Post Edited (Kiera) : 2/7/2008 9:49:03 PM (GMT-7)
Post Edited (rhondab) : 2/8/2008 5:40:43 AM (GMT-7)
I think that when anyone is hit with a majorly traumatic life event -- diagnosis of an illness, death of someone near them, external event like the hurricane (in my case, a house burning down around me, another house flooding us out...twice...), discovery of a long-held family secret that is life-changing (like you and I experienced, Kiera)...
there is a real possibility for depression to set in. I think there are (at least) two forms of depression, which can overlap. One is the feeling that starts out as shock and dismay, and comes with new and crucial information. The mind (and body) has to process that, sort through it, find out how the new information "fits" into one's current existence, find out how to balance the new "reality" with what is already going on in one's life. Some folks seem to be able to process that sort of "without notice". For example, I found out that I was diagnosed when my neuro called me at work to give me the news. When our conversation was over I hung up on him, called my husband, told him; called my brothers, told them....and continued working. But all the while there, in a corner of my brain, was a long "conversation" going on. "Good grief! What does this mean? What exactly is MS? What is this going to mean for our future? We'd just thought about having babies...guess we'd better rethink this! How is my mother going to take this? (we already had a strained relationship) I'm the major wage-earner right now; what's going to happen to our income, my health insurance.."
Don't think that this "conversation" only lasted that day! This was an on-going sorting-out tha was happening internally, and some externally with my husband...and to a large extent, still goes on as circumstances change, or as new "events" happen.
Other folks seem to "shut down"...curl up on the couch for months, or stay in bed, or withdraw from "normal society". Other folks will lash out, become belligerent, resentful, even hurtful to those around them. I liken that to a wounded animal -- you want to help it, but it's all teeth and fangs and claws and snarls and you can't get near enough to help make it feel better. Sometimes it just has to stay there under the porch and mend on it's own time, and it'll come out when it's ready....
MS is a very uncertain disease -- as we've all found out, it can change rapidly, exacerbations can happen suddenly, there is no assurance that how you are now will be how you are in the future...and that uncertainty can be depressing, and challenging.
And then there is the depression that can occur -- at the same time -- which is a chemical imbalance in the brain. That's the kind of depression that responds best to medications, and care from a psychologist/psychiatrist, talking through some of these things, and taking the meds to help. Some people can't internally process well and need the talking. Others (like me) don't talk well and might not do as well, talking through all this "out loud".
I think the challenge for you, Kiera, is complicated by the possibility, too, that it might not just be MS that is challenging you, but some other things going on (the sleep disorder issues, for example), and having to deal with multiple different issues isn't easy. And like Rhonda, "living in limbo"..knowing something is wrong, not knowing what it is, not having a clear direction to follow to take care of it.
And with illnesses, all that is complicated by our very-human need to "be fixed". We're seduced by all the folks around us and by all the drug commercials that suggest, "hey, take this med for 3 weeks and you'll be FINE!!!", when we know that not to be true. There are indeed sometimes illnesses that can't even be identified, much less be fixed.
Another challenging human trait is our need to be in control. And MS..and too many other chronic illnesses..don't allow us to have much control.
I spent a lot of time the first couple of years after diagnosis just struggling to live. I had that major exacerbation which required 3 months hospitalization. I wasn't out of the hospital for 10 days when I had a bout with pulmonary embolisms..blood clots in the lungs. That sent me back to the hospital for 2 weeks, 10 days in the ICU. Then a series of exacerbations after that. All the while we were having the discussions about "no kids now for sure...husband has to get a job that has health benefits...boss is giving me fits about my absences...house burns down...now what..where do we go...what do we do now...etc..." So it was probably 3 years down the road when I just woke up one day and came to these conclusions:
Here it is, year 3, I'm still alive. I managed to survive all that..and managed to survive a lot of other...uh.."stuff"..growing up; I'll survive this, somehow.
My husband, my rock, is still here (one of those discussions we'd had went sort of like this: "Hey, we have no kids, financial obligations are piling up, I don't know where this MS thing is gonna take me, you can split if you want... He didn't "want"...)
I don't have control over this MS. All I do have control over is how I'm going to respond to life. I can be miserable and make everyone around me miserable...well, at least more miserable than they are now... Or I can simply live each day as best I can, go to bed, then get up and do it all over again.
And so I do. And some days I do well at that, other days suck. But I just keep on keeping on. On the good days I get a lot done (well, a lot for me!! :) ) Other days are stay-in-bed-with-a-couple-cats-and-a-pot-of-tea days. I don't listen to what others tell me I ought to do, or should do or if only I would do I would be better. I just do what I can, and let the rest go.
I don't know if any of this is helpful. Early morning ramblings with not enough coffee. Take care.
Post Edited (Kiera) : 2/8/2008 8:42:32 AM (GMT-7)
I should add this..
I think folks who don't themselves have a chronic illness don't want to hear about chronic illness. When I'm asked, "How are you?" I usually respond with the polite, "Fine, thanks, and you??"
unless I really KNOW that the person really wants to know how I'm feeling. Which indeed might be "fine" (at least as "fine" as it gets for me..), or might be sucky, depending on the day, sometimes on the hour.
Family are all-too-often like the first responders..."..fine, thanks, and you??" Why? I don't know..except that they're scared, too, and dismayed, and want to FIX things, and things aren't "fixable". And not many folks really understand what MS is, anyway (just like your friends ailment...not much understanding there.) It's often confused with muscular dystrophy, for example. Or folks hear "illness" and automatically assume it's "terminal", not chronic. Or like my mother, hear that I'm " broke", not "fixable", not "perfect", and want nothing to do with me.
You do find out pretty early on, who are true friends and family and supporters..and who aren't. And the "aren't" just sort of fade away, or worse -- are constantly "on your case" about ways to "fix what is wrong with you". My sister-in-law, for example, is CERTAIN that I'm going to hell (I'm not a fundamentalist Christian like she is), and if I would just PRAY harder and ask God for FORGIVENESS, and CONFESS my SINS, I would be HEALED.
I don't THINK so!! lol.
Anyway. I don't really talk with anyone..including my husband..about my MS on any sort of daily basis. He knows very little about what I go through each day just to get out of bed. I've talked more here..and more in the last few days..about MS than in the 25 years I've dealt with it. I just do what I have to do each day to live through that day, and get on with the next. And when asked, "how ARE you??" I respond with "Fine, thanks, and you??" and let it go. :)
Wow! Interesting stories and question... I can't base too much on MS and depression, although I have been experiencing some with it lately, but I can relate to depression and a chronic illness. Prior to MS I was dx'd with Ulcerative Colitis in 2004, my only child was a junior in high school and I had always been very active in the community, school, etc. Then...BOOM! Life as I knew it ceased, I was forced to stay home, for reasons we won't get into on this forum but needless to say going out was not an option. I missed so many activities, so much of my son's life during the first year of trying to find a medication that would put me in remission. Very depressing. Not too mention the prednisone and the 75 pounds I gained with that, went from a size 4, well to...ugh. Now...MS! Honestly, I think I'm good on the auto-immune issues! In between the UC and MS dx I have had about 10 stays in the hospital that included two surgeries, one major... when it rains it pours!
With all that said, I have been blessed to have a supportive family, and yes, you find out real quick who your real friends are. I do take Wellbutrin for anxiety each day and it seems to help balance me out. Otherwise I think there would be more days where I would lay around and boo-hoo. It has been a bit more difficult the past few months while being dx'd with MS as my husband has been traveling so much lately and my baby is away at college. I guess I have more days of depression right now than I have in the past year or so. I try to get out, go for a walk, have lunch with a friend. (I've also found that a good chic-flick and a box of tissues helps for awhile ) I go to Bible study every week and teach Sunday school with the three year olds. There is a reason you have small children when you are younger! tehehe!
I try to remember that there are many people that have more issues than me and how lucky I am to have my family, a roof over my head and food in my belly. Thanks for posting this question, it gives one time to reflect and if necessary re-adjust ones mental state, I personally needed it!
"Be yourself. An original is always worth more than a copy."
Post Edited (Kiera) : 2/8/2008 9:15:13 PM (GMT-7)