I’ve struggled for 15 years with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). It started off being a mild case of each, but over the years they’ve both become severe and limited my ability to function as a human being. I began taking an anti-depressant and found that it didn’t help much, so I tried another and then another. Anyone who has taken one knows the hopefulness that you start your dosing with- is this the one? Will I finally get some relief? The truth is they don’t work for everybody and some people need more than a pill to get better.
A Better Period
I found that the time in my life when I should have felt the worst (when my wife was going through breast cancer treatment), I managed my depression really well. In hindsight, I recognized that it was my disciplined exercise schedule that helped me, not the anti-depressant. Without running, I would have been a useless ball of anxious depression, unable to help my wife and kids when they needed me the most. I kept it up after she beat cancer and I was able to function at a pretty high level at work and at home.
The Inevitable Slump
Feeling better did not last and I slowly slipped downwards over the next few years. I changed meds again, with no luck and finally decided that my depression warranted Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). I did 24 procedures and felt better for a short while, but nosedived amidst some family stress and decided it was not for me. Suicidal thoughts crept in more and more and I added meds to try to fight them off. Every day was dreadful and I retreated to my bed to sleep it all away. My anxiety fueled my depression and if I could avoid it by sleeping, I thought it would help. Desperate for some help, I turned to ketamine infusions a year or so after the ECT. Ketamine is an anesthetic that produces a mini-trip when given in the dose intended for depressives. I did feel a bit better after a round of 6 infusions, but I dipped back down again into the darkness and did not pursue further treatment. Hopeless and dreading each day, I was overwhelmed a few months ago and I did something I promised my wife I would never do: I attempted suicide. I took 100 pills of my medicine that was intended to calm the restlessness from my anti-suicidal ideation medication. I thought that would be enough to stop my heart beating and end my life. I was wrong and I instead suffered terrible tremors, then vision problems as I stumbled through the house to let my family know that they needed to call me an ambulance. I was whisked to the hospital and given multiple charcoal doses and a few hours later I felt fine. I was so lucky. That is when my reckoning began.
Where I am Now
I went to a Mental hospital for a week and realized I’d terrified my family and let everybody down by taking those pills. I also found out that I wasn’t serious enough in my approach to fighting my depression and anxiety. I needed discipline and nerves of steel if I was going to stick to my new plan- lots of exercise, talk therapy, and endless positivity. I had a lot to make up for with my family: broken trust takes time to rebuild. I am working every day on that and truly hope that I can do it. I am happy to say that nearly 3 months on from my attempt, I am doing well and not having too many bad days. You can get better, but you have to know it is a day-by-day process with no shortcuts. Reach out to family, friends, doctors, and therapists when you need help. I did not and nearly lost everything.
In a crisis? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text “NAMI” to 741741