Depression On Board

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.


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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