This week, I’m blogging as a part of RA Blog Week. Today’s prompt: coping with depression.
I’m no stranger to talking about how mental health issues interact with my physical health issues. I’ve been very open in talking about my struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress as well. Most of what I’ve talked about, though, is concurrent with but not caused by my rheumatic fun.
Depression, though, is something that I struggle a lot with. It’s gotten a lot better as my physical health improves (and with my antidepressant) but it still lingers from time to time. Depression is also pretty common when you deal with any chronic illness. The isolation we often face as friends and family either leave our lives or share their disbelief about our illnesses increases our chances of depression.
With invisible illnesses, it’s easy to fall into depression. We have these friends and families who don’t believe us. We try to work jobs that won’t accommodate us as much as we need because we aren’t visibly sick. Dating? HA! Healthcare peeps are, often, less caring about some of the invisible illnesses, too.
Throw into the mix how unpredictable our invisible illnesses are and you’re in for a treat.
One day, I can walk a mile. The next, I’m hobbling twenty feet to the bathroom. The day after? I’m sleeping to catch up on the sleep my pain prevented me from getting.
Those things don’t always happen in that order or as mildly as I make it sound.
The truth is that my rheumatic diseases have led to me missing important events in the lives of family and friends. This alone is enough to throw me into dealing with a depressive episode, but then I throw in the potential networking or professional events I’ve missed and it just compounds the frustration I have with my own body.
That’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it? I frustrate myself and do so uncontrollably. I’m unpredictable and unreliable, and not for a lack of trying. My illnesses cause those I love and care about pain, too, whether that’s because of my inability to be consistent or how hurtful it can be to watch someone deal with pain knowing that you’re unable to take it away.
When my illnesses can trigger someone else’s depression? It just causes mine to get worse.
The beauty in all of this is that, by stopping the process of making our body the enemy, we can help to lessen the guilt of living with illness. By halting the viewpoint of our bodies as our enemies in our fight against illness and, instead, embracing what our bodies, minds, and souls need?
That is the epitome of self-care and self-love. That is exactly what we need more of.
But it’s a process – a continuous process. Once you start, stopping just gets you back into the self-deprecation mode we’ve all come to know so well.
Do me a favor. Now that you’ve read this, go do something for you. Eat something decadent, take some medication if it’s time, watch a silly YouTube video, or send Snapchats to your favorite people using silly filters.
Have you dealt with depression due to illness? What have you found to help you?