A lot has changed over this past month. Mostly good things.
First, and most importantly, my depression is pretty much gone. I finally pinned down what was making it flare so bad the past few years and figured out how best to deal with it (get it under control). It’s a complicated story full of many linked triggers and contributors. So many I didn’t even list all of them here.
It had been a number of different things that compounded to cause and ultimately make worse the depression and anxiety. It all began with the unrelentingly horrific pain of my diseased heart. A couple of years of constant, debilitating, pain that doctors could not properly diagnose and treat will certainly cause a depression. Then the realization that I had a heart condition and the sudden and frightening massive heart surgery that changed my life forever just fed the depression. Then the year long struggle with my eyes; eye surgeries, loss of driver license (independence), and dealing with a forever “droopy” eyelid fed the depression even more.
I know a lot of people who are reading this and thinking, “it’s all in how you look at it, I know it’s difficult, but just think happy and the depression will fade”. NO! That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works!
I’m not done with the story…
All of the body’s systems are related. ALL of them. That’s how the human body works; different systems do different things, but they all work together to make a living, functioning being. A person with type 1 diabetes has a chronic hormonal auto-immune disease. Anything that involves hormones, even one specific hormone (insulin) affects the entire body, even the chemicals that regulate emotion and psychological balance.
It’s not a matter of “thinking happy thoughts”, it’s all about chemical and hormonal balance; it’s physical.
Yes, I could have, and did, “look on the bright side”, but that did nothing to change how I felt because I had no control over my chemical and hormonal functions, and since my body was ill, neither did it.
Anyway, moving on to the other causes of this dark time in my life. Not long after the heart surgery and eye surgeries (4 in one year), we moved into a new home. It was a nice home in a quiet neighborhood with nice neighbors. Also, it just so happened to be surrounded by large trees and buildings that made it a very dark home. Even when all the shades were open, the house was dark. There was very little natural sunlight. Since I was home all the time (no job and no ability to drive and already depressed and developing agoraphobia) I got virtually no sunlight exposure. Both darkness and lack of sunlight exposure caused a depletion of vitamin D which feeds depression as well as promoting other illnesses.
So I fell even deeper into depression over those two years.
Also during this time I was gaining weight even though I was trying to lose, and was diagnosed with the vitamin D deficiency, as well as other illnesses that are chronic. This all fed the depression.
Finally, we moved. The home we moved into is very sunny due to many windows and not much to block the sunlight from coming in. With the new exposure to sunlight (and taking Vitamin D supplements) my body was able to lift out of the depression a little bit.
But over the next few months I struggled with a sudden and debilitating case of thyroiditis that eventually left me with hypothyroidism. A very prominent symptom, and you might say side effect, of hypothyroidism is depression because the thyroid controls hormone levels.
My endocrinologist prescribed Levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid replacement hormone, and over the past several months has been keeping an eye on my thyroid levels and adjusting the medication to get me at the perfect levels.
Well, during most of the time that the above story takes place, I, of course, had been trying to fight the depression and anxiety. I struggled to figure out just what was causing it and why it was so bad. I could be naive and assume it was just because I was going through emotionally tough times, but I’m not ignorant and I understand that depression is so much more complex than just how you feel. I knew there was an underlying physical issue going on.
I went to therapy to help with the emotional/psychological part of the issue, which helped a bit. I went on medication to ease the chemical imbalances, which helped a bit. But the depression and high anxiety persisted.
And I am the type of person who insists on finding the root cause and “curing” the illness, not just treating the symptoms. But, as someone who has more than one incurable disease, I understand that not all illnesses are curable. But, I fight on to gain control!
With my health becoming more stable, my depression and anxiety naturally lessened. Especially with getting the thyroid issue under control. Just this past month, with the raise in Levo dose, I feel so much better!
I stopped my depression medication which was it’s own ordeal, but feel even better without it than I ever felt on it!
I started taking St. John’s Wart which is claimed to “promote a positive mood” even though there are plenty of scientific studies that do not show that it does anything at all to state of mood. It may just be a placebo effect, but I do feel a tad bit better.
I’ve also been working on being more physically active which we all know helps the body to balance those feel good chemicals a little bit.
All in all, I have come completely out of my depressive, anxious illness and feel emotionally and psychologically better than I have in a long time.
On another topic, this month I was diagnosed with yet another incurable illness. I am not going to tell you what it is because I still have not completely wrapped my mind around all of it… I need time to ‘deal’ before I talk openly about it. According to my doctor, I’ve probably had it since childhood (we traced symptoms all the way back to around 7 years old) but most people who have it never show any symptoms… but because I am immune-compromised (Type 1 diabetics are considered to be) this is probably why I have had disease specific symptoms over the past few years. There is no cure, but as with all my incurable illnesses, it can be controlled.
So I began to take immune health promoting supplements (Vitamin C, Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin B complex, a multivitamin, Vitamin D) as well as getting more exercise, which we all know promotes immune health, and continue to try to eat healthy and keep my blood sugar under control.
It seems to be helping. If anything, I feel better all around!
So, in conclusion, I feel great! I hope to continue to keep my depression and anxiety at the minimum and keep up with the increased exercise which really helps with all my current issues.