Hmmm…That’s an age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg (or in this instance, which came first, lupus or depression?)? That is a tough question and there’s no real ‘pat’ answer. First, did you know that lupus, the disease, can cause depression? Second, circumstances arising from having lupus (the losses, the not being able to do things you used to) can cause a reactive depression. In many instances in which your illness may not be lupus, this does apply. This is often seen ini ANY chronic illness.
First, the depression:. How does lupus cause depression.? The disease itself may affect the central nervous systems of patients. There is often nerve damage caused by this or less often a condition called CNS lupus. But, in affecting the neurons themselves, lupus can cause a change in the chemical makeup of the brain. This results in the development of a clinical depression; something that is measurable. Specific laboratory tests can monitor hormonal and chemical shifts.
The second type of depression, and just as much depression, is the
not-so-measurable, but just as real, depression that results as a reaction to all of the limitations and losses that lupus places. These losses might be be the athletic person who had to give up running, the loss of ability to hold down a job, the financial losses that come with having to spend a ton of money on lupus medications. There’s also the young woman who can’t conceive because lupus has caused a premature ovarian failure. Imagine that whammy! All of your friends having children, talking of school buses and PTA contributes to sadness which turns to darkness over a dream to have a family dashed. A potential for income loss definitely exists. Then there are the losses of friendships because people don’t understand that you’re still sick, “BUT, YOU DON’T LOOK SICK!” This is by far an exhaustive list but meant to give readers an idea of reactive depression.
So, what do you do, do you fight the losses tooth and nail, kicking and screaming your whole life about the unfairness of it all? Do you shout about the fact that you’ve ben wronged? (That sounds like the temper tantrum of a two-year old.) Or do you roll over, play ‘dead’ and pretend they never happened? No. I”m here to to tell you, NO, NO and by the way, did I say ‘NO’ to pretending those losses never happened”?
So, denying that the losses ever happened doesn’t work. What does? In lieu of the ‘poor-pitiful-me’ role that we’ve all possibly slipped into and quite understandably, don’t you admire people who make the most of the challenges handed to them? I can think of countless examples and I’m sure you can, too. The lupie who ran and finished his first marathon at age 60, the person with ANY chronic illness who defies the odd-makers and is able to graduate with honors in a very demanding school. There’s also the person with chronic fatigue syndrome who is able to get out of bed every day. Those are everyday occurrences for many, but for many they are huge goals. IN OTHER WORDS, MAINTAINING A POSITIVE-YET REALISTIC -ATTITUDE WORKS. Being able to attain a goal is a a wonder. The goal that I at TRY TO aim for: realism, in a realistic world, is it possible for me to achievable?