Fact: According to the Lupus Foundation of America, more than 60% of people who suffer from Lupus will experience some type of memory problem such as recalling names, dates, appointments and balancing a checkbook. The harsh reality, it that’s not the hardest part.
Most of us with Lupus also suffer from clinical depression, a condition that is brought on by a combination of medication and the drastic lifestyle changes.
I’ve suffered a lot of losses dealing with Lupus, but the greatest loss of all, was allowing Lupus and chemical depression to destroy my marriage.
I hate this disloyal disease; I hate that I allowed this disease and my negligence to get mental treatment sooner to force me to make some poor decisions in life and as a result, destroy my family.
My husband was literally my heartbeat and if I could turn back the hands of time, I would have swallowed my pride and sought help sooner. But instead, I cared about what others would think of me, if they knew that I was depressed.
I can handle this on my own is the lie I told myself.
I was diagnosed with Lupus and unexplained infertility in 2003; this was the same year I met my ex-husband, an extremely handsome, brilliant and wonderful medical professional. He and I fell head over hills in love, we were eager to be married and grow our blended family.
My first year dealing with Lupus was the hardest because, I found myself undergoing a whirlwind of mixed emotions, medications and lifestyle changes. That year alone, I suffered with constant chronic hives, I gained more than 75 pounds, migraines, memory loss and I itched uncontrollably.
Before my diagnosis, I was a woman that didn’t even know how to swallow a pill, suddenly I was taking six to eight pills per day just to live.
In 2004, as a new wife and after a year of unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, I started to feel like less than a woman and that made me angry all the time.
I felt: It is my job that was bestowed upon me by God, to procreate, be fruitful and multiply and I was having difficulty doing what some women simply take for granted.
Sex had become a chore in my marriage and was no longer an enjoyment, and at that point, I treated my husband like a tool for baby making verses making love to him as I should have.
Although we loved each other, I started to feel less desirable to my husband.
At one point, he actually lied to me, so that he could go and hang with his guys. My ex-husband felt bad that he had a life outside of work, kids, and me.
Looking back, I don’t blame him.
As the years went by, I still had no baby and my health was not better at all.
The stress of not being able to conceive and the abrupt lifestyle changes of living with Lupus began to take a toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally.
I am angry all the time, mostly at my husband. He worked many hours per week at the hospital and it felt as though, when he
wasn’t at work, he was on-call, or hanging with the guys playing video games, etc. This was frustrating because sometimes, I just needed him to be there and I should have understood he was working to provide for our family and I wanted to but dammit, I was in pain, tired all the time, I was always sad, angry and I needed him with me.
I didn’t have a support system.
Whenever I spoke to other people, I heard comments like, I don’t look sick, or Lupus was just a trait, or just calm down, etc…what they didn’t understand is that the disease was beyond my control!
The weight gain and the hair loss; my older kids were in disarray, my husband worked all the time and I was stressed and in pain.
Oh, and the memory loss. Imagine staying up to study all night, then falling asleep and waking up and you can only remember half of what you studied. As I put these words on paper, I feel this pain again in my throat.
I still feel so bad for what I put my family through.
I had no idea what chemical depression was or how to treat it, maybe because I never realized the symptoms–I was just angry and frustrated all the time so those close to me just wrote me off as a “bitch” and did not notice that my behavior was totally out of character.
My husband often called me impulsive and said I needed to calm down but honestly, I couldn’t help myself. In my mind, I was going to die soon, there is no cure for this horrible disease and I want to be happy now, even if it’s for a little while—and thus, I made bad decisions.
Lupus and the onset of chemical depression made me lonely, depressed, lazy and by my own definition, ugly.
I often contemplated suicide but resisted, so I did the next worst thing, I became reckless and ultimately, pushed my heartbeat away.
Now, I won’t take full responsibility for the demise of my marriage—one of us needed to be the strong one and we failed, but I do own my part for the dumb decisions I made.
I now recognize I was depressed for many years and it went untreated because simply put, I became good at painting on a smile for the world to see and wiping away tears before anyone noticed. We eventually got pregnant with twins and in the midst—I developed postpartum depression on top of what I was dealing with and that made matters worse.
I found myself making more dumb decisions and then neglecting my family. It was like I didn’t want to be bothered. I had a separate life outside of them. I found myself in treacherous situations because of my failed attempts to find love and support.
I finally decided to get help and what I learned about chemical depression is it’s a chemical imbalance due to the medication as well as the abrupt lifestyle change from dealing with a chronic illness.
My doctor commended me on controlling it so well for many years without treatment. I appreciate her commending me but I lost my best friend in the midst of this emotional roller coaster.
Today, I am a much better person, I love my family and children more than anything and I think I’m ready to find love again – who knows?
The morale of the story is educating yourself on Chemical Depression is very critical not only for the victim but for the support system as well. If you or someone you know are suffering from the symptoms of depression, please get help immediately.
I lost my best friend and soul mate while battling this disease, if I could turn back the hands of time, I would have gotten help sooner and ultimately I would have my marriage.
My advice to those who suffer, please don’t push your support system away, you need them as much as they need you.
I sincerely apologize to my ex-husband and kids for what I sent them through. I love them so much and I am working diligently everyday to fill that hole I created with my family and to rebuild that friendship with a man I once called my soul mate.
For more on Nikita and her journey, click here.