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.