The Mighty Logo

Anxiety and Depression Are More Than Just Side Effects of Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I want to talk about something that is almost taboo, especially if you already have a preexisting illness – and that’s mental illness. It can be hard to admit it might not just be a “bad day,” especially when you have a bad week and you can’t get out of bed. It can be hard to accept that maybe it’s not your physical ailment keeping you down, maybe it’s not that medicine you’re on, maybe it’s more. The biggest problem I’ve come to realize in my own journey is it’s hard to accept I not only have congenital heart disease and numerous medical issues, but the way I view myself and the world around me isn’t “right.” The hardest step for me was to ask for help from a professional, because I didn’t want to admit there was something else wrong with me.

woman standing on a balcony watching the sunrise

Everyone has their own demons and sometimes one person’s demons are a little too big for them to fight on their own. I realized something was wrong when making a simple decision felt like a life or death situation. Having anxiety is knowing the problem isn’t that bad, but no matter what I do or how much I breathe and calm myself down, I can’t let go, I can’t get ahold of the situation and I can’t deal with it.

Everyday tasks seemed to break me down, because every decision I made felt like there was a tremendous consequence I couldn’t avoid. Now let’s add having already existing medical issues that forced me to make decisions, and most times I couldn’t take those back. The anxiety of knowing the well-being I held onto could crumble down with one wrong decision about even a simple task makes it nearly impossible to close my mind off, yet I think ,“If I just stay where I am, I don’t have to make any decisions and the world will still go on without me getting out of bed.” My anxiety had become comfort food to my depression.


I started seeing a specialist and I’m working on putting my demons to sleep. I’m working on being the best me I can be in any situation that is thrown my way. I wanted to write this so others know that even though it hurts, and you may think you’re the only one going through this, you’re not. We might all have our own demons and our own way of dealing with stress due to the outcomes of our lives, but you are not alone and there isn’t something “wrong” with you. It may feel hard to burden others who work so diligently on getting our physical health by telling them you’re breaking down on the inside too, but it’s so important they know.

Through my journey, I’ve learned that my mental health plays a big role in the way my body feels, acts and reacts to stress, and how having a rein on it is helping keep my heart healthy(ish).

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: May 31, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home