Monday, May 14, 2007

Mind games

When I was diagnosed with MS last fall, it wasn't a complete shock. With the strange symptoms I had been having for a few months, I knew something serious was going on. I knew it was a neurological problem of some sort. I've also had a feeling ever since I was young that something like this could happen to me, some debilitating disease or a serious accident that left me physically impaired in some way. Perhaps I'm crazy, but it's something that's hovered in the back of my mind for as long as I can remember. So, while it was still arresting to hear my doctor say that I had multiple sclerosis, it was not completely unexpected.

Life has changed, although not drastically. I am on two different medications as part of an MS study I am participating in (free drugs!). Both are injections I have to give myself, one daily and one weekly. I've never had a problem with needles, and though there are things I would rather do than stick myself with needles, I don't mind that much. I get dizzy a lot more easily than I ever used to which has led to some amusing situations, but nothing serious. Cold temperatures affect me more than they ever did. If it's less than 65 degrees, I'm feeling chilly. My mom is greatly amused by this, because she's always cold and I teased her about it a lot. Now she gives me grief about it. Fatigue has become a near constant companion, as well. If I didn't take pills for that, I'd be drifting through life in a barely conscious stupor.

None of these things have really been that big a deal for me. There's nothing I can do about having this disease, so I haven't been upset. I've just smiled and dealt with it. Alas, there is a side-effect that has had more of an impact on me. Depression. It's not depression brought on because I'm feeling sorry for myself. People with MS have a higher rate of depression than people with other debilitating diseases. Scientists have not found a reason, but conjecture that the disease itself has some sort of effect on the brain's emotional centers.

It's very frustrating to wake up feeling down in the dumps or to be sitting on my desk and suddenly realize out of the blue, for no reason, that I feel very sad. I have really worked hard to become a happy well-adjusted person in the last few years and now this hits me. I never get so bad that I contemplate suicide or anything like that, but I get in a funk where I don't feel like doing anything and I can get irritable. I know I could try anti-depressants, but I don't know if I can. I know it's not logical, but I would almost feel more depressed having to use anti-depressants. I have always taken pride in my mental faculties and I want to be able to deal with this "on my own." I know that the MS is doing this and it's ridiculous to think that I should be able to just deal with it, but that's how I feel...

...that and depressed.