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Depression is classified as a mental illness and 1 of the causes of depression can be physical health problems. I have not only experienced depression, but I have also seen how it looks on others, including someone with Pompe disease (PD). It has been an open chat in my support group about depression, and it should be discussed more because it could cause further deterioration in the physical body with Pompe disease. 

Recently, I experienced depression and I didn’t tell anyone. The first signs are usually mood changes and sadness. Most people know why they’re sad and where the depression is coming from, but it’s also possible that you can be depressed and not know exactly why.

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My depression came from major changes in my life at that time after dealing with trauma. Now I find myself getting depressed when it comes to my physical limitations. Things can get stressful for me when a simple health issue arises. I don’t get sick very often, but something as simple as a cold or flu takes me back mentally to when I was hospitalized when I was younger. It’s a reminder that I have Pompe, and I can’t do this or that. If I feel like I’m losing strength or can’t do something physical, I will literally break down and cry.

I recently learned that this behavior is very common in the Pompe community. And the minute we mention this behavior to doctors they’re ready to put us on antidepressants. The last thing we want is to be drugged up and dependent on mental medication. However, I can only speak for myself, everyone has their own way to cope and overcome whatever they’re going through.

When I’m beginning to experience depression, I pray, that helps me. Most people are brave enough to speak to others about what’s going on with them mentally. However, there is definitely a time when you should seek out professional help from your doctors. 

Depression can cause your body to suffer in a way that can cause harm. That sadness and low energy can cause a person to stay inside, stop eating and bathing, and some people develop bad habits such as drinking alcohol and using drugs. Everyone has a different mindset; depression can look different for each person. When I experience depression, I still eat but I’m very inactive. I’ll lay in bed all day and cry and sleep, then wake up with a headache from crying. I know my body and when enough is enough. I will only allow myself to struggle for so long. This is the part when some people can seek out help or make things worse by harming themselves. 

Unfortunately, we live in a generation where depression isn’t taken seriously. While some of us are struggling in private, others are reaching out to family and friends and not being taken seriously enough to receive help from them. We are taught tough love, even those with rare diseases. You can’t complain about having Pompe when there are others with this disease who have it worse than you. We are reminded always to be grateful for everything we have such feelings of depression can be overlooked. It’s unhealthy because you can’t overlook a mental illness. 

When I feel depressed, I journal and pray, but sometimes I do turn to certain people I know I can vent to. I only do that when the depression causes me to isolate for so long. I wish I could share ways to avoid getting depressed but I don’t think it’s something you can truly hide from. Even when everything is going great in your life and you have everything you can want, unexpected things always happen that you have no control over, which can cause depression. You can’t let anything keep you down for too long. Allow yourself to feel depressed but don’t allow yourself to break. Not everything heals with time, some things take steps to self-care.