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Old 12-21-2003, 12:05 PM   #1
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khoff HB User
Question back pain and depression

All -

I was hoping to start a long thread to talk about the depression that comes along with back pain, and how we all cope.
I have had back pain for 6 years, but only last year did my L5-S1 disk tear in the annulus. I have tried alot of P/T, anti-inflammatories, ESI's, and a recent nucleoplasty which did not work.
I keep trying to have hope that something will work, but I am really feeling worn down by nothing working. I also feel like my whole world has become out of control and so very limited to what I can do.
I wonder how everyone else deals on a day-to-day basis with just trying to go on and dealing with the emotional effects like depression.
How bad does it get for you, how do you deal with it, how has it limited your life, what do you do just to continue on?

All thoughts welcome !

Ken

 
Old 12-21-2003, 04:10 PM   #2
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Re: back pain and depression

Ken==As perhaps you saw, we started a thread below called "philosophic coping" that may speak to some of what you're raising.

Personally, I still have enough function that the distraction of the work I can do is enormously helpful. So, obviously, are friends and family and knowing, through this board, that I am not alone. My work is headwork to begin with (I'm a college prof/psychologist/playwright) so I also try to "use" my experience to learn things; and keep track of what I'm learning. That is, I write about it and read other things that are related.

As we discussed on the "philosophic" thread, you somehow have to change your sense of time, and expectations. Most of us go through the period where we want to "get back" our old lives. Some succeed. Many of us, though, have to mourn the fact that _that_ life will not come back to us, at least not as it was. What you're calling "depression" may, in part, be that grieving, which is inevitable and not to be numbed (or it will only be delayed and diverted). What's on the other side of grief? Sometimes a different kind of healing, both physical and otherwise. For some people, it has to do with compassion, sensitivity, and a capacity to improvise they didn't know they had. For others, it may come in the form of spiritual insight. For others, activism on the part of a wide range of people who know that suffering is real, and not the trivial or melodramatic kind which American culture, in particular, is preoccupied with? There are many kinds of transformation. And it doesn't mean that the friggin back pain may not go away in the process. It's just that the pain is part of some other things going on at the same time.

Let's hear from others and see where we go.

Standingman

 
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Old 12-21-2003, 06:24 PM   #3
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waves2ya HB User
Re: back pain and depression

[QUOTE=Standingman1] And it doesn't mean that the friggin back pain may not go away in the process. It's just that the pain is part of some other things going on at the same time. Standingman[/QUOTE]

Nice post, SM. Mr. Hoff, I am a newbie to all of this reading this board since September. I am plowing my field, and I have read many of your posts. I wish, as many on this board I sure do, that your procedure had worked out. Picking through these threads is a vicarious process. Many are worse off than I, but their pain is nonetheless wrenching. Conversely, a scintilla of success is the ray of hope that might shine a light on a path out of this DDDark spot.

As a martial artist, I've always believed I knew a thing or two about living in the moment. That Buddhist notion is redefined through spinal suffering. Pain's hot/cold, fire/water binary state can bring on moments of sheer madness. Transcending the pain and living with the yoke of uncertain debility is crushing - if you dwell on it. Boards like this, Brain Talk and Back Pain Support (loose the spaces) are, at the very least, better than our productive forefathers had. There is, at least, an active dialogue - and there is hope.

There are many walking the walk with you...


~waves

 
Old 12-22-2003, 02:43 PM   #4
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Sunny D HB User
Re: back pain and depression

[QUOTE=kennethhoff]All -

I was hoping to start a long thread to talk about the depression that comes along with back pain, and how we all cope.
I have had back pain for 6 years, but only last year did my L5-S1 disk tear in the annulus. I have tried alot of P/T, anti-inflammatories, ESI's, and a recent nucleoplasty which did not work.
I keep trying to have hope that something will work, but I am really feeling worn down by nothing working. I also feel like my whole world has become out of control and so very limited to what I can do.
I wonder how everyone else deals on a day-to-day basis with just trying to go on and dealing with the emotional effects like depression.
How bad does it get for you, how do you deal with it, how has it limited your life, what do you do just to continue on?

All thoughts welcome !

Ken[/QUOTE]

Hi Ken, I found the way to cope was firstly admitting to yourself what you can and can't do and accepting it. This did take me a while to realise mind, but since I have done I am feeling improvements and look on the positive side and compare it to what it used to be and am thankful. Every now and again I don't feel so strong and I do get down then I quickly realise and pull my self back together. The way I look at it now is, We did'nt ask for these back problems yet some have to get on with it, I will certainly not let depression take over my life too. When I am down and think of this, it kinda gives me a kick up the butt...lol. It's ok to feel sad about changes in your life sometimes, just don't let it drag you down. Once I stopped trying to carry on as normal and accepted my problem the improvements have enabled me to do a lot more than I thought I would ever be able to again. Most importantly I listen to my body now when its screaming out NOOOO DON'T DO THAT !!. Sunny x
(ps. I too suffered with my back for 6 years before my disc finally prolapsed and I kept saying to my husband my back is gonna go, I just wish I'd listened to my back then....)
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Prolapsed disc (lower back) and spinal stenosis. started 10/02 to date had no surgery.

 
Old 12-22-2003, 03:36 PM   #5
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Pippin HB User
Re: back pain and depression

[QUOTE=kennethhoff]
I keep trying to have hope that something will work, but I am really feeling worn down by nothing working. I also feel like my whole world has become out of control and so very limited to what I can do.
I wonder how everyone else deals on a day-to-day basis with just trying to go on and dealing with the emotional effects like depression.
How bad does it get for you, how do you deal with it, how has it limited your life, what do you do just to continue on?
[/QUOTE]

First, your feelings are completely normal. Many of us have, or have had, the same kind of depression.

I went through one period a few months ago where I would cry uncontrollably. Everything seemed beyond my control; I felt guilty about being slow, clumsy, and sad; I was afraid that my husband would want to leave because I was making an unhappy home to come home to. I was angry that I was unable to cope, that I was being a drama queen, that I was letting my life get away from me. I felt sorry for myself. I hated talking about my health to my friends. I hated feeling overwhelmed by the medical terminology. I was so afraid that I would never find a solution; that I had a miserable future; that I would be in pain forever; that I would be a permanent burden; that I would be a high-maintenance wife. I was ashamed of being weak, of being sick, of causing problems for others, of asking for help, of not "measuring up" to others' expectations, of being a failure at facing adversity.

All of these emotional feelings were far more painful than the electrical shocks down my legs.

I got out of this mess -- over several weeks -- by doing several things. I told my friends that I was really depressed and crying all the time. They listened, as good friends do. I told my husband and we talked about if-then plans for dealing with the pain. I told my family doctor and we talked about possibly going on anti-depressants and possibly seeing a therapist to talk about chronic pain.

Somehow, just talking out all this pent-up emotion helped me through it. I had actually created my own little hell by holding it in, trying to be the good sport and put on a brave front. I created my own expectations that I'd be a little soldier; when I couldn't live up to my own expecations, I was devastated, and I melted internally first.

I'm still in physical pain. I still don't have a clear path for my future or a definite surgical answer. Like you, I have tried EPIs (no success yet; a transforaminal series scheduled next week). Am working on a second try with Topamax (the first attempt made the front of my face numb!). Just had an upper endoscopy to find out why my stomach hurt so much, and they found a nice healthy esphogus but a stomach with gastritis, probably caused by pain medications (am awaiting results of biopsies to know what the next step is).

I now use a cane to get around, and a wheelchair when at big places such as Wal-Mart or Lowe's. But I do feel comfortable with my present, and I don't resent the fact that my past -- of competitive tennis and a growing business and hands-on volunteer activities -- is now gone, never to be recaptured.

I'm trying to replace those former activities with things I can do. My brain is still functioning. For example, I can't play tennis any more. But I can help at tennis tournaments by sitting at the registration table to take entrance fees and such. And I can use my design and computing skills to design flyers and press releases to promote our local community tennis association's events. And I bought some comfy new sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt so I can go to work every day in my home office in style.

I think the next thing I'm going to try is some creative work. I keep watching those HGTV shows -- you know, Trading Spaces and the like -- where they do creative design stuff, and I've got some very neat ideas about something I might make for our blank bedroom wall.........
Never had the time to think about such stuff before. Now I do.

So, these are the things I'm doing to try to continue on --
I'm trying to be honest with myself and the people close to me.
I am trying something new.
I am using the skills I already have to help in the community.
I'm trying not to isolate myself.

And I keep watching these boards, and participating, because this is a healthy activity to listen, to hear, to feel in community with others.

Pippin

 
Old 12-23-2003, 12:38 PM   #6
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waves2ya HB User
Re: back pain and depression

[QUOTE=Pippin]... my past -- of competitive tennis and a growing business and hands-on volunteer activities -- is now gone, never to be recaptured... [/QUOTE]

Ms. Pippin, the powerful sentiments in your note belie someone who may never have to say never. We've tossed much tennis banter around here and I feel duly humbled.

Thank you for your inspirational words... and make it a great holiday!



~waves

 
Old 12-23-2003, 04:19 PM   #7
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mxrider929 HB User
Re: back pain and depression

i am still fighting depression everyday. some days it is almost impossible. but as they say, (keep on keeping on) it will get better with time.

 
Old 12-23-2003, 11:42 PM   #8
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Standingman1 HB User
Re: back pain and depression

With Waves, I want to express special appreciation for Pippin's comments. As I said on another thread, one of the really painful moments for me was when I put the golf clubs away....probably for the last time. It was an acceptance that, at least for the foreseeable, golf--my true love, my passionate affair, after career and family--was not to be.

For a period of time, I couldn't watch the game--it was just too painful not to be able to participate. But, although not as far along as Pippin, I've gradually found my way back to the course. I walk around with some of my friends and good players and serve as their "psychological caddy." (I am also a psychologist.) We shmooze the shot, and when they are able to execute it, it is--vicariously--almost as satisfying as if I hit it myself.

Of course, if they turned around and shanked it, it would be no fun at all! Moral of the story--I am blessed to have gotten to know some great players. It remains a privilege to be out with them.

Standingman

 
Old 12-25-2003, 04:54 AM   #9
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ltedeschi HB User
Re: back pain and depression

I am so impressed by how many of us have found ways to cope with the depression. It is different for all of us. At 36 with three fractures in the spine and two surgeries in 3 months I was really struggling to be back to myself. The physical pain seemed to be easier than the mental.The inner dialogue with myself and trying to be ok when I knew I wasn't.
I turned the corner when I watched a special on TV about some soldiers burnt in the war. Some over 90% of their body. This pain is worse than mine I told myself and they can never be totally healed. As I watched I began to see I had no right to complain. When I would venture to an outing or dinner with family and friends the rule was no talking about the back today. I could try to forget it for a short while. Those just meeting me never knew about my torture. Had I been the one burned there would be no escape. It shows inside and out. You could never forget even for a second.
Know I say thank you God for the strenght to handle this instead of Why Me?
One day you will find your avenue of healing and it may be totally differnet than all of us.
Do not be afraid to ask for help!!

Take care you are in my prayers
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Good Health to all
Lisa

 
Old 12-29-2003, 06:13 PM   #10
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Re: back pain and depression

Ken,
I haven't been on the board in about a month. Can you get me up to date on your condition? It seems as though the nucleoplasty didn't work. How is your pain now compared to when you first got the procedure done?
I am doing better but am still limited like most on this board. I have my days too where I just feel like there is no answer in site. I have done my research. Have gone to the best doctors in the area. I decided to hold off on surgery and get a third steriod injection. It has helped me a lot. I am sure you have done your homework and have done everything you can to get well. If you feel that you need to do more research and find another doctor who is top in the field, then go ahead. I saw about five doctors until I was satisfied. Have you thought of taking anti-depressants or to speak to a psychologist? Might not be a bad idea. I should have done that a long time ago. I am sure it would of helped me. Not only was I putting myself through misery but others around me.
I also have started to go back regularly to Sunday mass and I have to say that it has helped a great deal. I have gotten answers which I never though I would get. My mind kept fighting. Part of me was saying to get the surgery and part of me was saying to hold off. But finally I felt strongly about not getting it done.
Also, try and occupy your mind as much as you can. Read, talk with friends, family. Your mind needs a vacation from thinking about your back so much.
I thought about my back 24/7. Not healthy to do that.
I hope you heal both mind and body.
MPT

 
Old 12-31-2003, 08:10 AM   #11
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Re: back pain and depression

[QUOTE=MPT]Have you thought of taking anti-depressants or to speak to a psychologist?
I also have started to go back regularly to Sunday mass and I have to say that it has helped a great deal.
Also, try and occupy your mind as much as you can. Read, talk with friends, family. Your mind needs a vacation from thinking about your back so much. I thought about my back 24/7. Not healthy to do that.
MPT[/QUOTE]

MPT offers some good advice and is clearly a person with a healthy dollup of common sense!

It really is important not to isolate yourself from others, even though that's exactly what you want to do when you're depressed. Your support network -- whether it is family, church, neighbors, old school buddies -- needs to be called into action. And the advice of a non-judgemental therapist can be invaluable in giving you big-picture insights and solutions.

I wanted to mention, too, that anyone experiencing the symptoms of depression should not discount the medications they are taking. I recently went back onto a small dose of Topamax (just 50mg daily), even though I suspected it contributed to a depression period a few months back. Everything went fine for several weeks -- the medications helped reduce the pain in the legs and foot, I felt just fine and was concentrating well, my appetite was a little decreased -- then all hell broke loose. Crying, feelings of desperation, unable to eat or sleep, just about everything on the list of Major Depression symptoms. It was like having a stomach flu -- in the same way you cannot stop your body from the vomit reaction, I could not stop my body from the depression. It was awful. I have now stopped the medication and am feeling more clear-headed and can sleep without difficulty. My appetite has picked up, too (though that's not always a good thing!). Last night I had a good, hearty laugh with a few friends -- the first laugh in about 10 days. That really felt good.

So, look carefully at your medications and check to see if depression is listed as a side effect of any of them. You may read the "depression" warning as meaning that you might feel a little blue or down, nothing that you couldn't handle. I did, and I made a big mistake! Fortunately, if medications are part of the depression mix, you can reduce or eliminate them. One caveat -- don't just stop taking the medication. Be sure to get instructions from you doctor's office on how to reduce the dosage appropriately.

 
Old 12-31-2003, 11:15 AM   #12
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Re: back pain and depression

Pippin,
Thanks for the compliment.
Lisa,
I can relate to what you are saying. You're right! It can be worse. I also think of the people in the war and I think that some have died. We are not dead and yes there are people far worse off then us. I make sure to think of this when I feel down. Just a side note, my mom is the one who says "we are not going to talk about the back today". She's right. Sometimes I get just too caught up in it. It's just not healthy to be always thinking about it.
MPT

 
Old 12-31-2003, 04:53 PM   #13
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Mary Anne9998 HB User
Re: back pain and depression

The levels and realizations that all go through are so varied. As many have already said it does help to read on here about how others are feeling and coping and that we are not alone in our suffering. Family and friends can only listen and sometimes like with me, it has been for 6 or more years. I am to a point if I get a plain old headache, I hesitate to mention it because I feel I have become a chronic complainer.
I have always had a large sense of humor and trying to stay lighthearted has been so helpful. We should all get together and write a book and become rich and hire the best scientists to find a cure. I know that it will come, maybe not in my lifetime, or even if it does it will be far too late to benefit me. You have your down times, but there are up times as well. You learn so much more about yourself that you ever had, and that is a good thing. Not only about your limitations, but you are forced to stop and listen to your body as never before. When I am at my low times, I get on here and try to help someone else, and next thing you know, it has passed.
I have found I seem to be more patient than I used to be with everything. No sense in getting mad and throwing a fit, because you might hurt yourself even worse and be out of wack for longer, so calmly go through the day. I have learned that I can't do in a day what I used to, so I get done what I can and finsih up tomorrow what I didn't get done today. Hell I am about 15 years behind on the schedule of daily tasks!!!!Teehee

 
Old 01-01-2004, 10:41 AM   #14
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mokita HB User
Re: back pain and depression

Hi all!

Just got thru reading the whole post. Ken, good idea....and I hope you are coping, at the least....and are more able to enjoy life in spite of your back. Have you gone any further in tx options? I, like MPT, am curious as to your present state of being....if you feel like sharing.

I find it interesting that Pippin felt like she had to put on the 'brave' front to everyone. I also feel that way to a large extent. If I do talk about my back or pain to my younger sisters, in particular...I feel like I'm being a baby. They don't see anything wrong w/me. They see me carrying on w/ life. What they don't see is what I choose not to show them.....how absolutely depressing the pills, appts, waiting, and not knowing if they next thing will help, and then what? That big chasm of uncertainty is frightening....and I'm scared to death I may never be half of my former self.

On next Fri, 1/9, I will undergo the Nucleoplasty. I pray that it works for me....bcuz, quite honestly, I don't know what I'll do if it doesn't. Haven't gone there. Probably not wise....probably should consider 'worse case scenario'...but, I just can't.

Karen

 
Old 01-02-2004, 05:18 PM   #15
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Re: back pain and depression

Maryanne998-

Thank you for your words of wisdom. I,too, go on the message board when I am down and try to help another. It does help me as well.
I think you are right. We all should get together and right a book. I was actually thinking about really doing that. I can relate so much to your comments. I do what I can one day and finish the next day.
Also, there is no sense is getting mad, it only makes the spasms and pain worse. I tend to blow things off my shoulder that I wouldn't normally have done before I had a back problem. Us back people must try and remain calm so we don't have flare ups. I know from experience.
Mokita-

Good luck with the nucloeplasty. Yes, you do have to try something. Just remain positive and hope for the best outcome. It seems like you have done your homework/research judging from your past messages.
We are all pulling for you.
MPT

 
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