Fighting Chronic Depression


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.

Read more: I Am Fragile, Yet Strong Like a Rose

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.

Read more: Living with the Wrong Diagnosis

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.

Have you managed to Turn the Corner? Share it in the Comments Below!