Today’s post is about depression and tools about dealing with Depression with a Chronic Illness
For the sake of honesty, I will admit I have suffered with depression most of my life, at least since 9 or 10 years old. Once I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, my depression came roaring back with a vengeance.
When I was diagnosed, I was in the best shape of my life. I had overworked my body which then caused my symptoms to come to the front. I went into a depression spiral that went something like this: working out and being healthy is pointless, but I need to be healthy and lose weight to decrease my pain, but working out is what made this worse, continue forever.
Ehlers-Danlos didn’t make my depression worse, it just gave me more reasons. Over the last five years, I have been working on my mental health. Especially related to EDS, the primary thing is changing how I view EDS. At first it was an unfair challenge, something that would weigh me down forever. Now I’ve seen how I have handled the surprising challenges due to EDS.
First, do whatever you can to get a counselor or therapist. We have made paying for mental healthcare is critical and essential. If I didn’t have my current therapist, I don’t think I would have been able to to fight the depression of losing my job. I have also experienced that I tend to carry my stress which makes my EDS worse; it also liberates my mind so that I can just focus on the EDS. As for financing it, things will depend on your situation. I didn’t want to deal with insurance and also wanted the option to try multiple therapists so I chose Betterhelp. I pay monthly and will “text” her throughout the day, and can schedule video or phone calls. I chose this route for so many reasons but the primary benefit is being able to choose my therapist. I can be quite closed off and wanted a therapist who would feel like a friend so I could actually open up to them. I liked being able to change my therapist with no judgement, and ended up meeting my current counselor who has been amazing!
I will write another post about organizing and purging but this is a crucial step in my everyday well being. About three times a year I go through and purge my house of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. I found that by decluttering I felt less stressed and also don’t have to clean as much. By having less clothes and things in general, I don’t feel overwhelmed and life just seems a little simpler so I can just care for my mental or physical health without feeling guilty for self care.
Create some flare up outfits, this has helped me so much. I have these super fun flare yoga pants that are all spandex so its like wearing a dress. I pair it with a black tank top, and if it’s cold I throw my favorite cardigan over it. I also have some cute and warm slippers that I wear around the house and then sandals or in the summer.
My next outfit is the classic sweatshirt with some jeggings! Yes, I know people make fun of these but I have found some that are wonderful. More durable texture like a jean but still soft and comfy. The extra thickness makes it look just like jeans so you feel cute. The sweatshirt is nice and warm and super lazy. Bonus it holds multiple vape pens and snacks! I’ve been using a scrunchie with a bow in my hair to make it look more pulled together.
For flares I keep my hair in a low ponytail or a braid. My hair is pretty wavy so keeping it braided prevents knotting up my hair while I sleep or recline. If my shoulders hurt more, or don’t have the desire to do my hair then it goes into a loose low bun. Sometimes I have meetings that I can’t reschedule, an\ I don’t like to do make up when I have a flare up. I found glasses and bangs allow me to get away with minimal makeup. I just straighten my bangs, apply a red or ruby lipstick, and put on some hoops. If you want to apply a foundation, I would recommend a BB cream or tinted moisturizer product.
All of these little things have made things better! I also try to put things where they make sense, so my pills go on my bedside table because I need to take them no matter how sore or tired I am. I have a tall cube organizer and place all my other personal care item at the top so I don’t have to bend over.
These are just a few examples of how I have streamlined my life since being diagnosed. What about you zebras out there? How do you cope with depression and chronic illness? Any tips you can share that have helped you with your day-to-day?