Having Depression and Ankylosing Spondylitis
I feel like it’s almost impossible to have AS and not have mental health issues, too. It just affects every part of our lives. Having depression and AS feels like there’s a lot going on in my body. Too much, some days.
I’ve had depression for a long time
I’ve had depression since I was about 12 or 13. I’m now 26, so it’s been over a decade I’ve dealt with mental illness. Long before I developed my symptoms of AS, I was depressed.
When I first started showing symptoms of AS, the depression got worse. How could it not? Doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on, I was bedridden, and every movement I made caused me excruciating pain.
Once I was diagnosed and had a treatment plan, it made things slightly better, but I still had an illness for the rest of my life, which as a 22-year-old, was pretty depressing. Most of my depression thoughts were now about my illness, and it became hard to cope with.
I started therapy once I got sick
In 2018, I decided I needed to get professional help. It was no longer manageable on my own, as I did all throughout high school. I got a psychiatrist and started group therapy for my depression and anxiety.
My depression has had ups and downs, but in the past year or so, it’s gotten worse. I do regular therapy now, but it still doesn’t feel like enough some days.
What’s been going on
I’ve talked about this before, but in 2021, my chronic fatigue got worse. In late 2021, I started developing new symptoms. Symptoms that didn’t really relate to my AS. I had burning pains in different parts of my body, like my hands and forearms. I get migraines when I overdo it. I’ve never experienced these new symptoms before, so of course, I worry.
I’m currently under investigation for this new pain. I’ll be seeing a neurologist in a month or so, and hopefully getting more testing to find out what’s going on.
It’s depressing, not knowing what’s going on in your body. Symptoms getting worse. You always want to move forwards, not backward, yet here I am.
There’s also more going on in my personal life that has added a great deal of stress and sadness. Again, 2021 was NOT my year. And 2022 is shaping up to be a mess already.
My mental health is always my priority
Having dealt with anxiety and depression for so long, I’ve learned that my mental health is incredibly important to take care of. Whether that be with therapy, meds, or self-care, it needs to be taken care of.
To be honest, I’m on a mix of all 3. I use antidepressants, I attend therapy often, and I try my best to keep up with self-care.
If I didn’t take care of my mental health, well, I wouldn’t be in great shape physically or mentally.
How much about your AS do you share with others?