Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression is not a choice

I've written about depression before. In the wake of Robin Williams suicide everyone is sharing their opinion on depression and so I hesitated to add mine. However, after seeing a lot of information out there I felt there was something that needs to be made clear, depression is an illness, not a choice.

Depression is an illness as real as my physical illness, it's just harder to see an even harder to diagnose. Depression is often invisible even though it can be as deadly as cancer is. Depression is agony, just as cancer is. It can beat you down and destroy your mind and body and convince you that you are worthless and that no one cares about you. And unlike cancer, it's a secret illness. It's not easy to see the effects so you don't get a lot of support.

I was always taught that I had control over my life. I needed to be both physically and mentally strong. If I just did the right things and followed the right path then I would maintain control. Yes, bad things might happen to me, but I could still have control over my reaction to them. Depression (like health) takes away your ability to control. It takes away your self worth and your ability to cope, it convinces you that you can do nothing to make things better. It convinces you that no one wants to help you and that everyone would judge you if you told the truth. It convinces you that a councilor would just laugh and you and tell you to get over it. It convinces you that no one else feels the way you do and that you are utterly alone.

Depression isn't failure.

Depression isn't a choice.

Depression isn't weakness.

Depression is an illness. Much like my physical illnesses, depression isn't easy to cure, but there are ways to make improvements and to cope. If you are depressed and that voice is telling you that you are worthless and that no one cares, it is lying to you. I care, people care, they just don't know. So please, please, reach out for help. There are many, many people who feel the same way and can relate to how you feel, reach out to them and let them help you.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I don't want to

The problem with going on vacation is that I never want to come back to real life. I was able to keep on with denial for a few days last week, but today I officially can't ignore real life any longer. It's back to bills, to do lists, phone calls, cleaning, and doctors appointments. It's back to being pressured to do things I don't feel I can physically do and feeling guilty about it. No more carefree existence.


I can't ignore my health anymore either, I have to play catch up. I ate what I wanted and did what I wanted while on vacation, now it's back to eating healthy and carefully regulating what I do with my body. I couldn't live a carefree life forever, but it was soooooo nice while it lasted. 

The hardest part about being home for me is the boredom. I'm so entertained when I'm on vacation and this is what my gregarious nature needs. I don't like being stuck at home and here I am, again. It's so frustrating to have a constant need to be around people, but not to be able to do it because of health. If I had my way I'd be working full time and would be so busy I'd never be home. My body has other plans however. My health is so unpredictable there is no way I could hold a job more than a few hours a week, and it's not easy to find a 10 hour a week job. This is just one some piece of the frustrations that come with have a chronic illness. 

Still, there are good things about being home, things that remind me that I have a good life. I like sleeping in my own bed, I missed my friends, my children are on a stricter schedule which minimizes the meltdowns, and I like having my own space in my house (even if it's my closet) and having a place to go when I need silence (there's no silence in a hotel room when you have kids). 

So I'm trying to focus on the positives and not the things that drive me up the wall. I'm not a naturally positive person, I'm more of a realist, but I have learned that there is no point on dwelling on the negative. My health is never going to get better, so while I have my down days I try not to sit around feeling my sorry for myself all the time. After all, life goes on and there are so many good parts of life even if you don't have health. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Chronic pain saps your mental motivation

I just read an article here about how chronic pain saps your mental motivation and causes lethargy. They experimented on mice to come to this conclusion, but I could have told them that right off.  It's kind of a no brainer. When your body is constantly in a state of distress it is incredibly hard for your mind to stay focused. It's also very tiring to be in constant pain, the longer I'm in pain the more lethargic I get.

Another article about the study found here noted that "the study might help to explain why chronic pain sufferers can't finish daily tasks." No shit, you think? Gosh, why can't those lazy people in pain just get off their big fat rears and get stuff done? I mean, having a functioning body is pretty overrated, it's really no excuse for being lazy. So what if every movement causes excruciating pain, just get over it! And don't even think about asking for pain killers because then you are not only lazy and stupid, you are an addict. Really what's wrong with people who are in pain, why are they so self centered? /end sarcasm

Despite my desire to throw things at the person who wrote the last article, it is great to see some research being done on the effects of chronic pain. Maybe someday pain patients can actually hope for some better treatment as a result of this kind of research.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Traveling with chronic illness

I just got back from vacation in the Pacific northwest.  As always,  vacation was very taxing on my body. It seems like it should be the opposite,  but when you're flying 2500 miles with two little kids, it can be rough.  Traveling in general is not for the faint of heart.  Hours waiting in security lines, having to get up at 3 am to catch a flight, crowds of annoying people, etc. Plus, I just gotta say, human bodies were not designed to be cramped into tiny airplane seats for hours at a time. Even normal people find it extremely uncomfortable, I found it excruciating. 

My strategy when it comes to traveling with chronic illness is just to follow my usual principle of time management (having adequate rest time) and then plow through and hope my body holds up. Needless to say plowing through did have an effect on my body, but because I was on vacation and had very few responsibilities I recovered faster then I would at home.  I took full advantage of not having responsibilities sucking my energy and am proud to say I survived (and enjoyed) a very difficult hike in the middle of nowhere in Canada. The old healthy me probably wouldn't have had shaking legs afterwards,  but even the old me would still have been tired over such a distance.  It was great to pretend to be healthy for a little while, and I got to see amazing views I will probably never get to see again.

It will probably take a couple of days for me to recover from vacation. Meanwhile the suitcases will be sitting in the front hallway and the laundry will go unwashed,  but it was totally worth it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I choose courage

It's been a stressful week and since it's summer and my kids are home I have had no time to process things or to take a few quiet minutes and find peace. I can't even think anymore because there is always a kid yelling "Mom!!" every second of every day. I don't think I've gone to the bathroom without being harassed since school got out on June 6. I'd really like to go to the bathroom without children shouting at me through the door or children trying to kill each other. Even now I'm being peppered with questions and my stress level is heading through the roof as I can't even write one paragraph without interruption.

What does this word vomit have to do with courage? I don't really know, I started this post with one idea in my head and it morphed into another as my seven year old was whining about not being able to watch tv. Still, I think that courage can be found in these moments. Courage is not always big or obvious, courage is waking up every day and continuing on even when your body won't cooperate. Courage is listening to your kids whine when every muscle in your body is screaming.  Courage is finding ways to live even though your life isn't what you thought it would be. I choose courage even though it's not always ideal or pretty. I choose courage because I refuse to let my body defeat my mind.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm jealous of you, again

This is an update on a I wrote a post a few years ago "I'm jealous of you."

If you can have a normal social life... I'm jealous of you.

If you can maintain normal friendships with give and take...I'm jealous of you.

If your ability to function is not based on whether or not the pharmacy will fill your prescription... I'm jealous of you.

If you don't constantly worry about medical expenses... I'm jealous of you.

If people don't treat you like your invisible... I'm jealous of you.

If you've never heard "if you would just get off the couch you'd feel better"... I'm jealous of you.

If you don't have to base your whole life around your health... I'm jealous of you.

If you wake up every day feeling refreshed...I'm jealous of you.

If you don't think you need medical insurance because you're young and "never get sick"... I'm jealous of you.

If you can work... I'm jealous of you.

If you think illness can be controlled by just eating the right foods... I'm jealous of you.

If you still think that doctors are able to help sick people... I'm jealous of you.

If you've never been told "it's all in your head"... I'm jealous of you.

If you don't get referred to in a whispered voice as someone you know, she has those "health problems"... I'm jealous of you.

If you don't feel like you constantly have to defend your lack of achievements due to your health... I'm jealous of you.

There is no magic switch you can flip that turns off your hopes and dreams when you get a chronic illness. It's a cycle of grieving that you go through again and again. Most of the time I'm fine, I've accepted things, I'm making new goals, and I'm okay with the way things are. Sometimes something happens to remind me of the life I lost and I go through the cycle of grieving all over again. I don't think jealousy is something that will ever go away. The important thing is that it is something that I need to work on and not let it get in the way of relationships.

Monday, July 7, 2014

1/3 of ME cases wrongly diagnosed

"Third of ME cases 'wrongly diagnosed': Experts says thousands thought to have chronic fatigue actually have similar condition that can be treated"

This article is a bit scary, but misdiagnoses is a real issue (even though this article is about the UK and not America). When it comes down to diagnosis of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia which involve excluding everything, it's important that physicians actually exclude EVERYTHING. Too many doctors use the diagnoses as wastebasket diagnosis so they don't have to use up their "valuable" time. Make sure your doctor doesn't do this to you!
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