Year in Depression Treatment

Friday, 17 February 2017


Last February after years of resisting going back into treatment for depression I finally decided that continuing to suffer due to stubbornness was no longer an option. So now a year later even though my mental health is definitely not perfect there is a noticeable improvement. So here are some thoughts a year later, on depression and seeking help.

I was 16 when I first started taking antidepressants, even though my symptoms were growing for years before this is when they became a serious issue. I'll be turning 28 next month and looking back there is a difference between how I handled it as a teen to now, I was definitely more dramatic with my sadness this was probably intensified by the hormonal mess we are in adolescence. During the early years it was hard to figure out in my own head that I was depressed or if I had a congenitally misanthropic personality. I have the general  thought that the thing that kicked off my emotional degradation was finding out at 13 that my dad was terminally ill (a story for another time), however since then I have learned that many members of my family suffer with this as well, so there is likely a genetic link.

So at 16 I was taken to the GP then referred to a psychiatrist who tried me on various different medications. Starting with Fluoxetine, then Citalopram, then Sertaline with the mood stabiliser Depakote thrown in at some point, I felt like I was just testing out the whole pharmacopoeia and nothing was working. Still feeling crap I was sent to counseling, I did one whole session before swearing it off, this was mainly because I felt the guy running the session was patronising, but maybe that was just in my head who knows.

By the time I was 18, and getting fed up with not seeing any improvement from the medication I decided to stop cold turkey. This was one of the most physically uncomfortable experiences I've ever had, firstly there is nausea and fatigue but like things weren't hard enough there's the "Brain Zaps". Brain Zaps are such an odd experience and happen at random during withdrawal, the best way I can explain it is that it feels like an electric shock starting at the back of your head that shoots through your brain towards your eyes, and can be very disorientating. Lowering the dosage of these medications slowly minimises these side effects but being the dolt I am I stopped from the highest dose (Citalopram 40mg if memory recalls).

Around this time my symptoms started to seem less dramatic and the daily dread of depression was more subdued and I started having occasional fits of ill advised self-medication (another story for another time). It's extremely hard to describe depression to anyone who hasn't experienced it, I kind of see it like a dull ache in your thoughts that occasionally stabs you with a thought that makes the pain worse. The most common things I felt were guilt about my past even if it was imagined, lack of motivation, fear of people I love getting hurt and ashamed of who I am. At some point during the 7 years in-between my treatments the sadness became a companion that I felt safe, something like a comfort blanket that I could hide away in. The fact that I tend to philosophise about sadness, grief and pain only exasperated this, even though I was under the assumption that if I thought about these things long enough I'd have an epiphany that would cure me.

However this tactic is a self defeating one, and in January of 2016 was when I had enough and ended up going to the doctors. Jemma had actually been trying to get me to seek help for years but being depressed can sometimes equate to stubbornness especially when my previous experiences with treatment have been sub optimal, and I know dealing with a depressed Gary can be extremely frustrating. Since then I have been put on Venlafaxine (currently 150mg daily) and we noticed improvements straight away. Venlafaxine is a different class of medication that I have previously tried and is only offered if other medications aren't working, also it's generally only given to over 25's so I couldn't have taken it during my original treatment anyway. The medications side effects were the worse I've tried with nausea and jitteryness but after the first week these died away and the benefits were the best out of any meds I've taken. I also tried CBT with less success but it's not for everyone.

Now a year later I'm far happier and more optimistic about life. However there are days when the meds don't work and I'll spend the day in misery. But its a process and I'm trying to get better at managing my symptoms and it is working; even if progress is slow. One of the things that still amazes me is how varied brain chemistry must be, for me to try all these different medications before finding one that works. That's my journey with mental health treatment so far, now all I have to do is stay strong and continue to strive for better mental health. 💪

~Gary

7 comments :

  1. Keep on going strong! As a fellow depressed teen/ now late 20 something, I see a lot of me in this... Hope things keep on looking (mostly) up!

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    1. Thanks! Hopefully things will keep going well.

      Thanks for reading
      ~Gary

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  2. I am so so proud of you, every single day 💖 I know it must feel like a never ending journey, but you're doing so well.
    Love you xx

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  3. as a teen ... I was definitely more dramatic with my sadness

    Beautiful line, and so, so true. I'm glad you've found a regime that works for you. It's worth it if it gets you up in the morning and allows you to be the best person you can be.

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. Yeah I feel the same. For a while I had this weird disdain for taking meds, but now I realise I was just being stubborn and they do work.

      Thanks for reading
      ~Gary

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  4. i'm glad things are starting to look up & Venlafaxine is working for you, it's interesting that not one medication works for everyone or dosage. Fingers crossed everything keeps looking up, definitely helps with someone supporting you through it :).

    Missa
    beautyandthelittlelady.co.uk

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    1. Thanks :)

      Yeah I always think its odd how only Venlafaxine has worked for me. It just goes to show how different everyone is, I suppose that's why there are so many different antidepressants.

      Thanks for reading
      ~Gary

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