Now this can be quite a delicate subject for a lot of people but I personally feel that there is a link between mental health and chronic illness, it needs to be talked about more and the taboo veil lifted so people actually get help they may need without feeling judged.
From my own experience as a preteen and a teen I was incredibly depressed but with one of those fake smiles we do for social situations, on the whole my home life was great, I had friends, I did well at school but my health was shocking. I really suffered with ulcerative colitis and spent a huge chunk of that time admitted in hospital. It wasn’t until I got my health under control and by that I learnt my bad flare symptoms this meant that I got help sooner rather than later, when my mental health improved.
During my time of depression I, if I’m being completely honest (which I try to be) I self harmed much to my parents dismay, because let’s face it they couldn’t take it away and make me happy again. I know I am not alone in that scenario but it isn’t always for attention or a cry for help like many people believe, I had a deep hatred of my body, the fact it wouldn’t work correctly, I often was in uncontrollable pain and I needed something I could control something I could claw back my life with. Which I know sounds stupid to many but when you feel like you are spiralling downward you just need something to cling too.
Rachel from Rocking2Stomas gave me a quote on her experience:
Yes when you have a chronic illness in my situation I went for years with no diagnosis and over time you start wondering if it is in your head? You question your own sanity and then question how much you can rely on your head. After getting a diagnosis I still struggled with medics not hearing about my rare disease and can lead you to feel alone and isolated. For me it led me to a dark place where I started abusing my pain medication first for the physical pain then for emotional pain. It was only when I reached my lowest I realised what I was doing and faced that aspect. After that everything else fell into place and I addressed my feelings of my illness and prognosis and stopped self medicating them. Yes I still have bad days but doing affirmations and talking about any anxiety fears I have help. I do not allow it to control my life it was hard for me to admit I had mental health but now I think it is hard to go through illness and surgery without it impacting. The key is to communicate and find like minded people who understand.
I suffer from anxiety only now and I tend to be more scared to come out of hospital rather than go in, this is down to the fact that I have had many re-admissions over the years or things weren’t quite right and I would still feel scared and lost. Especially when my mental health was at it’s lowest, for instance I contemplated drinking all my morphine and going for a walk. I have never been in as much pain as I was that night; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I admitted myself the next day and nobody addressed my mental health until the day they released me which was due to the fact the ward closes over weekends.
However since my ileostomy was formed other than at the beginning being scared to drink which you can read here, I haven’t had many down days with regarding my health and I genuinely put that down to being predominantly pain free! I also put out a poll on Twitter and The IBD and Ostomy Support Blogs group about whether people think that mental health and chronic illness is linked and it was a resounding yes! So I feel that medical professionals need to look at the link between illness and mental health more.
What do you think about the link between chronic illness and mental health?