Monday, April 11, 2011

Epiblogue: 60%

After my recent meltdown over the state of my health, I got mad. And when I get mad, I start doing research. I started reading everything I could find about pain.

I learned that many of the most common treatments for pain involve, of all things, antidepressants. While it makes inherent sense that depression would be comorbid with pain, but it's interesting (encouraging?) to know that the experts agree.

I've certainly had my share of depression - both before I started having chronic pain and afterwards - and I know how debilitating it can be. In fact, in my mind it's a toss-up as to whether the depression or the pain makes it harder to get things done. But as for antidepressants . . . I don't want to go down that road again unless I absolutely have to.

But one thing was clear to me after my rage-inspired research. Managing my mood is as important - or possibly more important - than addressing my physical pain. Furthermore, it occurred to me that I know how to manage my depression without medication quite well, thank you! Nothing helps me quite like exercise. Rigorous, daily exercise.

Admittedly, exercise is one of the first things, along with vitamin consumption, to fall away when I'm not feeling well. When you're depressed and hurting, getting up and moving around seems like torture. The worst idea in the world! But I can't deny that it does help me.

After I came out of my despair-followed-by-pissed-off funk, I recommitted myself to daily exercise. I'm doing a three-point program of physical therapy exercises, abdominal strengthening to support my back, and a long, aerobic workout (or PAW, if you're into acronyms and mnemonics). And I've already noticed a huge difference - certainly in my mood, but also my pain level. Things still hurt, but not nearly as much they did just a week or two ago.

It feels like night turned to day inside my body. (Bonus: I'm getting my waist back!)

* * *
I'm still going to work with my doctor and my physical therapist, take my supplements, and eat an anti-inflammatory diet as much as possible. I'm looking into chiropractic treatments and Maya abdominal massage. Also, I'm certainly not suggesting that exercise-instead-of-antidepressants is the way to go for everyone! It's just what works for me. A workout is my pill.



Christina said...

This reminds me of another blog post I read recently - There are some things in here that I don't agree with (so choose to gloss over, as one does), but I liked the approach.

This sort of cognizance helps in my life, both reactionaly (like she suggests) and proactively (when I remember to use it). "We haven't been on holiday in forever", "We never have time for ourselves", "Life is shit", etc. But if I schedule "tv watching with my husband", then I can achieve it and feel like "We do get to spend time together!", thus avoiding the "Life is shit" descent.

Anyway - depression gets a thumbs down. You, however, get a big thumbs up for being disciplined and exercising every day!!

Thanks for letting me ramble! In short, I'm glad you're feeling better and are inspiring me to be a bit more in disciplined!!

Rebekah said...

I'm really resistant to depression and anxiety meds too, even though I've been very tempted to start. That's good to hear that working out is helping. I have a gym membership 'on retainer' so maybe I should follow your example!

Allison the Meep said...

See, you have just proven that it IS possible to be into health and taking care of yourself to stave off depression without antidepressants, without sounding like you're Tom Cruise. (When he was at the height of his crazy spouting off about depression meds, it was exactly when I had to go on them because I was so depressed that it crippled me, and I wrote an angry folky song called "Fuck you, Tom Cruise." Heh.)

I think it's great that you're able to work through it all and figure out what helps you to feel better.