Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Touchy subject.....

For many people, a diagnosis of RA not only presents physical limitations but can also create mental health issues. I use the word “mental” loosely (as frankly it makes you sound like an axe murderer) but unfortunately the problems that come hand in hand with RA, such as depression and anxiety, are classed as mental health problems.
I have always been an emotional little soul, I get that from my mother who can cry at the most ridiculous things (love you mum). I remember the first time we watched Beaches together and we were both crying uncontrollably on the sofa. What a pair of idiots. But I am not talking about the feeling of sadness you get when you watch a sad movie or you see an adorable puppy. I am talking about the cold hard grip of reality when life just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.
I believe that most people suffer from some sort of depression or anxiety in their lives. This can come from grief, stress, break down of relationships or any “normal” life experiences we go through. Depression linked to long term illness is somewhat different. When you contemplate a life you didn’t really want or expect to live, it can have devastating consequences on your (here’s that awful word again) mental health. It doesn’t grab you overnight, in my experience, but can be a long downward spiral of a road that eventually takes over you.
I think of the days where I couldn’t get out of bed, feeling like a complete failure and insisting that it was never going to get better and I hate myself for that. Its very difficult to be positive all the time and to be fair not everyone likes miss smiley smiley! I sought help in the end when it got to the point where I couldn’t see the point. It’s a horrible thing when you have to admit to people that you are feeling depressed but the endless panic attacks, sobbing and generally feeling your lying under 10 ton of crap just couldn’t continue if I was ever going to get better.
I received help in the form of counselling and yes, more, medication. I normally would not advise anyone to go down the route of medication for mental health problems but I stuck it out as long as possible and decided it was the only way forward in my situation. Don’t get me wrong, my RA had a massive part to play in my “sad” days but other issues that came as a result of that (loss of job, moving back home, financial crap etc) all add up to a very vicious circle. The fact is your mental health has a massive impact on your physical health and whilst you are feeling down your physical health will not improve. It was only after seeking help to soothe the mind that physically I was on the way up too.
No-one likes to talk about their “feelings” in this day and age, unless its to someone you pay £100 an hour to while you lie on their couch, but my point is that its vital to discuss the effects RA and other long term illnesses may have on your mind. I am incredibly lucky that I no longer feel the grip of sadness and have a more positive outlook on life (not quite miss smiley smiley). Do not feel ashamed or alone in this, it is perfectly normal and with the right help you will soon feel like there is a point to all this again. Ooh I’m getting all emotional now, damn it mother….


  1. Though I am not one to hold things in, I have found many people don't care to hear another person's hardships. I've had days of sadness but have not been "gripped" with the depression I do see many others go through. It is difficult no doubt to endure a long term physical problem but when you add a break down of happiness, it can be all encompassing and overwhelming.

    What can be just as bad is when doctors think "all" chronic pain sufferers must be depressed. It's okay to say, I feel like crap in my body and not have that be misconstrued to read "I'm depressed". This is the one of the reasons my hubs goes to every appt with me.

    I had a surgeon who did my cervical spine twice. Once alone and the second time with two other world reknown surgeons. I have permanent root nerve damage in my neck all way down to my L.Dorsi muscles. I was in horrible pain. I had an appt with him and he was running 1 hour 15 minutes late. I had also had a death in my family the day before. I had just begun to weep as he entered the room. He starts talking about how we need to get another look at the neck and see what's happening with the hardware or if the screws have jerked loose. I look up and he see's my tears. He says, "no reason to be so hysterical about this". I was fit to be tied.

    I wonder, does the illness cause the depression or the lack of true understanding and compassion cause it. I think this would make for a great poll if enough people could be rounded up to answer/choose.

    Good post today and your are right about this fact mostly: "it's vital to discuss the effects of <-----insert disorder here...." You are 100 percent right. Hugs to you. Tazzy

  2. Thanx Kerrie now everyone knows im a crybaby lol. I was always told it was better to share your worries and problems with the ones you love, but I also know that sometimes a strangers ear is easier to talk into.

  3. Hi
    I followed the link here from the NRAS facebook page.
    My father had RA for the last seven years of his life before he sadly passed away last year.

    We were close, and to see him suffer so badly with the disease in addition to his other ailments (he had asbestosis) was so difficult.
    It was the RA that he hated the most, and this led to the changes in his personality and profound sadness.
    I feel so much guilt as I never knew quite how to deal with the mood swings, and empathy is impossible when you are in good health.

    Keep up the good work, and keep smiling !


  4. great post, I am like a lot of people who hide my true feelings about most!