Depression is real

Depression is real. It’s not the same as being sad or feeling blue either. Everybody experiences moments of sadness and has times when the tears flow easily because of an unexpected life change. But with sadness the sun comes out, the tears dry up and life goes on.

Depression is more intense than that. It’s felt deep, it hits hard and it lingers for days, months and sometimes even years without a true grasp as to why. It’s not a part of your imagination or something you’ve made up.

Life changes living with a chronic illnesses. It changes daily and that can be a hard thing to deal with…living a life filled with uncertainty and constant change. One day you may wake up feeling great and the next day you find you can’t even get out of bed. That kind of turbulence has a tendency to wear on emotions and brings with it a feeling of hopelessness and despair.

I understand how easy it is to grow weary and tired, to go through periods when you would rather hide away than face another day, to become overwhelmed and long for just the tiniest amount of relief.

Our lives are filled with people but sometimes it simply takes too much energy to be around them. Sometimes it’s not even being around them that’s the hard part, sometimes it’s just that putting on a real smile takes too much energy. No one likes to fake-smile their way through a day, but sometimes we do it because we have no other option.

Know that you aren’t alone. I think everyone hits a place in their MS journey when depression becomes real, tears flow, reality sets in, and choices have to be made. Hard choices. How do you bounce back from a deep, dark place of despair? How do you shake feelings that are so overwhelming you find yourself drowning? How do you learn to live again when you feel as if there’s nothing left to live for?

Please know that it’s okay to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong in reaching out to your doctor or others for support and there’s nothing wrong in choosing to take a medication to help you get through the turmoil you find yourself in. I know how hard it can be, but don’t try to make it alone. We need one another and we need to be able to talk about what’s happening deep inside without fear of being judged or not taken seriously.

I know it’s not easy, but you can rise above the chaos. You can pull out of the messiness that life throws at you and rise above it all to a better place; a place filled with hope, smiles, laughter and joy. It starts with you taking care of you first.

When you feel like you are sinking deeper and deeper into nothingness, you have to put everything else aside to focus on yourself. Yes, you are that valuable. You matter!

Never apologize for who you are. You are important, loved, special…and you are going to make it through even this. It’s okay to be real, to hurt, to be human. Let the tears flow but if you find yourself hanging out in the puddles for too long, reach out for help.

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero  


About the Author
About the Author
Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

16 replies
  1. Jane
    Jane says:

    I was diagnosed with depression over 25 years ago. I know I’ve had it much longer than that. I was diagnosed with MS 2.5 years ago. That sure didn’t help. Things have been so much worse lately and I’ve started counseling and see my dr. next week to see about changing my meds. My therapist has helped me see that the depression is much deeper than I imagined and I have a lot of work to do.

    I’ve been “fake smiling” for most of my life. I’ve disguised the way I feel that unless I disclose it to someone, nobody would ever know. My therapist, on my first visit, said I don’t “present” as a depressed person. Well, I’ve been faking it for years! My MS has just compounded my situation. But this year I have decided to try to make myself better (I can’t use the word “heal”) in body, mind and spirit. So I’m on a new road…

  2. Mandy Campbell says:

    I have never really felt depressed and have to say I do now. I was diagnosed with MS 10 years ago. I lost my boxer who was almost 11, 2 weeks ago. He was my companion and best friend. I am single, although I have a lot of friends and family they all have their own lives and starting families. With my job, I go to work and come home and chill out, I don’t have energy for much else, so I am very lonely even though it’s only been 2 weeks. He was always there and I guess kept me company more than I even knew. To make it worse I had someone at work make some discriminatory comments against me because of my MS last week. Everything combined I feel I can’t put my fake smile on everyday and pretend to be happy for everyone. My spirit is broken. I go to see my counselor tomorrow, I only go when needed and haven’t been in years. I have been anxiously waiting since I made the appointment last week. I’m going to call my nuero to see if he wants to add any meds or adjust any.

  3. Chris
    Chris says:

    Thank you Penelope! I just was diagnosed with depression and this is so true!! Thank you for telling folks to take care of themselves first!!!

  4. Jo Maxwell
    Jo Maxwell says:

    I didn’t think I was suffering from any symptoms related to depression. Last year I went to see my granddaughters in Seattle and had to make myself play with them. That was a wake up call. I came back home and started in an antidepressant.

  5. Rich Edwards says:

    I struggle with this every day. I am so happy for the medicine and most importantly the therapy that I have had for this. Is my depression cured. Heck no. Every day, I have to battle with my own brain on how worthwhile my own existence is. The medicine makes it so that I can fight, and the therapy gave me the tools to fight it.

  6. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Penelope, MS can draw you to places you hate. Help can certainly get you out of there. The help can come from friends, family or even others that you meet on the internet. Not everyone is bad and there are a lot of good people around.
    I was thinking that MS is not the worst thing to have, PTSD can be quite debilitating both physically and mentally and hard to deal with. I just hope there is something that can help with the mess my wife has and is going through since 1990.

  7. Sue Roorda says:

    There are 2 doctors in Toronto who have just found a stem cell cure for ms……it was recently in the news….but I don’t know whether it is allowed to be used by Canada medical standards yet.

  8. Tina Thompson says:

    I’ve had severe depression for 2/3’s of my life. It’s chronic. My MS and other health issues have come after it. It rules my life. I’m high functioning though which is pretty amazing as I feel awful most days. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn and have a fear of losing my independence. Thank you for this. A lot of people still downplay mental health issues and it’s very disheartening. We’re out here fighting through every day the best we can.

  9. Leah
    Leah says:

    MS, is without a doubt, the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Fortunately, I have anti-depressants that really work and help me get through my day. Personally, the worst thing I’ve had to face is seeing the deterioration of my MS from year to year. The things I was able to do when diagnosed with MS, I can no longer do. This is depressing and frightening, yet I still somehow manage to push through my day. Penelope, your posts keep me going and make me feel that I’m not alone. I’m forever grateful you do this…thank you!

  10. Nancy Jones
    Nancy Jones says:

    Yes, depression is a very real thing. I finally reached out to my doctor and started an antidepressant a few weeks ago. It took about a week to kick in, and I am so grateful that it is working nicely. The edge has been taken off of my anxiety and I feel like I am on a more even keel now; I’ve stopped crying over nothing. This time of year people are more susceptible to depression anyway after the long winter hours of darkness. Thank you Penelope for reminding us that it is ok to reach out for help if we need it. Sending you many hugs

  11. Aileen Brown says:

    So true i was only diagnosed with PPMS a couple of years ago but was asked to look back and see how long had been getting symptoms – however mild – I reckoned it was about 4 years before and one if the things was depression I am lucky don’t suffer all the time and don’t need meds but have a couple of friends who don’t have MS but have depression it is a truly awful thing and so hard for those around to deal with – another hidden disease and it can hit at any time for no apparent reason

    • Thomas Taylor says:

      I was diagnosed ppms 17 years ago. Still ambulatory, more like ramble-story. Figure those symptoms started 10 to 15 years before that. Hold your head up, and keep fighting. I am running and stubborn too

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