I am no expert on depression and would never try and advise anybody who suffers from it. I am however an expert on my own asthma, I know my condition very well, even my consultant accepts that I know more about my condition than she ever will. I also know how my asthma makes me feel and retrospectively I have seen how I have acted as a result of my asthma and the impact that my actions have had on those around me.
I am generally quite a positive person but sometimes I do worry about my asthma, I start over analysing things and in general get down. I wouldn’t say that I have ever suffered from actual depression. One of the problems I find is that when you are laying in an hospital bed you have an awful lot of time to think and dwell on things, sometimes this can have a positive effect but more often than not it fills you with negativity. I will try to explain.
Usually my hospital admissions last for weeks at a time and while on a respiratory ward many of the patients with who I end up sharing my bay with are a lot older than me. Not that that there is anything wrong with old people of course, in fact quite often, depending on the individual person they can be far friendlier than a younger patient. However I am usually unlucky and end up having to share a bay with people who are unable to look after themselves, they hardly talk, they sleep most of the day, are confused, they often soil the bed and in general it just isn’t nice. Then because some of these patients require constant care and attention there is less time given to the likes of me and by the time I hit the respiratory wards I am self medicating and take little looking after. Now don’t get me wrong, I am delighted that I am able to look after myself and can either get myself to the toilet or at least get somebody to take me (depending on my condition). The problem is though that apart from visiting time the only people you see all day are the odd doctor, the patients in your bay and then nurses and carers, and if they are too busy to talk to you then you can have some long boring days. It is during this time that your mind starts working overtime. You start worrying about your health, the length of the hospital stay, wondering whether the next asthma attach will kill you, stressing about the amount of time you are missing from work, will they still be paying you, will they sack you because of your absences. One thing that I often worry about in hospital is my parents, they are both in their 70’s and live 60 miles away. They insist on driving through to visit me most days while in hospital, even though it is usually the middle of winter, again don’t get me wrong, I am delighted to see them and I do appreciate their visits but you do start worrying about all the travelling that they are doing and the toll that it takes. In addition to this it is distressing seeing them being upset at the condition that I am in, I worry about them worrying about me.
The other times that I start to think too much are during the night, as most people who have spent time in hospital will know, it isn’t easy sleeping in hospital, whether it due to the noise and other activities going on or whether it is the medication keeping you awake. Either way you lay awake in bed and don nothing but think which eventually turns to worry and it becomes very easy to get down. The trouble is then that the more down that you feel and the more tired that you are it is very easy to become very moody and of course you usually end up taking thinks out on your nearest or dearest, you know the sort of thing, you ask them to bring something in from home and they forget or bring the wrong item in, it is very easy to fly off the handle and over react at the smallest thing.
Other things start to depress you as well, the fact that due to your medication and a lack of exercise you start to gain weight or start suffering from other illness, I myself suffer from steroid induced diabetes which just gives me something else to worry about.
Anything can dampen your mood, if you actually have somebody on your bay who you get on with, they can be sent home, you are obviously happy that for them but deep down you have lost a ‘friend’ and you it immediately puts you on a downer.
If you have been in hospital a while and you aren’t improving it is easy to start to be negative, complaining that the staff are useless and don’t know what they are doing, literally anything can put you in a bad mood. It may not actually be depression but it can certainly leave you feeling very down and alone. The trouble is that you don’t like to depress any visitors who come to see you and so you bottle things up and you feel even worse. Social media and forums / message boards can sometimes help, I often find it easier having a moan to somebody online who I don’t particularly know but they have similar issues to me. Sometimes even writing a blog can or keeping a diary can help, you can read things back and it sometimes gives you a better perspective on things.
I suppose that feeling down or even anxious is all part of the problem with our kind of illness and with hospital admissions in general but it is important to try and do something in hospital to occupy yourself, my iPad has proved to me a big saviour, whether it be playing games, watching movies or reading. I always used to pay for the television service in the hospital but over the years this has become a complete rip off. The cost is stupidly high for a poor quality service.
I listen to a lot of music while I am in hospital which helps pass the time and my mobile phone gets a lot of hammer texting mates, due to the meds I usually have a short attention span and struggle to concentrate and so I don’t usually bother too much with puzzle books and crosswords.
I believe that it is so important to try and stay positive in hospital and try to find something to keep your mind occupied. Psychologically it is important to stay positive and try to feel better about yourself. I know that my condition is real and I know that my condition is serious but I also believe that if I am in a good place psychologically then my health will be slightly better even if only by a small fraction.
I would like to just apologise to those people over the years that I have offended or upset by things that I have said while feeling down while unwell in hospital, I think most of them realise that it wasn’t the real me saying some of those nasty things but either way I am sorry.