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.


LorrenaN said...

Ricky you truly amaze me. You have gone through so much in your life and you continue to push. Children are a blessing and it looks like God had given you your blessing at the right time. I do believe you when you say depression is like cancer. My brother suffers and I feel help less. I dont know what to do for him. I have only suffered from mild post pardum but it sucked. are there things I can do to even help him? Im glad you have a supportive family and husband. I know that is so important. Stay strong Ricki and continue to be this great role model and voice for those who are struggling.

Unknown said...

Ricki, You are truly amazing and I only have total admiration for you and your fighting spirit. Keep it going Girl, I know you will!!

Anonymous said...

My Husband is in early liver failure. (PSC) Following your story has given me a glimpse into the future. Your honesty has been refreshing and appreciated! You are in my prayers. Keep it real hon, you have no idea how many you are helping.

**Ricki** said...

Thank you guys! Really! Lorrena, I'm sorry to hear about your brother. (And you for having postpartum, that should be some of our happiest memories-- Before they can talk. Hehe) For me, just knowing that a person will be there to listen, and doesn't make me feel guilty for being the way I am... No one will be able to "fix" us, but knowing that you will be there when he comes out of it, might help more than you know. I would also recommend researching the form of depression he suffers from. Bipolar? Manic?... Understanding it will help you as well. We aren't the easiest to deal with sometimes.
Anonymous! Goodness, don't go by my story... Especially if he has PSC. A liver transplant should fix him up good, and most people I have met, have not had as many complications post transplant as I had. It is a tough road before transplant for most, but it is doable. I will pray that he gets his liver fast, but until then, I do recommend checking out some of the information on my other blog for foods and other helpful links. I wouldn't have made it without my caregivers, so prayers for you and your family, too.
Thanks "unknown" AKA Craigy poo. YOU have helped me more times than you will ever know. You are an amazing person who will always have a place in my heart.... Bet you didn't know that. You're also the reason my blog is in a readable font.