Chronic diseases like Multiple Sclerosis can magnify everyday stress and make you more susceptible to depression.read more
Feeling down…it’s something we all go through at some stage in our lives, in some form or another and for any length of time. Some will find it easy to talk about, others will rather play hide and seek. That was how I was dealing with it until a week ago.
I was depressed.
Up until just seven days ago, saying “I’m depressed” made me feel ashamed, but it was nothing to be ashamed of, yet saying it aloud took some strength.
A mental “like” button turned blue when I read the saying “Depression isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign you’ve been trying to remain strong for too long.” Replying to it was another thing altogether though, as I didn’t know what type of depression I was experiencing. Was I depressed because of a general feeling of just not liking life right now? Was I feeling down as a reaction to living with MS? Or was my medication causing depression?
One of the lesser-known facts about depression and multiple sclerosis is that it can be a symptom of your illness itself. Defining which was which made me feel uncomfortable at my lack of insight. But, because depression is a much talked about subject in my group of friends lately, I decided to do some soul-searching.
Feeling encouraged by other people’s bravery to open up about their emotional turmoil secret, I decided to stand up and say, “Yes, I too know what depression feels like.” I finally realised that nobody is protected from those deep, dark clouds in the mind, including me.
The reason for feeling down lately was that I created myself a nice, shiny never-ending cycle. Doing too much…increased neuropathic pain…restless nights because of the pain…and more and stronger neuropathic pain during the day because of lack of sleep.
The result? Having forced myself into a schedule of repetitive, exhausting mental and physical pain, I realised I was just not that girl anymore who could climb hills and do some hillwalking while there. The fact that I haven’t done any hillwalking and rock climbing the last ten years because of my MS didn’t matter. The issue was that nobody expected me to feel depressed, least of all me.
Vacuuming the house, cleaning the bathroom, weekly grocery shopping, visiting friends became huge tasks, jobs best left to someone else. I eventually lost interest in going outside. I also couldn’t stand reading newspapers anymore because of all the blood and gore written in them, and I felt anxious about the silliest of reasons.
I languished in silence. I demanded things of myself I hadn’t been doing in years, yet mentally “being unable to do the dishes today” was still tantamount to “I can’t walk ten miles Iike I used to do ten years ago.” Expectations were my foe, and I the fool to still fall in its trap.
A breakthrough happened last week after one of my friends wrote a fantastic piece on being depressed. It forced me to stand up and say, “Yes, I am feeling off, but no, it will not last forever.” Since then, I feel as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and although I’m not there yet, I am on my way to regaining my personal strength and lust for life.
The biggest realisation was that although adventurous hobbies are not on my list of things to do anymore, there is so much more I still can do. It’s back to my joy for the simple things, everything I can do without forcing myself into a tailspin.