Forecast: Rain, Followed By Sun

Dark CloudRheumatoid Arthritis Guy realizes that, once again, he is depressed.

I’ve been through this before many times, but I have never admitted it so publicly – either to myself or to others.

Before now, I always interpreted my depression as a sign of failure. One of my most frequent thoughts, once I reached this state, was that I should have done something earlier in order to prevent myself from reaching this low point.

I now know, though, that periods of depression are a normal part of living with rheumatoid arthritis. As much as I try to smile and make myself laugh, sometimes the tears take over – whether I like it or not. But I continue to laugh. Even a half-hearted laugh is better than no laugh at all.

My pain has once again reached new highs. My ankles and knees are weaker than ever. My hands are flaring out of control. Every step I take with my crutches is excruciating, and visions of a wheelchairs dance in my head. My thoughts become clouded, and my brain feels like one big marquee up in my head that is blinking “Don’t move!” I preemptively cringe the second before any type of movement.

My left elbow locked up when I am at physical therapy yesterday. My therapist stopped working on my hands and immediately moved to try to resolve this new problem. I can either laugh or cry. I end up with “I guess I won’t be playing tennis tomorrow.” The humor doesn’t  cover up my pain, but it does help to lighten up the situation.

The sooner that I admit that I have gone into depression, the sooner I can go through this cycle and come out of depression. I know that my depression must heal on its own time. But at least I am on the right path.

At moments it feels like I am on the edge of a cliff, where the slightest wrong turn will send me down an even deeper spiral. Even though I know I have an amazing support network, the feelings of loneliness are overwhelming. I have no doubt that many helping hands will be offered – but deep down inside I know that I, and only I, can take the steps that are required to move forward.

I try to keep my mind occupied. I finish reading that book that I have been reading for a while. When listening to music on my iPod, I skip through any songs that make me feel any more wispy that I already am. During the evening I go out to watch the opening movie of a local film festival – luckily it’s a comedy (and a good one!)  I laugh out loud, and for just a little over an hour my mind is in a happy place.

But I get back home, and the pain and depression is still there. Thoughts of “this is never going to end” creep back into my mind. I remove my ankle braces, my knee braces, my elbow braces, and my wrist braces. (One day I’m going to have a cape made, so that my RA Guy outfit is complete.)

I am scared. But way in the back of my mind, I know that I am okay. I put on my blinders to any depressing thoughts, but I still allow myself to see the actual depression. I am happy that I finally understand the difference between these two things.

My depression is not a weakness. It is not something bad. It is not something that I am ashamed of. It is not something I could have stopped. It is a natural response to the tremendous challenge that my body, mind, and spirit are going through at the moment.

Writing in my blog is one of the beacons that allows me to keep my balance. Putting my words down on paper helps, and throughout the day I often return often to re-read my own words. It helps me connect with myself, and to get through the pain.

My eyes burn, not because of crying. but because the amount of tears that my eye ducts produce has diminished drastically – another one of those weird symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. I add artificial tears throughout the day. Almost if by magic, they later turn into real tears.

I know that this too will pass. I won’t wallow in my depression but I will allow myself to feel what it needs. Even though my depression is sort of like an uninvited guest, I will still try to be the best possible host.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

*****

Update: Today, Jules at An Attitude of Gratitude also wrote a wonderfully eloquent post on the topic of depression.

14 Comments
14 comments
  1. Millicent says:

    This was hard to read, but you know what—-you are entitled to feel depressed from time to time. Lesser men might have caved under the stress of what you face. During rough times in my life when I can’t see too far ahead & wonder how I’ll get through it, one phrase keeps coming to mind: “This, too, shall pass.” And it always does pass. The time will come when the pain will be less, you will adapt as necessary to be able to do the things you want to do, the day will be brighter…speaking of which, I am hoping that today will be a gift for you to enjoy. I will dedicate my yoga practice this morning to you to send extra positive vibes your way.

  2. Jules says:

    You know- after reading some of the blogs like these- I just want to send you a (gentle) virtual hug. I agree with Millicent that “This too shall pass”. Sometimes it takes longer than others, sometimes the climb from the bottom is even higher- but you WILL get out of that spot. My own issues with depression are very different (which you have inspired me to blog about later-lol) so I can’t relate to what you are really feeling when you are spiraling down- but I do know the feelings of fear and the “what next” moments. The only thing we can do with those is try to find the positive in all this mess and get through each day one day at a time. I will be sending you all of the positive vibes I can today. Be well.

  3. Tortoiselvr says:

    Sending you big hugs, RA Guy. Know that many of us have been sucked into that void – and the way it feels when you ARE supported but you still know it is about what you do – and also your patience as you let it “cycle through” so you CAN begin to climb out of it. The good news is that you have gone through it before, you know it will pass – being able to remember that while in “the pit” is a sign of true strength (and some bullheadedness which has always served me well … smile). Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to feel what you can to push the process along. Personally, I allow myself “hibernation time”… “Okay, Tort, for the next hour you can bury your head in the covers and just feel this thing, do whatever you need to do” (most common results are tears and/or a nap). Putting the “end point” on it seems to help me – without denying me what I need to experience.

    Tort

  4. Jo-Ann says:

    I am so sorry to hear that you’ve got the blues RA Guy. Everyone has been there one time or another. It is good to see that you are looking to when the sun will come out again. It is just around the corner I am sure!

  5. Kim H says:

    Ah, Big Guy. I’m really sorry you’re feeling crappy. Despite the fact that I’m on Cymbalta, I continue to have dark and teary episodes periodically. I’ve learned that I do get through them eventually. But knowing that I’ll get through them doesn’t make them any easier to get through.

    Hang in there.

  6. Helen says:

    You’re not alone. I don’t have the level of pain you describe, but the constant fatigue depresses me to no end. No one but other RA folks have a clue what it’s like and when you look fine, they really don’t get it.
    Your writing keeps me sane.

  7. Holly says:

    just wanted to say this is everything we go through. The amount of depression and anxiety associated with flares are inmeasurable. I keep telling myself that the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT a train!!!
    Buck up little camper this to shall pass!!! OXOXOX

  8. Cathy says:

    Right there with you. For myself, I’m trying to figure out when the depression is something normal that will pass, and when it deepens to the point of being truly problematic. A certain amount of depression definitely goes with this illness – it would be unreasonable to expect someone experiencing what we do to be cheerful all the time. But I want to make sure I’m not completely sucked into my depression.

    I read your blog daily and I can’t tell you how much it helps. Wonderful, honest writing – thank you.

  9. Synovial Sensation says:

    Hi again, hope you’ve had some refreshment from your Sunday. All (super)power to your elbow. Do you have that saying in the US?

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