Depression and Cystic Fibrosis

Posted by: 
Vicki Thompson

When I have a lung exacerbation and become physically sick, I become equally sick mentally. This state of disturbance blankets my outwardly copacetic life. The dancey cadence of my voice becomes lethargic. The spark of life in my eyes is only visible under a haze. Though a stranger would never notice, depression surrounds me. When everything seems to be going swimmingly, I run into a dam. But thats cystic fibrosis, and for some suffered (one in three) this is topped with depression.

One day I am an artist, happy, painting; a way of life. My exercise routine is followed closely, my mind is clear and my breath is deep. The next day I find myself 1000 miles underground. I'm in a dark hole with no self confidence, loss of my long term memory and aspirations of sucess. My breath is shallow and I am surrounded by negative energy. The negativity bleeds from my head into my surroundings.

I make decisions driven by my depression - familiar ones to other sufferers. These occur in patterns. I’ve moved from state to state when I felt a vague need to give up on a place, turning down good opportunities for unknown reasons. I stop following through with tasks consistently. I sleep a ton, but also have prolonged bouts of insomnia. I become an expert at making grandiose plans, while also making no plans. Check, check and check.

So what do I do? I feared medication because it changes people, but I found myself at a point where there were no good alternatives. I would walk on the beach in the sun and cry. If I listened to a Radiohead song, forget about it, I'd never come back to a grounded level. I felt I was being scraped away slowly. Why? I don't know, I was just unhappy. It was a fear of life, and I need to find the courage to overcome it.

Medication, at first, seemed to separate me from my body. I felt mechanical. I didn’t like it. I wanted to quit. I didn’t. Today, 3 months on antidepressants, I can laugh again but I can still cry. I am not immune to rude people or upsetting situations. With the aid of uplifting music and routine exercise, I’ve come to realize that these thoughts of failure and ineptitude are not me. I experience them, but they don’t define me. Some have followed me and I am working on leaving them at a distance. I focus on building a bridge from my depressive patterns to better ones. Instead of being hard on myself for having lived the bad ones, I am grateful they are part of my history. I have, with effort, found the beauty of me, just as a careful spectator finds the beauty in the details of a challenging painting. I feel as though I have lived many lives and will continue on to do so being me.

I might move 10 more times in the next two years (sorry dad) or I might ground down in a place I can truly call home. No matter what happens, I will find the beauty in what is around me rather than looking at what isn’t. Life shouldn’t be a series of efforts to reach what one perceives as their heaven, rather it is a day to day struggle to bring a piece of your own personal heaven into as many moments as possible.

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