Depression is something that nobody likes talking about, but it's such an important topic in the chronic illness community. Depression alone is a chronic illness and can also accompany other chronic illnesses like endometriosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, PCOS, fibromyalgia, as well as others. The National Institute of Mental Health states, "depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working". The National Institute of Mental Health estimates "17.3 million adults in the United States had at least on major depressive episode in 2017". The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says "depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide". Children can also suffer with depression. Signs and symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health include:
I know what it's like to feel this dark cloud over you and your life, thinking it's never going to get better. I have struggled the most with the after effects of having a hysterectomy. Choosing to have a hysterectomy was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I always thought I would be able to get pregnant on my own to have a family. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed or interact with people. I wanted to isolate myself and kind of did for a while. The world has put the expectation on women that they are to get pregnant and have children. This makes women feel like if they can't or simply don't want to, they are inadequate as women. This is NOT the truth. If you feel this way, please know that you are MORE than your ability to have children and if you don't want to have children, that's your choice and it's okay if you don't want to have kids. Because of my struggles with my feelings/depression, I made the decision to go to counseling/therapy and have been going for about four years. It has helped me learn to cope with my feelings of having a different life than I thought I would because of chronic illness.
I want you to know that you are not alone. YOU matter. YOUR life matters. YOU are important. YOU are loved. YOU are worth it. Please reach out to someone if you need to talk or need help. It's okay to talk about your feelings and depression. It's important that we do so we can help each other and end the stigma.
I hope you find this helpful. Sending hugs and love.
Samantha Bowick, MPH is the author of "Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options" and "Living with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency" as well as a fellow sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses and patient advocate.