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Monday, February 25, 2013

Getting Lost In The Woods: The Forest Of Depression

For months now I have been struggling with depression, apathy, emotional pain, and felt no energy nor any real desire to do anything. I have posted in my chronic pain blog a few times since June 1, 2012, which is the last date I posted in my stitching blog.I started out 2012 with high hopes and a smoldering need to stitch (not the full on burning intensity of "Gotta do it right NOW!"). I signed up for a few things for the year, WIPocalypse (attempt to complete UFOs so that should the world end [apocalypse] those UFOs would be done) and the TUSAL (Totally Useless Stitch A Long, where you save your left over pieces of thread in a glass container and post a pic at each full moon). I fell out fast on the TUSAL (Feb. 2012 was last I posted my ort jar) and the WIPocalypse stopped in March. I've been mentally kicking myself all year.

I finally got my doctor to actually hear what I had been telling him for months, though he only listened because my DH came with me to the appointment on March 5. Thanks to my DH being present, a cat scan was ordered and the Dr. agreed to fill out the necessary paperwork for me to get a power chair from The Scooter Store. I was also started on Cymbalta which is an anti-depressant that has been shown to help alleviate neuropathic and low back pain in many patients. Thanks to Cymbalta, I did get a significant decrease in the intensity of my pain. I still had pain every day, but could stand for 10 to 15 minutes at a time (instead of the 2 to 7 I was at for a year or so) and when the pain did spike it was nowhere as sharp and intense as it used to be. It still hurt like hell but instead of feeling like someone was stabbing me with a very sharp and large knife, it felt more like someone was hitting me with a slightly giving ball on a stick, more of a thudding type of pain.  As a result I spent many days over the summer going out and doing thing. My friend has a pool at her apartment complex, so we spent many days there with our kids. We went out for dinners and enjoyed hanging out with each other. DH and I accompanied our friends on a weekend away and had an absolute blast! I was constantly amazed by how much better the Cymbalta made my pain, though it didn't do so great on the depression. I still had to fight the apathy etc. and force myself to go out but I succeeded. I even managed to start stitching again somewhere in July or August I think it was, though I didn't get very far, just a few more stitching in the wedding sampler.

A week (I believe it was) after our weekend trip in September the doctor made an error with my Cymbalta script (when the PA upped the dose from 60mg a day to therapeutic level of 120mg a day) and I did not realize it until 2 weeks later when I noticed I only had 5 more doses when I should have had 14. Knowing how impossible it is to get a script corrected or anything else from my doctor's office between visits, I didn't even try calling them. I tried to spread them out by taking one pill every other day, even though I should have been taking  2 pills, twice a day, every day. It didn't take long before I noticed the intensity of my pain returning. With each day that went by with the incorrect and irregular dosing (these meds rely upon a specific blood concentration and that said concentration remain constant in order to work their best) my pain got worse again, mobility dropped, and the depression came back full force. I reverted back to not wanting to do anything but dissociate from the pain and its destruction of my life. Once again I was lost in the dark forest, without so much as a tiny trail, left to wander. Even though I recognized the depression when it came back full force, I didn't care enough to fight it anymore. Mostly because no matter how much I fight it, it always wins in the end and comes back stronger than before, so I just let myself continue wandering, surrounded by the trees of sadness, pain, apathy, complacency, dissociation, lack of emotions, little to no energy and all of that. It felt so dark and I felt like a failure yet again. Yet in some ways it felt like home. It felt comforting, probably because I know that major depression is now a part of me for the rest of my life due to how chronic pain causes chemicals in the brain to go out of whack (norepinephrin, serotonin and more); which causes the depression. For some, who have dealt with this kind of depression for a long time, even curing the pain will not be enough for their brain chemicals to return to normal as their brains now believe the messed up levels are normal. So while I waited for the 6 weeks to pass once I finally got the correct dosage of medication, I hunkered down and hid. Falling down the slippery slope and into the comforting dark of depression.

It felt like home, but it also felt empty. I felt empty, used up, and done. I did try here and there to fight it off, but not very strongly and not for very long. It just felt too hard, like climbing Mount Everest naked, without climbing gear, and greased all over with lard. Not going to get far that way!

So here is where I've spent the majority of 2012, stumbling around in the dark feeling lost, worthless and broken on the few occasions I actually felt anything at all outside of apathy and sad emotions.

If you've read this whole thing, thank you! I really do appreciate it. I know it is very long, but considering I haven't blogged in many months I'm not surprised and there is a lot of ground to cover. I'll end it here for now because I have to go stitch (and I WANT to, which is great to feel!) as I need to finish an exchange I signed up for hoping it would kickstart my stitching mojo again, and it seems to have worked!

Utiil next time, I wish you all happiness, and peace!