SAM-e: My Story of Depression and Gout

So, this website was built primarily for information about fighting gout.  But, in addition to gout, I am also a sufferer of depression.  It’s not something easy to discuss for me, as I find it easier to discuss gout than depression.

A few weeks ago, however, something big changed for me.  I mean monumental.  Emphasis on the mental.

My loving girlfriend Starr, who always has my best health in mind, was shopping and came across a new product.  It was called SAM-e.

SAM-e stands for S-adenosylmethionine.  It’s a dietary supplement sold all over the world.  Starr found it at the grocery store, and started reading the package.  Not only did it say it was good for joint health (primarily targeting arthritis sufferers), but also good for what they call “Mood enhancement”.

Now, this isn’t an intoxicant like alcohol or marijuana.  This is a complex chemical found naturally in the body, and with small amounts being processed by ingesting via food.  But some people (like me) need more, and that’s where the dietary supplement comes in.

So, Starr comes home, and hands me the package.  I hadn’t heard of it before, and she seemed to know a little about it before seeing it in the store and reading the package.

I started with 800mg, two of the 400mg pills.  At that level, I had about a month’s supply.  I decided if, after a month, nothing seemed different, we wouldn’t have to get a second box.

Less than a week in, i told her I felt different.  I found myself reacting to things differently.  My joint, also, felt better.  My feet didn’t ache as much as before, and my knees felt a little less unstable.

Over the first two weeks, I found myself telling Starr how impressed I was with my response.  I didn’t feel the black cloud that normally either hung directly over me, or just behind me, ready to spoil my day.

The chorus of voices in my head (Which Starr and I lovingly refer to as “the Band”…because when they’re in tune, and playing harmoniously, it’s fantastic….when they’re out of tune, and everyone is trying to play their solo at the same time…it’s chaos), was quiet.  For the first time in years, I didn’t have that nagging feeling of not doing enough, of not being sufficient.

When I had a fit of depression, it was dark.  Like a deep, dark hole, with no way out.  Except, a hole means there’s sky above.  I always felt like it was a dark circular room, and I was trying to find a light switch that wasn’t there.  There was no way out, no hope of finding a way out, and it seemed like it would never, ever, end.  There was only the darkness.

Over the years, I learned to live in that darkness, and even thrive sometimes.  But the darkness was always ready to spoil my plans.  It wasn’t just depression.  When the darkness came, it wasn’t just depression.  It was anger, and bitterness, and inadequacy.  It was a storm of negative emotions, and feelings.  Each one with a voice, all vying for attention, and dominance.  All of them telling me how I was doing things wrong.  How I wasn’t good enough.  How this person wronged me, how that person hated me, how another person was out to get me.

When I did the dishes, I was consumed within a vortex of my own thoughts and negativity.  If I didn’t have a focus to my anger, Starr became that target in my mind.  Everything she did was wrong.  She placed my favorite knife at the wrong angle, she put this plate on top of that plate, causing it to be under too much stress, and it MIGHT have broken it.  It was one thing after another in my head, getting me angry.

When it wasn’t the dishes, it was something else minor, and inconsequential.  The anger kept the depression at bay.  It let me focus on something other than me.

And if I was in the middle of a gout attack, and I was in pain, then it was worse.  I’ve lost jobs, due to this response.  Some amazing, high quality, well paying jobs.  I’ve lost a $500,000 contract because of the Band, and my response to long-term pain due to gout putting me at my frayed edge.

But since starting SAM-e, I’ve responded to everything differently.  My dog, Dorian, no longer triggers me.  His barking, and snarling while playing with Zuri the German Shepherd, no longer put my teeth on edge.  His early morning, enthusiastic greeting no longer spoils my mood for the entire day.

I just don’t feel like the cloud is there.  I don’t feel the darkness.  The Band is quiet, and there’s only one voice in my head…and he doesn’t tell me negative things.  He doesn’t treat me like he’s got a grudge against me.

It’s finally quiet.

And it’s SAM-e.  I wish I had known about this years ago.

Living with Gout

I started this page, because I have gout.  I started it because I wanted others, who also have gout, to know there is help.

I am not 100% gout free.  I will never be truly gout free.  If I take medicine, like Allopurinol, I can disrupt my body’s production of uric acid.  But that also means going to the doctor every 6 months to get my prescription refilled.  That hasn’t always been possible in my life.

As a result, I’ve gotten pretty good at managing it on my own.  Diet, of course, was the most important factor.  If I changed my diet, I could, theoretically, reduce my gout flareups.

This last 30 days or so had been tough.  I fell off my diet, and had a pretty bad flare up.  My left foot swelled up, and it was obvious to me it was one of the instep joints, and not the toe or somewhere easy to reach.

As usual, I used ice, and wrapped it, and tried to avoid walking as much as I could.  I am fortunate to work from home, so getting around the house wasn’t terrible.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible.

In previous years, I worked at fairly large buildings.  In Arizona, this meant long walks from parking to the entrance.  As you might expect, when I had a gout flareup, walking was the last thing on my mind.  As a young and stubborn man, I simply gritted my teeth, and used a cane to take some of the pressure off.  I took ibuprofin throughout the day, and brought ice packs to work.  Of course, sitting at a desk was never as good as laying down on a couch or bed, so it’s not like I was doing myself any favors.  But I lived in the US, so I had to work, even when hurt.

In sales, you can’t afford to take a day, or two, off.  If you don’t hit your numbers, you are GONE!  So, I felt the need to show up, instead of going to the doctor.  Not that most of the corporate health insurance plans were any good, but that’s not the point.

So, going from a long, difficult, painful walk, and then trying to be a friendly sales person, and interact nicely with your co-workers was always a challenge.

Now that my office is right next door to my bedroom, I’m able to walk a lot less, and therefore live with a lot less pain.  Icing my foot is a lot less embarrassing that trying to do it in an office environment.  Here, only my girlfriend and pets are here to laugh at me.  Sure, maybe no one would have laughed at me, but the embarrassment would have been the same.

The bad part about icing my foot at home is the new puppy we got this year.  He’s a real biter, and loves to shew on things.  Including ice packs.  So I have to be really careful when I leave my ice packs around.  I’ve already lost one!

Eventually, I got back on diet, slammed my system with cherries, strawberries, blueberries, milk, celery seeds, turmeric, and all the tricks I’ve suggested on these pages.  It helped, and it relieved the pain as well as helped reduce my overall attack.

I just have to stay on diet better.  Too much bacon, too many burgers, and I suffer.  It’s a tough lesson to learn….because I do love me a good hamburger.

I ran across this article on “spoon theory”, and it really struck home.  I wanted to share it because I think it makes a lot of sense to those of us who deal with chronic pain on a daily basis.