have often wondered about those of us living with sickle cell. By that, I mean, how we cope with our mental health because every crisis could potentially lead to death. How do we come to terms with living with SCD? How do we mentally process going into the hospital? How do we manage the disease and also our thoughts?

According to the Mayo Clinic, ‘periodic episodes of extreme pain, called pain crises, a major symptoms of sickle cell anemia. Pain develops when sickled-shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to the chest, abdomen, and joints.

The pain varies in intensity and can last for a few hours to days or weeks. Some people have no pain, others a few crises a year, and others have a dozen or more a year. A severe pain crisis requires a hospital stay.  Some people with sickle cell anemia also have chronic pain from bone and joint damage, ulcers, and many other causes.’

There is no right way to talk about coping with living with Sickle cell where one could die when one has a crisis. A lot of times the pain is so excruciating that people say they want to die. And some people do die, and some people will survive those crises, get looked after in a hospital, and eventually go back home.

Some people might think perhaps this is the end when they are having a crisis. Sometimes one is upset, angry, or fearful about being in the hospital so unexpectedly as a crisis doesn’t announce itself. However, if one is lucky enough to come out of hospital, then there’s this feeling of gratitude that one is still alive. Regrettably, sometimes that’s not the case for some people and unfortunately, they did not come out of the hospital alive.

So, for anyone who has battled through this crisis a few times in a year, it can be a tough one because a Sickle cell crisis ravages one’s body. When one is discharged from the hospital, it does not mean that one is no longer having pains in one’s body, nooo.  It simply means that the pain is now manageable at home.  Once out of the hospital, one is still very weak, and, probably, one goes around with this feeling of bleakness. When the pain finally eases off, there is something called recovery after a crisis. The question I ask myself is how does one come out of that feeling of melancholy and carry on like nothing happened?

The truth of the matter is one has to carry because once one is well and one looks around it is all about life goes on. And so, one puts that crisis behind, and one goes on embracing life and all it has to offer.

The issue of being psychologically resilient is a big one for anyone living with sickle cell. Having a crisis severe enough to be admitted to a hospital makes such individuals lose their optimism. Feelings of despondency could easily set in. It’s not easy to have to deal with this emotional pain when one looks at one’s life and sees that one is unable to run as fast as someone who is not living with Sickle cell.

Another thing that affects someone living with Sickle cell is having a lack of confidence in oneself. This disease will make one self-reflect, and one could feel worthless. In the world that we live in today believing in yourself and having confidence to be able to move up in your career is very important. But if one is constantly sick, it is quite possible that work-wise one’s boss might not promote the person living with Sickle cell.  Such opportunities may be bestowed on others who are not sick.

To be emotionally resilient, one also has to deal with feelings of fear and sadness.  If one can find someone that one can trust and one can sit with such a person and talk about one’s feelings; this will help the individual living with sickle cell to cope better, and perhaps see things differently.

Like I said earlier there’s no right or wrong way to find one’s path to becoming emotionally resilient. Some people enjoy talking therapy and some other people don’t want to express their feelings. What is most important is to do what is best for you.  When I talk about doing what is best for you, I’m not talking about any form of negative activities. Research has shown over the years that some stresses can bring about some other types of diseases into one’s life. It is, therefore, to not let Sickle cell define your life.

Try and do things that would help improve your mental well-being. And that is different for everyone. For some people it’s going out and getting some fresh air; for others, it’s exercising; for others, it is talking to someone; for others, it is taking up an activity that they enjoy for example cooking or baking; for others, it is reading; for others it is spending time with friends, etc. As you can see there are different things that one could do so that one is not in one’s feeling all the time. What is most important is for you to look after your state of mind after you’ve had a sickle cell crisis.

Until next time.

If you would like to get in touch with me about Sickle cell, do so, via email: [email protected].  And do check out my blog:     https://www.dailylivingwithsicklecell.com/    My book on Sickle Cell – HOW TO LIVE WITH SICKLE CELL and my other books are available for purchase on www.amazon.com.