I had my fill of television watching yesterday, so I thought I’d try reading instead. But I couldn’t. If you have fibromyalgia and suffer from depression, you’ll understand what I mean. Television is totally mindless — no effort is required. It’s all there for you to see. Reading, on the other hand, requires effort.
For one thing, unless you’re reading nonfiction, it’s necessary to remember the information on the previous pages to make sense of the page you’re currently reading. This can be challenging on days when remembering anything at all is nearly impossible. Yesterday was one of those days. I spent more time backtracking to refresh my memory than I did actually reading. Who was that person? Is that man her husband or her son? Is this event happening today or 50 years ago, when the story first began?
Reading provides an opportunity to use your imagination, which is usually a good thing. The author gives you a description; your mind supplies the faces and the places for you to see. While your mind is busy being creative, it’s not dwelling on how you feel. That’s the reason it’s an excellent form of therapy. I can lose myself in someone else’s life and forget about my own.
Several novels on the best-seller list lately have really kept me captivated and given me many pleasant hours. During those times, I’ve actually forgotten my troubles, my missed opportunities, my anxieties. I consider these times to be a gift, and I thank all the authors responsible.
It’s when my mind isn’t functioning well that reading becomes a problem. There are times when the amount of effort required to concentrate or to imagine is greater than my limited energy. Instead of being helpful, reading is a source of frustration. Those are the times when I watch TV. I’m just not that interested in what there is to watch on daytime television. Is anyone really entertained by reruns of 20-year-old sitcoms they chose not to watch even when they were new? Or soap operas in which healthy people’s problems border on the ridiculous? I want to shout at them, “You think that’s a problem?”
I’d like to propose a new type of daytime television: one that targets people like us, people who don’t feel well enough to do anything else but watch TV. Of course, I realize it’s a matter of opinion, but wouldn’t it be nice to watch sitcoms that featured people with limitations like we have? Wouldn’t you like to see how they manage to laugh in spite of their pain? To see how they help themselves feel better? They would become role models for us — ones we can actually see, stuck in situations that could also be happening to us.
Isn’t there a writer somewhere who’s brave enough to create characters who are as challenged as we are? And a network brave enough to show them? The scripts would need to be funny. Very funny. When I’m capable of nothing but TV watching, I need to laugh. In fact, I need to laugh so hard that my endorphins kick in and I feel way better than I did before.
On days when even laughter doesn’t help, I need to see and hear someone who understands how I feel. Maybe a talk show called “The Ache” instead of “The View“? (My “view” is very different from the one Joy Behar discusses each day.) They might even introduce real people with real solutions to the problems we face, much like this website does.
I want to come away feeling like my life isn’t so bad, after all. I’d like to be reassured that I’m not unique and alone in my misery. And I’d like to feel that my TV watching wasn’t a waste of time. I’m thinking we need a new network. It could be called Feel Better Television, or FBTV. Anyone agree?
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.