Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! I hope if your home is snow covered you’re staying warm.
I took this photo in Telluride last February. It was fun to watch the skiers, but I felt a longing for the life I used to live. The one before autoimmune diseases when I could run and play.
As the new year rolled around, I decided to focus on the good things in my life instead of the changes. You see, I’m very blessed. In spite of limitations and disabilities that are frustrating, I have a good, full life.
So often I focus on what I don’t have. For me, it’s rarely the beautiful new home, the new car, diamonds, etc. I often focus on the abilities I no longer have. Before I got sick, I earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do. When I’m having a bad day, I tend to focus on what might have been had I gotten sick.
I loved sparring and won several tournaments, but I started getting ill right before I earned my black belt. By the time I received it, I could no longer compete. In fact, I could no longer practice. It caused too much pain.
This year, however, I plan to focus on my abilities. What I can accomplish in spite of my disability. My life has changed, but I still have a good, blessed life. It’s time to focus on the blessings. I have a good life and instead of lamenting what might have been, I want to focus on what is.
Will you join me in focusing on what you can do this year? I would love to hear your stories and how you’re changing your focus and making the this year the best ever!
Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
With the recent death of actor Robin Williams, I felt it was important to interrupt my series on Rheumatoid Arthritis to talk about depression.
Studies show between 15 and 60% of people dealing with chronic illness, experience clinical depression. However, I believe at different times in the course of the disease, most people who deal with chronic illness and autoimmune diseases face some degree of depression. The diseases attack the body and once we learn what our “new normal” is for life, something changes, and we must accept a revised version of normal. This can lead to depression.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. Depression is not a sign you don’t have enough faith in God. Depression is not something you just push through and deal with.
Depression is a very serious sign that something is wrong and you need help to deal with it. In our “pull yourself up by the bootstraps world” we have difficulty understanding this insidious thief. It robs our joy, and steals our happiness, yet many times we don’t understand why.
Dealing with chronic illness day in day out is wearisome. Fatigue, coupled with pain, and flu-like symptoms takes a toll on the body and mind. If you’re experiencing depression symptoms along with your disease symptoms, please do not ignore them.
Symptoms of Depression Include:
- Feeling sad, empty
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Loss of interest
- Increased fatigue
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Fixating on past failures
- Sleeping too much
- Persistent anxiety
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Frequent thoughts of death
- Suicide attempts
Warning Signs of Suicide in Depressed Persons:
- A sudden switch from being sad to suddenly calm or even happy
- Frequently talking or thinking about death
- Depression that worsenings
- Putting affairs in order
- Tempting fate by risky behavior
- Losing interest in things the person once cared for
- Saying things like “It would be better if I weren’t here” or wanting out
- Making comments about feeling worthless, or hopeless
- Visiting those the person cares about
Depression must be taken very seriously. The risk of suicide with depression is high and anyone who expresses suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or the Deaf hotline at 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).