Depression rides along with chronic illness, not as a cause, but as a response.
The limitations of this disease (ME/CFS) are not easily defined, yet, if pushed, will result in undeniable consequences. You would think that after three years, I would know this, and yet, I continually fall into patterns of denial.
We travelled 3,000 miles in February. I was able to visit with friends, attend meals out, and enjoy myself. We came home, and I felt obligated to help with the unpacking. I ignored the cramps in my muscles. I pushed myself to attend a family get together, thinking that a day in bed afterwards would refresh me. Two days later, I went for a prescheduled ultrasound and since I was already out of the house, decided to also pay a visit to my mother in the Nursing Home. It’s been a week and I am still trying to recover – having spent the last week in bed.
All the symptoms are back – flu-like symptoms, IBS, swollen lymph nodes, insomnia, pain, and brain fog, to name a few.
And I feel depressed.
“I’m sliding back,” I tell my husband.
“You’ve had a setback,” he agrees. “You are not going backwards.”
My voice of reason.
Taking care of the physical side of the disease is straight forward – rest as much as possible, stay hydrated, and watch what I eat.
Taking care of the mental/emotional is a little more complicated. I feel defeated. I feel like the effort it takes to do anything is too much. I am tempted to withdraw from others until I am better.
I am also aware that this is what depression looks like.
So today, I set a goal for myself to make a batch of chili, and I sent a text out to the kids that mom was making dinner.
It wasn’t easy. I had to lie down many times in the process, and my brain failed me a couple of times, but dinner made it to the table, and I managed to get a few pint-sized hugs. More than that, I knew that my daughter and her husband were very grateful to have someone else cook dinner for a change.
They all gathered around me in the bedroom after dinner; we had a short visit, and then they were gone.
It was just the lift I needed.
Tomorrow, a friend is coming to visit.
Small things, but important if I’m going to keep depression out of the driver’s seat.
Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.