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How to combat human depression after injury??

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  • How to combat human depression after injury??

    I blew up my shoulder and broke ribs crashing and into a jump 4 weeks ago. I'm at week 3 post surgery, and I'm depressed. Really, truly, depressed. I cry easily, I'm bored and frustrated and angry.

    I cannot be around my horse--too dangerous to my barely-held-together-with-too-much-hardware-shoulder. He is 40 minutes away, anyway.

    I know in my heart this is temporary, but all my activities both horse and non are deeply impacted.

    I need ideas people! Help me get out of the pity pool, off my drama llama and back into the swing of things. I'm normally a very upbeat person, but the third accident in 5 years resulting in surgery or much time off of riding is making me rethink my entire horsey future. Slap me, do whatever, but I need some advice or ideas.

    And, yeah, I'm going to talk with my doctor today about this. Perhaps I need better pain management?? I hate taking painkillers, but the ribs and shoulder just won't let me, so I go too long between. I'm just under vicodin level, but not quite to ibuprofen level. Sigh.

    To make matters worse--it has been beautiful here, with sun, and temps in the 60's.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

  • #2
    Those two injuries are sooo painful! You have my empathy.
    Pain management is definitely your friend. Take what you need until you no longer need it. Since you have sun, perhaps some sun therapy would help as well?
    Good vibes towards a quick, complete healing.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



    • #3
      There are meds for depression that can help with situational stuff like the one you describe. They take a while to work (meds have to build up in your system) and might not be worth it.

      Still, you can talk to your GP about it. They aren't "happy pills" but can take the edge off enough so you aren't sucked under so badly.
      "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


      • #4
        Absolutely talk to your doc about pain management. I hate taking pain meds as well, but if you don't break the cycle of pain things can get ugly and take longer to heal.

        Are you stuck in the house? Can you at least sit outside in the sunshine? Could someone take you to the barn so you can sit ringside and perhaps watch friends ride or something? Are there any shows or clinics going on in your area where you can go and spectate?

        You say you've had a few serious accidents in the recent past... I can see why you'd be re-thinking your situation. Maybe time for a change of pace, try something new-- new discipline, new trainer, new horse, new barn, something to shake it up a little?

        I can relate, as it seems I've barely ridden in the last 3-4 years due first to a serious health issue and now due to an unexpected pregnancy. I'm starting to think I will never make it back into the saddle! Right now I'm on bed rest and can't even go to the barn, though I did convince my husband to sneak me out there this past weekend!

        Anyway hope you heal swiftly and feel a bit better soon. It is totally expected that you'd be depressed... hang in there!!
        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


        • #5
          Things that enhance depression:

          lack of sunlight
          lack of sleep

          And I had a third one I thought, but I for got (I got lack of coffee...)

          I think - judging from what a neighbor of mine went through after bypass surgery, it could be very well be a symptom stemming from that, too. Not sure what it is, mini clods or whatever, but I think I can remember that it's not uncommon after a major surgery.

          So, one thing you can do that's cheap, you go for walks in the sunshine:
          Exercise makes us happy, so does sun.

          If things don't look up soon, talk to your doctor, you don't have to suffer!

          (also check with your physical therapist what else in exercise you can do, maybe leading up to muscle building workouts to protect your joint.

          Then again... you mentioned broken ribs...when the simple act of breathing hurts, life IS depressing!

          Best wished to a speedy recovery!!


          • #6
            Coming off of a knee injury/surgery that kept me off my horse for 6 months, I hear ya. It is not fun. I injured my knee (in a non-horse related accident) just as I was starting to do well in showing and having a real blast with my horse. It was hard being immobile and not being able to do anything with my horses. And I had a complication which pushed my ability to ride even further back.

            It's hard, but you CAN get through it. Pain management (as mentioned above) is key AND keeping yourself busy - do your exercises and find something that will keep your mind occupied so you're not dwelling so much on what you can't do (do you have a stack of reading you've been meaning to get to or videos to watch? Do what you can to get stronger and fit asap, etc.). Think of each day as one day closer to getting back on your horse and do what you can to accomplish that within reason, but don't beat yourself up for not being able to do it al right NOW ... your body needs to heal and rushing it will not help matters.

            Keep plugging away and before you know it, you'll be back on your horse! {{{{HUGS}}}}

            Let us know what the doctor says.


            • Original Poster

              Ok, just thought of one thing: I've lost 10 pounds since this happened--and that is a good thing.

              Today, I'll ask about new pain meds. And if I can resume my walking regime.

              Weighing on my mind is the worst complication of my injury, that my ortho is very worried about: the head of the humerus could become necrotic from lack of blood supply, since I damaged an artery, and then, 4 months down the road, I'll need a shoulder replacement. So, this could be a year long recovery, instead of a 5 month one.

              I know that the chances are slim that this will occur, I'm young-ish, in good shape, but darn it, it sits in the back of my mind.

              I've totally thought of selling my jumper and doing dressage....but...I love to jump, especially on this guy. Total packer (accident was pilot error), fun, fast, safe. Well, that is down the road, no decisions now.

              I'm going to sit in the sun now, correct some crappy 7th grade writing (should be amusing at least), and put on my jeans one handed--always a fun time!
              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


              • #8
                Vitamin D has helped me with my usual seasonal depression issues. It's hard to get enough vitamin D through sunshine in the winter, even if you work outside. My osteopath recommended I take Vitamin D, and it has helped.
                "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                • #9
                  I had only a few injuries in many years training horses and other health problems, but never been depressed, so can't help with that.

                  I would say, do you have something you always wanted to know more about, a new language you want to learn, an old one you want to become better with?

                  There are tons of free classes on the internet and many companies that you can buy videos of lectures from.

                  I have entertained myself with some of those, even classes I may not have been quite up to, but didn't matter, I wanted the information, not to become good and get credits to graduate.

                  Spend some time looking at what different universities have to offer in free courses and you may find something that will help you pass the time.

                  I am right now again on the injured reserve list and will be for a few more months, although not hurting like you are, I have a high threshold for pain, or can generally block it out.

                  Maybe I have never been depressed because I didn't take the time to be depressed, too much to do, read, learn.
                  Give that a try, seems that you will be needing to pass some time for a while yet.


                  • #10
                    The pain itself can make you depressed! And feeling stuck inside and idle is a great way to make it worse. I hear ya! DH is only just now able to lead his horse around and groom her (and I won't let him go get her out of the paddock, where the other horses might bump him around). He was really down until the pain subsided, and on certain days where he pushes himself too far and he gets spasms, he gets really down again, no matter how hard he tries not to. And it was/is frustrating because it hurts if he is too still, and it hurts if he moves too much, so there is a fine line where he needs to keep lightly active but not too much, and not sit for too long either.

                    If you can walk lightly you can even just go stroll around the yard for five minutes every hour or two, and being in the fresh air and seeing the trees and (mud?? snow?) will be cheering, too. DH (and myself a year ago when I had a nearly-broken ankle) started off walking just slowly out to the mailbox, then around the house, then up to the neighbors and back, etc. gradually building up to several miles over several months. Even the little tiny bits do a world of good.


                    • #11
                      I'm going to second, or third, or whatever, the idea of getting out and at the least sitting in the sun.

                      The other thing you might contemplate is that, as a previous poster mentioned, lack of sleep can really mess you up. You have a massively busted shoulder, and broken ribs. I am going to go out on a limb here and say I really doubt you have been sleeping well lately. And even if you gork yourself out of your mind with narcotic pain meds, your sleep cycle will not be quite normal. You won't be getting your normal REM patterns. Without the pain meds, the pain will keep you from the normal sleep patterns. So that is going to mess with your head.

                      Add to the pain the worry about the blood supply to your humorous - no wonder you are feeling a little down!

                      Do try to get busy, try vit D (vit D helps you absorb calcium by the way - you need calcium to rebuild bones...), get some sunshine, all the suggestions here - and if the "keep busy" ones do not do it for you, do consider medications for depression. With the meds you do still have to pull your own happy wagon, you just lose the feeling that the wheels keep falling off the wagon! In other words, if you get so down that you can't read a book to keep you busy such that you don't think about your injury so much, then the meds make it so that you CAN read the book, so that you CAN stay busy with other interests until you can get back to riding. They don't make you stupid and happy for no reason.

                      You will recover. Don't forget that part.


                      • #12
                        Oh, and I got a fun read for you:

                        Starting from Scratch by Rita Mae Brown

                        it's nonfiction (gaspeth) but very entertaining, "a different kind of writers' manual"


                        • #13
                          S.M.A.C.K. Did that work?

                          Ok, my advice is to wear sweat pants. I don't care if you've lost 10 pounds and now have a) no stomach or b) a now very cute butt. Sweat pants are your friend.

                          And take lots of pain meds.....when you finally 'wake up' from your self-induced haze, you might be healed. Or not, but you won't care in the meantime. I second (or third/fourth?) the 'sit in the sun' idea.....you may have to travel to a third dimension to find some, and don't bother looking here in Wisconsin.

                          Getting hurt, and especially so many times, just plain sucks. I say go ahead and feel sorry for yourself. We'll help.


                          • #14
                            When I hurt my neck, the muscle relaxants and pain killers made me very depressed - changed the meds and felt much more positive about things!


                            • #15
                              I think it is sometimes good to feel a bit down. I broke my leg last September and had to move back in with my parents for 3 months so they could look after me. It helped when I could get out of the house for anything. I would go to pilates class with my mom, to the store, or even crutch down the street. I would also go out to just see the horses, even if I couldn't get near them.

                              The main this is just not to make any major decisions during this time. Sometimes it is good to step back and reevaluate your life, when it is going well and badly. Just don't make a major change until you feel like yourself again.
                              Hanlon's Razor

                              Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.


                              • #16
                                pain management

                                CC- You might want to get the uninjured parts of your body a massage.

                                I'm happy to blubber on about the benefits of massage if you'd like, but I won't unless you ask me to. You might even be able to get a perscription from your doc if using it as pain management. at the very least it should help improve your sleep, sleep deprivation plays a HUGE role in depression. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you'd like more info.
                                If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Catersun- I've used massage after my back surgery (not HR) 5 years ago, by prescription and it was marvelously successful. I plan to do so with this injury. Right now? I can't think of a way to do it with the ribs.

                                  I've been sitting in the sun, inside, for a while now. The wind is blowing hard again, so it looks warm outside, but isn't. The COTH smacking is working. I feel better already.

                                  Took my vitamins, got dressed and I'm heading to the doctor's office. I have my questions written on a paper and I plan to buy lunch out--a little treat to myself. Then, I'm going to rest and go see my horse later today.

                                  Here's to a good report. I am anxious to find out when the pins will be removed...another small surgery but with a positive aspect, as it means the bones are knitting!
                                  Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                  • #18
                                    CC, if you were my client, I'd spend time on your head and neck and legs, semi reclined or what ever position you are most comfortable in. ANYTHING to get those endorpins going.
                                    Last edited by Catersun; Feb. 22, 2010, 01:29 PM. Reason: cause my fingers don't work on keyboards.
                                    If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.


                                    • #19
                                      I totally agree with others here that have mentioned the all-critical pain management. Riders are naturally pretty stoic, and having dealt with other injuries this year, you've probably adjusted some to a higher level of discomfort. I highly recommend (if it's at all possible) to see a physician who specializes in, or at least has a vast knowledge of pain management. This is a seriously tricky field of medicine that many doctors don't treat as such. Talking to your doctor about the amount of pain you're in doesn't make you weak, it makes you intelligent. Pain is a huge contributor to depression.

                                      Although you can't do much physical stuff at this point, it might be possible for you to exercise your brain. Something like Rosetta Stone (although I admit, I hate these types of programs) might be a cool thing to try- and it might get you interested in something cool like learning a new language. Or become world's greatest crossword puzzle doer/sudoku player/online scrabble player. Mental exercise, while not the same as physical exercise, can help a lot when you're bed-ridden or physically limited.

                                      The most important thing to remember is that you need to focus on HEALING and telling yourself that this is only temporary. Don't worry about planning for your future at this point- you are still freshly injured, and no one knows how you're going to feel once you come back. For all you know, things could be totally fine once you allow yourself to heal. Take it one step/one day at a time.
                                      Here today, gone tomorrow...


                                      • #20
                                        By the time you get this, hopefully you'll have your good report... and some prescribed ideas...

                                        Hopefully the part about the necrotic end will be not a worry... but.. if it is still a worry...

                                        Are you treating yourself like you would an injured horse, with the PROMISE of recovery? THE BEST diet? Bright fruits & veggies, whole grains, lots of good protein?

                                        TAKE the damn pain pills. I learned with my knee that it REALLY helped healing. I hated taking them too. I could only take the Vic at night. But man, it helped exponentially the next day... Plus, you need to keep the volume of anti-infams UP--you have to take it whether or not you 'feel' like you need it, to keep the inflammation down, or your body is going to be busy fighting the inflammation, not HEALING.

                                        Sorry, but being stoic wastes good HEALING energy in this case.

                                        You had major, major surgery. The anesthesia takes a LONG time to truly clear all your tissues. I forget just how long, but I think they were saying with my Mum it was like 3 mos. to completely, completely clear. Meanwhile, lots of liquids (PITA when you have to pee a lot, I know ) and lots of great fresh nutrition.

                                        Hang in there. It sucks. There's no way around it. It's ok to be down--your body NEEDS down in order to heal.
                                        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                                        Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)