You have Lupus, Lupus Doesn’t have you: Anxiety and Depression

“Hating the fact i have lupus and what it was doing to my body lead to Anxiety and Mild depression. There were numerous times that the thought of leaving the house & someone noticing the scars on my face would make me anxious. There were times I caught people staring at my scars which made me extremely uncomfortable. Having an active rash on my face at times made it hard to even want to be social. To the point i hated being around family with no makeup on. i can’t explain to the feeling . But i can say I’m glad i no longer feel it. Being depressed made me withdraw from those around me. There were numerous times i was invited out by friends and family but i declined. Not because i was busy but i simply didn’t want to leave my room. My place of comfort. The only place i felt 100% comfortable. Getting past depression for me meant i had to accept I have lupus and acknowledge it doesn’t define me. As simple as that sounds it wasn’t. It took time. I tried numerous ways of dealing with my anxiety. Visualising a happy place, reading to take my mind off it, talking about it and even imagining the worst. The latter is not a good idea. I found drinking Calming herbal teas, accepting the feeling of anxiety and then slowly breathing did the trick. ”

I was recently interviewed by the lovely Chantelle Kimberly for an article in The Voice Newspaper on my Journey with Lupus. Which will be out soon. I meantioned something that was unable to be published so I wanted to talk about it on here. 
A lot of people go through both anxiety and  depression. I for one can say I have felt the wrath of both. I can’t say in the past I’ve handled it well. The core of my feelings were based on how I felt towards my lupus. The hate and disgust towards the fact, I discovered I had a incurable  disease. It made me feel worthless & inferior. I began to hate how active the flares where and how quickly they were spreading across my face. I began to hate the person I was becoming. Disgusted every time I looked in a mirror.

Having to explain to people I’ve known for years why I suddenly have rashes  on my face, and why I was losing an eyebrow became a tiring act. Having to smile and act like I’m okay, while the other person has a look of worry or Pitty. Worried that it could perhaps be contagious. After a while it felt as though those around me viewed me differently. I stopped caring about friends. I’d start new friendships and didn’t care about maintaining them.  A part of me wanted everyone to hate me as much as I hated myself. I remember a day I argued with everyone that contacted me.  I felt like if everyone dislikes me then the hate I felt for myself was justified. I reached a point where I did the whole ‘I’m going to hurt you before you can hurt me’  rubbish. I distanced myself from family & friends. A part of me felt no one would be able to understand how I felt. Everyone else around me was ‘normal’. They didn’t have to worry about the potential of  what this incurable  disease can do. So I stopped talking about it, Except with my mum on occasions. 

DISCLAIMER: If you have read my previous posts you would know my Nan also Had Lupus  SLE But she didn’t live in the same Country as me at the time.

There were so many occasions I missed making priceless memories with those I love because I didn’t want to be around people. Id rather be in my room. I can’t tell you the amount of hours I’ve spent in there crying in the past 10 years.  My room was the only place I felt comfortable. My safe spot from the world.  I remember not long after finding out I had lupus I decided I wanted to paint my bedroom egg plant purple. It basically represented how I felt. It became my dark hole I could go into.  I could sit around with no makeup for hours and not wonder if someone notices. Even in social setting with makeup on I felt as though it was visible to all that I had an issue with my skin. My selfconscious  meter was through the roof. It didn’t help that I was absolutely terrible when it came to makeup. I mean I’m not great now but my skills have definitely improved. 

I remember the first day All the hairs in my right eyebrow fell out. I entered the world of anxiety. Panic and worry set in about how I was now going to hide it. How I was going to draw it without looking permanently confused or concerned. The early stages of drawing my eyebrow was a shambles. My hands would tremble and I was unable to draw anything remotely similar to my existing brow. I wanted to look  normal. I didn’t want to be the girl with 1 eyebrow. I put pressure on myself to try to look like everyone else. Thinking about it now, It’s such a silly thing to be worried about. In a world like this there many other things to focus on.

Some days I would draw on what I called an eyebrow, some days I wouldn’t.  Either way everyday I had a side fringe. It wasn’t only trying to draw an eyebrow that made me feel anxious. There was also the thought of leaving my house . The thought of  a gust of wind blowing and uncovering it all made my chest feel tight. The only three things that would get me out my house at one point was either my mum, boyfriend or Work. After a while Money no longer had an appeal. Not because I didn’t enjoy my job, but because having to be around the public all the time was uncomfortable. There was a period of time I stopped working and started to loose who I was. To most they saw a happy girl who was enjoying life who became lazy and unbothered. But it wasn’t the case. inside it felt like there was a black hole.  Slowly consuming me. Lupus had become a part of every thought process. As dramatic as it sounds I allowed it to hold me hostage. 

When was in social settings I found it easy to fake being happy. If I wasn’t happy and talkative, I was silent and unapproachable. Either way I don’t think anyone ever noticed I was depressed. I think they just thought ‘oh that’s Jade.’ It’s funny I was having a conversation with a family member last year, explaining how I felt about our relationship and the distance between us. I remember being told something along the lines of ‘ but I thought you were growing up and wanted space’. It verified that they didn’t notice how I felt. 

During this period my relationship ended. The only other thing that made me somewhat feel normal. I guess Attractive. But was I even happy in the relationship?.. NO! I can’t say he had an incling how much my lupus was affecting me mentally either. If he did then he wasn’t willing to investigate. 

Looking back what I needed the most was support & knowledge on how I can deal with my emotions. Basically Joining a support group Would have probably been more beneficial than hiding in my room and hurting others.  
I wanted to share a small insight into how depression and anxiety has affected me. I know I’m not the only one it has dug its claws into. This isn’t something you should be ashamed of. They are natural reactions to overwhelming situations.  It strengthens you mentally. This is something you will be able to look back on and say you got through. You are not alone along your journey. Try to speak to those around you about how you feel.  Even if you feel those around you won’t understand. Social media although it has its bad points is a great way to socialise with other people that might be experiencing the same things as u. Failing that Speak to your Doctor or  join a support group. One thing I regret greatly is not finding a support group for either anxiety, depression or Lupus. Taking the first steps might be hard but you will find you are stronger than you thought.

Jade X 

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