Going Through the Depression Tunnel with Friedreich’s

Frankie Perazzola avatar

by Frankie Perazzola |

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depression and disease

It’s been tough lately. Just when I thought there was a light at the end of my depression tunnel, it got dark again, and I found myself having to start over. Many things attributed to my downward spiral, including the end of a relationship, being responsible for breaking someone’s heart, and overthinking the grasp that FA has on my life.

I found myself stuck — completely sedentary, unmotivated, and just completely devastated almost every day. To be completely honest, I could tell it was different this time around because of the way I cried. It was deeper, harder to stop, and I lost control over every single emotion I was feeling.

It was the first time in a long time that I felt hopeless. Some days I would drive to my normal happy place by the coast for my usual mood boost, and I would feel sad seeing everyone else down there. Seeing how easy it was for them to enjoy the beach. How they could run along the coast without even thinking about their legs. How they didn’t get dizzy whenever the tide receded as I do.

They could enjoy the simplicity of the sunshine and salty air, while I was stuck in my car because it’s becoming more difficult to explore places on my own.

I began to question my position in this life and what my role is here on Earth. Why do I have to have FA? Why are my abilities being torn away from me? Why does it have to get worse? The hardest part about having that train of thought was that I was beginning to convince myself that I would never be happy, never be in a stable relationship, never have the family or children I’ve always wanted, and mostly that I would never fulfill the dreams I’ve had since I was a kid.

This isn’t going to be my usual “inspirational” column in which I describe an epiphany I’ve had, or recommend ways to help someone cope with their diagnosis. Going through these depression spells is hard as hell, and it is going to happen. There will be days when it feels like you are drowning, as if someone is blocking you from reaching the surface to catch your breath or a surfer is using his board to keep you under the water.

Throughout this entire emotional game I’ve been playing over these past few months, it took all of the lows to appreciate the highs. It was easier to let myself understand and actually feel my emotions rather than drowning my worries in whiskey or sending my troubles to the sky with smoke. I have always self-medicated, but I knew I needed to approach things differently this time and it helped.

So, what is the point of all this? Why am I telling you about all the negativity I’ve gone through? Because this is real and this is me. People who seem like they are strong and have their life together have their moments, too. No one is safe from this insanely maddening beautiful thing we call life, and every single person faces struggles. I want to make sure that is understood, no matter what you see on Instagram or social media in general. People are going through the ringer, and it’s OK not to be OK.

Facing my demons head-on has been life-changing for me, but that can only happen when you’re ready. I know that I am in the early stages of my acceptance, but being here feels a thousand times better than where I was a few weeks ago.


Friedreich’s Ataxia 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 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. 


Yvette Frederick avatar

Yvette Frederick

Wow!! Frankie your words hit home for my Madelyn. I know she has has her moments of hopelessness as you do. But you both seem to shine and exude a confident humility of a life full of loss and struggle. You are a special person and I am proud that you not only share your bright side but also the darkness that can creep in when dealing with a disease like FA. Thank you for being real!!!

Frankie Perazzola avatar

Frankie Perazzola

This makes me extremely happy. Shes a tough girl so I have nothing but faith in her. Thank you for your kind words, Yvette! <3

Gavin avatar


Frankie, I was negatively criticized your column in reaction to a friend's opinion, once. I was wrong to do so, and I sincerely apologize. Good work this article. Your writing improves every time you write. As for your depression, I'm sorry. I can relate. Try to remember focusing on what's left to you, though. Loved ones, imagination, food, and nature are mine.


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