One of the worst parts of living with chronic pain is all the other stuff that comes along with it.
I often think that I could handle the pain if only it wasn’t accompanied by depression, anxiety, fatigue, weakness, limited mobility, etc.
I’ve struggled with depression most of my adult life and a chunk of my teen years as well. Whether I’m medicated or not, it’s always there. The same with anxiety. While they aren’t new battles, the intensity of how they’re connected with my battle against RA can be staggering.
It goes a little something like this:
I wake up stiff and sore. My energy level is low. This means I can’t do much today.
Because I can’t do much, I start to feel useless as the chores pile up.
Dwelling on where the pain is settling, anxiety kicks in as I worry about all it might mean. How bad is the joint damage? If the swelling doesn’t go down soon, numbness will kick in. How long before that causes irreparable nerve damage?
Being overly anxious always causes my OCD to become pronounced. I used to deep clean to control these urges. Since I can’t clean, the OCD goes unchecked and I start to obsess over the littlest of things.
My mind is spinning and yet there is still a calm voice talking. It’s the voice of depression, telling me no one really loves me.
It tells me how my friends are frustrated listening to my constant whining. It tells me I’m a horrible friend, that I make excuses and push them away. It tells me that I’m not really sick, it’s all in my head. It tells me that I’m deathly sick and I’m going to find out very soon that I will spend the rest of my life crippled. It tells me that I’m useless, a burden, that I’m just using my fiance. That one day he’ll get tired of working two jobs to support us and will leave me. It tells me that I’m not worth anything.
It asks why I even bother fighting this disease, why don’t I just give in and let it take me?
This is the fight that I battle each day.
To put one foot in front of the other takes more strength than most people will ever comprehend. I am my own arch nemesis, my mind the battlefield for our ongoing conflict of wills. In a perfect world, I would be able to vanquish this enemy of mine and live in peace.
With depression, this is not possible. It will always be there, no matter how much or how little medication I take.
Since the war cannot be won, it is the daily battle I must focus on.
And for today, I’m winning. If only slightly.