Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Strategies and alternatives for coping with fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder and other chronic illnesses

Is it Boredom, or Is it Depression?

Posted by wendyburnett on January 18, 2010


Do you ever find yourself staring into the computer, irritated because none of your friends are available to “talk,” saying “I’m so bored” even though you have a thousand things you could be doing? I have a list as long as my arm of things I WANT to get done, things I enjoy doing as well as those that just NEED to be taken care of, and I can’t pry myself away from the computer.

I’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes, flipping from Twitter to Facebook to IRC to my email, then on to the blogs I follow; but before you say I’m addicted to social networking you should know that I frequently go for days without checking any of those (well, except for Facebook. I will admit that I AM addicted to one of the FB games called Farmville, but today even THAT is boring.)

On days that I’m not “bored” I spend most of my time doing the “have to’s” and popping onto the computer, reading, writing, or resting in between. Today, even books don’t tempt me, nor does researching any of the many writing projects I’m working on. This is a very bad sign, and I’m in the process of preparing myself a cup of catnip tea with nutmeg and cinnamon to help me feel better. (No, catnip, cinnamon and nutmeg are not a cure for boredom; but catnip helps ease anxiety, and cinnamon and nutmeg are natural antidepressants.)

I’ve discovered that depression frequently masquerades as boredom for me; especially when I’m exhausted from the poor quality sleep that comes with fibromyalgia, combined with trying to do more than I really can. (The stupid bird squealing all afternoon while I try to take a nap doesn’t help, either. Right at the moment, I want to KILL him, since he’s been at it for 3 hours now. I’ve tried petting him, feeding him treats, and everything else I can think of, but all he does is bite and scream. The temptation to throw something at him and scream “shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” is overwhelming, but the only thing that would accomplish is to traumatize him and give me something else to feel guilty about. I can’t even put him in another room because we only HAVE one room. Can you say “stress?”)

Stress is a huge trigger for me. It makes my pain worse, reduces the quality of sleep even more, makes me irritable, and sets off the depression that always hovers in the background of my life waiting to pounce. What’s worse is that I’m constantly under a gigantic stress load. I work at a job that’s physically stressful because I can’t find anything else; and emotionally stressful because of cranky, rushed customers who give me no time to do any of the other things that the company expects me to do while I’m working (like put out stock, mark down short-date items, rotate stock, etc., etc., etc.) Add in financial stress because we make barely over minimum wage, emotional stress because we’re both unhappy with our jobs, more physical stress because of the lack of healthcare and medication, worry over when one of us is going to have a heart attack or a stroke because we can’t afford meds, and it equals a life so full of stress that something as minor as a friend who doesn’t immediately return an email or a bird that won’t be quiet can send me into a major funk.

I normally use meditation as my main form of stress management, but that’s pretty much impossible when the bird is screaming because I can’t block him out; so today it’s catnip tea, diffusing lavender essential oil, and breathing/relaxation exercises.

Nothing in this post is intended as medical advice. You should never try herbs or essential oils without the advice of an experienced practitioner, as many of them can interact with prescription medications and/or cause allergic reactions.

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6 Responses to “Is it Boredom, or Is it Depression?”

  1. Cynthia said

    The whole depression masquerading as boredom thing is so, so familiar! And then there’s the “I’m having a good day but I don’t want to over do things & end up in a flare” thing too. Being an avid reader I know I’m really in trouble when I get to the “I’m too tired to read another word” thing.
    Like you, I find stress to be a huge factor in my pain levels and also use meditation, visualization & sometimes herbs. Hadn’t heard of catnip tea, but my daughter & I took a trip to a lavendar farm last summer & came home with bunches of lavendar as well as essential oil. Walking through the farm was heaven!
    Finding ways to bring my creativity in play also helps tremendously & I love playing with collage & altered arts. I’ll have my certification as a creativity coach in another month! Hooray! Another thing that helps is music, generally folk, classical, new age or anything that could be considered uplifting and/or energizing.
    And Wendy, as far as your meds go, there are some resources that you might be able to tap into. Let me know if you’d like to have the info…I only take two meds: tramadol & Lyrica. I get the tramadol for $4 each month & the Lyrica free through a program that the pharma company has. I was working as a case mgr/advocate for adults w/disabilities and have helped a lot of my clients access both medical care and prescriptions.

    Gentle hugs!
    Cynthia

    • Cynthia –

      Creativity coach? Cool. I really appreciate the offer of prescription/medical resources, but I’ve been that route, and it did no good at all. I went through the county mental health department, have filled out the forms for reduced fee medical clinics at least 3 times, and have been turned down every time. At first it was because we had no proof of income (because we HAD no income) and now it’s because we do have insurance, we just can’t afford to use it. It doesn’t bother me so much for me, I can’t tell much of a difference in my symptoms with or without scripts, and the herbs and oils seem to help more than the meds did without all the nasty side effects. My biggest worry is hubby’s high cholesterol and blood pressure, because if it doesn’t come in a prescription bottle, he won’t take it, and he absolutely refuses to modify his diet. One of his favorite food related lines is “pork fat rules,” which will give you an idea of the kinds of things he WILL eat.

      • Cynthia said

        Aargh! I’m having one of those nights when I just can’t sleep. I’m back at work, very p/t & on-call and am meeting with a new client in the morning.

        I’m really excited about getting my coaching certificate, & it’s why I’m looking into doing a blog (at least until I can afford a website). One of my focuses, I hope, will be on people living with chronic illness.

        Anyway, I’m sorry to hear about your experiences with clinics, etc. But if your husband can get the prescriptions then you might check with WalMart about their $4 prescription program. And whether or not you have insurance doesn’t matter…

        I’m lucky that a regional chain has a similar program. Usually only generic drugs are included, but there are exceptions – & hubby can always ask the Dr to prescribe generics. I know that I have one client who gets both her high blood pressure & cholesterol meds through the $4 program every month. She had a stroke shortly after I started working with her & everything was off the charts because she hadn’t had medical care in 10 years – but now her blood pressure, cholesterol, etc are all normal with the help of her meds.

        Hope you’ll check it out…

      • Cynthia –

        I know what you mean about not being able to sleep, it was after 6am before I managed it.

        Let me know when you get your blog started, I want to read it (who knows, you might even get a link out of it – lol.) You obviously have good information to offer, and if you write posts on how to find help with prescriptions and medical care, I can almost guarantee you’ll get traffic for them. (I know I’ll read them, so there’s at least one hit apiece right there.) Some stuff based on the creativity coaching probably wouldn’t be a bad thing either, it sounds pretty interesting to me, and I’m not even sure what it is.

        Thanks for the idea about the $4 meds, we have several places around here that offer that program, and some of them have longer lists than WallyWorld. I actually work for one of them, which would make it pretty convenient, too. Now if I can just manage to get him to a doctor and get scripts for something on the lists . . .

        I’ll have to do some research, see what’s available, and which of those seem the most appropriate (and the least likely to have side effects that will cause a problem.) I doubt if the ADD meds he was taking are available, since they’re still under patent, but I’m betting there’s SOMETHING that would help. Ritalin has GOT to be available as a generic by now, and that’s what he started out on, way back in the mid-70s.

        I’m headed back to bed – I woke up with a migraine and had to call in because I was throwing up. I just happen to have a few phenergan left from an ER visit, and woke up when the last one wore off. The new dose is kicking in, so I’m about to fall asleep.

  2. Cynthia H said

    Sounds like we both had a lovely day, lol! I forgot to eat & by the time I got home @ 3pm was so nauseous that I was afraid to eat. How the heck do you forget to eat??!

    I’ll definitely let you know when I start my blog – but now you’ve thrown a kink in it! The blog is going to be focused on creativity coaching. But, since part of my practice will be focused on people living with chronic illness & disabilities, and part of my skill set now is medical advocacy, I could conceivably add posts, etc about prescriptions & medical care. I’ll have to get my creative mind working on that, lol! Got to love a good challenge, and the synchronicity here is such a gift!

    Just one more tip – don’t assume that non-generic meds aren’t covered by the programs we’ve discussed! Always ask. My son’s Paxil was covered (non-generic).

    And Wendy, I have to say “Thank You!!!” for your positive feedback and encouragement – it’s totally appreciated. Think I’ll flip over to twitter and post something about this blog of yours, lol!

    • Dunno how forgetting to eat happens, but it does. (I do it all the time.) Your best bet when it’s been so long you’re nauseous is some fruit juice or soda, it’s less likely to make you throw up. (Can you hear the voice of experience here?)

      Maybe the way to add the scripts and medical care into the blog is to focus on creative ways to find help. That brings them in, but also maintains the creative focus of the blog, and you’re still coaching, just on a slightly different subject.

      You’re welcome. On good days, feedback and encouragement are what I do. I’m pretty good at giving advice, too, and I’m one of those odd people that does NOT get insulted when you don’t follow it. I learned a long time ago that what works for me will not necessarily work for someone else, and sometimes the advice I give doesn’t really fit the circumstances because I don’t know all the details. There are also times when advice doesn’t fit into the belief systems of the person I’m giving it to, so they aren’t in a place where it would help them, even if they were willing to try it. If you firmly believe something CAN’T work, it won’t (placebo effect in reverse, perhaps?)

      Anyway, gotta go pry the hubby out of bed, he said he wanted to leave early, and then it’s another nap for me.

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