When you live with depression and anxiety it’s difficult to know which expert to believe.
Firstly, this week I have to thank every one who responded to last week’s blog on emotional dreaming. (Click here if you haven’t read it and want to.) Believe it or not, the feedback you give me is very special and I value your contributions highly.
If you’re a regular reader of The Diary you may have got the message that I’m strongly aligned with the theory that clinical depression and anxiety are most often produced by a biochemical malfunction. It’s not that I don’t believe there are other causes it’s just that in many cases it seems the symptoms cannot be controlled by “rational ideation”. My feeling is that if you can think yourself into depression and anxiety you should by all accounts be able to think your way out!
It’s this opinion that I believe leads to the community belief that depression and anxiety are “manufactured” illnesses that could be eradicated by telling someone to buck up. That once all our faults and misgivings have been pointed out to us we should be able to see the error of our ways and get on with being “normal”. It’s possible this is where some of the stigma associated with emotional illnesses is founded.
I talk to a lot of people who are living with depression and anxiety. And, for the most part, they fall into one or other category of believer. It distresses me to think that there are people who will not consider medication or stick willingly to a medication that is clearly not helping them when so much can be done to help them.
In my own experience it took 12 months of trial and error before finding the right combination of medications that put me back on the horse. It was a stressful process as I was introduced to and then weaned off medication that generated varying degrees of side effects and effectiveness. However, I was able to maintain my commitment to the process by understanding that my body chemistry was “out of whack” and needed tweaking.
I can hear all the counsellors and psychologists out there getting worked up by believing that I think medication is the only way. Well you can all calm down again because I’m fully aware that some of us might be the product of poorly learned coping mechanisms or even a misguided perception of ourselves. It might even be that we make incredibly poor life choices that leave us exposed and vulnerable to emotional illnesses. And in this way an amount of Freudian based talk therapy could be a good option for resolving inner conflict and maladaptive behaviours.
However, whatever our reason/s for becoming depressed and/or anxious the feelings we endure are generated within our own organic self. Whether they are learned responses to external influences, conceived in traumatic circumstances or we were simply born this way, how we feel is directly linked to the chemical activity happening inside us.
Frankly, those who have never had to endure the debilitating effects of anxiety or been overwhelmed by a desire to kill themselves, might feel that antidepressant medication is a cop out. And it might be easy to imagine that if we just stopped thinking about “it” or did “something” differently we might be able to “get over it”. But then again, maybe some help from a specialist (not just your GP) and some perseverance to find the right treatment will help readjust the settings and provide a whole new way of living.
And, just in case you were wondering, this is not medical advice. Your illness is unique to you and there is no one size fits all treatment. Go beyond your GP and seek out specialist advice.
From Shakespeare’s McBeth: Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon her heart.
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
Read more of Deb’s BLOGs about living with depression and anxiety click here.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)