Having an autoimmune disease certainly takes a toll on your body, but nobody wants to talk about what it does to the mind. The topic of depression seems almost taboo at times, but the sad reality that it exists must be acknowledged. Many of my fellow autoimmune warriors have admittedly dealt with depression during the progression of their disease(s), and although I can’t speak on their experience, I can try to share mine.
For me, personally, I’ve never been a depressive person. I’ve had my mental health battles prior to my autoimmune diagnosis, but depression was never the issue for me. I’ve only been officially diagnosed for about a month, so the feelings and emotions that I’m going through are pretty new to me. There are thoughts and emotions so strong that I feel like I’m being crushed. I feel like something is sitting on my chest. I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t move. Most of the time, I can occupy my attention elsewhere, but once in a while the reality of my disease sets in. I start to panic and as the anxiety rises in me I feel a rage boil through me. Before I even realize what’s happening to me, I’m going off. Yelling. Screaming. Crying. I feel completely out of control with my words and my actions during this time. When this happens I just want to be left alone. Of course, it’s during this time that nobody wants to leave you alone for fear of your safety.
Thoughts can be just as dangerous in this disease. I’m constantly thinking about this disease and how it is going to affect every aspect of my life. The rapid cycling thoughts never cease. If I’m not sleeping, I’m thinking and worrying and stressing. I think about my husband and the added burden this might bring. I think about my children, my youngest son is special needs, so I worry the most about him. I think about the medications and side effects and costs. I think about the constant pain that I’m in and I wonder if it will ever get better. I wonder what the quality of life will be for me in a year, five years or even a decade. And if it hurts this much now, how bad will it be when I’m 40, or 50 or Gods willing 60 years old?
I have days where my life and health seem bleak and dreary. Days that I can’t find a reason to smile, or a positive thought. Days that I barely want to get out of bed. Those are the darkest days. The days that I feel like I’m in a room full of people that love and adore me. I’m screaming for help but it falls on deaf ears. I have cried more tears in the last month than I probably have in my entire life. I’ve never been one to show emotion. I can maintain my composure in all situations, but not this one. I have screaming, crying fits when nobody is around. I hide my tears in the shower and underneath a pound of makeup. And I face the darkness within one more time.
There are times that I know that I need to talk to someone about these thoughts and feelings. There are times that the darkness is too great, and the burden seems too heavy. In those times I know I should reach out, but those are the times that I shut down. Those are the loneliest moments for me. The moments where the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Moments that I feel like I don’t have a friend to be found. Moments where I feel like a burden, or more trouble than I’m worth. Moments that I want to run my husband off to save him the misery of watching me fall apart every single day. These are the moments that the darkness envelopes me, until I feel like I’m suffocating. It’s a vicious cycle that I struggle to break free from. Every single day I battle this darkness within. And every day I get up ready to fight it again.
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