Feelings of worthlessness and guilt are pretty common in major depressive disorder, and I’ve been plagued by them for years. My health issues feed these feelings, so all in all it’s a pretty unpleasant experience when the mental and physical illnesses get together and decide to throw a party in my head.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 21 years old, after several years of suffering from severe pelvic pain and trying to find a doctor who was willing to take my concerns seriously and perform the exploratory surgery necessary for a diagnosis. Endometriosis is a particularly nasty disease and can be difficult to treat, partly because treatments that previously worked will stop working for no apparent reason. In short, it’s incredibly frustrating and everything from the waist down hurts like a mad bastard most of the time.
I had a huge flare-up in October 2012…and then basically one flare-up every month after that. As a result, I missed a ton of work and eventually just quit my job because I was going to get fired anyway. I’m currently tutoring and am on the active sub list for a couple of schools, which works out well because if I happen to be unable to get out of bed (because of the horrific pain) on a particular day, it’s not like I’ll get fired.
However, we’ve taken a hit financially because I don’t have a steady job. Also, the necessary visits to the ob/gyn can be pretty costly. For example, every time I end up in urgent care because my pain is spiking to about an 11–which is basically the “I am bleeding from the eyes” level–it costs $144, which insurance won’t cover because we haven’t met our ridiculously high deductible yet. This means I end up crying it out on the couch more often than I’d like, but I can’t justify spending that amount of money just to have my vitals taken and be handed a prescription for narcotics.
This disease can have some pretty severe emotional repercussions as well. I feel helpless a lot of time time and hate not being able to leave the house. I feel bad about myself for not being able to do everything I want to accomplish, and I often feel that I’m more of a burden to everyone, emotionally and financially, than I’m worth.
In short, it can be difficult to see myself as more than my illnesses, and that certainly doesn’t help the depression. In fact, it feeds it. With MDD comes a little voice in the back of your head that whispers (or screams, depending on the day), “You’re worthless, you’re a waste of space, life is pointless, just end it.”
My job is to fight that voice as fiercely as I can for as long as possible, but some days, it’s harder than others.