Coping With Confidence Draining Chronic Illness

Coping With Confidence Draining Chronic Illness Featured image quote is in the body of the post. The quote is white text on a black background.

Coping With Confidence Draining Chronic Illness

“I am confident because I can admit who I am, what I’ve done, and love myself for who I’ve become.”

For close to 50 years I’ve lived with chronic depression. Being on medication for many of these years I don’t have a point of reference for what “normal” feels like. Yet “normal” is the one thing in life I’ve desired most.

One would think it would get easier living with a chronic illness for so long but it’s just different. I’ve only learned recently how to identify some of the triggers which send me into a downward spiral.

How It Feels

It [depression] begins with a feeling like something isn’t quite right but I can’t articulate what’s wrong. The more I try to figure out what’s causing my angst the more apprehensive I become. This pressure begins building in my chest making it almost impossible to do the simplest of daily tasks. Things like getting up, making the bed, taking a shower, heck, even breathing are difficult. I’m hyper-aware yet at the same time paralyzed.

I feel overwhelmingly exhausted and I’m experiencing panic attacks. Thinking to myself, ‘not again, I can’t do this, I can’t be feeling this way because I have so much to do.’ No amount of telling myself to ‘calm down, it’s only a panic attack’ helps. I can feel my heart rate increasing as my anxiety continues to grow.

Anxiety Takes Hold

There are so many thoughts like rapid fire running through my head. Unfortunately, it’s the feelings of self-loathing, guilt, helplessness, and hopelessness that threaten to take me over the edge. Oddly enough when it’s a beautiful day I feel worse. Something inside of me is telling me I should be energetic, I should soak up the sun and feel alive. But I don’t want to, yet at the same time, I do. I know it sounds crazy and I wish I could get out of my head but I’m so tired and so incredibly sad. What’s worse is remembering I’m a fighter but I feel so weak, so depleted.

I try to recall past struggles I’ve overcome but it’s just too much and I just want to stop thinking. No matter how many times I go through these episodes they scare me. I feel like I’m hanging by a strand and one more thing might cause it to break, cause me to break. It can last one day or five and I really don’t know what ends the cycle and I don’t care I just want it to lift. Coming out of it is almost as scary as being in the midst of it because it’s a tentative thing. I mean, what if it comes back? It’s important for me to take it slow to avoid getting sucked back into the vacuum that is depression.

The Way Back Home

Today I feel a little better but I’m still hesitant. Life is so fleeting. It’s miserable that something as despicable as depression can suck all the good out of me but it’s a process. I hold onto the hope that it won’t last forever and I’ll come out on the other side replenished. Life isn’t a fairytale and it isn’t the perfect pictures we post on social media.

When I was younger I thought my depression resulted from my childhood experiences but now I’m not so sure. The one thing I do know is it certainly wrecks havoc on the confidence I’ve so carefully honed. Or just maybe accepting depression as part of me makes me confident?

There is no shame in living with a chronic illness. The only shame, in fact, is believing we have to pretend we are okay when we’re hurting. Do I like being labeled as someone with depression? Not particularly, my depression is a part of me but not all of me.


  1. I’m glad to hear you haven’t experienced depression but sad to hear about you friends. If anything I’ve written here helps to give a little insight then it was so worth writing it. Generally speaking, the guilt is a huge piece of the puzzle because when we aren’t at our best we may feel like a burden to those around us. This is one of the reasons I choose solitude when going through a bout. I haven’t heard it said to me in recent years but there was a time when some well meaning family members would say to just “get over it” or ttekl me I have to pray if that was all it took to feel better there would be no depression. As you say, sometimes the best help us just to be there. Thanks for reading and commenting Sarah.💗

  2. I’ve known for some time that deep breathing exercise are very beneficial to mind, body & soul. My struggle is trying to quiet my mind but I’m going to practice it intentionally.

  3. I’m doing well thank you, Steph. I can’t remember where I heard it (maybe I read it somewhere), but I’ve always remembered the advise to stop and take a breath. It helps you focus if you just breath. So I started thinking about how at times when things started spiraling out of control, or when my heart would race, that if I just stopped and closed my eyes and relaxed for a moment—taking in deep breaths and letting them out very slowly, repeating this process and emptying my head of the issues at hand—matters improved in about five to ten minutes… or I was at least then able to deal with so many chaotic thoughts in a more deliberate way. Anyway, I figured it couldn’t hurt and these days it does seem to help. ‘O)

  4. Your strong bold and beautiful! Keep putting one foot in front of the other you inspire all you come in contact with making ALL of to do better. Robert

  5. Paul, thank you so much for your eloquent response. We all live such complex lives it really is something to be said for those who keep plugging along. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up and as you summarized it’s typically when I feel like I’m drowning. Expending a lot of energy fighting it only makes it worse and I’ve found recently when I give in and just allow it to run its course I feel much better after a period of time. It’s interesting you mentioned “breathing” because this morning I found a quote on the topic of breathing when life becomes overwhelming and how the sore moment will pass if only we continue to breathe. Thanks again, I really appreciate your friendship and I hope you are doing well. 🙂

  6. Steph, I think there are more people just like you than you imagine. Confidence (especially with the way the world has become today) is fleeting. I believe your post truly captures the daily grind that depression can cause for an individual. Hope becomes a constant as relief from depression seems all encompassing. I suspect the fatigue that overwhelms you when waves of depression sweep over you must feel like you’re drowning under it. But don’t give up, come up for air and breath in deeply the accomplishments you’ve made, because any success we achieve in this life is a real cause for celebration—because we’ve truly earned it! There is an awful lot of hard work that goes into carving out a life for ourselves in this crazy mixed up world, and a great many people have had to do so with lot less tools at their disposal than most. We should all be proud because we’re still here plugging along in spite of everything trying to rob us of our confidense. I think you’re doing great! ‘O)

  7. Thank you Bruce. I agree with you that these feelings should not be easily dismissed. Even though I’ve had depression for the greater part of my life I’ve only recently recognized the anxiety but I’m hopeful that with medication adjustments this will be more manageable. Yesterday was much better and today I feel refreshed.

  8. Steph, it has always challenged me to express whether or not I’m simply feeling depressed or anxious. For me one seems to roll into the other and vice versa. Regardless of the fact they are not chronic for me they are feelings not easily dismissed. You should be commended for your honesty and willingness to share about your situation, especially since you already serve as an inspiration for others. Hope you are having a good day and a better tomorrow!

  9. I’m lucky that this is not something that affects me, but it has touched many of my friends. I appreciate getting at least a little insight into what they might be going through, in the hopes that even if I can’t help, I can at least be there for them and have some knowledge about what they might be going through.

  10. I sure hope so Robyn. I always struggle with sharing these types of issues but it’s these types of situations that make us human. Thank you for your kind words.

  11. I’m sorry you’re struggling with this. Sending you good thoughts and hope you’re doing better soon. Take care💜

  12. Remember you are a beacon of hope for many as well…and that includes all you need to go through in order to face all your challenges with comfort and grace.

  13. Yes that’s quite a lot for any one person to go though all at once. You’ve been through so much and by the sounds of it you did it without outside assistance. You are a beacon of hope.❤

  14. Yes, that’s true. I couldn’t just sleep as along with migrant headaches, serious asthma and depression, I was raising my son alone. So trying to do school with all that, was too much. I finally started getting decent alternative counseling in 1976.

  15. Major life changes can bring on situational depression like a ton if bricks. Death is especially difficult to navigate and I’m so sorry for your loss and how it made you feel. As always thank you for coming by, reading, and commenting.

    The one thing I can be sure of is the bouts of depression don’t last forever and I’m so much more appreciative of life in general when I’m feeling well.

  16. How awful that you had to go through the difficulties depression presents but to also not have anyone to talk with sounds dreadful. I never dropped out of school although I wonder sometimes how I made it through because when I wasn’t in school I slept my life away. Sleeping was my way of dealing with it. Back in the 60s/70s we didn’t talk much about depression. I began therapy when I was in my early 20s. While we still have a ways to go in how we view mental illness we are in a much better place than several decades ago.

  17. So sorry that you are having issues with depression. It is horrible. The only time I have experienced it in my life was after my husband passed away, and it was awful. I can’t imagine living with it always looming in the background. I’m glad that you are feeling better today and hope that you continue to improve.

  18. I had to drop out of school a couple times and my family warned me to not talk about how I was feeling. I grew up with people dying and my own near death poor health and no one to talk to about my fears, grief and sadness and all the rejections I faced. Luckily I finally found some good therapists and natural healers that helped me learn to love and embrace my uniqueness. Self acceptance and building self worth really helped.

  19. Thank you Katelon. For many years I felt the need for medication was a weakness on my part but I’ve been on so many different meds, some better than others. When I was younger I’d go through a phase where I felt so good I’d stop the meds only to end up worse several months down the road. I’m glad to hear that you’ve found something that works for you. This can be so debilitating but in recent years when I’ve felt the need to disconnect and disengage I allow myself not to feel guilty if I’m not up to doing those things that become so taxing.

  20. Thank you for commenting and sharing some of your experience Tamara. I was recently put on a new allergy medicine which is supposed to control my asthma as well but I ran into a snag last week with a reaction. I’m pretty sure the reaction was due to the allergy medication but because it felt like a blockage in my throat I was afraid to take anything for a couple of days. This included my blood pressure and antidepressants. I’m back on everything except for the allergy pill. Even though the dr suggested I try spreading them out through the day I just can’t do it but now as a result the wheezing is a daily issue requiring my inhaler. The medication is a huge component to feeling well but I’m so leery of taking so much medicine and it’s so bad I can’t look at side effects until I’ve been on it for a while.

  21. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Albert. It’s funny but even though I’ve written this and have talked about my depression for some time now I still don’t feel I’ve adequately expressed what I’m feeling, if that makes sense.

    I’m sorry to hear that you also go through this personal hell. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy but as you say it’s also differ from person to person.

    Struggling with my faith hasn’t made it any easier and when it’s so unbearable I eventually end up crying out in prayer for relief.

    It does help a little talking with others and sharing our feelings but for the most part I seek refuge in solitude.

  22. I spent many years suffering from deep chronic depression, sometimes feeling hopeless and suicidal, medicated several times, so I can relate. I’m so sorry you go through this.

    Finally I ended this cycle using homeopathics and stepping more into my power.

    Sending on much support.

  23. Depression is very tough to deal with. When I get stricken, I try to identify the source like you do.

    Lately I wasn’t able to identify it as being on my usual list of triggers: overtired, hungry ( low blood sugar), fighting off a cold, feeling unappreciated etc.

    Then I remembered that I’d read that our fat cells store many chemical components of different medications that we take, and since I’m on a weight loss and fitness program, these old compounds are being released back into my bloodstream as I lose fat!

    I had taken allergy medication for years and a side effect of it was depression. Even though I stopped taking the medication last year, some of the compounds were stored in my body.

    I’ve added fresh dandelion roots to the tea I drink with lemon slices, chopped ginger and honey, to help my immune system rebuild and to help flush those toxins out of my body.

    Once I realized what the cause is, I feel I can tolerate these feelings while my body flushes out.

    Just wanted to share a little! Wishing you well on your journey!

    Peace, Tamara

  24. This is good for me to read and, I hope, for you to write. That last sentence is important. I’m no expert in anything, but from what I have read before, you are right. If it helps, I will tell you that I am experiencing something similar (I know however that every suffering is personal and unique). Faith is a big part of my life, though weak and sometimes lost, so I pray for strength and acceptance for myself– and for compassion. Your writing helps.

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