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The Connection Between Depression and Chronic Illness We Need to Talk About

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With any invisible disease, chronic disease and autoimmune diseases, doctors tell you that you will have bouts of depression. I have seen my husband (who has type 1 diabetes) have it now and then. But for some people I know it is longer. Depression exists… just maybe not in the way we see it.

It is such a taboo word, but it is very real. Many people reading this might disagree with me. They might say “pull yourself by the boot straps and get over it.” And for some people that might work, but it doesn’t always work for many people.

For me, it isn’t something I deal with every day, but it happens. Today, for instance, I woke up knowing this is going to be a rough day physically. It took everything out of me to get my daughter and myself ready. Thankfully she went to preschool and I went home and collapsed. Rest is good and I know I need it, but at some point I do like to get out of the house. I am a very social person. People energize me. Slowly we are meeting people and making new friends in our new city. Still it is this chronic Lyme disease that has put my socialization on hold some days.

On top of feeling every part of my body ache, we got some bad news today which of course sent me into a downward spiral of sadness. Then even though the sun was so beautiful and the weather was perfect fall weather I wondered if I could make it out and take my daughter to the park. Sadly my body couldn’t even chase her through the grocery store. Because of past experiences I didn’t want to make a mistake of getting worse while being far away from home. So I made the better decision to go home until I had reinforcements home (my hubby).

Still, accepting this healing process is very hard. What goes through my head is, “Will I ever be the old me before I got sick?” Am I OK with this new me? I am still coming to terms with it all, like I am not like other moms or women, working full time, managing four kids daily, running marathons, or juggling all of these. They have their own struggles, just like I do, but different. Mine are most physically based that most people do not see. I have started saying less and less what is in pain or numb, because some of it is always there and it only makes me feel like a complainer which I never wanted to be. But here are things I need to do:

I need to stop comparing myself to others!

I need to stop being jealous over those who have lost all their baby weight.

I need to stop being jealous over those that can exercise.

I need to stop beating myself up over something I had no control over.

I need to forgive myself for lazy days with my daughter (probably too much veg time).

I need to forgive myself for making one mistake of eating the wrong thing.

I need to breath.

I need to be OK that maybe today I missed the sun, but there are always more days to come.

I need to be OK that I am not the mother I had planned on being, but am still the right mother for our daughter.

I need to be at peace with my disease and grateful we have answers and are slowly moving forward.

I need to be OK that maybe some days I cannot shake the depression, but the prayer is “this soon shall pass.”

I need to be me… not the old one who traveled the world, dreamed of writing books and speaking, changing jobs and moving all the time… I need to be the new one, who has a story that involves a lot of pain and struggles, a mom who maybe on some days, feels cuddling and resting with her toddler watching “Curious George” is all the loves she needs.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 23, 2016
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