Have you managed to Turn the Corner? Share it in the Comments Below!
Chronic depression often comes along with chronic illness. I may have already had depression when I first started battling kidney disease at fourteen. I tended to be introverted and shy. The disease exacerbated those tendencies, making me more isolated and alone. It often felt like I was leading a secret double life. This other life was filled with hospital visits, blood transfusions, constant tiredness, and daily vomiting.
I thought that my first kidney transplant at age seventeen was the cure but the disease recurred within a year, destroying the new kidney. Then it was dialysis. In total, I have had three transplants and have been on dialysis following each failure. This time it’s for good; I am no longer a candidate for transplantation. The disease has interrupted my life, ruined plans, and held me back. All along the way, I have battled depression. When you are really sick, or really depressed, it takes over everything. You don’t have energy, enthusiasm, motivation, or even desire. It’s hard to see a reason to go on.
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It seems somebody should have seen it; all the clues were there. In fact, I think everyone who suffers from chronic illness should be screened for depression as a matter of routine. I went undiagnosed and for a long time didn’t want to ask for help. If it was a matter of thinking, I’m smart, why couldn’t I just think my way out of it? I have strong character, why couldn’t I just push through? I didn’t want to admit failure. Finally, in my thirties, when my second transplant failed, I asked for help.
Since then I’ve been on various medicines, never sure what was working or how much. At one fairly recent down point, I elected to try another treatment – ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, what had been known as shock treatment. They put you under with anesthesia, give you muscle relaxers, and monitor your body with electrodes as they do during a CT scan. They send electricity through your brain for a short moment and your body convulses. You wake up fairly quickly. The only pain comes from putting in the IV and delivering the anesthesia which burns as it goes in.
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I feel as though I may have turned a corner. I still fight depression, but I feel more positive, more motivated. I force the negative thoughts away as they arise. I keep forward momentum and get things accomplished rather than sleep all day. My family has noticed the difference. I don’t know if ECT works for everybody, but so far it seems to have worked for me.