Depression can happen to anyone and can come as a result of traumatic events in a person’s life and even as a result of chronic illnesses. Anyone can suffer from deep sadness when his or her life is turned upside down by an illness he or she has no control over or cure for.
My friend Cheryl Miller suffers from fibromyalgia and her illness also spirals her into depression. I interviewed her for this blog post.
Aimee: Can you explain your chronic illness?
Cheryl: I have fibromyalgia, which causes chronic widespread pain. It can affect different parts of my body or it can affect my whole body depending on the day and what I am doing. Most of the time it affects my legs and arms. They feel like they are on fire on really bad flare up days. Cold wind also makes it feel like I am being stabbed by a million needles at once.
I also have degenerative disease in my back which hurts every day. I try not to do too much on good days, because it can send me into a major flare up. Stress can also cause a flare up.
Aimee: How does a chronic illness affect you emotionally?
Cheryl: Having a chronic illness can make you depressed because you can’t do the things you used to. It is really hard to get used to. It’s hard to make plans because you don’t know how you will feel from one minute to the next. You feel bad for canceling plans because you are too exhausted and in too much pain to function.
Aimee: How does your depression make you feel?
Cheryl: Sometimes I feel hopeless. Most of the time I feel like I am too much of a burden on others because I can’t do all the things I used to be able to do and I need others’ help.
Aimee: How do you fight these feelings?
Cheryl: I will keep my mind busy doing things I like that don’t cause me to have flare ups. I play games on my computer, read, watch TV and just talk to friends or family.
Aimee: How do you handle your depression?
Cheryl: I take antidepressants as prescribed and I also talk to friends to help me through it. I am also part of some Facebook groups with people who have the same illness, and it helps a lot to have them because you know you aren’t alone.
Aimee: What advice can you give to others suffering from chronic illness and depression?
Cheryl: Find a good support system. Join groups who have people going through the same thing because they will understand what you are going through. If you have family and friends who may not understand, but want to help, then teach them about what you are going through and tell them what you need from them. If need be, you can also seek professional help like finding a therapist.
Aimee: Is it possible to reach recovery from your depression?
Cheryl: I think so, with medication and a good support system. Those things help to keep you in a happier place. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some times when the depression can overwhelm you, but you can feel better with having people you can talk to.
Aimee: Do you think you have reached the light from your depression?
Cheryl: Yes, I believe I have. I have a good support system and I have proper medications that I take like I’m supposed to. So even though my flare ups do happen and they do make me sad a bit, I know it will pass and that makes me feel better.
If Cheryl can reach the light despite her chronic illness so can you. Because Cheryl is willing to turn for help, take care of her needs and teach others about her illness, she bathes within the light.