Life has a way of just knocking you when you’re down, doesn’t it? There’s not a chronic illness patient I’ve encountered, who has not had someone (doctor, friend, family, etc…) mention that they are merely depressed, not really “ill”.
As if merely being depressed wasn’t bad enough, it’s being used as a flippant diagnosis of everything that ails a chronically ill person.
Depression is no joke, it’s a mental illness, and depending on the type and severity, it can wreck havoc in the life of the sufferer, as much (or more) than any physical ailment. Even more so with a chronic health condition thrown in.
There is a correlation between chronic health conditions and depression. But a correlation does not equal a causation. Not in every case.
Depression is one form of chronic illness; it does not cause all other chronic illnesses.
Having a chronic illness does not mean you are, nor guaranteed you will be, depressed.
Chronically ill people are dealing with a lot of “stuff” and those life changes (that no one asked for or wants, BTW), can cause stress, anxiety and yes…. even depression.
Can depression lead to some chronic illness… yes, it can. But why/how is not entirely clear. Studies have shown that a person who is clinically depressed has an increased risk of developing:
- Cardiovascular disease
Stress Is Bad. Really Bad.
I have both (numerous) chronic illness conditions, including Bipolar and General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I’m not gonna lie; life is tough.
Stress is my number one arch nemesis. Any stressful event in my life (and it doesn’t have to be a huge event to cause me huge amounts of stress reaction), can derail my mental state, and send me either spiraling down into a depressive state, or soaring into a manic state. Neither are good places to be.
To add fuel to the mix, stress increases my pain levels exponentially, which then increases all of the symptoms of my numerous health conditions.
For the medical geeks in the room, I’ve created a handy-dandy 3 page spreadsheet with 14 of my chronic health conditions, the symptoms I experience and how many of those cross over and are connected.
Let me know if you can relate to any of it.
Please, comment below and tell me I’m not alone. Thanks. 🙂
- Reduce Stress. Reduce any and all stress that you can. You can’t control absolutely everything, but you can reduce stressors in your life such as:
- Watching too much depressing news
- Social media can be extremely toxic
- Toxic people in your life
- Stick to a routine and schedule that works for youP
- Practice self-care
- Take your medications
- Go to all of your doctor appointments
- Talk to a therapist
- Eat healthy
- Move your body as much as you are able to do so (yoga on a chair or in bed counts!)
- Enjoy a hobby
- Get out of the house and get some fresh air and sunshine (even if it’s on your porch, patio, deck, sidewalk or driveway). Just 15 minutes in the sun is good for your spirit and gives your body the Vitamin D it needs (which also helps your mood!)
- Listen to music
- Talk to a friend
- Most important: always know that this day/moment won’t last. You may be having a bad day, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. There’s always hope that the next day, or even the next moment, is going to be better than the last.
The list of ways to cope with both chronic illness and depression are many, but none of them will work – if you don’t do them!
When I’m having a bad day/moment: I do the things in the above list myself. So I know that they do work. Music is one of the first things I do… it can lift my mood like nothing else.
You have to figure out what works for you.
Right now, none of the above tips may sound doable for you, I get it… but don’t give up trying.
Start with just one coping tip to see if that helps you. If it doesn’t, then add in one more. You got this!
I hope that these tips help you.
Don’t forget to download that spreadsheet and comment below if you can relate to any of that.