Dear Dr. Archer,
I am 56 years old, and have been depressed most of my life. In fact, I believe most of my family is, as well. A series of events occurred over my adult life to enforce this sadness.
I was raped 15 years ago by a stranger in a dark parking lot. I had to raise my sons without their father. They, to my joy, are two very successful men and husbands now. I had my last son at age 40. I was married and feeling happy for a while, that is until a car accident devastated my health.
I underwent rehab, started working out, and began feeling better until about three years ago. Keep in mind that during this time I was on antidepressants. I began hurting, much like the flu, feeling tired but not sleeping and had mood swings.
My family doctor did tests and sent me to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with several conditions, including fibromyalgia, RA, Spinal Arthritis and neck problems -- all resulting from my car accident!
I applied for disability and won my case. I cannot do anything without pain being involved. Currently I am taking Neurontin, Celexa, Xanax for panic attacks and pain medications.
I am also going through menopause and take hormones. Dr. Archer, my family doesn't believe I feel bad, and I admit I don't look sick, but I have put on 30 pounds from inactivity.
I do not want to live this way. I have tried almost every antidepressant out there, and they work for a while and then that's it. I want to be happy, but how to I get out of this prison?
I prepare taxes for people, involve myself with my 16 year old's school, and love to read. I just feel DRAINED! I'd love to have energy for living again. I go on trips and barely remember them -- what's up with that?
I've been off balance and have fallen in public a few times, due to the neuropathy in my leg, and it's so embarrassing. Sexually, I feel nothing for my husband, which is also sad and frustrating.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. I love your articles, Dr. Archer, and sometimes respond to you on facebook. Please let me hear from you.
I am so sorry to hear about the trauma you endured 15 years ago. That is a terrible, devastating experience for any female. I am happy to hear that you presently busy yourself by preparing taxes and being involved in your son's school.
I'm also glad to hear you enjoy reading. Those are all very positive activities and anything you obtain joy from is important to pursue.
If you are not doing so now, I want you to set up an exercise schedule as well. Not knowing what your disability is, you can either walk for a minimum of 30 minutes, or swim or perform water aerobics.
There are many, many riding stables across the country which cater to the disabled, and this is extremely therapeutic. You pick; you know what you can and can't do. The simple act of exercising and getting your heart rate and temperature up will do wonders for your mood. You'll also get the benefit of losing the extra weight you've put on.
The fact that you are so tired and sometimes don't remember trips is most likely due to the fatigue from the arthritis and fibromyalgia and also possibly the medications that are prescribed to you.
Your doctor should be alerted to any problems you experience, and any changes in your mood. You should be checked at all regular visits and discuss this as well. Ask about neuropsychological testing to assess memory.
The fact that your family questions the validity of your pain is just wrong. If it helps, have your doctor talk to your husband at your next appointment. He will get the message first-hand, and then you can question him about why he has to question what you tell the family. You desperately need the support of your loved ones now.
As far as the neuropathy in your leg, Liz, the best line of defense for this is maintaining healthy eating habits, vitamins and exercise. There are foot braces, leg braces or orthopedic shoes which combat or reduces pressure on the nerve endings to lessen pain. Explore all those options with a physical therapist.
Finally, clearly you are depressed from all that’s going on. Make sure you have a close working relationship with your psychiatrist and keep trying meds and combos of meds to try to address your condition.
Don’t give up! Glad we are connected on Facebook and best of luck Liz.