Aggressive MS has me depressed for one whole day

Depression is the most common mood disorder in people with multiple sclerosis

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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How do you start a column about depression that isn’t, well, depressing? That’s a question for me to answer rather than you lot. If you’re still reading this week’s musings, then so far I’ve done pretty darned good.

It was a confluence of events that fortunately involved water. I’d just had my first and probably only outdoor swim in my pool during our one week of summer here in the U.K. Indeed, it’s been the hottest week in September since records began. Such records are definitely having a hot streak!

Due to multiple sclerosis (MS) progression, I have to wear a nifty life preserver these days, so there’s no choice but to pootle around on my back. I actually managed to do a lot of exercise this time, perhaps too much. I was beyond exhausted. I’d also gone way past the MS fatigue wall. Hey, last chance an’ all.

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Yes, I’m well aware that we could go to a public pool at any time, but I doubt we could manage the logistics without a total breakdown for all of us. It’s hard enough doing it domestically.

It finally hit me how disabled I am, how my whole family has to invest time in getting me into the water, and then how they have to keep their beady eyes on me so I don’t drown. Then there’s the palaver of getting me out. It’s far worse than dealing with a toddler. What toddler weighs 18 stone?

The next morning, I knew I was still physically shattered, but the fatigue is usually completely gone by then. This time, it wasn’t.

We’re in this together

Fatigue was also accompanied by that cool, cool hand of depression, which is something I know a lot about having suffered from the clinical form of it for about a year in my late 20s. Back then, it was caused by innumerable awful events cascading down on me. With talk therapy, I woke up one morning and was free. For the first time in months, I made a different evening meal rather than the de rigueur fried eggs with melted cheese on top that got slung on toast, which was all I could be bothered to knock out every night. I sometimes ate it for lunch as well!

This time, the depressive hands of depression were just tepid, and I realized why, despite all of these brief, sunny days, it had happened. A recent comment from a regular reader had knocked me in the mental solar plexus on the very same day I got into the pool. Thinking he’d eventually be facing the same level of disability as I do, he asked how I can still go on. That made me ponder my own plight.

My decline from aggressive MS was catastrophic. As I fought to stop one crisis, the next loomed in the distance. Somehow I pragmatically accepted it. We may be amazing biological machines, but any device can malfunction — especially highly complex ones.

It took me three days to physically recover from my swim. Thankfully, the depression lasted only that first day. Somehow I seem to have become inured to it because of that bout years ago.

A lot has been taken from me in the years since my diagnosis. However, everything but my left hand and arm is still fully functional, so I can peck away on the keyboard. Thankfully, the intellect survives. I know this because writing is the same struggle it’s always been. Writing this column about MS has helped.

There’s no reason someone else’s journey with MS will be exactly like mine. And since I’m a selfish pragmatist, let me just say that I need to keep every reader I can get.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Arloa Raffler avatar

Arloa Raffler

You are doing a great job. I am glad you are still able to write, so hang in there. I for one am happy you are writing.

Kathleen Fulghum avatar

Kathleen Fulghum

I hear you, John! It's hard to slow down when the water takes away many of the restrictions of land-based exercise. It's wonderful you share how important exercise is. Bet you look cute in your float belt, too. Hope your saintly wife doesn't mind my sharing that.


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