Thursday, April 17, 2014

Depression Part 2

With any condition, research is invaluable. There are so many routes to take and from my experience, you will hit a dead end or two or three.  The important part is not giving up. Easy for me to type, huh? Not always the easiest advice to follow. 

Physical Aspects

Depression is like having 10 lb weights strapped to each limb, a rain cloud hanging over your head, and the flu all at the same time. And that's before any other chronic pain conditions. Physically depression is exhausting. Feeling tired upon your already fatigued body. This makes recognizing depression as a separate issue difficult at best. It's frustrating to try to decide which condition is keeping you in bed that day.

Depression, for me, is like having a stranger shadowing me all day.The splinter in your finger that isn't visible by the naked eye but you can still feel it. This is the hardest part. When we ignore the issue it only worsens the condition. 

Reaching Out

Fighting an auto immune disease is more than a body should have to do in a day anyway. Ignoring depression can only aggravate your pain symptoms. Don't be afraid to reach out, talk to a friend or even do your own research. 
I'm lucky in that I have a close friend who also recognized how low I had become and even though I didn't answer her call for weeks, she kept calling. She lent a shoulder to me when I needed it and didn't preach to me about meds or therapy or what was wrong with me, but offered insight and support. She asked questions and allowed me to come to my own conclusions. From there, I talked with my doctor and found new options that I didn't even know existed. 

You see, when you are that far down, it's difficult to grasp the rope and pull yourself up. So if you notice The Big D shadowing someone you care about, maybe find a way to throw them the rope. 

Alternative Options

Finding your way out of the tunnel is also exhausting. Having support from family and friends is so important. Whatever your spiritual inclination may be, use it. a candle. Find your inner strength.
Music can lift a mood by leaps and bounds. Turn on a new station or download an old favorite but using music in the background can also help you concentrate on the next task.

Steer clear of the news. Unfortunately, I haven't found a news channel yet that only reports good news. Surrounding yourself with negativity will only subconsciously take your mind to a negative space.

Write in a journal. Having an outlet to release all that's on your mind can give you a release without feeling you need to burden someone else. You don't have to keep it. I have been known to vent and rant and rage and then throw it away. Just getting it out, helps.

Find something productive. Craft, paint, volunteer or try a new recipe. Now, I know you are thinking I can't possible even think of any of this while I'm in pain. It won't happen every day, or even every week, but finding activities that you can be involved with will help return your vitality. There are many organizations that use volunteers to simply make cards for nursing home patients for an hour or so at a time. If your mobility is limited, find something to get your mind flowing. It may sound silly, but even a crossword puzzle or board game can be uplifting when you finish it.

Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself

Give yourself a break. Just like fighting chronic pain, depression has ebbs and flows. Don't expect to be excitedly happy every day, but don't predict that you will be lower than low all the time either. Learn your limitations and set some goals. Knowing when to rest is just as important as finding activity.

Build your support system of options. Don't be afraid to reach out. Acknowledging your shadow makes it real. Reaching out is not weakness, it is strength. When you feel like you can't find hope, look around because I'm sure there is someone close by who will hand it to you.