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

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pain and Depression - Part 3

My Depression, Managed.  (…kinda’…sorta’…)

My depression story so far:  Research indicates that up to 75% of all people who have chronic severe pain, also develop depression.  I was definitely showing signs of it within two years of being diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia.  However, I stubbornly refused to allow my general physician to treat it, because I was aware of too many horror stories from others who had been written off as "head cases". I also held the misconception that depression was something I had "caused" because I lacked trust in God over my illness; I thought that if I could only have more "faith", the depression would go away.  After almost two years, though, I came down with a new symptom that I could not ignore, and a forthright friend made  me see my depression for what it was--a physical issue rather than a faith issue.  While she waited, I phoned my doctor to tell him I was willing to face up to being depressed.


Dr. Solomon returned my call within the hour.  He was really big about it too, not saying even a single "I told you so".  Instead, he supported Meg’s message, telling me he believed that pain had changed something physically in my brain, and he quoted research to back this up. After writing me a prescription, Dr. Solomon said, “If you do have depression, you should begin to experience benefits from this anti-depressant within two weeks or so.  If not,” he added, laughing, "then you will no longer have to argue with me about it.”

There was no argument to be had…I was better in a week’s time.  Within a few more weeks I felt like a new person.  The weights disappeared, I had loads more energy, and even colors seemed a shade brighter--the trees, the sky--everything.  In my follow-up appointment with Dr. Solomon, I apologized for my heard-headedness, although, I still insisted that the field of medicine was remiss in its failure to have a classification for depression that occurs when a patient experiences long-lasting severe pain.  I insisted that the following be included on my patient file, and he didn't dare debate it with me! 

“Patient believes depression is a poor diagnosis for concluding the symptoms that appeared when she developed long-lasting severe pain. 

So, that’s the end of my depression story.  
 I continue to take the medication
and no longer suffer from 
any depression-like symptoms.

(NOT Hardly!)

At first, my depression did seem to go away and I thanked God for this, praying medication would continue to keep it in check.  However, as seems to be the story with my chronic illness, the more things get better, the more they get worse…(and vice-versa sometimes too). 
Several months later, the weights returned, along with other crappy symptoms of depression, like the ones I listed in my May 22 Post:  Depression and Pain: Part 1

Since then, my depression has never really gone away.  I call it “My Shadow”, named after the song, “Me and My Shadow” (words below) from the 1975 movie “Funny Lady” starring Barbra Streisand (although the song was originally recorded in the 1920’s).  

“Me and My Shadow”

Me and my shadow strolling down the avenue;
Me and my shadow, not a soul to tell our troubles to.

But when it’s 12 o’clock, we climb the stairs;
We never knock, ‘cause nobody’s there.

Just me and my shadow, all alone and feeling blue.

If you'd like, click the link to hear Judy Garland singing the song.  Although she was before my time, I love her rich voice in this version, although the orchestra’s first chords sound rather Boris-Korloff like!

My Shadow is always lingering around somewhere, even if it’s slight--like a shadow at 11 o’clock .  I will be happily living my life within my own boundaries of energy and commitments, for days or weeks at a time, when seemingly out of nowhere, Wham!  My Shadow will suddenly emerge, dark and bristly, like a 5 o' clock shadow just before sundown. The weights will return.  Sadness and exhaustion, along with an utter lack of will to do anything will replace my happy state of being.  I will feel alone, regardless of who else is around me.
...Just me and my shadow, all alone and feeling blue.

 I have no choice about preventing a 5 o’clock shadow. 
What I do have,...what we all have... 
are choices about what we will do when it comes.  

And, thank God,  they are within our reach.

Some of you reading this post are worrying that this shadowy darkness I write about should give me great cause for alarm, as it may arise from evil origins. Don't worry--I'll write about that  too, within the next one or two posts.

Next Time:  How to Live Well with Pain-Related Depression  (I have more to say about depression than I ever imagined! )

Shadowed, but loved by God still,


p.s.  Please contact me if you are overwhelmed by negative thoughts, or are thinking about hurting yourself.  Or else, call the National Suicide Hotline number at 1-800-SUICIDE  (1-800-784-2433)


  1. Judi-
    I snuck into my office for a brief checking of email and decided to take a Glance over your way! My Dear Husband, nurse Rachet, suddenly was standing at the door, gave me that LOOK and I knew, better make my time Brief and get my Injected BUTT back to bed!!! Feeling so much better-plain put-I think we actually stand a chance at silencing this terrible BURN!!!

    So-with that said, I wanted to say a few words about "Me & My Shadow"-so proud you contacted your doctor and that he was caring and not "I told you so!"

    There is so many aspects of Chronic Pain that pop up when we think all is calming down and we are getting the chance to be HUMAN again. I connect to the Shadow- because Pain will be keeping its steady HUM in my body and the next thing I know, WHAM-BAM, THANK YOU MAAM, Pain has shown up and wants to throw me around the Ring..

    Its rough-so very rough to keep reaching for those "inner boxing Gloves" so we can stand up again, give a long hard SIGH, put our gloves on and go for it again!

    One personal thing I want to share with you is how much I have feared through all these years of becoming so tired and finding the words to say "I am just so damn Tired-wish I didn't have to FIGHT so hard!" My mind thought if those words ever surfaced, it meant I was giving up and allowing Pain to WIN.

    Its just the opposite-all I am doing in saying those words is being HUMAN-very HUMAN-and after I finally spoke them, I could actually feel some relief settle inside me.

    This battle has been with me for over sixteen years, and there is no way I can throw in the towel. But needed changes must come and that means I have to let some of the Stubborn Martha settle down and rely on Prayer, Prayer, Prayer-and give myself permission to LAUGH....

    It does not cure it, never will, but letting myself find things to do that bring me joy-a little chuckle-it helps so much. You are a wonderful Teacher Judi-and we have much more to learn from your lessons. I consider myself very BLESSED to know you and have this time to share with you. I would never dare judge you-we are wrong to Judge and believe me, I know the feeling of it-and its so damaging to a person.

    You have my full support, prayers and Love.

    God bless you Sweet Judi!


  2. It's okay to get mad...and it's okay to laugh, even though lots of times my laughter is pretty sardonic and pitiful! And it's always, always good to humble ourselves and PRAY!! Let's keep reminding us to do that for one another. And AMEN! We love instead of judge!! Thank you, friend!!

  3. Judi-
    I do find myself thinking about you during the days-praying your Pain is not any worse and knowing, with your tremendous Faith, God will guide you along the journey and HE will never leave your side. What a good idea-to keep reminding ourselves, its really okay to LAUGH, and it doesn't have to always BE from the heart!

    I hear your words, loud and clear and am very grateful for them!

    Bless you sweet Judi! martha

  4. Your prayers mean the world to me! I'm behind in posting as you can see...not from pain, but from busyness. My energy must be spent carefully... I'm eager to get back to it!