The Day I Broke Down and Sanfilippo Won

Emily Wallis avatar

by Emily Wallis |

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It’s been a while since I’ve had what I consider a “depressive episode.” I had one this week.

Some may argue that feeling low for a few hours shouldn’t qualify as an episode, and I’m not trying to diminish the severity of depression. However, the crippling sadness I felt during those hours seems understated without that word in the description.

I lacked motivation to do anything, go anywhere, or be around anyone for a while. Every bit of stress and each unanswered question about my life were at the forefront of my mind. To me, no one cared that I was sad, so why bother anyone with it?

When a wave of sadness hits like that, it holds me captive. On those days, it takes next to nothing to lure me in. This week, it was prompted by an argument with my parents. While that argument was insignificant and lasted only a short time, a horrible emotional state enveloped me and held me down for several hours.

I sobbed while sitting in my car because it was silent there. There was no music, talking, or thoughts of leaving the car. It seemed as if every negative feeling I’d ever felt came to the surface, and it brought tears and glued me to my seat. The longer it went on, the deeper into a hole I sank.

It’s almost as if these episodes distort my reality. It felt as though every tiny problem in my life was a massive obstacle that prevented me from thinking about anything else. It seemed as if every person in my life had turned their backs on me. If you’ve read my previous columns about family and friends, you’ll know that nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve discussed many different emotions in my columns, including jealousy, anger, and resentment. But two questions really sum up the feelings about that day: Why me? Why my family?

I most likely have asked this before and discussed the dark feelings that accompany the “why” question, but this was at the root of the sadness I felt.

Sanfilippo syndrome, which my sister, Abby, was diagnosed with a few years ago, won that day. I became sad, angry, and selfish in response. Staying true to my honesty code for this column, I’ll admit that I was mostly asking why for myself. I was angry that I must worry about some of the things that have been added to my life every day since Abby was diagnosed.

These selfish thoughts made me sink even deeper. I thought about other sibling relationships I’ve seen, even within the Sanfilippo community, and it felt as though I was the only sibling who had ever asked these questions.

The questions made what I was going through so crippling. How do you defeat a “why” question when there’s no justification on the other end? It’s unfair, and I had to teach myself that it’s OK to throw in the towel and hate life sometimes.

Sanfilippo briefly gets to be the winner on these days. But during every other second, hour, and day of my life, I will fight for those who can’t.


Note: Sanfilippo News 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 Sanfilippo News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Sanfilippo syndrome.


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