You might find it advisable to read my Author Interview in Imagine-Magazine Vol 44, before reading this. There are more parts to this story in the Interview.
As I was falling asleep tonight, I realized that although I am dealing with some health issues, I feel better and I am probably happier than I have been in quite a few years. Why is that? Well, in the simplest terms, I let the light in! To learn more about the light read The Shadows of My Mind. Did such a thing happen overnight? Actually no, it took several years, a lot of soul searching, a lot of research, and a lot of help from friends. But above all, it happened because I let the light in. A lot of you folks know that I have been living with depression for quite a few years, from at least 2008. It has only been lately that I decided to deal with it and move on with my life. Depression like Alcoholism can't be cured I will always live with it, however, now it won't control my life.
The first step was simple, not easy but simple, I had to acknowledge and believe that I had depression. The second step was also very simple, but very hard to do, I had to acknowledge and believe deeply that I would always have depression. Those first two steps were very important, however, there was still a lot to do and a long way to go. The third step and probably the most important was to figure out how to deal with it. Many years ago, when a Dr. first told me I was depressed I tried the medication that he prescribed, it was an anti-depressant and it was not a very good experience. It took several times to get the right dosage, the first time I wasn't depressed, but I also was very lethargic and couldn't function very well. We finally found the right dose and things got better. Unfortunately, I lost my insurance shortly after and had to give up on that medication. That was unfortunate because my Dr. never was able to tell me that depression was lifelong. I felt better and went on with my life, I found a job, and I completely forgot about my depression. However, my depression hadn't forgotten about me, it was calmly waiting for the right time to strike. When it did strike, it struck so slowly I didn't realize what was happening for several years, and by the time I did realize was what had happened, I was in between moderately depressed and severely depressed.
In fact, I was so depressed that I basically fell off the face of the earth, I stopped doing almost everything, cut off contact with virtually everyone. I basically became a hermit, and not the good kind. I basically was living on autopilot sleeping whenever I felt like and watching TV when I should have been sleeping. I was a mess, literally and figuratively. Due to my landlord selling his house I ended up without a place to live, I eventually moved to Oregon and lived with my family. I broke out of my depression enough to get a job, however, I was really just going through the motions, because as soon as I was off work, I became a hermit again. Things didn't really start to change for me until my Boss asked me to help her form and run a new company. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the real beginning of my recovery; it was finally something that I enjoyed and could really sink my teeth into. I slowly started to live again.
The final pieces to this puzzle began falling into place once I got back online, began to work on my site again, and slowly reached out to my online friends that I had cut off contact with years before. After a few butt chewing's for being so stupid we began moving forward, I began writing again, Akeentia, thanks to ACFan designed a brand new easier to use site for me. (We told him he would like it, once he actually started using it.) Life was beginning to look up for me. Writing became fun for me again and I got back writing several different things including several pieces for the CSU.
However, it wasn't until about a year ago that the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place. A Pinochle playing acquaintance happened to overhear a conversation that I was having with a friend regarding my depression. I had a doctor's appointment earlier that day and I got raised eyebrows from both the nurse and my doctor. I got the impression that if things didn't improve soon, that they were going to discuss medications. The acquaintance mentioned that he had been taking an herbal supplement to deal with his depression and to help him sleep at night. He told me what the supplement was, and I did some research and found out that this supplement seemed to work. The good thing is that it works naturally by getting the body to increase its serotonin levels. I found out that three times a day did the trick for most people. I did screw up; I didn't write down the suggested dosage. So, after getting the okay from my doctor I went online and ordered some. I found the best price for a good amount and again didn't pay attention to the amount of the product. I started taking the supplement, and within three days I began to feel a lot better, and my mood kept improving. My doctor and I were very happy with the results. I found out later that it usually takes two to three weeks before any improvement is felt, and the improvement is usually minor at first. I found out later as well, that the starting dosage is 50 mg one to three times a day, and then working up to 100 mg one to three times a day. I accidentally purchased the 200 mg capsules and was taking that three times a day. That explained why my mood improved so quickly and so well. I also found that the maximum tested safe dose is only 400 mg a day. Both my doctor and my pharmacist both told me since it was working, and I was having no side effects to stay on the 600 mg a day.
However, it wasn't only the 5-HTP that made the difference, it was also the fact that I finally acknowledged, and took to heart the fact that I was going to be living with depression for the rest of my life. What also made the difference was that not only was I not going to let depression ruin my life anymore, but that I also wasn't going to hide the fact that I had depression anymore! I also decided that I wasn't going to be ashamed of my depression and that I was going to let other people know about it and how I had changed my life. I hoped that by being open about it I might help someone else, and might help remove a small piece of the stigma that depression carries in some people's minds. Depression is a medical issue, and, in my case, it was caused by a chemical imbalance, a low level of serotonin. I am not saying that 5-HTP will work for everyone as it did for me, but it can't hurt to ask your doctor about it.
Taking control of my life and my depression was and is a wonderful thing. I no longer have this huge weight on my shoulders and I never will again. I let the light in, and I am glad.
I am not a Doctor and I am not prescribing anything for anyone. I am simply stating how I got control of my Depression and how I am able to move on with my life.
Just the fact that you can talk openly about this is proof that what you are taking to combat depression is working for you. I have to say that I am so proud of you for not only recognizing the problem, but standing up to the doctor and working together to make sure the doses aren't causing you further problems. Well stated, very timely, and most importantly, this is likely to help someone else see the light. Stay well, my friend.
I am also not a doctor, but I have known several people who have suffered throughout their lives with depression, and It is, indeed, a medical condition, along with many other medical conditions, which seem to come with some sort of stigma.
No one should be ashamed of having a medical problem, no matter what form it takes.
I have friends who are on "The Spectrum" meaning some form or another of Autism. There should be no shame associated with having an abnormality of any kind. It is not your fault. We are all different in one way or another. We need to find the balance between the problem and the solution.
Please, folks, for heaven's sake, don't make fun of or belittle anyone who seems different in some way. Treat them the same way you would want to be treated if the circumstances were reversed.
TSL has taken a giant step toward beating depression. We all need to let him know how proud we are of him, for making the effort to improve his life condition.
Take a few minutes and let him know how you feel and give him as much support as you possibly can.
Support, love and affection are just some of the things that we all need to one degree or another.
Above all be there for TSL and anyone else you feel might need your help.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
I sent this piece out to my Beta Readers and received some very relevant feedback. I am including that feedback with no identifying information. Once you have read the feedback you will see why I have included it:
First, congratulations on a lot of aspects... admitting you had a problem, admitting the problem was permanent, and finally, for doing something about it. I've been living with depression since my early 20s. Panic attacks started a few years later. So, I'm well aware of what you felt like. So, congratulations! It is a real triumph.
Second, thanks for mentioning what helped. I've never heard of it before so I'm going to do some research as well. My doctor and I tried for years to get me straightened out. Every medication I tried worked to a greater or lesser extent. But with me, all the SSRI's have a side effect that no male wants. I'd rather be depressed than to live without sex.
We finally hit on an old medication that worked and didn't have the side effects. I thought I had won the lottery. Between that and Xanax for my panic attacks, I did pretty well for years.
Then came the news that both of the medications I relied on came back linked to an increased risk of dementia. This was not too long after mom developed dementia, maybe a year or two. Seeing first-hand what it does, I weaned myself off them. I do still have the Xanax, but it's got to be a whopper of a panic attack for me to take one. I probably take one every few months.
Hearing about what helped you gives me some hope. So, thank you for writing this and being open about your struggles. You might have just handed me the tools to break out of mine.
Thanks for writing this.
Bravo my friend! For the progress, you have made and for being so proactive. Depression is a very harsh mistress to have to live with.
I also deal with it and have been fortunate to be able to keep on a fairly even keel. But as you know, it can be a daily struggle at times.
Hugs and warm thoughts.
Thank you all for reading and remember to Let The Light In!
I would love to hear what you think of these words please drop me an email to The Story Lover, I respond to every email.