Suffering from Crohn’s Depression
Despite normally being happy and optimistic, every now and then the weight of having a chronic illness gets the best of me and I find myself in the grips of depression. Sometimes, living with Crohn’s and coping with the debilitating symptoms and side effects day after day becomes too much to bear. When this happens, and I find myself overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness and despair, I sometimes fear that I’m sinking into a darkness that will be impossible to escape. I fear that it will consume me, and I will lose my ability, or desire, to fight back. I try my best to stay strong, to be a fighter, to stay positive, but when I’m disappointed and defeated time and again and all I see are setbacks and failures, it gets really hard to keep hoping for good news.
When I find myself in this dark place, it scares me.
I don’t like feeling like this; it’s not me. But, at the same time, I’m powerless against it. I try to stay afloat, but Crohn’s is an anchor dragging me down. This state of depression, which I’ve come to think of as “Crohn’s Depression,” feels never-ending. It controls every single aspect of your life and makes living with an already difficult disease nearly impossible. While “Crohn’s Depression” is not an actual diagnosis, my depression is brought on by the stress and anguish of living with this disease, so that’s how I think of it. Struggling to survive through this depression is challenging; any motivation to get out of bed is gone, any small amount of energy is sapped, and any positivity is smothered by pessimism.
When this happens to me and I slip into the darkness, I always find myself wishing things had turned out differently. I wish I didn’t end up with a permanent ileostomy. I wish I didn’t feel worthless and like a failure because I’m not where I want to be in life. I wish I could eat the foods I love, instead of having to follow such a strict diet and carefully watch everything I eat. I wish I didn’t hate my body. I wish I still felt beautiful and had more self-confidence. I wish I hadn’t lost years of my life being too sick to get out of bed. I wish my surgery count wasn’t nearing 30 after only 5 years. I wish I had more control over my weight. I wish I wasn’t always exhausted and fatigued. I wish I wasn’t in constant pain. I wish my smile came naturally like it used to. I wish I didn’t have to get infusions every 4 weeks and pop a handful of meds 3 times a day like candy. I wish I didn’t have Crohn’s!!! I wish, I wish, I wish…
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
It’s easy to let depression settle around you and start feeling like your new normal without really noticing, especially when every day is a struggle. When you’re dealing with pain and suffering day after day, unable to live life the way you want because of a chronic illness, it’s understandable that it would take a toll on your mental health and emotional well-being. After all, it’s a heavy burden to bear. You can only be strong for so long before you begin to crumble. If this happens, and the negative emotions flood in and refuse to leave, know that you don’t have to fight on your own. There are tools and resources that can be used to help you get back to a better place. If you are struggling with feelings of depression, I encourage you to reach out for help and support, either to friends and family, a support group, or a healthcare professional. They say hindsight is 20/20, and I believe that to be true. Now that I’ve fought my way out of the darkness, on more than one occasion, looking back I’m so proud of myself for not giving up, even though there were times when I really, really wanted to. If you are going through an emotional low, don’t give up, as much as you may want to. You are a Crohn’s Warrior and you will get through this!