Mental Health Awareness month is May. Is it ironic that I am feeling more and more depressed lately? One of the things that goes along with any chronic illness is depression and Crohn's is no exception. My problem though, is that I cannot quite put my finger on just what it is that sets me off. I can be feeling totally happy with my life and everything in it and WHAM! Out of nowhere I find myself not wanting to get out of bed; not wanting to leave the house; and honestly not even wanting to take a shower, brush my hair or look in a mirror.
It's more than just feeling a little down. It's more than just being sad. It's more than just lack of motivation or being lazy. It isn't exactly feeling sick. It doesn't happen in conjunction with being sicker or having more Crohn's or Fibromyalgia symptoms than usual. The weird part is I really want to feel better. Every night I make a mental plan for the next day. I will go to my Mom's. I will call a friend and meet for lunch. I will sit outside in the sunshine and read. I will take a walk. I will clean the house. I will do the laundry. I will... But by the next morning I find myself waking up and then just rolling over and giving up.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
- difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- fatigue and decreased energy
- feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- irritability, restlessness
- loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- overeating or appetite loss
- persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
- thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
I've been in and out of therapy since I was 10 years old when my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I never pull the "Dad" card but it seems like ever since then my life became one emotional trauma after the next. I was on and off various medications for depression and anxiety starting at age 17. I've done two stints in a mental health facility. I've honestly had more therapists and shrinks than I've had colonoscopies and that's saying something! Don't get me wrong, I think meds and therapy can do wonders. I also feel like a relationship with God can literally work miracles when everything else fails. But I also know what getting beat down over and over again by a failing body can do to someone - to their self esteem and their will.
I'm a stubborn person. I always have been. I have a determination about me and if I want to accomplish something bad enough I will. I have done many things out of pure stubbornness - like graduating nursing school and passing my boards. I have always moved to the beat of a different drum. But with depression, it always seems to be a battle I cannot win, determination or not. I wish it could be as easy as waking up and thinking differently. Telling myself that today will be different and I won't feel worthless. But it isn't that easy. For most people with real clinical depression it is never that easy. It isn't easy to change your way of thinking when your way of thinking is disrupted and disturbed because of depression. It's like demanding an Alzheimer's patient "just remember" where they are or who you are. It's not fair to think that positive thinking could make a lasting difference. Short term maybe, but long term no way.
If you have read this blog for a while you probably know that I am not all about the doom and gloom. Well, sometimes I am. But I try to keep in funny. If you just met me on the street you would never know that I have all this going on inside me. The depression, the Crohn's disease, the Fibromyalgia, the pain, and the scars. And that's the whole point of this post. Not all diseases disfigure people. Not all diseases show themselves in ways that will let onlookers immediately know what's wrong. Mental Health Awareness Month is May. Are you aware? Are you?
I'm Jenni, and this is my confession of depression.