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depressed and need advice

newhouse17nnewhouse17 Posts: 133
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Chronic Pain
Hello everyone,

Well Im 1yr out of surgery and life has had its ups and downs. Found out that this is how lifes going to be and need to deal with it. Doc says I have a long list of limitations but need to focus on what I can do. The problem is Im not dealing with my new life very well as per my conversation with my husband last night. He's very concerned about my sprialling downward depression and that I just dont seem interested in things like I use to be. I explained to him that Im not meaning to be mean its just that sometimes I just get tired of being in pain all the time. He knows that he cannot fully understand because he has not experienced what I have but says that you have 3 beautiful children who need their mother. He has asked me to see our pastor hopeing that this will snap me out of it for we are people of faith. I do believe in God and believe that everything happens for a reason so why am I so depressed? I just cant adapt to this new life. I cant be on my feet for longer than an hour without having to sit or lay down. When I go to my sons baseball games I have to sit in the car because the chairs are to hard and the cooler weather brings on muscle spasms which in turn brings on severe pain. I know that I would not be running marathons but thought my quality of life was going to be better than sitting on the couch all day with a heating pad. My husband says that he doesnt care that he has to do everything so why should I? I want to play with my kids and be intimate with my husband without crying all night in pain.I just feel so damn guilty for not being able to be a normal wife and mother. I have often thought of going to doc for an antidepressent but thats just a bandaid. How do you get to the route of the problem and fix it so I can get on with the rest of my life?Anyone Please tell me how you delt with these life changing issues, for I am at a loss.


  • I suppose anti-depressants are somewhat controversial but many people, particularly those with chronic pain, find them useful. In addition, some of them can lessen the pain, so in a way they help with both issues. Sometimes it is just enough to get the patient over the hump so they can begin to be a little more active and involved with life.

    Unless you are really opposed to medication, it might be worth trying for a couple months. You do have to give them a chance to work and some of them have side effects that you will need to adjust to. If you decide too quickly they aren't working, you really won't know for sure if they might have helped.

    You might also want to consider counseling as a chronic pain patient. There are counselors who can help you learn to accept your situation and can teach you new techniques that will help you deal with your pain. Many people find this information a useful tool to have in their arsenal. There are some new forms of therapy that specifically deal with chronic pain issues. Perhaps even a support group might be of help.

    I'm sure others more experienced than I will have some suggestions for you.

    Good luck.
  • Have you seen your surgeon lately? Is your fusion doing well? Have you had any physical therapy? Do you have a pain management Dr? Do you have burning pain...there are several drugs that can help ease that kind of pain as well. The doctor that did my epidural blocks preop uses cymbalta for pain management, and it also helps with depression. You really need to have a long consultation with your doctor to find a solution for you.

    There are so non-surgical modalities that might can help you at this point in your recovery.

    Please don't loose hope!
  • It is a long process to acceptance, and even then, it continues to be a back and forth process of learning to live with pain. Also, I think there is a difference in acceptance and choosing to move forward and live again. I think when pain first starts we all tend to drop out of life because there really is no choice, but once it is chronic it is important to find ways to start living again.

    I think a lot of being able to move forward is being able to grieve the things we have lost to chronic pain, but to also recognize that while we may now have chronic pain we are still the same person we were before chronic pain. Chronic, 24/7 pain is so draining I really feel like it just does something to a person to have to live with it. I always describe it as feeling like I've lost my sparkle. I was reminded though, and rightly so, that while I may have lost that sparkle for a little bit I can find new ways to sparkle. Who we were is not lost, but we have to find new ways to express ourselves and new qualities in ourselves to embrace. I think self acceptance goes a long way in coping with pain. We may find it difficult to even recognize our "after pain" selves, but learning to accept ourselves even after pain is important.

    I also think in adapting we have to accept that we *cannot* do things the way we used to, but that does not mean we cannot still do things. It sounds like your sons baseball games are important, but that physically it is very difficult. Could you perhaps have someone record them and then watch them at home? Or only go to games when it is warm? Or maybe do some type of stadium seat that is soft? Or drive separately and stay for only part of the game? If it's not possible to find some way to be physically comfortable, maybe you could come up with a new activity to spend time with your son, like maybe you don't go to the baseball games but you come up with something you can do with your son after his games? For me, part of learning to be ok with pain is finding new ways to do things. Continuing to try to do things the way I did them before pain just brings on feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and frustration. It's hard and it can be embarrassing to constantly have to accomodate pain, but I think that it can make a difference in quality of life. Have you ever heard of the spoon theory? I'd recommend googling it if you haven't. For me, it was helpful in sort of having a mental picture of how I have to adapt each and every day.

    Another helpful thing is to work on separating out emotions from the physical experience of pain. Pain is processed through the same centers in the brain that control emotions, so the physical experience of pain tends to set off a cascade of negative emotions. For example, when pain levels start creeping up it can set off a thought process like "oh my gosh, my back hurts, I won't be able to vacuum the rug as I planned, now my husband will have to do it, I'm such a failure as a wife" and on and on. So then, what is really just a normal fluctuation in pain has suddenly created this flurry of depressing thoughts. I guess for me it's helpful to just kind of stop things and say "hey, my back hurts and that's it. Pain sucks, but it is just pain, and I know if I rest it will calm down." If you can learn to pull the physical experience of pain away from the emotions then it can be easier to 1) handle the pain and 2) identify and then sort through and process the emotions. Your husband sounds like he is supportive, and he may be a good person for you to talk to about the emotional toll this is taking on you. Sometimes it helps to have someone that you can really be emotionally honest with without fearing judgment. I don't know if your husband would be receptive and able to handle that or not (I know for me my family is so emotionally involved that they are *not* a good place for me to talk about my own emotions around the pain, so you do have to make sure that the person you choose to process things with is emotionally able to handle it themselves). I've found it tremendously helpful to talk to a pain psychologist, so if you have access to someone who specializes in either chronic pain, or is used to working with people with chronic health conditions, I'd highly recommend pursuing that. At the pain center I go to they usually recommend all chronic pain patients have 6-8 sessions with the psychologist they have on staff, so it doesn't have to be a long-term therapy commitment and you can really get a lot of benefit from just a few sessions with someone knowledgable.

    It's a hard road, and it is such an individual process coming to terms with and coping with life after pain. I think it just comes in bits and pieces, and it changes from day to day. I don't know if anything I've written will be helpful, and hopefully it's not to psycho babbly, but hopefully it gives you some food for thought as you work through things.
  • is not quick, easy ,or always going to happen just because we know our lives are forever changed.

    I thought I could handle chronic pain, but there is the depression that comes no matter how much "mind over matter" pep talks I had with myself.
    So, I highly recommed using anti depressants, and it can take a bit of changing to find one that does seem to be a good fit.

    Now, I look for those things that can give me moments of joy...a sleeping dog next to me, music that is soothing, new pajamas....my hubby's freshly shaven face kissing me!

    Please do conside the meds..they do offer support and help us cope.

  • I just want to say...you folks are wonderful. I am learning how to deal as well. I got a good report from my doctor but am still working on the difference between chronic pain and emotional pain of knowing I'm not the same. I think you gave some good advice. I'm in the early phases but everything people wrote really hits home with me too.

    Thank you.

    Newhouse17 - I know I didn't offer any advice, but thank you for posting b/c your post helped me understand more about my own recovery. I hope you can continue to find ways to rejoin life.

    One example I'm holding on to which seems to remind me that I have to 'adjust' my life is what my PT told me. He said "Do not say running is off your list. Just put running on the bottom of your list and you won't feel so bad". At first I thought...no, it's off my list. Then I realized that if I was being chased....I would run. So he was right, it's at the bottom of my list. For some silly reason it makes me feel better. My list of activities is not shorter, it's just re-arranged.

  • When I first injured my back 2 years ago I talked to a Counselor online through benefits at work and that helped me somewhat. I'm also glad my PM Dr. wanted to change Lyrica to Cymbalta which helps nerve pain as well as depression. Depression can be triggered by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain in which the anti-depressants help change that back to normal. That's what my Dr. told me anyways. I hope you can talk to your Primary Dr. about what's best for you.

    Also someone mentioned Physiotherapy have you had any? I started aqua therapy 2 weeks ago and it's giving me stronger muscles and I really enjoy the warm water and hot tub afterwards. As for sitting at the bleachers would a small stool supporting your feet help take the pressure off your back? I use one to sit at the computer. I hope your spirits are lifted soon and I've found good music on utube with spiritual songs that are uplifting. Prayers you feel better soon. That's so awesome you have 3 beautiful children and a supportive husband. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • they are treatment for a medical condition caused by an imbalance in chemicals in your brain. Depression does not mean that you are just sad and can snap out of it. Do yourself and your family a favor and see your doctor about this. Depression is not something you need to be ashamed of. It happens for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the extreme stress of surgery on the body.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks to everyone that replied. I have googled the spoon theory and cried while reading it. Its exactly how I feel and a good tool to show others what I deal with on a daily basis. I still get others who feel that because I had surgery I should be better, so this analogy will help to explain to them what it feels like to be me.

    Let me tell you some background information about me. I was a CNA for 12 years and was hurt taking care of a patient who was 90yrs old. As we all now nursing is a stressful job, long hours, manditory overtime, and we wont even talk about shortages. After my injury I was told I would never be able to return.I went back to school to get my business degree and was doing well with only 2 episodes a year of my back giving out. I lost 70lbs. was running 3 miles a day and was in the best shape of my life.

    In June 2008 I took my dog for a power walk, when I came home I started playing with my dog throwing the ball around. I bent down to get the ball and fell over and had pain in my back and legs, I had a hard time moving my legs. My husband carried me in the house and begged me to go to the hospital. I didnt but saw my back doctor that next day. He took lots of tests and found that I had herniated the discs again,and had major nerve damage in both legs.Talked about surgery then but Im very stubborn and wanted rest, drugs and physical therapy. I continued to have episodes of falling down which I told no one until I fell in my sons room and hit my head on the dresser the day before my doctors appointment. My doctor flipped out and said that if I didnt have surgery I would not be walking in 2 years.Nero said it was a good thing I decided to have surgery and that not to take to long to get other docs opinions.

    In May 2009 I had surgery. Was doing well up until Nov. when I noticed things were returning, pain in legs and them not doing what I want them to do. I know have drop foot as a result. Doc said that surgery was to keep me out of a wheelchair, not a cure and that I have a long list of limitations.

    I was a extremly active person before this exasterbation. I ran, biking, walking, playing volleyball and enjoying life with my children (2 who are mildly metally retarded). We were always on the go doing something together as a family.So when something happens like this you feel extremly angry, depressed, and worthless. Every part of my day has to be planned. I resently had to cancel our vacation to Ocean City, MD because its just not possible. We will do little day trips that are carefully planned out.

    I have scheduled a couple of sessions with our pastor. He explained to me that him and his wife were in a car accident years ago and they both have physical issues with their back and legs so he can relate to what Im going through. If this doesn't work I told my husband that I want to go see my GP and maybe get some real counciling. I do appriciate all the suggestions from others out there. Sorry this is so long but wanted to explain how active I was before the injury.I trully miss it, but know deep down that I must get on with my life even if its not the life that I wanted.

    Thanks again and will post on my progress.

  • My heart goes out to you because I understand like most of us here. Those that used to be particularly active tend to have a more difficult time with the sudden limitations because it seems they've lost more.

    I remember someone on here, I can't remember which member, who felt like you do now and was just beside herself with depression and was trying to find a way to feel better. She ended up making pillows that she then donated to hospitals (I think), maybe children's hospitals, and found so much comfort in helping others and being able to actually do something that it did wonders for her mental health.

    One thing that I find wonderful for you is the support you get at home. Can you imagine feeling the way you feel and having your husband telling you you're worthless? To have the support of the man you married and your children is one of the best gifts a chronic pain patient can have.

    I posted the other night about my making dinner experience (or lack thereof), which you responded to because you understood, and when my hubby got home, the first thing he asked was did I take some medication, then he told me that he really wanted to have the ham and egg casserole anyway and not the sloppy joes. That's sweet and made me feel better.

    Like was mentioned above, maybe have your hubby help you find creative ways to do some of the things you can't do, like get an outdoor zero-gravity recliner to take to the baseball games and sit in it as long as you can to watch. Take a walk with the family, slowly, to the park, take a blanket and your comfy chair and sit while hubby and the kids play.

    I know that there comes a point in every chronic patient's life where they think they're at the end of their rope with it, I know because I've been there too, and I know you'll find what you need to get through this, whatever that may be. New hobbies, different/additional medications, chronic pain counceling, whatever it takes to get your mind to the place where you can not only handle what's happening, but making the most of what you do have.

    Take care, Newhouse. We're here for you whenever you need to vent or need support.

  • there is alot to deal with when you have surgery and it hasn't fixed you the way you thought it would.i had a 3 level cervical fusion in aug 2007. it changed my life. though it did help with some of the symptoms it gave me new ones. i could no longer work. though husband supportive it wears them out as well. we have had to make many adaptations. i have limitations on lifting, turning my neck,as well as chronic pain.there is some good advice given. it takes6-18 months for fusion pain to get better i was told by doc. well after the 18 months it continued. i later found out what i had was nerve pain and was referred to pain management doc. he turned out to be awesome help.he wasn't the typical pain management doc who wanted to do esi's though he did offer that option. i was put on antidepressants and antiseizure meds. i have trialed several some helped but had side effects,some didn't help but i am now on a new one that is really helping my nerve pain.i also found the spine health chat room to be extremely helpful and supportive. no where else will you find ppl who really understand your situation. they offer support and humor which is also much needed. ppl from all over the country are on there as well as uk, morroco, australia, and canada. try is you may find when you are really down, it can help. good luck to you.hope this helps.
  • Well said.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • Some antidepressants also help with the pain- I take Cymbalta, which does a bit of both.

    Also, do invest in aids to help you do the things you want to do. Your son's games? Get stadium seat backs or pads. Maybe discuss the issues like intimacy and playing with your sons with your doctor- maybe you could get a stronger med or something for those occasions?

    Personally, I time my meds for things like that.

    And is your pain really being controlled? Is there more your pain management doctor could be doing? You might want to discuss that with him (see my thread about asking for pain meds, this is easier said than done!)

    This is an adjustment that takes time. Over the next years, you'll adjust to your new life- you'll find ways to do the things you love to do. You need to make it your goal to do that, though.

    Does it suck? Heck yeah. But let yourself take baby steps and you'll figure this out, and this new life of yours will be just fine.
  • That spoon theory is great - Makes soo much sense!
  • what i am about to say
    first let me say i know exactly how you feel i am 15 years of pain and 2 operations down one more coming up /one broken marriage /unable to work and i don't see my 14 year old daughter much as she lives out of the uk .
    i too am in awful pain and at the moment at an all time low .after talking to my wife about my situation .we decided that even if i can do just one small thing a day i would {i do feel a little better} i can spend days on my recliner and end up feeling like 541T!!..but if i manage to go for a swim i feel much better {from a mental health point of view} i would advise to keep away from antidepressants and try to do something for yourself .no matter how small.i understand how debilitating constant pain and not being able to do the things that you once took for granted is .but anti depressants wont help .you need to do something for you and try to accept that things have changed ..it wont be easy ..but we are here for you
  • i was wondering what this spoon thing all about .so i googled it and YES its a very good analogy .especially to explain to the able bodied just have bad thing can be for us .very good i think that we should all read it ??
  • Hi Newhouse,
    How well I understand! I have a supportive husband who is willing to do the things I cannot do...and, although I am so grateful for him that seems to make me more depressed. I had always been so anal about my home...and although I realize that this is no big deal to anyone else, I seem to be filled with shame and anger that I am no longer able to do even the most basic things. I am no longer able to go to my grandsons soccer games...I cannot walk all the way to the soccer field, much less sit or stand through the game. I guess the main problem is that I had unreal expectations after my 3rd surgery...thought that would be the final answer...but, was so wrong. It has been 8 months since the surgery and my pain level is horrible...although in a different way with different symptoms...I am going to start a new anti-depressant and I will let you know how it works. I pray for pain relief for all of us~
  • My husband and I have been meeting with our pastor twice a week to talk about my depression. He traveled to Jerusalem 2 years ago and brought what he calls prayer oil. He gave us some to take home and our family prays every night before bed for healing of my body and mind. I believe it has helped for Im begininng to a feel a little better about
    myself and my limitations. Its good to talk to someone who is not emotionally involved and who has experience with chronic pain himself.I have been keeping myself bizzy with reading and other activities so that I dont fall into the self pitty mode.

    I had a good weekend although bizzy and spent more time on my feet than I should have. Tuesday morning when I put my feet on the floor I knew it was going to be a bad day, legs felt like jello. While carrying a cereal bowl down the stairs, my right leg went numb and down I went. Luckly I fell on my right side and slid down 15 stairs.No I dont have carpet so the fall was pretty hard. The bowl crashed to the floor and scared my dog half to death. He than came to me at the bottom of the stairs and started licking away the tears on my face.Went to doc yesterday and said that hardware looks good and fusing nicely, but my legs are another issue.I ended up spraining my right arm and just overall soreness. He has deamed me 100% TD which sucks, but is life. My kids are scared to death to leave me alone, and want to get me one of those life alert systems or install one of the chairs that attaches to the wall. What am I 80? I jokenly say Ive fallen and I cant get up!!! My kids don't think its funny,but if I dont laugh about it I will cry.This could have been a lot worse and yes I did see my life pass before my eyes!!

    Thanks again for all of your thoughts and private messages. The prayers verses really helped. Ive printed some out and taped them to by bathroom mirror so I see them every morning. Be thankful for everyday we can get up and put our feet on the floor, even if they do feel like jello!!

    Favorite quote on this site:


    God Bless everyone!!

  • I have had 2 back sugeries, the last one was 1 yr. july 20-2009,and have since started seeing a PM DR. and a phychrist. I also use to keep a clean house, and have had to make alot of changes in what i am able to do. I am also the kind of person who felt I had to explain to ev1 how i feel, what I can,and cant do, and truley felt like no one understood or cared. Thats when I started seeing the phychrist,best move I could have made. She has me on 2 types of anti-depressants, and im starting weekly therapy this month. She has told me over and over how Pain and Depression go hand in hand.Please don't be afraid,or ashamed to see a Phychrist or Tharpist, there is NO SHAME in it!!They are there to help and DO!! I have a long way to go, but I think im on the right track,and really hope you find a way to understan your-self,and live a good life!! My husband also does not mind doing for me,and I think i've gotten over most of that Guilt,Believe me I have felt ALL Your Feeling and Pain, You will stay In My Prayers!! P/S the meds are NOT a Bandage HONESTLY!! ;)
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