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Depression & Chronic illness

Hello Readers,

I thought I’d do a post about my illness and how depression is linked to it.  It’s quite well known now that there is a link between having an illness and suffering from depression. In particular when I talk about illnesses I’m look at chronic illness. There’s no doubt that any illness can lead to depression, however a chronic illness lends itself more due to the long term effects that illness has on us.

I have Fibromyalgia, an illness that never was, and to a certain extent,is still not very well explained. It causes widespread pain all over, in particular in certain tender points, and fatigue and insomnia are just a few of the additional factors that come with it. It’s a difficult thing for people to understand because to anyone on the outside I look fine, but inside the pain is taking all of my energy to try and push through it. Chronic illnesses are chronic because there is no end, yes there are flare ups and these eventually end, but the illness itself is there for life. It is this chronic factor that leads people to suffer from depression.

So many things change when you are diagnosed with an illness. Your personality to some extent changes, you have to say ‘no’ more which is extremely difficult if like me, you’re a yes person. You start to feel like you are letting people down because you have made plans and then a flare up kicks in and you can’t even get out of bed. I’m lucky, I have support from my family and I have great friends who understand that I do my best. On my best days you’d never know I had this illness, on my worst it’s difficult to see a way out.

I’m currently in the middle of a flare up now, so I’m off work and feeling guilty about it. Work life is something that can lead to people losing a sense of their identity, you start to feel that you are being judged and that people think you may be “putting it on”. You wish that people could see the pain you feel but you spend most of your days “playing it down”. At work people can normally tell I’m in pain because I have to slow right down, my bodies way of telling me to stop.

Depression can come from feeling lonely, feeling like you have lost a sense of you, you can feel like an outsider in your own life, you may lose friends and family, you may isolate yourself, you go through all emotions and feelings like guilt, anger, sadness, loneliness, and they all take their toll. The important thing is to talk to someone, anyone, even if its just for 5 minutes, getting out how you really feel does make a difference. If you have a good GP talk to them and they can point you in the right direction for help. I see people who just need to talk about what they are going through, some come to me for psychotherapy and this helps to work through their feelings and worries regarding the illness and depression. There are support groups for many illnesses and depression itself, you’ve just got to be willing to go and look for it.

It’s also important to try and keep up with the things you enjoy, I try and listen to music when I’m feeling down and in pain, and even sitting outside when the weather is warmer (it happens occasionally) feeling the warmth on your skin is well needed and it does make you feel more positive about what you are going through. Depression isn’t a weakness, asking for help isn’t a weakness, waking up each day to confront what that day brings, that’s strength, and asking for help and admitting that yeah you may need someone sometimes, it all shows strength.

Everyone has their own way of coping, when you find yours share it with others. Everyday is a learning curve for me and I have been diagnosed for just over a year now. Even doing this post has helped me to unload, and it’s the little things that make the difference.

Thank you for reading.