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Adrienne Dellwo

Holiday Depression in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By December 18, 2010

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Holiday Blog Classic: Dealing With Depression

Being sick can be depressing, especially if you're watching the world around you celebrate while you're isolated -- either physically or emotionally -- because of your illness. A lot of us who have fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) battle depression anyway, especially during the winter months.

If you're feeling alone or depressed, reach out to someone. About.com's FMS & ME/CFS community forum is here 24/7, and while there's not always someone there right when you post, it's a safe, understanding place where you can write down how you're feeling without fear of being judged. Everyone there will "get" you. If you're not comfortable posting in a public forum, send me an email, at chronicfatigue.guide@about.com. Sometimes, just writing down your problems can help you get a handle on them. I can't promise to get back to you right away, but I'll do whatever I can to help.

If your feelings really start to overwhelm you and you're thinking about suicide, call this number:

  • 1-800-273-8255

It's a VA hotline, but anyone is welcome to call. The staffing and training there are better than at many local agencies, so you'll talk to someone who can really help you.

Millions of people have FMS or ME/CFS, and millions of people suffer from depression. What that means is that we are never alone, and we never have to bear the full burden of our illness alone. Finding out that someone out there understands and cares about you can make all the difference.

If you know someone who might be feeling alone or depressed right now, reach out to them in some way. If you think someone you know is suicidal, help them get help before it's too late.

Please, let's all take care of each other.

Where to Find Help:

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo &copy Juan Silva/Getty Images

December 16, 2009 at 1:37 am
(1) Cinda Crawford says:

Depression is not usually a forerunner of either Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but it surely can manifest “after” the illnesses set in for the long haul. And think about it… who wouldn’t be depressed if they felt terrible, didn’t know where to turn for answers and had no idea how long they would end up being sick? Plus, there are little add-ons like affording medicines and medical care, affording any kind of lifestyle at all (Do I have a place to live or food to eat?), the effort of keeping relationships with friends & family and, of course, WORK. How does anyone maintain a job when you feel so badly? The answer is it’s darned tough and thereby lies the major reason why so many Fibro and CFS people feel blue and have a tough time coping. For sure, anyone would feel likewise in such a circumstance. Come join me at the Health Matters Show anytime and we’ll talk some more. Until then, gentle hugs & lots of energy- Cinda Crawford

December 19, 2009 at 12:13 am
(2) Kathryn says:

Winter, it’s gloom and cold, is more of a depression trigger than the holidays; although all the extras that come along with the holidays can make things worse.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. Know your limits. Try something different to brighten your outlook, if possible. I go to the tanning salon twice a week, not for the tan, but for the light. It really warms me through, and dispels the gloom. More B complex helps, too.

Be well!

December 19, 2010 at 3:20 am
(3) Jane says:

Well I’m in Australia where it’s a hot christmas and still feeling it so it’s not necessarily weather related although I’m sure either extremes of cold or hot affect us and our sensitivies. I’m not even Christian but this is the most down I’ve felt in spirits for a long time. Feeling sick and that it won’t end and how am I ever going to get out of the financial debt I’m in if I never get any better to work and even if I can work, will I ever be able to get out of it. Single mum raising a 3 year old and having a bad week!

December 19, 2010 at 3:48 am
(4) Elaine says:

I just wish that my family and friends understood what having all this is like for me and how alone i feel, how depressed I get with all the other health issues I deal with and that I just feel like I am of no good to anyone !
I’m not a winter person due to the pain being so much worse and I have back problems that hurt all the time. I have the fibro really bad, restless leg drives me crazy every night, so tired that it is hard to even take a step. At times, It is almost more than I can bear and the loss of old friends at this time of the year and family is really hard for me ! They just don’t get it! I have always been a people person and family was what I loved to have around but not any longer, the less people the better ! I truly miss that part of my life ! I feel sorry for my husband and he deserves so much more than what I have to give ! It’s just not fair that we have to live with this everyday and want to be like we once was! Who wouldn’t get depressed ! Holidays are just not fun like they was even 5 years ago !

December 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm
(5) Rita says:

Winter is just not fun which makes the holiday’s seem like a burden. I think my husband looks elswhere for some fun flirtation because I am just tired and hurting all the time. We don’t laugh and joke like we used too. Read some of his facebook conversations, nothing sexual just stuff he used to say to me a few years ago that has just been put aside. I miss the person I used to be, when I could laugh and joke and want to go out, now I just want to stay home wrapped in a blanket or take hot baths and try to relax. He deserves someone he can have fun with, Not sure what to do about this anymore. Any suggestions?

December 22, 2010 at 6:32 pm
(6) Mog says:

I can’t really offer any words of comfort, as I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself today – the usual of when will this feeling ill ever end, why me and how come everybody else (it always seems like that) is out having fun and able to do what they want to without limitations. This season certainly rubs it in your face, and maybe it’s my sensitivity, but people never seem to think of how hard it is for us or even have much tact. eg. a friend telling me all about what a great time she had at a xmas party, when my invites to parties dried up a long time ago, never mind that I wouldn’t be well enough to go anyway.
Thanks very much for this article Adrienne, I’m sure it’s very timely for many people. It is some comfort to read here that there are others, probably many, many others, who are feeling bad at this time of year. Thank you also for all your work and great articles throughout the year. I don’t usually comment but I always read them every week; they’re a big help and, along with everyone’s comments, a source of comfort to me. Wishing you and everyone else reading a peaceful Christmas.

December 22, 2010 at 8:54 pm
(7) Rebel Rat says:

This will be my first Christmas alone in 20 years . . . In a way, that’s a relief, since the last three have been horrible. 2007, my husband told me he was in love with someone else (we subsequently divorced); 2008, I spent it with someone new whom, and I was so excited — I bought lots of gifts, put up a tree, did all the “holiday” things . . . and he bought be a coffeemaker, which I didn’t need or want. And last year, I was with the same person I was with in 2008, but it turns out he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and it was just a disaster from every angle.

2010 has been an exceptionally difficult year for me, even putting the fibro and myofascial pain syndrome aside.

I’m doing my best to look at the “bright side,” to be grateful for what I have and for where the level of health I *do* have (I suffered a mild stroke in November that I don’t have any apparent residual effects from), but it’s still challenging.

I’m only 40, now divorced, and it’s kind of lonely. The only Christmas gift I’m getting — not that gifts are the important thing, but still — is from my mom. I bought myself a gift, although I shouldn’t have, because I’m not working right now, but I was really, really down one night last week and kind of let my emotions get the better of me.

Please don’t get me wrong: I *am* grateful that I got through my stroke with no apparent long-lasting effects other than my fibro pain level jumping a couple levels and that I’m still alive.

Perhaps I’m just feeling sorry for myself, which is totally inappropriate.

But for everyone else out there suffering from fibro of CFS or myofascial pain syndrome or whatever . . . you’re not alone. I’ll be keeping each of you in my prayers, and we’ll get through this, even if it means we just rent movies and pull ourselves through minute by minute, hour by hour.

Even if we’re separated by miles, borders, or whatever, my thoughts are with you all . . .


December 23, 2010 at 12:12 am
(8) Mary T. says:

Wow, great to see this article. Perfect timing. I’ve suffered from serious depression all of my adult life & was thinking for the last few days that I was feeling down again. I wondered if my medication was not working or if I was imagining it or maybe I was just tired. As I read others comments I realized that it was about a year ago I was diagnosed with fibro/cfs & almost a year to the day that I left work on disability. I’ve missed all the excitement of holiday time at the office (pot lucks, secret santa, etc. I even missed the Fibro support group pot-luck)) as well as missing all my friends, who I’ve seen so little of lately. Everyone is busy with their own stuff. My family is all out of town & I’m DREADING the 90 mile (one way) drive to see them on Saturday. But, driving for my folks is out of the question (they’re in their 80′s & couldn’t drive good even in their 50′s!) So, I have an ugly, rainy, trip ahead of me if I don’t want to be alone. The good news is that there is pecan pie and loving arms at my destination. It’s been a tough year. Like others I wonder if I’ll ever feel good, how will I cope financially, & will I ever feel like I had a decent nights sleep? So, I suspect it’s probably not a medication issue, but good reasons to feel gloomy. I know I’ll be fine, everything changes, a new year is coming, etc. I’m saying blessings for all of us for better days ahead ♥

December 23, 2010 at 3:19 am
(9) Kimberlind says:

As if the holidays and working overtime to try to catch up the bills before the New Year starts, my boyfriend’s ex is all about starting drama. I am about to explode I am so angry and stressed. Working 16 hour days once a week, added to the rest of the work week is enough to make me hurt! No tree or decorations this year, too tired and drained. Now the bf’s ex starting drama…. I just want to tell him to either stop it or good-bye. But it is not his fault, or so I tell myself. I don’t want to be un-fair, but it is not fair to me to tell me to just ignore her. He is really good to me, caring and understanding, but this has got to stop. I really don’t want to be selfish or mean…. any thoughts?

December 23, 2010 at 9:09 am
(10) Dan Watson says:

Winter is a time of holiday and enjoyment. But it is not the same for persons like me who suffer from chronic diseases and thus this holiday’s seem like a burden to us. In fact for such chronic pains I cannot even accompany my wife well. This makes me more depressed and anxious. I miss myself. I could not laugh and enjoy like others. I cannot go out. Now I just stay back home wrapped in my blanket or take hot baths to get some relaxation. One of my friends suggested me to visit the site Findrxonline and I did browse through the site. Trust me it is assisting me a lot and this is why I would suggest you all to visit the site.

December 23, 2010 at 11:09 pm
(11) Julie Evans says:

After reading all the comments I realized we are all feeling the same blues. I can relate to each and every one of you. I have to go back to work 1/3/11 and that is adding even more stress and depression. I will be happy to get out of this house which has become a self made isolation chamber though! Please keep the faith that things will get better and try to find joy in the simple things in life. I have lots of animals so I am grateful for their unconditional love and companionship.God bless

December 24, 2010 at 2:39 am
(12) Mary T. says:

Dan’s comment: “I miss myself.” Exactly! Thanks for writing the words that I couldn’t find and say myself!

December 25, 2010 at 9:35 am
(13) lloyd says:

I suspect that Dan is being paid to solicit for a commercial site. He didn’t even get the specific malady correct (just a generic “chronic diseases”). Regardless, it is inappropriate to direct readers to a commercial site.

December 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm
(14) mimi says:

I liked the “I miss myself” line, also. I don’t have any family nearby, and some friends are too much in need of help, that it taxes my reserves even on good days, so, I stayed home all Christmas day. I couldn’t find myself all day, and for a change, didn’t even try. I am finally getting a thread of my pre-fibro self back tonight. I bundled up in a crocheted comforter, watched old movies, ate just what I wanted, and rested all day. My friend did call, later, and I tried to explain how I felt, but I decided it was too hard. I am feeling somewhat better tonight. When the people around me are too stressful, or the day or circumstances, such as today are just too much to face, I sometimes retreat. I think I need to do that more often. Oh, well. I think my movie is calling me. Thanks, Adrienne, for the blog, and thanks everyone for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

December 25, 2010 at 11:18 pm
(15) Tara Erickson says:

Thank you, Adreienne, for this article. It seems like the holidays only emphasize the loneliness and feelings of being “different” that chronic illnesses bring on. As a caretaker of a severe CFS patient, my emotions are on overload. Whenever I think I cannot stnad one more day of seeing my loved one hurting and missing out on life, I wake up again to face another day. Any ideas or websites for caregivers? Thanks for all you do. Your articles always seem to come just when I need them.

December 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm
(16) Kathy C says:

The holidays are tough, no way around it. And wintertime brings its own blues. What’s saved me this season (and 2010 has been loaded with some peaks & deep valleys for me) is being on Prozac & taking vitamin D3. Finally acknowledging the depression & FM and their limitations has helped, too. I just can’t do what I used to do; that’s my life now. I’m determined to make the best of it, but can only deal with it one day at a time (sometimes one hour at a time!). We’ll all get through this because we know we’re not alone. A big thanks to Adrienne for keeping us connected!

December 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm
(17) beauty says:

I Had a little one on June 28th. I am 5’2 and the daylight i had him ihttp://www.beautifulnatural.com/Picture/view/image_id-2387/item-group
195 lbs
( i gained ALOT OF WEIGHT, i started at large 130 lbs!) i nowadays weigh 150 lbs.
I shuffle off this mortal coil to the gym 4x per week i do 30 mins of cardio per day. I solitary swallow water
and i snack healthy. Any ideas or supplements people take tried with results.
I procure 20 more pouds to lose!

December 31, 2010 at 7:19 pm
(18) Nancy says:

Thanks to everyone who left a comment. It is so comforting to hear others saying the same things i am thinking and experiencing the same challenges i am facing. I don’t feel so isolated now. We truly are not alone no matter what. I am so grateful for this website.

December 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm
(19) beckie says:

Hi ev1,
i think the hardest thing for me is,most people of never even heard of fms,and people think cfs is just a word for being lazy,because i always try putting a front on how im feeling,people think there is nothing wrong with you,after having fms for 20yrs i still cant deciede which is worse,the pain,the exhaustion or the depression! i have been with my husband for 24yrs,was diognoised 20yrs ago,over the years the older i get and now having 3 children,oldest 14,youngest 4,my condition gets worse,my husband still doesnt believe there is anything wrong with me,even thoe he hears my bones creaking constantley,has seen me in tears with pain,he has never ever been bothered to read up or try to understand my condition! winter is always worse as the cold brings more pain,at xmas time im exhausted after wks and wks of extra shopping,then all the wrapping and preparing,i do feel very mean as im just not very socail as the thought of making sure house is clean for people to visit is too stressful,and im alawys to tired to be bothered to go out.it does help knowing there are others out there with this condition who know excatley how im feeling,and talking to other suffers does seem to help! i wish you all a very merry xmas.

December 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm
(20) Mary says:

I am alone for the entire holiday season for the first time. I feel very hurt and depressed because my teenage daughter prefers spending the entire holiday time with her father (we are divorced with joint custody that is supposed to be equal) and no time with me because my house is messy. She said that she has no present for me, so I will not even see her. I missed getting plane tickets to be with my mother and sister because I was hoping to spend time with my daughter. I just wanted to vent and cry.

December 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm
(21) Christmas Blues says:

I have FMS/CFS and hate the holidays, and right now my husband and I are in the midst of separating because neither one of us can take the pressure of this illness any longer. I can no longer be the person I was (active, always on the go, doing everything for everyone, putting myself last), and he can’t tolerate me not being the person I was before (taking care of everything). So we are at a standstill.
Everything has been affected in my life because of this and all my family and friends don’t believe me because it isn’t cancer, or a “visible” disease. I’ve lost my job, and even my doctor won’t give me the pain killers I need to at least help maintain a more normal life (I live in Canada).
I’ve asked him about medicinal marijuana but he won’t do that either. He won’t prescribe anything narcotic and says that is only for severe cancer patients!
So yes I am feeling very blue this Christmas, and I just want to tuck myself up under the covers and have everything go away. Because I didn’t have the energy to decorate, the house is void of Christmas decorations, because my husband figures if I can’t do it, then it doesn’t get done. And the kids? Grown up, doing their own thing.
Trying to get through the holidays is tough enough when you’re ill….but even harder when you are separating at the same time because of this life-altering illness!!

July 21, 2013 at 8:46 am
(22) http://friendsite.com/TaneshakpCoon/blog/49136/The+Best+Vitamin+Supplements+-+3+Important+Considerations+To+Remember.html says:

We all know that vitamins and minerals keep us healthy but how much should one consume on daily basis that most of us do not know and therefore, fall into problems.
Visualize success in the gym and all that goes with it.
If you discover that your doctor is not open minded about dietary
supplementation in general you may need to seek a second opinion.

December 16, 2013 at 1:07 am
(23) JUDI says:

My motto “do what you can do and then be selfish and take care of me”. I am doing this for the 1st year. I hope it works better for me. dealing with CFS and Fibro for 24 years has shown me that I get very ill before , during and after the holidays. it boils down to staying in bed for the winter. I refuse to do that this year.
My husband has to have dialysis treatments. He did 4 yrs in the clinic. that almost killed him. For 2 yrs we have been doing home hemo dialyisis 5 days a week. Big stresser! I have no backup, so if I cannot do my part we don’t do the treatment and make up that day later. I want my husband to live longer, so this is our life!
I refuse to feel sorry for myself or for him. We laugh and try to be positive thinkers. All family get togethers are planned around his dialysis.
I thank the good Lord for blessing us. Now Christ is the center of Christmas. Once the nativity scene is set on the mantle, we can celebrate the holidays together and with family.
Don’t get me wrong, I have allowed depression to take over for many years. It is hard not to. Take a minute and breathe.

December 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm
(24) sharon stanton says:

I was told that my pain was the cause of being severly depressed and anxity, and if I would get off some of my meds and go to psychotharty I would get better, this is from a doctor that did a neuro psych testing on me to find out if I had Alzheimer runs in my fathers side of the family, and my neurologist was concerned about my memory, Well after being turned down for LTD I read the report the dr sent in and it stated that I technically qualified for dementia, but unlikely I had a neuro disease. she thought that taking me off gabapentin and will take away most of my problems, Funny I had the extreme pain before I took the gabapentin. I am so sick of doctors and even some people that are very close to you act like they could care less, so over it.

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