“Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before” James Buckham
I think depression is inevitable at some point in any person who deals with a chronic illness of any type. Being ill or in pain for a long duration of time is taxing mentally as well as physically. The degree of the depression will vary from person to person, some having much more severe symptoms than others.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
- difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- fatigue and decreased energy
- feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- irritability, restlessness
- loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- overeating or appetite loss
- persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
I know with me, I have had some mild type depression symptoms off and on over the years, but that since my ovary removal surgery that went wrong in 2005, I have struggled with these symptoms to a much higher degree. I did at some points take anti-depressants, but didn’t feel like they were really helping much and the side effects didn’t seem worth it. But I know for a fact that some people find these medications to be extremely effective in controlling their symptoms, which is wonderful!
I try to keep a positive attitude, but when I am “losing” my positivity, I find myself getting very down and negative. Feelings of uselessness and guilt overwhelm me at times. I cry easily and am moody. I have seriously considered “ending the pain” on more than one occassion, but have concluded that is not the way to deal with it, mostly because I just want to be around to see my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids! But I can certainly relate to those feelings.
Living with several chronic illnesses, as in my case, it is very challenging to stay “happy” or positive all the time. I do TRY to keep my emotions on an even keel though. I read alot of self-help books (corny to some I know) but they seem to help me, inspirational quotes and poems are great for my psych, as are reading stories of others who have beat the odds or overcome obstacles in their lives. I have always used prayer as a huge form of comfort for me, I started “writing letters to God” at a very young age…and still do when I am feeling really down. Then I started journaling and eventually blogging, and I find that to be very cathartic. Whether anyone reads me or not, just getting my feelings down, out of my head feels awesome!
Everyone who deals with depression, whether mild or severe, has their own way of dealing with it. As I said, for some the plethora of medications that are available will help immensly, for others not so much. Some benefit from professional counseling, speaking to the clergy, self help books, meditation, or just opening up to a good friend. Any and all of these will help most people. I also find that if I try to keep a gratitude journal it helps keep me feeling more upbeat also..even just saying things as simple as “I am grateful for the sunshine today!” or looking at how beautiful the leaves on the trees look as they change colors…it releases the good endorphins that make you feel better.
Depression is a battle. When you are suffering from it, you most certainly feel as if you are fighting some unseen demonic force. Sometimes it can pull you so far down, you cannot get out of it without professional help. To me it feels like you are underwater, every movement feels heavy and challenging. To add to the pain of this disease is the judgement you get from others. Depression still has a stigma. People are sometimes ashamed of their diagnosis or must deal with others views of what the disease means. It is nothing to be embarrassed about of course. It’s an illness, like any other.
So, if you feel you are suffering from depression, no matter how mild…please do not be ashamed to seek professional help. There are treatments that can help you feel better, you just have to find what works for you. Never ignore suicidal thoughts or feelings, you must get help. Some depressions are just too deep to fight on your own. Just don’t ever give up or feel defeated! You can beat it! It may not be easy, and you may be on a bit of a roller-coaster at times, but you will make it through, and come out the other side stronger.
I know that with the chronic pain, that when I let the depression take control, it makes my pain levels even worse, and I start to let the pain win. For me, it’s the never ending pain that keeps the “depression demon” in my head…and when I’m feeling weakest, that’s when he strikes. I have to try to keep him at bay by keeping positivity near by, my pain medications around the clock, happy movies and music, laughter, prayer, meditation, journaling, family and friends and of course…blogging! Some times I win the war, sometimes I don’t…but I never stay down, and I never will, because I am stronger than the pain or the depression!
“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” – Greenville Kleiser