Handling Depression While Living with Sickle Cell Disease

Introduction

Let’s engage in a simple test to know if you are struggling with depression or not.

Basically, if you have an answer to the question “what are you depressed about?”, then you’re sad or anxious.

If you have a general feeling of sadness with no reason behind it, then you may be struggling with depression.

Depression comprises several symptoms which need to be present in a person for the diagnosis to be made.

1. Persistent unexplained low mood

2. Undue aggression or irritability

3. Change in appetite

4. Change is sleep patterns

5. Loss of hope, loss of interest in previously enjoyed things

6. Isolation or withdrawal

The Link Between Depression And Chronic Illnesses Like Sickle Cell Disease

Due to various factors including the constant need for medical treatment, reliance on loved ones, insensitive comments from general public, and the constant reminder of one’s morbidity, it is understandable that people with SCD are prone to bouts of depression.

There can be a feeling of hopelessness and futility, especially during and after crises.

In some instances SCD sufferers may wonder if there is any point in life itself, and what contribution they will make to their sphere of the world.

Coping with depression or even bouts of low mood can be tough. I have noticed alot of warriors put up a brave face like nothing is wrong.

Sometimes they are tired of the pitying looks and just want to be “normal”

Coping With Depression/Low Mood Requires 

First admitting there is a problem: Not necessarily to the world, but to yourself.

You may feel guilty for feeling so down, you may feel like you shouldn’t be upset since your situation is better than some others’

But whether you fight it or hide it, what you feel is real and acknowledging it will open the door to healing.

Every warrior should realize that SCD is a chronic illness, it has devastating effects and it’s okay to admit that it is a big burden to carry daily.

It affects every facet of life, even when you’re asleep. Your first thought in the morning is “how do I feel?”, “how bad is the pain?”

This dictates how your day goes. Whether you make appointments or have to cancel

Going through this routine day in day out, year in year out, is definitely going to take its toll on your psyche.

PLWSCD would be easily be labelled lazy or spoiled expect you have an understanding of what they go through daily.

Openness: I realize that a crucial first step to dealing with the MENTAL BURDEN OF THE DISEASE IS TO BE OPEN.

Openness doesn’t mean everyone will listen or accept. But it means you have chosen to accept yourself even if no one else will.

  • Be straight with yourself about your limitations so you don’t get disappointed by them.
  • Adjust your expectations to be in line with the reality of what you’re going through.

Support System: Which I believe most of you are doing already, have a buddy you can talk to about SCD; a fellow warrior or an ally.

Sharing your aches and pains with someone who is willing to listen will reduce the feeling of isolation

Self-Care: Do all you can to make yourself happy. Enjoy simple pleasures of life, and try to avoid comparing yourself to others.

While we all suffer from the curse of comparison, it can be really painful realizing you find it difficult to do the things we all look forward to like having a partner, full time work, travel etc.

Separate Difficulties Unique To SCD and Difficulties of Life In General: Sometimes we may think every challenge is as a result of SCD, while in truth there some universal struggles.
Finding your “TRIBE: (basically fitting in somewhere), finding your purpose, staying true to your principles etc.

Whatsapp Discussion held on on 5th April 2018

Facilitator: Zainab Saleh

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