Depression is a real condition for those of us who live with a chronic condition. Just yesterday, Tuesday, I invited a friend to walk with me. It turned out that I ended up going by myself. It was so good that I did because, I ended up having an accident the furthest point from my house. I was embarrassed of course, but imagine if I had someone with me? That would have made the situation so much worse.My problem was that I did not empty my bowels before I started my hike. This incident was a great reminder to me to follow a “regular” routine in the morning. Usually if I do that I can have a great safe day.
I deal with a catch twenty two. Rocks can form in my gut if I do not exercise but when I do, things happen. I can pass gas during yoga or like yesterday I can poop my pants because my body does not behave. I try my best not to get down, but sometimes it happens. I can feel depressed.
That is one of the reasons I wrote the book, Beyond Embarrassment: Reclaiming your life with neurogenic bladder and bowel.
My story of taking my life back from bladder and bowel problems. It has personal stories, health tips, practical help, and the latest medical research. A ready resource for women and parents of children who live with a chronic illness—and anyone who faces a challenging physical condition—My hope is to educate, encourage, and inspire.
Well needless to say yesterday evening I fell into a bit of a slump. After prayer I was reminded that God made my body just this way, Tomorrow is a new day and if I did not try I would never succeed.
Excerpt from “Beyond Embarrassment” an insight of how I felt when I was first diagnosed and how I deal with depression.
- Conquest over Depression
The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity;
but a wounded spirit who can bear?
—Proverbs 18:14 (KJV)
How many people know something is physically wrong with them, but either their symptoms are dismissed or tests to diagnose the problems are inconclusive? Not surprisingly, when weeks, then months, and even years of illness pass without a let up in symptoms or a name to place on them, many of us start feeling depressed. That’s certainly what happened to me when I was living with undiagnosed Neurogenic Bladder.
A little later in the chapter…
My Breakthrough, after my diagnosis
Finding peace and real help for my depression and isolation started by taking the step of journaling. Writing about my dilemma was the only outlet I had. I journaled because I felt I had no one I could talk to. I filled pages with how I felt physically and emotionally, sometimes as letters, sometimes as prayers.
This isolation I felt was, of course, unfounded. The sad thing is that I did have some people in my life who would have been willing to listen to me, but I was just too embarrassed to confide in them. I was afraid I would become the butt of jokes rather than the recipient of much-needed support and sympathy. I wanted them to understand the magnitude of how bad I was feeling and how having a neurogenic bladder and bowel was not as funny as seen in the media.
During this mind-blowing time, I took a writing class. The teacher encouraged me to journal. She gave us ideas for keeping the tools of the trade handy: our computers, pens and paper, and encouraged us to let our thoughts come — to put them in a place where they would not be gone forever. For our assignments, I turned in pages and pages of my thoughts. I wrote about being embarrassed by voiding situations. I wrote about the doctors I appreciated and some that I did not. I scripted ideas of how I could carry my catheters safely around.
As I processed the information I was garnering about myself, I got a clearer picture of what I needed to do to cope with my newfound medical condition. My shame was lessening because, instead of running from it, I began embracing it. I still did not know how to get past my fear of being ridiculed if I confided in someone I knew. I could reveal things to my writing teacher because she was a stranger and was reading my thoughts in my absence rather than listening to me face-to-face. The situation felt much less threatening than talking directly with a family member or friend.
Beginning to Connect
I was hooked on writing. I moved my journal to an anonymous blog format, thanks to the help and ease of using Typepad, my first online blogging tool. I had few computer or writing skills, and I was an even worse speller. However, I did have thoughts to share, so I pressed on. Anonymity was key: I was still too humiliated to share all of my symptoms openly with my doctors, let alone with my friends or even my husband. The accidents that happened in public places were too raw to share directly with anyone.
In the early days of the blog, I mostly wrote about things I was having a hard time discussing with anyone else. I got a funny e-mail from a reader who said, “I can’t believe you write about this stuff.” But I needed an outlet, and, through the Internet, I found others who understood the emotional prison in which I found myself. I found solace by sharing how I coped with even the basic logistics of my chronic illness.
I decided to choose a pen name because I was too humiliated to use my own name. I picked “Trudy” because a childhood friend had a really nice big sister by that name. She was always kind to us little kids, put up with our tagging along, and enjoyed listening to our chatter. She even married a doctor. So, as the new Trudy, I would be armed with medical knowledge to tear into this Goliath of a topic that threatened to overwhelm my life.
Then the most amazing thing happened. As I blogged about my condition and started learning about others in similar situations, I started feeling normal again. I became less humiliated by my physical challenges. I started getting e-mails from women like me who felt like they were at the end of their ropes. Before I was diagnosed, I did not realize that many paraplegics have nonworking bladders and bowels. I did not know that bladder infections could hurt so much and, more importantly, I did not know I would ever, in a million years, meet such amazing and inspiring people through my own bladder and bowel issues.
If you deal with a situation similar to this, please do not give up. Keep moving and know that you are not alone.