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Need advice from people in the same boat.

First off it's a friday after a long week at work and i'm relaxing at home getting a little buzz on so i'm on an up at the moment.:thumright::drink:
Also this is fairly long so don't worry if you can't finish it or you just want to skim read. It was mainly just written for myself as a vent and as a topic to get other peoples thoughts on.

The reason i'm here is mainly that I know pretty much no one with a crohnic illness or mental health issues and just wanted some contact with folks that understand.
I say no one but actually i did meet my first fellow crohn's sufferer recently after 20yrs of living with it. It was really out of the blue. I was having some drinks with a bunch of work colleges and i just happened to mention i had crohn's to this kid that i had been working on a design project with. He's around 22 and he was like 'oh really!? I have a friend who has that.' Turns out that friend was him and he was just a little nervous. Well being 5 years older i guess i'd learnt to be a bit more open (or at least to force myself to be when the opportunity presented itself) and we got chatting, it took me by surprise because i'd been working closely with him for a few months and despite him being off for a day every month (infliximab) I never knew. Even more strange, on a separate drinking occasion (i don't drink a lot but the pub is opposite the office, lol) we were chatting with this girl, also in her 20s, who we'd worked with for a year and turns out she has colitis. All three of us were so surprised. Unfortunately they've both moved on but i keep in touch with the guy and the girl is coming back but she's gone travelling. Anyway that wasn't even the subject of my post, i just tend to get into the details. Just goes to show though, people will never know unless you tell them.

So my actual reason for posting is a little less light hearted but i'll give this a go. This is the one thing i'm really bad at opening up about. Ever since i became ill at age 7 i've suffered from severe depression. What i wanted from you guys is just to know, if you suffer from depression or a similar mental illness alongside your IBD how do you cope?

I'm quite introverted so have only really talked with a couple of close friends about this who have also had bouts of depression but it's never really led anywhere. I don't like to talk to my parents about it because my mum is the type of person who would just try and 'love' the depression out of me (in that extremely motherly, sometimes smothering way) while at the same time feeling helpless, i love her too much to tell her I think about suicide every day and that i've had the proverbial noose around my neck more times than I can count but never had the guts to jump. It would break her heart and cause her too much pain which is also one reason i've never followed though. My father on the other hand is quite old fashioned in the sense he keeps his real emotions to himself and wouldn't feel comfortable having any deep conversations. Probably due to his parents, my grandparents, my grandad was a soldier and they just sent him to bording school, despite being english he also grew up in South Africa where it is commonplace to have black nannies and house keepers so they were never very hands on. Me and him sort of have a mutual understanding when it comes to love, we love eachother but it's usually shown in a more...practial...way, i guess. Basically he just wants me to be happy and have a good life but instead of saying it or being affectionate he helps me with 'life' on general, school or work that kind of thing, recently it was filing my first tax return and he would always be there to support me in the way people say he would literally give me the shirt of his back. He's often said he wishes he could take my crohn's and suffer it for me so i could be healthy.

Anyway, I digress. So for as long as I can remember, it's been me and myself, trapped in my head, it can be lonely sometimes but like most I have up days and down days. Today my mum mentioned one of her friends sons had gone through some depression and had therapy and for some reason I mentioned maybe I need some therapy. She seemed more oblivious than I thought to my depression but then again when ever anyone asks how i am i just say "i'm fine, thanks" it's almost like a reflex now. Anyway she said she would help me book an appointment with the therapist which i guess can only be a good thing. I've seen a couple in my life but have only ever lasted a couple months at most, also i wasn't a huge fan of the meds, not only because i put enough into my body as it is but they have a strange hollow feeling, not in a sad way, more in a nothing way. I'm starting to think though that anything is better than 'just dealing' and i'd hate to do anything i regretted.

Just as a (quite long) summary of what's happening in my body and head. I've had quite severe crohn's since I was 7 (now 27) so was a pretty sick kid. Around 4yrs ago just as i was starting uni, the meds were no longer enough to carry me and I had my large bowel removed and now live with a permanent illeostomy. It was life and death and i feel so much better as a result but it is a recurring trigger for my depression. I am very very insecure to the point where I value myself less than literally everyone else; I don't think I can do things because I'm afraid I'm living a pointless existence. I think i suffer from anxiety (although never diagnosed) because I am constantly battling with wanting to do things like travel, move/work outside London, but when it comes to the crunch I always bottle it even small things like buying a gift for someone makes me nervous; a lot of the time I feel like people have certain expectations and standards that I should be following which sometimes manifest in a bit of paranoia. I "know" (as in i've talked myself into thinking it's definitely the case, when it's probably not) that people wonder, 'why is he 27 and still living with his parents?', 'why is he still single, is there something wrong with him?', 'why did he buy that as a gift? he's so unimaginative and boring' because, if I'm thinking that about myself then surely others must be? The feeling that I'm failing and that everyone else thinks I'm failing just makes me more anxious and depressed. Which brings me to the last thing; I suffer from depression, which i hear is common in people with cronic illness and I'm pretty sure by now that it is an acute case but due to the whole stigma and misinterpretation, and along with my other problems, i've never wanted to face it. I have opened up to certain people before, people i though i loved and who i thought loved me but that always turned into a tragedy and ended up with me alone feeling worse and hating myself for showing myself to be so weak and pathetic.

'Phew' *wipes sweat of forehead* So after that rather lengthy expulsion of what I'm currently thinking, I go back to my original question, which is for anyone and everyone but specifically those who deal with mental health issues.
How do you cope? If you have succeeded in tackling it of found a good way to deal, how did that come about? basically I guess I just want some other peoples stories, whether you're currently battling, have survived or whether you think you've got some valuable wisdom. I'd love to hear from you.
I don't have chronic depression, but I definitely have acute depressive phases. Its hard, but maybe a therapist might help. I know you said you have tried a few but I think it is all about 'clicking' with the right one for them to be really useful, rather than saying the whole profession is good or bad. The paranoia, I feel you on that one. I love gift giving but it makes me really nervous it won't be good enough. I have some social anxiety issues where even phone calls make me nervous, I generally rehearse what I'm going to say at least 3 times before calling. I constantly feel like people are judging me. Like "oh she's such a slob, always wearing sweats, or oh look at her stomach, so fat, she has so much acne, ewe.." that sort of thing. I just try and remember, people don't care as much as I think they do. Most are so busy with their own lives they are too busy to judge how you live yours.

Ultimately it is your life, and you have a right to be happy. I think this can come from a combo of increasing self help, professional help and maybe the right medication. Just know you are certainly not the only one feeling alone and depressed. Feel free to rant here anytime.
I don't know the answer to your question. But I do have a couple of questions for you. If you didn't have Crohn's, would you still be unhappy?

I "know" (as in i've talked myself into thinking it's definitely the case, when it's probably not) that people wonder, 'why is he 27 and still living with his parents?', 'why is he still single, is there something wrong with him?', 'why did he buy that as a gift? he's so unimaginative and boring' because, if I'm thinking that about myself then surely others must be? The feeling that I'm failing and that everyone else thinks I'm failing just makes me more anxious and depressed.
Do you think that if you didn't have Crohn's, you'd still be living at home and still be single? If you didn't have Crohn's, but were still single and living at home, would you be any less depressed or paranoid about what people think of you than you are now with Crohn's? And if you still had Crohn's, but were living in a home of your own with a wife, would you still be depressed - would Crohn's by itself be reason for any significant depression?

Many people with Crohn's have partners, live independent lives, have successful careers, have a family of their own. And some people have perfect physical health yet have none of those things. And even more confusingly, many people have all those things and still feel depressed when they have no reason to be! I think depression, anxiety, etc. can come as the inevitable result of external factors, or can just be the result of messed up brain chemistry. So it may be that having Crohn's isn't as relevant to your mental health issues as it might seem to be.

I started getting really depressed earlier this year. I went to my GP and eventually managed to get some counselling which helped. However, as said above you do need to 'click' with the right therapist. I am now doing some CBT and also trying some self help stuff.

I think of myself now in recovery. I know that I lost a lot of confidence and I am not sure that I will ever get it all back. It is hard work but having some independent, objective support can help.

Take care
Hi, I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 10 years old, so have had it most of my life. Over the years I have seen child psychiatrists, councillors, taken several different anti-depressants and tried cognitive behavioural therapy.
It is only in the last two years however that I have really begun to understand myself.

I spent several weeks in hospital last year with life threatening post surgical complications and reached one of my blackest periods. I saw the psychiatric team in hospital and for a while when I was discharged, but it was seeing a psychotherapist regularly that really helped me. I found a therapist who specialises in depression in people with chronic illnesses (she has a chronic illness herself too) which was really useful. Through my sessions over the past year and a half I have begun to understand myself more than ever before, I now see why I think and act the way I do and that my initial diagnosis of depression when I was 10 was possibly just adults misunderstanding my very introverted personality.

These days I am in a good place, I still have days when I feel myself slipping into old habits and cycles of thinking, but they aren't as regular as they have been. I have found that exercising more has made an enormous positive difference to my mental (and physical) health.

So yeah, it is possible to come out from those dark places, but it takes effort and work; and can sometimes be painful along the way, but it's worth it.