Hope Blog/Respect Your Illness

Respect Your Illness

Published by Adrienne Gurman at 12:41 AM under Acceptance | CBT | Coping | Depression |Health | nutrition | Recovery

I find it remarkable that although I’ve come to accept the fact that I have depression and all that comes with it, I still become frightened by how powerful this hardcore illness can be. Last week, I was forced to succumb to the violent strain of flu that’s been making its way across the country. The virus completely took over my physical being, the symptoms robbing me of sufficient sleep, nutrition and essential daily medications.  After a painful four days, when the bug was finally out of my system, the shock of my ghostly reflection in the mirror paled in comparison to the invisible heaviness and despair weighing me down on the inside.

This has happened to me several times in the past – getting hit with a depression after a bad cold, for example. So much of managing my mental health is based on routine, and when that gets shifted for whatever reason, in addition to the inability to digest food (and meds) and not sleep eight hours per night, it really messes me up. While it helps knowing why I currently feel so blah, I can’t simply snap my fingers and make it disappear. As much as I hate having depression, I can’t pretend it’s not there. I have to acknowledge it and respect it, just like the flu.

Time and experience has taught me to never underestimate how quickly depression can take control of my life. Sure, it would be easy to surrender. I won’t deny the temptation to withdraw, hide away, unplug and disappear. But I’ve done that before and it only makes it worse. While my eyes burn with familiar tears of sadness, I can feel my bodily strength returning slowly. It’s a bizarre dichotomy – mental and physical powers pulling me in opposite directions. Yet, if history has taught me anything, there’s no reason for me to think that I won’t get through this rough time. I’ve done it before and I shall do it again!


6 Replies to “Hope Blog/Respect Your Illness”

  1. Adrienne,

    This post is beautifully and poetically written! First off, I’m so glad you are “human” again. I can relate to “Respect Your Illness” so much. Although I haven’t had the flu this past week, I caught a cough from my two little girls. They’ve had to stay home the past two days and today will be day three that we are home-bound. They don’t need a doctor; they need rest & fluids. Their staying home creates a disruption in my routine, i.e. my needing to cancel therapy appointment, lack of exposure to daylight and time with friends, feeling isolated and frustrated, and I start feeling the ‘ol blues. It’s not the end of the world by any means, and I need to remember that. But it’s tough all the same.

    I’m sitting in front of my Sunbox DL light which I bought for seasonal affective disorder a decade ago, and that helps my mood, but the cough I caught yesterday messed up my sleep. I’ve been up since 3 a.m. As a person with bipolar, that’s not good. I respect the importance of sleep more than anything these days, as one night’s lost sleep will trigger mania in me. (I’m hoping to lie down later in the day – I have a husband who is supportive about naps, and works from home part-time)

    Anyway, thank you for helping me feel like I’m not the only one who feels very thrown off and down when non-catastrophic illness enters her life.

    be well, Dyane
    Dyane Harwood, Freelance Writer
    Author of the upcoming book
    “Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder”
    Consumer Advisory Board Member/Blogger, International Bipolar Foundation


    1. Thanks for the well wishes, Adrienne…I also meant to thank yo for retweeting my blogging for the International Bipolar Foundation! I am totally new to Twitter and frankly, I don’t understand certain factors, i.e. how do people who are following 2000 other people have time to read all their tweets???? (I’m embarrassed to admit that, but I don’t think you’ll judge me!) A friend emailed me a primer about Twitter which I need to read, but I keep procrastinating. Today might be the day! Take care, stay cozy & warm! p.s. I just retweeted your hope blog for today!


  2. I can relate. I have lupus and a flare can send me into a deep depression. The pain and fatigue makes me feel useless as I have to struggle to drag myself out of bed to do the most simple things. Perhaps one good outcome to bipolar disorder is my depression is usually followed by a period of mania where i can catch up on things left undone.


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