Depression and Chronic Illness

Just make sure that you survive

I had depression and anxiety long before I ever had my chronic illnesses. There’s something about constant, sometimes excruciating pain that can make those things a whole lot worse.

I do my best not to burden other people with my problems. I try to listen to theirs and help out when I can. When people ask me how I am, my smile falls into place instantly and I try to tone down whatever my real answer might be. The truth is that I’ve just gotten really good at smiling. I don’t like to make other people uncomfortable. I take note of who isn’t bothered when I talk about my pain and depression and I’m glad to have friends that check up on me when I go missing for long stretches of time.

Most of the time, I’m just curled up in a ball in bed in pain. I try not to be seen too much when it’s too hard to keep my smile in place, when every step hurts so bad that I don’t want to move, when the tiniest stresses can leave me in a heap of tears.

These are the moments that I don’t show to the world.

Instead, I smile, I say I’m fine and try to ignore the fact that my entire body is in pain. I work hard to focus on conversations and try to keep up with a social outing every now and then. Most of the time, I can manage. On my good days when the pain isn’t too bad, I can get a lot of things done but I pay for it later.

More recently, all of my illnesses seemed to flare up at the same exact time. Everything from Pemphigus on my scalp to my Eczema spreading from just my hands to random places all over my body. I knew that I was stressed, but I didn’t know how to stop. I wanted to be there for everyone, I wanted to be at every family get together that I could. I wanted to spend more time just doing things instead of being sick. So I ignored all the warning signs, even the signs of me slipping into a very deep depression.

I had to go back to taking baths every day just to get rid of the stiffness in my body enough that I could move. I was crying at least once a day and as I often do when things get worse, started to mourn the person that I used to be. I never let myself properly feel all the emotions and though I haven’t given up on one day reversing my health issues, I also had to start dealing with the fact that at best, I might just learn to manage my pain.

My mind became the darkest part of it all, I was flooded with a constant barrage of suicidal thoughts and in my darker moments, actually went into planning how I would do it. I couldn’t imagine day after day of this pain, but somehow I kept waking up the next day. Not “thankful to have another day”, but disappointed that I had lived through another night.

I knew that I had to do something, but not the doctors this time. I’m just too weary of going to doctors being told to try something and come back in 6 months while dealing with the daily pain on my own. Generally, I would be worse off than when I start the new medications. Instead, I turned to health and nutrition books. I knew that I had stumbled on something with supplements and the imbalances in my body. I’ve started tweaking my supplements and over time I slowly noticed the suicidal thoughts starting to fade away.

The pain is still bad, but I’ve once again improved my sleep after sleeping very poorly for the past 8 months. I’ve also written out some positive affirmations to say upon waking and have taken to doing some type of exercise daily. As far as doing my best to control the amount of stress in my life, I’ve had to limit myself and not go to everything just because. I now protect myself, from overdoing it, from people, and from myself.

I’m very blessed to have people who care enough to check up on me and talk me down from the ledge when I need it. And though I’m not completely out of the dark spot yet, I’m getting there. When I woke up today, I wasn’t disappointed to be alive. I was happy enough to be here, pain, weakened body and all. To sit here in the trenches with all the other chronic illness/pain warriors and just to say, if you need to talk to anyone, I’m here.

If you need to get help, get it.

If you need to practice self-care, do it.

It’s your life and you’ve only got one, whether you’re healthy or chronically ill you’re going to have your own battles to face and it’s up to you how you survive them, just do survive them.

I’d like to include a song that helped me a bit as I went through everything, it’s okay to let yourself feel, especially if you’ve been hiding behind a smile just like me.

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When You Finally Break Through

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I’ll be the first to admit it, 2015 started out awful, it had a great high with the writer’s conference. After that, my stability was chipped to pieces. It was the worst year of my chronic pain and illnesses, I was going from doctor to doctor, each one swearing they knew how to fix it. I was let down, multiple times, by people who I had loved and trusted, who were close to me and I was more vulnerable. My depression was at an all-time high and I was asking doctors to refer me to a psychologist because I realized that I needed some professional help.

Suicidal thoughts swarmed my brain and I came to the sad conclusion in my last post that I may never be well again. When I said so to my boyfriend, thankfully, he believed for me that I would be well when I couldn’t even believe it myself. I felt abandoned by people and couldn’t understand why God couldn’t just throw some healing my way from the sky. But it was all in good time if it hadn’t been for the journey, if it hadn’t been for all of the pain physically and mentally, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I wouldn’t have met all the other wonderful people who are fighting their own battles and we do all have our own battles to fight. I wouldn’t have learned to depend on God, instead of doctors and medications.

My dermatologist told me up front that he didn’t care about my pain, it was the last time I went to see him.

The pain management doctor that I believed could truly make a difference ended up causing a chronic migraine that lasted for two and a half MONTHS. When that didn’t work, he told me to exercise an hour a day, 6 days a week. And not to come back until I could do that for three months.

My rheumatologist told me just keep on working at my job, I told her I had already lost it from not even being able to walk.

On top of my pain, the chronic migraine and nausea limited what I could eat and it was a struggle just to find things that wouldn’t make me feel sick.

Then, just when I had given up, just when I thought that pain was forever. I got a comment on my last post, telling me to look into a holistic doctor and I did some research and found one. He wasn’t anti-medication, but going over things we realized how many medications had caused issues which led to my depression which led to me feeling worse and having more trouble sleeping in an endless loop.

One night when I was still awake at 7 am after a night of struggling to sleep, I saw a friend posting about how well she had slept, how her chronic pain was going down. I inquired about it and looked into Plexus. It wasn’t some miracle drug that just cures all your diseases, but it does help regulate your body systems and at this point I felt like my body was falling apart. Instead of grasping at straws, this time, I sat down and prayed about it and asked God to provide the money for me to get it. I also talked about it with my holistic doctor.

Within 5 days of taking it, my sleep had improved and my migraine had gone away for the first time in two and half months. I felt better on the inside, more peaceful, not so depressed, almost happy. Truly happy for the first time in a long time, not because my situation had changed, but just because I felt better on the inside.

I realized just how badly my body had suffered on the inside from all of the medications that I had been on and yes, all of my poor food choices beforehand. I could really only blame so much on the medications themselves.

After seven years of chronic illnesses and pain, I finally had a break through.

I’ve been taking it for almost a month now and the changes inside my body have been phenomenal. I wish that more doctors would tell people about natural changes and supplements that can help our bodies to recover, but I also take responsibility for not looking into it sooner myself.

My chronic pain is not completely gone, I still have a mild bit of pain in my back. But it is nothing like it was before, I have much more energy every day, I’ve said goodbye to chronic fatigue! I sleep deeply at night again and don’t keep waking up. I’ve been losing tons of inches around my waist, suicidal thoughts no longer cloud my mind, everything is clear again and some days I feel like I’m in a dream compared to where I was last year.

Before I started Plexus, I had come off all of my medications for Fibromyalgia under the guidance of doctors, not on my own. I am now only taking Synthroid, for my hypothyroidism, and a medication for migraine prevention. Otherwise, I’m just taking my supplements and feeling happy and healthy. My body has almost fully recovered to the point where I feel I can exercise again.

Most importantly, I feel like I can live again.

I wanted to share this because I would not have known about this as an option if someone had not shared it with me. I thank God every day for helping to guide me, providing for me and for starting out 2016 with so much positivity and hope. I’m thankful for everyone who believed for me to be well when I couldn’t believe it myself.

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I know that Plexus is not a cure for diseases, but what it does for the inside of your body is truly amazing. I didn’t try out Plexus originally for the weight loss, I just knew my body was really messed up and could definitely use help with regulating everything. I take the Tri-Plex and Xfactor, along with 1000mg extra Vitamin D, as was suggested to me by my holistic doctor, and 1000mg calcium a day.

I have learned the importance of taking care of our bodies and every day I’m making smarter food choices, it’s like a load has been lifted off of my mind. All that time I was chasing after different medications to try, what I really should have been focusing on was giving my body the tools it needed to fight back and slowly heal the damage done.

I know this was a long post, but I haven’t updated for a while and had a lot to get off of my mind, thanks for reading through to the end!  God bless! ❤ Thank you to everyone who was still supporting my blog while I was away.

Overcoming Depression

Mini me overcomes depression!
Mini me overcomes depression!

For most of my life I have struggled with depression. Recently I’ve been able to talk about it more. Long before the pemphigus even came, I was depressed and attempted suicide several times. So you can imagine afterwards it definitely lingered around. The thing about depression is that often it can be a very silent sneaky thing. There were friends I found who struggled with it silently, just as I did. But on the outside we always put on a good show around people. Suppressing your emotions is probably one of the worst things that you can do.

I can honestly say now, that this is the freest I have ever been from depression. I am ridiculously happy and have been for quite some time now! I thought the things I learned during Re:Write would wear off eventually, but every time I forget what I learned, overcome by life or emotions. I pause, I think about all that I have to be grateful for and I pray. My circumstances have not changed and honestly I’m still in the same place I was in before, but I’ve changed. And that is all the difference.

I know when you’re depressed you can get tired of being told to “think positive” but really that was the turning point for me. Just as I realized my own beauty by telling myself every day that I was beautiful, which is another story! By thinking positive every day even when the negative thoughts bombarded my mind, I was able to rise above them. My thoughts have always been my biggest weakness, I am my worst critic. I see everything that I do wrong and magnify it by 100%. In my mind, I am insecure and afraid. I could not mold myself into perfection, I always did something wrong and I punished myself in my mind.

I still have to battle that sometimes, however now when a negative thought comes, I do not feed it, I starve it. I don’t even give it a second thought, because I know once I start to dwell on it, it will settle in my spirit and slowly take over until I believe the lie. Then the lie becomes truth and I slip down the slippery abyss of depression, once you fall in it’s a lot harder to get out then if you just avoid the falling in in the first place.

So when the negative thoughts come or if you start to feel a bit down, grab a trusted friend and tell them about what’s going on and release everything. Don’t leave anything in your mind to quietly whisper lies to you. Talk to God about it, I know it sounds crazy but he’s listening to you too. Because I was ashamed of being a Christian and depressed, God was the last person I wanted to talk to about my emotions. But also the best person because it is always through his joy that I find true joy. Happiness is fleeting and passing, it changes depending on what circumstances you are in, joy is the one that will stick around! When you find your way to who you are, to truly who you are, sons and daughters of an amazing Father who only has your best at heart? There is nothing for you to be anxious about anymore, all you need to do is pray.

If you do need professional help as well, I encourage you to seek it out. I learned about art therapy in school and I just became my own therapist through art. I worked through many issues and expanded it to poetry, at the time my poetry was very dark. But it pulled the darkness from inside of me and put it on paper. Find a healthy way of release, be it writing or art and let everything out. See the pattern here? Never hold the dark negative thoughts inside, always find a way to release them somehow.

Don’t feel alone. Whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone. Don’t let that lie settle in your mind, people do care and other people may be going through exactly what you’re going through. Speak up about it, it really is okay if you’re not okay. If you need to vent a while, that’s okay. If you need to cry a while, that’s okay too. I still allow myself to cry when I need to, I cannot stress enough how much releasing everything helped me to find freedom. And if you don’t have anyone close to talk to, be sure to talk to God! Or get in touch with me, I’m more than happy to listen.

Overall, find things that you enjoy doing and do them. Make time out for yourself and relax. And when you feel yourself starting to become stressed, handle it, breathe. Don’t let it build up inside of you. You are loved, you are wonderful just the way that you are.