Thursday, November 4, 2010

Coming Out Of The Darkness...Depression and Rheumatoid Arthritis

I have not posted for a very long time. This morning I woke up at 5:00 am and couldn't stop thinking about my neglected blog. I am FINALLY feeling better! It has been a LONG summer waiting for my medications to kick in. I began my medications in June but I didn't notice any positive effects until September. I think the switch to the injectable form of Methotrexate helped me the most. However, I also started exercising once again in September too. Who knows??? All I can remember is the day when I felt good enough to go out and work in the yard. I was trimming back some of my neglected plants and started crying because I felt like me again! It has amazed me, as the fog has slowly been lifting, at how dark this past year has been. I let myself get pretty depressed and I still juggle back and forth between the theories of: Was I depressed becuase of my RA or did my RA flare up again because I was depressed with baby blues?

I recently read an interesting article in Arthritis Today:
"Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are twice as likely to experience depression but are unlikely to talk to a doctor about it, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the study, published in Arthritis Care & Research, researchers found that almost 11 percent of RA patients had moderately severe to severe symptoms of depression, demonstrating a worrisome link between rheumatoid arthritis and depression.

The study also found that only one in five of the patients with arthritis and depression discussed it with their rheumatologists. Those who did were always the ones to bring up the topic – not the physician. When it was brought up, it was often not discussed at any length."

My baby just turned one! Part of me wishes I had gotten some help with antidepressants or something and so I could have enjoyed my baby a little more. I really missed out on a lot with her this year. I admit, I never have discussed depression with my rheumatologist. I cried my eyes out through my first appointment but the possibility of depression never was mentioned. I don't know how much difference it would have made this past year to add antidepressants into my regimen of meds, but I will always wonder if I suffered more than I needed too.

I also wish that I would have found more people to talk to. There was one particularly hard day where I was done being patient, done searching for natural cures, done hurting, etc. A friend was inspired to call and check on me that day. She told me that I needed to call her old neighbor who had raised six active boys despite being diagnosed with RA at a young age. I hung up and called her immediately. Dixie is older now with grandkids but took the time to talk to me. She described her symptoms and initial diagnosis, her flare ups and periods of remissions, her meds past and present. She shared some helpful advice and gave me the courage to keep going. I knew she knew exactly what I was feeling on that day and she had seen similar ones in her own life. However, she had gotten through them. She promised me that things would get easier and I could live a good life with RA and also be a successful mother. She'll never know how much this phone call meant to me. I hope one day to pay it forward and be there for that someone who is experiencing their particularly hard day.


  1. Wow, great blog!! Thanks for your post on mine! It sure is nice and comforting to know there are other young moms out there battling this disease!! Keep up your good work! Here's my email if you ever need to talk!

  2. It was interesting when you said that about the baby blues and the timeframe. I have a 26 month old and I was diagnosed after having a nightmare flare up a few days after I gave birth. I was dealing with depression for a good nine months – not severe but I was depressed. It was related to the RA, being a new mom, and having to go back to work 6 weeks after the baby was born. I never mentioned depression to my rheumy either and I remember that I was always crying about something and at a drop of a hat. Dixie is right about it getting better and when you are stressed as a mother, it is harder but our kids get older. Be kind to yourself and take care.