Living with chronic illness or pain for any single individual is a pain within itself, but add on Depression, and you feel like you’re dying. I currently suffer from stomach peptic ulcers and heart disease along with my mental illnesses. For some people, their Depression is a side effect of their chronic illnesses. For me, it is a little different. I had Depression before I developed my stomach ulcers. Ulcers are holes in the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine, and I developed my ulcers from my first suicide attempt, trying to overdose on a variety of pills. Ulcers cannot be cured, but can be treated. In other words, I will live with them for the rest of my life. Having Depression, along with my ulcers, is a constant battle because when I have a flare up in my stomach, I am further reminded of why I have them. Ulcers cause an excruciating amount of pain in your stomach that will have you hunched over crying for hours. It is a gnawing, burning sensation that doesn’t go away until it is ready. There are acid reducers that reduces flare ups, but they come anywhere, at any time. So, when I am in pain, it causes me not to want to do anything, but lie in my bed, in the fetal position. I don’t want to eat because it makes me nauseas, therefore, I sink into a depressed state because I’m not doing anything except wallowing in my pain, being miserable.
Living with heart disease and Depression is also a constant battle. I have high blood pressure, and systolic murmur affecting how my valves work. I have to wear a heart monitor every single day, every hour on the dot. I am constantly out of breath, I am always sweating, even when it is 30 and below outside, I will most likely be in short sleeves and have the window cracked in the car or my room. I have palpations that make me feel like I am having an anxiety attack every hour of the day. I can’t do dimple things like brush my hair or teeth without feeling exhausted causing me to want to only sit in my room and do nothing because it is easier that way. I am lethargic and sleepy all the time. If I am not in class, I am in my bed sleeping. There are many other symptoms I could list that make me feel dead all the time, but you get it. These symptoms are those alike of Depression, so I can never really tell if I am depressed or my heart is just acting funny.
Chronic illness is very different for certain people. Chronic illness for me hinders my every day activities, so on top of me naturally having zero motivation because of my Depression, I have sickness that makes me feel heavy and sick all of time, enabling my depression. How do I cope with it? Honestly, I have to find different ways to push through it. Sometimes it is calling my parents to receive motivation to just get out of bed, some days I have to just go for a walk around campus to get my spirits up even I don’t feel like it. I will also take my medicine to make sure I am feeling half-way up to par every day, so I can find the strength to go to class. I go to my cardiology appointments whenever I am scheduled, so I can continue to be as healthy as possible, and so I can remind my self that the effort is there.
Chronic illness goes hand in hand whether you have Depression because of your chronic illness, or whether you had it to begin with and chronic illness is just another obstacle that you have to deal with. Either way I encourage you to just do your absolute best. There aren’t any set rules that you have to follow to feel good every day because that just isn’t possible when you’re in this situation If you have, make a list of positive affirmations around your room to remind you that your best is enough. If all you did that day was get out of the bed to change your clothes, and get back into bed, that is perfectly okay, because at least the effort was there. If you are having trouble coping with your illnesses, both physically and mentally, please feel free to contact me and we can help each other in the best way we know how.