Thursday, June 13, 2013

Depression and Hepatitis C

I have been trying to write this post for a long time, but certain recent events made me feel like I had to get it out now. Depression and anxiety are very common with Hepatitis C. Studies (like here and here) show up to 70% HCV patients experience some form of it. I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14. Just 2 years after being diagnosed with Hepatitis C. It wasn't until years later that the two were linked. Even though it is a blood born virus, It has been proven that the brain is affected. My mind functions much slower than it used to, and the fact that I know this, makes it worse. Clearing the virus should bring back my time perception, short term memory, and confidence in holding a conversation, but will the depression lift with the fog? Or would I have been depressed even without this disease?

Like I said, I have suffered with depression most of my life, usually with a lot of ups and downs. There were times that I hated everything about myself, and resorted to anorexia and self mutilation. When I was 18, I did something that hurt everyone I love deeply. Jason and I had been dating for about 6 months, I had just graduated high school... everything was going pretty great, and I made up my mind that I was going to go out of this world before it got bad. I wasn't going to get sick one day, after I had a family, and have them suffer with me. I had heard stories of the way people died with this disease, and I wasn't going to go like that. I took a bottle of my anti-nausea pills, which happened to have Phenobarbital in them, and then called Jason to tell him that he was a great guy, and I loved him. He knew something was wrong, and I ended up telling him what I had done. He rushed over, I had to go downstairs and tell my mother what I had done, and then they both took me to the hospital. I was lucky that charcoal removed most of the pills without any damage, and I promised to never give up again. Jason made me a promise too. He promised to be there for me through anything. We've both kept our promises. I don't think the poor guy knew what he was getting himself into. After River was born, the constant feeling of hopelessness disappeared. I was lucky, because it could have gone another way. Not only had I lost my ability to have the big family that I wanted (I felt like a broken woman) I was in a coma for the first week of my only son's life, and in the hospital for most of his first month. I couldn't breastfeed, or even carry him without help. I needed my mom or Jason to help me do everything for months. It was tough, and very lonely - but not as hard on me mentally, as I thought. I do still suffer with depression from time to time, but not as often, and not as severe. I don't know if it was something scientific, like a chemical switch in my brain, or if just seeing my son's beautiful face for the first time gave me a purpose. But whatever it is, I am thankful, because I wouldn't wish depression on my worst enemy. It is a sickness, just like cancer. Only the sufferers don't usually get the support or help they need.

I don't think that people realize that until I am free of this disease, I feel like a ticking time bomb, and for good reason. Even though I can make it out and about in the world for a few hours at a time like a normal person, I am not better yet. I have gone through "end stage liver disease" two times, and I know that unless something takes me first, I will most likely go through it again, because my newest liver is only getting worse. It amazes me that people think I should be over this already, when I'm still dealing with it daily. But luckily I do have a great group who support me. Some people may not even know how much they have helped me at times. From flying a few hundred miles to visit me in the hospital, to bringing my guys meals when I couldn't do it myself. People that have sent a note out of the blue just to say hi, or that I had comforted them in some way, and those that always cheer me up with a joke. When the Affordable Health Care Act was passed, a friend from high school, that I hadn't spoken to in years (in person) sent me a message, saying she was so happy for me. Just amazing people. For every one who understands that I may not be the person I once was -- I will be better one day, and I'll remind you all why you stuck with me in the first place. I truly hold no hard feelings towards anyone else, I understand that everyone handles things differently, and some people can't handle it at all. That everyone has their own things going on, and I have been sick for way too long... but that is why I spend the time with the people I do when I feel good. One day I hope to not have to be so selfish with my time, but I'm not sure that I will ever forget that they were not here when I needed them most. I can't help but to feel a little like Will Smith sometimes...
"If you're absent during my struggle, don't expect to be present during my success."

*I have to add this little extra piece. When I say I hold no hard feelings, I mean it. Most likely if you are reading this post, you are not someone I feel hurt by. Hopefully, I have told you repeatedly how much you mean to me, and if I haven't, I am sorry. I will do better. I may not say it the right way every time, but I try my hardest to be honest, so that it can be fixed.