In this article I would like to take things to a more serious level, I would like to talk about Rheumatoid Arthritis and mental health. Rheumatoid arthritis and depression is something I know very well, as I have experienced it firsthand. I was however not aware of what it was until later in life. The same goes for Rheumatoid Arthritis and anxiety. This is a very personal subject to me but I hope that my experience might assist someone else going through the same thing.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Depression – The Bond Is There
For any one suffering from chronic illness you know that the battle is real. For most parts you do try to keep a brave face because lets face it, what else is there to do?
Sometimes, however, the struggle is just too hard and slow but steady you might feel yourself, hiding away, in your little, but very safe, cocoon. This is exactly what I used to do and I still do, from time to time.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can actually have an effect your mood and the connection between them is surprisingly strong.
Since R.A. can affect your central nervous system, brain fog, headaches, mood swings, depression and anxiety might be signed; yours faithfully R.A.
Depression is actually very common for people dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis, up to 40% of patients have been diagnosed or are experiencing symptoms linked with depression caused by R.A.
When I got into my depressive state I would lock myself in my apartment, I did not want to go out with my friends even though we had planned to do something. I would stay at home, sit on my couch, watch movies, basically I would have my life inside four walls. I was constantly tired and never had any energy for anything. I had to force myself out of the doors, force myself to go to the gym, force myself to do anything.
Depression might make you feel hopeless, like you fail everything and like you are not good enough, you just need to remember that this is the illness talking and it is not really you. You can actually blame your depression on your Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is 100% allowed!
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Anxiety – The Toxic Combination
For me both the depression and my anxiety started when I started with Enbrel injections.
This might be strange for some people to understand, but for me, having to take this injection, once a week, felt like I was self harming even though I did not want to. I would take them on a Thursday, on Wednesday I would start thinking about it. I would always take the injection, I would sometimes sit there for minutes, trying to convince myself to do it, I would get physically ill, to the point where I almost threw up.
By the time I was 20 I could barely leave my house for periods at a time. I was in such a bad mental state. I would still go to work, I would constantly push myself, even though my body and mind would say Stop!
I started getting panic attacks. It got to the point where I needed someone to sit by me when I went to bed because I was terrified of the feeling I had, terrified of the physical symptoms my mind was giving my body.
I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, there was just an endless tunnel. For about a year, this was my life.
The reason I believe I came out the other end is because I had my family there, every step of the way. I also started reading online about anxiety and depression and I realize that the person I was reading about was myself.
I now know that anxiety is common for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. A person that might constantly be in pain or causing pain to them self, or realizing the severity of their illness, can cause anxiety. An auto immune disease can mess with your neurological system which can make you more susceptible to this.
If you are experiencing panic attacks, difficulty breathing, hot flashes, cold sweats and a racing heart then you might be experiencing signs of anxiety. I would get blurry vision and I felt like I was on a boat, I would also get very physically sick, I never left the house without a plastic bag as I constantly felt like I was going to throw up, it would sometimes even get to the point where my vision would just go black and I would end up on the floor.
I started getting terrified of social places and having to leave the protection of my house. This is when my depression started.
The very first thing I want you to do is remember that everything you are feeling, everything you are thinking and everything you are going through both mentally and emotionally is completely normal and it is something that can be helped.
If you have a doctor. Talk to your doctor. Explain to them what you are feeling and how.
Get a referral to see a psychologist.
Even if it seems really hard, Do not shut yourself away from everyone and everything. Allow your best friend to be your best friend. Movies on the couch might be just the support you need.
When it comes to anxiety it is important to remember that it is only an emotion. It is a temporary emotion and all you need to do is breathe through it.
I have studied mental illness for 2 years in school and I do have a diploma in psychiatric nursing.
If you do feel anxiety coming on, breathe, focus on breathing, do not allow your mind or your breath to rush away.
However, it is not a fun fight to fight alone. I am sure there is a helpline in your country that you can call if you feel depressed or anxiety coming on. Do not be afraid to use it.
Make sure you talk to your parents or close friends about what you are feeling, and please do not be a shamed to seek out professional help.
I wish I could have had the opportunity to get professional help. So please, accept the help that is available.
Writing this is very hard. Remembering the fear I used to have still scares me. Sometimes I still get panic attacks and I do get depressed. I have learned how to deal with my anxiety and my depression without any medications. I meditate a lot. I try to stay grounded and I try to listen to my body. I try not to let my mind rush, I stop myself and I breath.
Something that helps me a lot is listening to guided meditations on YouTube.
Just search for guided meditation anxiety, guided meditation depression or balance. I am not going to add a video as it is important that you find the one suited for you. The person voice, how and when they speak. Everything will matter. I prefer laying down on my bed when meditating, you need to find your personal preference. Please do try to remember that having depression or anxiety is related to R.A. You are not alone.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments then please drop them down below and I will get back to you.