I have suffered from clinical depression most of my life. Five weeks after my eldest son was born over 22 years ago and diagnosed with hemophilia, my mom passed away. It was not a good time. I had planned on taking maternity leave until after Labor Day, but after Mom’s death, I knew I had to go back to teaching as soon as possible. It was those events that launched my depression into a new realm. However, once I saw a psychiatrist and a therapist, things were much better.
After my second son was born 10 years later, I experienced a terrifying condition: postpartum depression. If you ever hear of someone suffering from postpartum depression, please do not ignore it. It is hard to understand if you have not experienced it, but it is real and frightening. Fortunately, I had the help I needed, and after several months the depression lifted. But it was time stolen away from me and my mighty warrior.
Over the years of suffering from depression, I also developed anxiety, which is also another condition that is hard to understand. I get it. My mom suffered from depression and anxiety, but in her day, it was not discussed or even given a diagnosis. I wish I had known then what I know now about anxiety and depression.
Many people in our bleeding disorder community suffer from mental health issues. Depression and chronic illness go hand in hand for many of us. The pain and suffering caused by a bleeding disorder (or any chronic illness) can sometimes be too much to bear. One of the giants in our community, Barry Haarde, lived with depression. He rode his bike around the country raising money for Save One Life. And even his closest friends had no idea how deep his depression went into his soul. He ended his life earlier this year with many left behind wondering why. “What could I have done? How did I not know?”
Sometimes it is hard to know if someone is suffering. Many of us function beautifully, we have a smile on our faces when we’re with others, and the minute we are alone, or in the comfort of our homes, the weight of the depression takes over. It looks different in everyone, and when you are especially close to someone it can be difficult to see.
If you have a problem, find someone close to you and have a conversation. It is amazing how confiding in a good friend can help your spirit. Maybe you are the person who is being present and listening. Open your ears and your heart to truly “hear” a friend in need.
If you need help from a medical professional and aren’t sure where to begin, talk to your Hemophilia Treatment Center. They will help refer you to a mental health professional.
It’s not anything to be ashamed about. Reach out. It could be a life-changing moment.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or needs someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Note: Hemophilia 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 another 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 Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.