Depression and Chronic Illness

It is little wonder that people with chronic illness suffer with depression!  If you were told that you would regularly endure vomiting and passing out from pain at least once a month for the rest of your life – you, like me, would see no end of pain.  No relief.  No hope.

Of course in some ways it would be easier if we were bleeding from the eyes because at least then others would be able to easily spot the trouble and treat us with the care and attention we deserve!  But I digress…

A psychologist once told me that depression doesn’t occur in people who are assholes: people who are abrasive, rude, self-assured and never seem to have any problems to speak of who go through life saying “Why don’t you just…”

People who endure depression regularly think of others before themselves and care about what other people think.  Perhaps we’re too busy trying to live up to the expectations of others to take care of ourselves properly?  Whatever the reason, once again, if you’ve got depression brought on by a chronic illness you’re in good company here.

According to The signs of depression are:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or recurrent thoughts of death
  • Sleep disturbance (sleeping more or sleeping less)
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of energy and fatigue

Depression crept upon me slowly.  I didn’t wake up one morning with the uncontrollable urge to cry every 5 minutes.  There wasn’t one particular incident that made me wish I were dead.  The feelings of worthlessness I had stemmed from a number of suspicions and experiences that are too numerous to mention.  It stemmed from an unhappy marriage and miscarriages.  I felt I was unable to be a woman because I was unable to have a baby.  I felt that if I could only have a baby, I would be vindicated because I could finally achieve something.  How awful it is that – for a woman who feels worthless – I couldn’t even produce offspring which is something that most women simply lay back and think of England to achieve!

It’s little wonder then that where and when I cried only increased.  For years I felt I was totally alone.  In trying to find some happiness I made friends but felt empty.  In the end, it seemed that the only good thing in my life was my friendship with Helios.  When I asked God for a less stressful life, a more simple life, I believe He sent me Helios.  I tried a number of things to try and break through my discontent: I wrote a diary, I had numerous sessions with a psychologist, and ultimately I changed my life entirely, for the better.

I addressed everything at once: my health issues, my employment, and my personal relationships.  I started taking neural inhibitors for my incessant vaginal pain from bacterial vaginosis.  I separated from my first husband and started seeing Helios regularly.  I divorced and had my second laparoscopy.  I started taking metformin to control my insulin resistance.  I started using HRT to control my PCOS symptoms.  I started taking St John’s Wort in an effort to stop crying.  I divorced and purchased a small flat with the financial settlement.  I took the birth control pill and then stopped again – because the St John’s Wort counteracted with my birth control.  I took Milk Thistle for my PMT.  I rattled with the tablets I was taking.  I worried about all the tablets counter-acting with one another.

In the middle of it all, Helios was there and supported me.  He looked after be after my second surgery and then my third.  He never made me feel weak or guilty.  We married despite all the physical problems I have.  He was always gentle and kind to me.

Even after my life had completely changed for the better, I was still unable to shake the feeling that my head was still stuck in a dark cloud.  I knew I was happy but I just didn’t feel it.  I finally gave in and discussed the matter again with my doctor who again recommended prozac.  This time I took it.  Within the year I was finally myself again – and happy.

Just because I’ve had depression doesn’t mean that I am weak.  I am strong because I was able to ask for help.  I care about others which means I’m a good person.


6 thoughts on “Depression and Chronic Illness

  1. Yay! Well done you realising that depression makes us strong! We go through things that non-depressives do, and we go through them when we feel at our lowest, and come out the other end a lot stronger.

    Have your heard of Mary Ellen Copeland and W.R.A.P.? I’m going to post about the W.R.A.P. course I did a couple of years ago. Probably next month though.

  2. Hi Tricia
    I’m grateful for your comment. It’s so important for us to realise that it’s completely normal for chronic illness sufferers to get depressed. I’d hate to think that anyone reading my blog to feel abnormal or weak if they also have depression. Don’t forget, we have to be stronger than the average person and it’s little wonder that the issues we face get us down.

    I’ve not heard of Mary Ellen Copeland and W.R.A.P. I’m looking forward to your W.R.A.P. post already!

  3. Brilliant Post and so true also!
    Its so very hard to keep your head above water when your Body is constantly attacked by Pain,lack of Sleep and the stress of it all!
    I for one think its time to admit I need help ,its been pretty clear to me for quite a while now I am obviously suffering from Depression.
    Hopefully I will be in Doctors this Week so will discuss this with him.

    I am so glad you have the love of a good man 🙂
    Im glad to be your Friend
    x x x x

  4. Hi meinsideandout
    Thanks very much for your comment. You’re so right that we have more to deal with than others. It’s hard to imagine how our lives would be different if we didn’t have these problems. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a life free of pain, lack of sleep and the extra stress involved in keeping the pain at bay!
    I hope your doctor was as supportive as mine was. Take care and keep me posted as to how you get on. You’re going to be OK. I’m so glad you’re my Endosister!
    Your friend,

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