommended medication for your condition, educate yourself about the medication and discuss any concerns with your doctor. As a FQ sufferer you may wish to take a minimal medicinal approach, psychotherapy offers a very viable option. A competent psychotherapist can help you get through the rough times in many ways, of which can be to indentify and change inappropriate thought patterns and teach various forms of relaxation therapy appropriate for your situation. Also psychotherapy should not be viewed with the stigma that it used to be and should be viewed as a facet in your total wellness program.
Here are some tips to help cope:
- Try not to isolate yourself. Reach out to family and friends. If you don’t have a solid support system, take steps to build one. Connect with other FQ sufferers that understand your unique plight through online support groups.
- Learn as much as you can about your condition. Knowledge is power when it comes to getting the best treatment available, and maintaining a sense of autonomy and control.
- Avoid those that are overtly pessimistic and associate with those that offer hope and positive reinforcement. Look for positive role models in the FQ community.
- Develop medical support from experts you trust, and can talk to openly about your ongoing questions and concerns. This can be difficult for FQ sufferers but not entirely impossible.
- If you are in chronic pain, talk with your physician about alternative pain management.
- As much as is possible, remain engaged in the activities you enjoy. Doing so will keep you connected, as well as boosting your self-confidence and sense of community.
- If you become depressed, don’t wait too long before seeking help. Find a therapist or counselor whom you trust.
Living with FQ toxicity is a tremendous challenge, and periods of grief and sadness are to be expected as you come to grips with your condition and its implications, but keeping a positive attitude and, maintaining hope can help you create a better quality of life and improve your medical condition.