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Thursday, 26 April 2018

Depression and chronic illness... the good, the bad and the extremely ugly days

As painful and difficult as it is to admit, sometimes, just sometimes you have to take a step back and say 'd'ya know what? I don't want to fake it til’ I make it today, I'm completely exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel and pretending that I’m okay when I’m not’. 

Life isn't hunky-dory right now. No, I'm not 'fine thanks', I'm actually more 'I've had enough and I feel really rather shit...I’ll be okay, just not today, but yeah, how are are you?'.

Repeat after me: It's okay to admit that you're struggling.

 I honestly feel as though my body is trying to kill me from the inside out, my body drains me of everything I have...extreme dizziness, debilitating fatigue, intense pain: stabbing, aching, throbbing and electric shock sensations from my head to my toes, in parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed. Pain in my neck so severe and awful that I can’t even hold my head up some days.

E v e r y t h i n g  is pure agony, it grips and tries to destroy me day in, day out. I really feel like screaming ‘hey, I didn’t sign up for this.’ Every single second is a fight. 

My mum has to dry my hair for me, help me out with even the most basic of tasks, and look after me as though I’m a small child all over again. It’s degrading. 

The worst part about fibromyalgia/M.E/chronic illness (they’re both physical illnesses) in general is how sometimes, no matter how hard you fight, it simply just breaks you as a person. 

Rewind back a few months, and I, the girl who always appeared unbreakable... well she broke. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Dealing with physical symptoms linked to physical health problems takes its toll, and I’m not surprised it can cause depression. 

I scrolled past a quote that read “some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75”, I just let that sink in for a couple of seconds, and that was the very moment that I knew almost instantly that I’d ‘lost myself’ a long time ago. 

One short, but extremely powerful quote made me realise that depression really had crept up on me without me even recognising it. I felt ashamed and almost embarrassed that I now needed to rely on antidepressants to help me get through the day. The physical challenge of chronic illness definitely takes its toll mentally though, and I now know it’s okay to admit that.

Depression can affect anyone at any time, but the battle is that little bit harder when you’re already fighting a battle with poor physical health already. 

At the beginning of the year (when I first started taking antidepressants) I began to write
a journal to track my progress, and it’s actually quite upsetting to read back on. It always makes me feel a bit emotional because it really is like reading a complete strangers thoughts, I was a different person.

14/01/18 entry: Today I’m feeling very very low, the worst I’ve ever felt in my life, each second has been hell. I didn’t even want to carry on with the day, I’ve lost all of my fight, I feel broken. 

Its sad because I can remember this day so vividly... I honestly lay curled up in a ball, curtains drawn as I couldn’t even stand to see daylight, I cried myself to sleep and when I woke up I repeated this constantly on loop for hours. I so badly didn’t think that I could carry on anymore. 

Perhaps sharing some of my darkest hours is overstepping the line? vulnerability is terrifying and the courage it takes to reveal this is daunting, but the stigma it helps to break down by doing so is more than worth it. 

Now rewind right back to now, time travel style... I don’t think I’ve ever felt as strong as I do right now. 

The past six months have really tested me, broken me and moulded me into the best version of myself, and for that I’m thankful. Sometimes it takes losing it all to finally realise that something has to be done- I feel as though week by week I’ve slowly re-pieced myself back together again, but in a totally brand new, better than ever order. 

It really isn’t impossible to ‘find yourself’ again, even after the most horrific times. 

It sometimes takes a bit of selfishness, focusing on yourself and your needs for a change, doing what is best for you before you can even try and be a good person to others. 

I actually feel a better version of me, I’m stronger, have more empathy for others and I guess it’s made me realise just how precious living life is. Friends and family are important, sharing our feelings is important, and last but not least admitting that you maybe need a little bit of help is also important. I’ve found that recovery means being brutally honest. 

So I’m just going to leave this one with you “Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on, but you keep going anyway”. 
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