Monday, 26 July 2010

Happy Pills

If I had a million dollars in the bank I don’t think I would have to take the antidepressants. I don’t. But I do have a wife and family and house that I love and would very much like to keep around me, so I take the tablets. Their purpose is to get me functioning again as quickly as possible in order to maintain those things that are important to me. They help restore my Serotonin levels and maintain them while my brain repairs the damage to my Limbic system.

Depression is difficult. The first thing the doctor says is take a break, get away from what is causing it so you can see the real world again. But how? I reached this point at them end of six months (at least) of gradual worsening which if you are self employed like myself means six months of your income gradually eroding away, bolstered at the time by using any savings as you try to maintain normality, not knowing what is wrong with you . . .

So here I sit, my doctor empathises with my situation but cannot help. Take a break he says. So I do, for a week, thinking in my all knowing way that I can manage.

It is not enough. As soon as I return to work, even part time now I immediately plunge back into the dark depths again. But worse because although my mood has bettered with facing up to what is happening and with taking the tablets, the anxiety that was always in the background takes over and I end up pacing the house at six in the morning, looking for an escape route and making plans to sell the house just to pay the debts. And so I end up back in bed hiding yet again.

When I resurface, reality hits. This is more serious than I would admit to, I am forced to look at my priorities, to pay the bills now or to take time to recover no matter what the consequences. I decide to take a proper break, to rethink things, to plan properly, to begin recovery.

This is the time that you thank God that you have friends and family.

So with the encouragement of my boss and work colleagues I plan to take three weeks off as soon as can be arranged (in a couple of weeks). I take out a loan to finance it, Nicola takes on more work and I borrow from my mum as well.

Now I can start to look within myself for the answer. Now that the tablets have helped me recover a little, I can hear that small voice in the back of my mind telling me this is the way to go, this is the path I should take.

You may have the most wonderfully luxurious penthouse in the most beautiful part of the world, but unless you are happy within all you are going to look for is the nearest window to jump from . . .  

Matthieu Ricard

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