Depression can cause pain, pain can cause depression. We have all seen the commercials on TV promoting the line “depression hurts”. I cuss at the TV each time.
At the age of seven I was diagnosed with depression. I have lived with it my entire life. My mind takes over until all I feel is downward spiraling vortex of pain. That pain prevents me from doing things in life I enjoy like riding a bike, going for walks, reading books, cooking, interacting with my children. I do not want to think about what my husband goes through.
One day a few years ago, my back went out. One minute I was chasing a 14-month old around the living room, the next I was on the floor crying in pain. I could not feel anything from the navel down. I had to crawl to my phone and call 911. The result was to learn that there is a problem with my spine and that is why my back hurts.
Here is the endless, ugly, vicious circle: my depression causes me pain and my physical pain triggers my depression. There is nothing medical science can do to fix my back. I live with a constant dull ache. Sometimes the pain flares up and all I can do is sit on the couch. If I try to walk around, walk up stairs or pick up one of my daughters, my back will give out and I will fall. Just sitting around makes me feel useless and pathetic. The dishes will not wash themselves. The girls want my attention. Enter a black wave of depression that will last for days; often times, weeks.
There are times when I lock myself away in my room. The negative emotions swimming through my head are so strong that I cannot inflict my presence on anyone. My daughters want my attention. They do not understand what is wrong with mommy. They ask if they have done something wrong. Try explaining to them that the problem is in my head. At these times I regret having children. I feel I have no right to put them through this. They are left with uncertainty, fear, sadness and anger. Knowing they go through this only makes me feel lower.
About two years ago I was playing soccer with my oldest. She was practicing because her team had a game coming up. Obviously I moved the wrong way, because my back spasmed in pain and my left leg froze. I could hardly limp back inside the apartment and my husband had to help me sit on the couch. My leg would not bend until almost 4 hours later. My daughter thought she had done something wrong and she blamed herself because I was hurt. The pain was intense. I missed her game because of it. That was the last year she played soccer. I failed as a mom.
Even now, she does not entirely understand the situation. The whole family has encouraged her to play soccer again if it will make her happy. She had played from the age of 4. The answer is no. “Mom cannot play because she gets hurt and it will be all my fault.” Even my therapist cannot help me explain to her that it is NOT her fault. Seven years of soccer for nothing.
Even simple tasks like typing become difficult for me at times. Sometimes the muscle spasms are so strong that a hug from my children brings tears to my eyes. I am mean when I am in pain. I tell them that I hurt and they need to stop hanging on me. Of course, they do not stop. The end result is me yelling at them to get off of me and stop touching me. Even when the pain brings tears to my eyes, they keep trying to hang on me. When I yell, they look at me with sad puppy dog eyes and go to their bedroom. I feel like scum.
It would be nice if there was a way to make the pain more tolerable. Some way to take away the risk of falling. What if I fall and land on one of them? What if my toddler is on my hip and I drop her? I am so scared of hurting them. Yes, I have discussed this with my doctor and my therapist. They keep telling me that I should not think about it. The chances of hurting them are very slim. I do not believe them because the first time my back went out, it almost happened. I almost landed on my 14-month old baby. She was less than six inches away from where I landed. So far, none of them have ever been hurt. However, I still worry. I go slow on stairs. I avoid carrying them farther than a few steps.
Pain and depression seem to go hand-in-hand in my life. One will always trigger the other. It is never ending. The toll this takes on my daily life is depleting. I see how it affects my children and my husband. There is nothing I can say to them to make it all better. There is nothing I can explain to make them understand that I do not want to be depressed, it is just how my mind works.