Amid Mental Health Struggles, It’s Challenging to Work and Be Productive

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by Tré LaRosa |

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I can’t separate my physical malady from my mental diseases. Cystic fibrosis, depression, and anxiety are all linked, and they’re all separate.

I think of my blend of comorbidities as a morbid sort of smoothie. I can tell what is going on whenever I don’t feel well, but a different combination ails me with each flare-up.

The opportunities are endless. Anxiety and depression, depression and cystic fibrosis, anxiety and cystic fibrosis, or the most fun blend: cystic fibrosis, depression, and anxiety all mixed together.

This is my life, and I’ve accepted the circumstances of my existence. A common misconception about people with chronic and rare diseases is that we constantly despise our diagnosis. Others always say they’re sorry when I tell them about CF. I always hear about how difficult it must be to have to deal with it.

But the thing is, it’s not difficult to wake up every day with CF. I know it’s supposedly difficult compared with those deemed “healthy” by modern standards, but I think that’s another misconception: Nobody is really “healthy.”

I’ve always known that my body didn’t function correctly. When your first memories are of being half-asleep while your parents perform chest physiotherapy, which can easily be misconstrued as something much worse, you get the sense that something isn’t right.

The harder diagnoses have been depression and anxiety. Maybe that’s because I was diagnosed with them later in life, or because they are complicated diseases in their own right. It’s hard to know why some events affect us differently than others.

I’m not sure if much good can come from thinking about it. I’ve spent countless hours deliberating my circumstances. It’s probably why I’m a writer. Still, this incessant need to make sense of everything has certainly made life more difficult for me.

It’s this need that has driven me to burnout. Lately, I have become a passenger in the vehicle of life. I feel like I have no control over my destination. I have to accept that it will be where it is.

I’ve been struggling with my depression and anxiety recently. I know general tips and tricks for managing them, but like antibiotics for CF-related infections, they seem to be losing their efficacy.

When coping with depression, I struggle with the requirement to be productive and employed. Our society doesn’t particularly support mental illnesses, either because of an outdated sense of what “illness” is, a profit-driven model of productivity, or both. There is no real recourse for me to take time off to treat my mind to ensure I can be the best version of myself.

Through these struggles, I have had to redefine what the “best version” of myself even means. It doesn’t mean making a lot of money or writing an award-winning book. It’s being at peace with myself and those around me, striving to make the world a gentler and kinder place, and loving life and others. Those things don’t pay the bills. Even dreaming of a life where those are my general guideposts and I’m unconcerned about the continued accrual of wealth feels naïve and childlike, as if I don’t understand the world.

Why is that so? Why can’t our best lives be ones where we simply enjoy life? Why does it have to be more complicated than that?

It’s hard to work with a chronic disease. Not only do I wish the world were kinder to people struggling with any form of illness, but I wish the world were kinder to all of us.

Follow along with my other writings at my humbly named site, www.trelarosa.com, or subscribe to my newsletter “sonder, essays” at trelarosa.substack.com.

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Note: Cystic Fibrosis 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 Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

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