I have not written about my rheumatoid arthritis in a while because it has not improved. But I can say what it has made worse. My depression. As my physical health goes down hill my mental health follows. I’ve been called all kinds of names but in reality those same people couldn’t handle a week of my life physically, never mind the mental anguish that accompanies it. Being depressed is a lonely road. If people have not experienced it it’s very hard to understand the darkness. My old coping mechanism for depression was going outside. For a walk, fishing, birdwatching even to the store, just to distract myself a bit. It usually worked and kept the worst of it at bay. I’ve lost that remedy for the blues.
I have also learned these last seven years how important it is to have a purpose. I don’t mean a career by that. By a certain point the pain and disability makes a career difficult. A purpose is something different in my view. It’s more of a ‘I’m needed’ feeling.
When you lose your physical abilities you really start to ponder your ‘purpose’. What do I do now? Where do I go from here? I’m at that place right now and it’s not easy. No part of RA, depression or any illness is easy, but no one mentions side effects like your mental health taking a dive.
My youngest moved out on her own this spring so I have that empty nester thing going on too.
If you are diagnosed with an illness do consider care for your mental health as well. It can be a tough road and just having someone to unload onto who is unbiased can help immensely.
I’ll be adding more views on depression in the future.
Yesterday was a voyage into hell, it felt like my legs had taken a shot-gun blast to them. I relented and took tramadol because the pain was difficult to hide, you know it’s bad when you cannot conceal it. The pain was relieved to a bearable level and managed to go out for a drive to a local park for some people watching. A little boy had his cat on a leash, have to say it was amusing because, well, it was a cat on a leash. 😀 Kitty did not cooperate and wanted to do his own thing (of course) its tail was flicking all over the place and the area is au naturel parkland with trees, birds, grass and plenty of room and that 6 ft leash did not cut it. The little boy was patient and tried to lead kitty back to their vehicle, it took awhile to get in that general direction. We were giggling and a couple of women walking up the path were too, what can I say, cat on a leash. 😀
It’s very important to get out and laugh, it felt damn good.
I have to admit, my mental health has suffered greatly since my diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had battled depression & anxiety before I was diagnosed and now, well, it’s a lot worse. I have terrible bouts of hopelessness and feeling useless to the world which is now my reality. My son moved out May of ’12, I still sometimes feel that loss, I know kids can’t live at home forever but I was hoping for a little longer. My kids are/were my world and them growing up is another challenge I face in this life. It’s not easy to be a parent, kids change your life the moment you have them and it’s a constant evolution as they grow. That being said I don’t handle change well and I consider that a huge flaw in myself, it needs constant work. It honestly feels like I need to become someone completely different, am now a chronically ill mum bordering on empty nester. My daughter still lives with me and I enjoy all the time I can have with her, I know it will be hard when she decides to leave the nest. I hope between now and then I have better coping skills. As you could see by my last couple posts I’m not faring well on the mental health front, I do try my damnedest to not sink so low, it’s my mid-life crisis I guess, enhanced by RA & me feeling pretty useless compared to what I use to do. I took great pride in fixing and doing things on my own, I was self sufficient and tenacious, I got shit done. I feel like a shadow of my former self, I still get stuff done but not as much as I use to. And that irritates the hell out of me. Between being sick, fatigued and brain fogged to the point I forget as quick as the thought entered my head. I end up getting up from my chair and as soon as I stand up I forget why I stood up to begin with. I have to think hard on what I was going to do, it usually comes, eventually.
Mental illness still has plenty of stigma, when I was a teenager terms like anxiety/panic and depression did not exist. There was just something wrong with you and parents, medical professionals, teachers made sure you knew that. It was brutal going to school with these problems haunting me and no one cared, just got labelled as ‘off’ or ‘screwed up’ or my personal favourite, weird. When I got older and had kids it really spiralled out of control, hormones only exasperate mental illness. I finally at 21 yo got to see a mental health professional who helped me understand it was a disease and not a personality flaw. Most people don’t share their mental health issues and I know why, your ‘friends’ will make comments behind your back about how you’re fucked up in the head, if you havent experienced it you just don’t understand. I pray to God to relieve me of this burden that makes me break down so often, it is a disease and so far the meds available have not helped me much or turned me completely psycho, aggressive and just someone who is dangerous to others. antidepressants are powerful medications that work differently on everyone who uses them, I’m just curious as to why none of them are my knight in shining armour.
I’ll keep trying new medications as they become available because I’m too stubborn to give up hope that one day my mind will be eased and I can enjoy life. And stop focusing too much on what I can no longer do.
Was doing some thinking this weekend, and on Sunday I had a major meltdown because of overusing my noggin. I had been feeling depressed and stressed out from lack of sleep, pain & taking meds that nearly always make me feel nauseous. It all came to a head on the weekend, all of the loss I’d ever experienced came crashing in, it was too much. No one tells you when you’re young the amount of loss you will experience and that things will never stay the same and life is continually changing. No one prepares you for the challenges a chronic health issue that develops later on in life. Your friends and family step back, unsure of how to deal with your chronic illness and your near constant pain. Every once in a while, the disease, stress and nights of no sleep pile up and overwhelm you. I’m sure I’m not the only spoonie who experiences this 😦 In other words I had a good cry on Sunday, I needed it. I’ve also been dealing with depression because of my ‘bad genes’, I had my first child at 18 and my 2nd at 19. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 37 and of course I had no idea of this condition as a teenager. Lately my daughter has been complaining about her bad skin which I also had as a teenager but never thought my kids with experience such a bad case of it although it wasn’t as bad as I had experienced. Trust me that is something I would not have wanted passed down to my kids. The thought of them getting rheumatoid arthritis scares me to death, it is much much worse than acne. Even though right now a few zits feels like the end of the world, its nothing compared to RA and I pray to God that they never have to experience any autoimmune disease ever.
It’s strange to think that crying your eyes out could bring such release from stress. If you’re lucky enough to have somebody to talk to understand this disease, hold on to them. But if you need a good cry go ahead and do it, it purges the stress out of your body. Between the confusion, brain fog, pain and not knowing what’s going to hurt when you wake up each day, releasing that pain by crying is nothing to be ashamed about.
Here’s hoping that the warmer weather relieves some of your pain and brightens your day.
I told my physical health to F**K OFF yesterday because I felt somewhat normal, my mental health needed me to move and I did, got some of the housework done. Because you spend a lot of time with your mental side when the physical pain stops the body. After a while your head can get kind of abusive towards yourself, you should be doing that! Why can’t you do this? It’s like a complete separation between what the disease does and what your mind thinks, is it because our eyes cant see it? or because we feel it and we’re ignored and discounted by most? I and surely most folks were taught to not be lazy and get things done, it’s not a bad thing really unless you end up with AI disease. Then your stuck on that mindset and your body is stopped in its tracks, the two don’t jive really. Anyways I was having a hard time with my thoughts lately and pain that won’t simmer down. Then yesterday I had one of those few days when you wake up and feel ‘different’ and that difference is you feel like a person again opposed to a tortured voodoo doll. I jumped on it, tidied the livingroom, rec room, loaded dishwasher and did and folded 4 huge loads of laundry! I knew I’d pay for it later but didn’t care, I feel good and happy with myself again. I know I shouldnt feel guilty about not being able to, but I’m too much like my Mom 🙂 Woke up with pain at a 3 that morning by evening it was a 5 and that’s a good day for a rheumy.
Today’s Wednesday the 20th first day of spring, you wouldn’t think spring was anywhere close to here, see pic lol. Anyhoo’s on Monday I stepped outside and into a pick-up truck, first road trip in yrs, 1.5 hrs each way, a small trip compared to what I use to go for. I enjoyed the countryside and listening to the radio, what was not so enjoyable was the pain I felt after sitting for an hour. After RA sitting for any length of time leaves me stiff and in pain, but it was worth it. The sunshine and fresh country air invigorated me, like it always has and made the discomfort a price I was willing to pay. In fact Monday involved 2 road trips and it was a late night for me getting home at 10:30pm. I was exhausted, sore but refreshed in a way (I’m a country person at heart) if it wasn’t for rheumatoid Id be living in a rural setting. Many dr visits and my lack of mobility make that dream unrealistic now, just something else I’ve lost. I can get out of the city now regularly so it takes the sting out a bit. I’m paying for my fun excursion now, but it was worth it.