An Authentic, Sometimes Gritty, and Always Hopeful Blog for All Who Live with Severe Physical Pain

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Depression and Pain - Part 1

 Me?  Depressed?

If you google “depression and pain” you will likely find research quoting up to 75% of people who live with on-going pain also have clinical depression.  Depression seems as likely to follow pain, as tiredness follows a fever.  It 's  hard to separate one from the other.

…Although, I surely did try to do so…for about three years. 

I guess it was about a year after trigeminal neuralgia turned my world upside down, when my general doctor, “Dr. Solomon” (not his real name) first hinted to me that I was showing signs of depressions.  I told him outright that this was nonsense.  As a matter of fact, my exact words were:

“What are you talking about!  I’m about the most non-depressed person I’ve ever known!  I’ve never had a depressed day in my whole entire life!”

A few months later I was back in Dr. Solomon’s office seeking help for my insomnia.  Leaning back in his chair, he said, “Judi, I believe this is yet again, another symptom of the depression you refuse to accept.”  Without another word, he reached into his desk and pulled out a “Depression Assessment Inventory” and stuck it in my face, asking me to check the ones that applied.

I glanced through some of the symptoms on the inventory:

·         Persistently sad, anxious, irritable, or "empty" mood 
·         Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism 
·         Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
·         Social isolation
·         Insomnia, frequently waking up, or over-sleeping
·         Decreased appetite and/or weight loss, or weight gain
·         Fatigue, loss of energy
·         Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
·         Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

Rather than making any check-marks, I snickered loudly, while I tossed the inventory on the counter between us. “This doesn’t prove anything, Dr. Solomon.  Of course, I can put a check mark beside many of these, because I am in pain!  But, if my pain went away tomorrow, so would these symptoms, because I am not depressed.  I have a pain issue, not a mental health issue!”

You see, I knew people like me who had developed some kind of pain syndrome and once they allowed the “depression” card to come into play, they soon found themselves in the  “mental” health part of health care.  I had heard several stories of people being treated as though they were drug-seekers, hypochondriacs or psychosomatics, when, what they had was difficult-to-treat physical pain.  I knew I had to be careful.

Dr. Solomon tried to convince me that the label wasn’t important.  Instead, he said, the symptoms were what I should focus on, and he believed my symptoms would improve if I took an anti-depressant. 

So I countered with this:  “Well, if that’s the case, would you consider prescribing an anti-depressant without writing a diagnosis for depression on my chart?”

“No,” he said, sighing.  (You know when doctors sigh you are pressing the limits of your doctor/patient relationship!)  “Of course not, Judi.  I couldn’t justify why I prescribed the medication unless I did.” 

Sitting up straight, and refusing to back down, I still pressed on, Then, forget about it.”

But, there was another reason why I rejected the label of depression so adamantly.  I was naïve enough to believe that all depression was "sin" and as such could be overcome by faith.  And, sadly,  this attitude is  one I learned inside church. 

…In a short time, things would change.  But, it’s too much for this one posting.  I’ll have to write more tomorrow.  Please come back.

Until tomorrow, Selah (pause and reflect)



  1. Just shares your link to my f/b wall and to my twitter friends. You are such a blessing to those who share your path of pain.

  2. Judi-
    How did you manage to find a picture of MARTHA at her worst? This post is Fantastic~dead on honest-and a painful reminder for me as I reflected back on the long ago two year journey I went through to find exactly WHAT was wrong with my leg.

    I had doctors tell me "You are crazy"-yep, to my face! Being in the early game days of Pain, I had not yet found my internal "Fighting Words" and recall leaving that office, falling apart in tears from his words and complete lack of caring for me-the human being standing in front of him!

    Next came the horror of being told I had MS-it was advanced and I would be in a wheelchair within months! This time I simply found my way out and while taking the elevator, something very DEEP inside me seemed to whisper, "NO-he was Wrong, keep searching!" All the while, Pain was taking me for a Ride like no other and the final blow was actually my GOD MOMENT-a doctor flipped my x-rays up, never turning to look me in the face and said "Well, looks like you need double Hip Replacements! Sooner the better-just get registered with the receptionist on your way out!" I made an appointment with a doctor who worked next door to him, walked in without any x-rays, asked the doctor to "take a seat" and poured my two year journey out in a calm manner-but making sure to leave out the last Doctor I had recently seen.

    This amazing doctor took a deep breath and found the courage to tell me "Martha-I consider myself to be a really Good Doctor, but I don't have a clue as to what is wrong. What I can tell you is this-Something is causing this Pain-you are not Crazy and I am going to send you to a very fine Pain Management Doctor that I think highly of."

    Judi-that was over sixteen years ago and within a week, I had met my amazing Pain Doctor-it took her about two months to figure out the problem-Severe Damage to the Sciatic Nerve as a result of me falling from the tree!

    Its a process and each doctor tried tossing Anti-Depressants My way-but I firmly refused them. My Pain doctor-not ONE time in all these years as she ever mentioned them-I know she sees a person who is willing to fight with all her being!

    I will return to read your follow-up! Sorry for taking up so much space, but words started pouring out and I had to let them flow. You have major MOXI dear Friend.

    As to the "Picture"-yep, thats Martha on a very Bad Day!!!

    Bless you Judi. all my love, martha

  3. You are always so very honest and forthright--how I admire it. You might be surprised to find out that I do wind up taking anti-depressants when you read my newest post...hope I don't disappoint you!

    1. Judi-
      You could NEVER disappoint me!! NEVER. Its just that simple!

      So many people have given me their "medical input" over the years-claiming their particular advice would be my magical cure and each time as I tried to explain my Nerve Damage, Scarring, etc--its like my voice just washed away over their belief that I was NOT seeking the proper medical treatment.

      So dear Judi-there is a statement I also make to people-
      "Until you have personally walked in the shoes of a person who is truly suffering, you have NO right to judge them and think they are doing something wrong!"

      This is how I think of you-I could never think bad of you for taking anti-depressants! Heck I have a very dear friend who was going through a hellish time and I had almost an exact replica of the LUNCH you shared with your friend-except I was the one telling my precious Friend that she needed some Medical Help-Anti-Depression medication and yes-It helped her to move past the horrible rough patch in her life.

      Believe me Judi-I have days where there is No Fight left in me-NONE! Thats when I know just how very human God has made me. I do have a fighting spirit inside-but sometimes that "Piece" of me must be saying "HEH-how about a little BREAK here-get me some HELP-You are a ROUGH woman to WORK For!"

      Judi-I am proud of you! You are teaching me and so many others as to ALL the elements a person must deal with when battling Chronic Pain.

      YOU GO JUDI!!!! YOU GO!!!

      God bless you! Martha

  4. It helps me to enhance my knowledge thanks..Really you have done a fabulous job Signs Of Depression

  5. Lisa-- Thank you for this informative link about depression. I hope everyone who reads this posting will read it for its good information about depression classifications, and treatments. One question--I didn't see any reference information? (Where did you get it?)

    Thank you for writing!