Drugs, Doctors and Depression
Let us be gentle to ourselves. Utter pointlessness can develop into depression. Not the "depression" of a bad day, but the illness that means we cannot regain our function. This is not a thing of shame. It is an illness. It happens. It could even be one path of progression to health as we deal with the life draining futility, or the abuse, of our situation. It is perhaps often the healthy response of the saplings of our minds, bending in winds of circumstance that are too strong. I would rather this than the brittle wood which simply snaps.
Drugs are scary, but not bad. A common wisdom is often that they clog the mind and anaesthetise the soul. Friends talk of living in a fog, and have sought desperately to get off the things. Yet I am alive because of drugs.
It can take time to find the drug that works. Our illness can mean a length period of "getting better." Drugs are not instant. They may not be the only thing we need to be prescribed. I am alive because of drugs. Those I hear decrying them are ignorant of the savagery of depression, or denying their own needs.
A good doctor who has some age and life experience is who I would trust to prescribe me drugs. What does an affluent, high achieving 26 year old, fresh out of medical school know of a life which has lived through love and death?
I would not trust a doctor who I felt did not take me seriously. I had a friend who went to the doctor with a severe problem which was strangling her life. She came away with a prescription. after that first 15 minute visit. This seems to me to be reprehensible behaviour by the doctor.
By contrast, when I was too sick to work, Bruce Martin finally grabbed and shook me by the mental shoulders: "We've given you time. We've done all the right things- you've walked your legs off. It's time now to be gentle on yourself and try something else."
He worked with me. He respected me. And so I could trust him.
Follow your doctor's instructions. Never just stop anti-depressant drugs cold turkey. Don't even wean off without advice and support from the doctor. If you trusted your doctor to start taking these things, trust them about how to stop!
Don't listen to some jumped up priest, or counselor, who doesn't really know what they are talking about! You would not trust your pastor to do your appendectomy; why trust them for your brain medication?
Especially don't stop your drugs because you are starting to feel OK. I had two friends who "just stopped" under this sort of advice. One is lucky... she had people watching, who caught her each time ,as things spun out of control. Not so the other... dear, kind Toby, struggling on his own, is dead. He just stopped.
Avoid suicide. I seriously wondered if everyone would be better off without me. But seeing what suicide leaves behind, I know I was wrong about that. Suicide is never really a relief for family and friends- it is only an escape for those who did not love us anyway. There is no coming back. There will be no relief, for we will simply not be... and our problems will remain for others.
If it seems taking drugs is a weakness, or wrongly introducing chemicals into our body, ask a question. Do we drink tea, coffee, coke, wine... even tap-water? Do we eat processed food? Most of us do. We consume multiple drugs and chemicals without a second thought. Why would a drug which can make us well, somehow be off limits?
Finally, a thoroughly theological statement:
Life is meant for growing and enjoying, despite all the crap! God wants the good for us. It is not simply OK to go to the doctor, or a counsellor, and seek help. It is good. It is the responsible, christian thing to do, for it takes the gift of our life seriously!