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!)
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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.