I’m participating in RABlog week this year and I’m very excited about it. For 5 days there are select topics for each day with a couple of wild card topics. One of which I’m going to definitely use.
Today is about mental health and RA. My RA symptoms started 20 years ago at a time when my mental health was at it lowest. Life had become oppressive to me – my boss had a nervous breakdown and four months later my then husband had an industrial accident. I spent a year racing around caring for my boss’s clients while taking care of my husband, his injury and the workers compensation court process. This took a toll on me and one day I realized that I was ready to drive my car into a tree. I didn’t recognize what I was going through, but fortunately my boss did, having been there.
I was fortunate to connect with a therapist immediately. She helped me understand depression and stress and the connection. I also began taking an anti depressant. Within a year I started having the first symptoms of RA.
That was 20 years ago. 3 anti depressant medications, 4 biologics since then and I’m in a good place. But I recognize that stress and chronic pain have a huge impact on your mental health. Perhaps I’m weak for saying that I will stay on an anti depressant until death, but I feel that way.
Earlier this year I went through 2 total knee replacements, 11 weeks apart. Going through it was long, although I’m happy that it’s behind me. I did have a few days when I felt the old demon of depression knocking. Time, and some coping skills, helped me move on from that point. But it was just enough to remind me how delicate the balance is between chronic illness and mental health.