I am always saddened when hearing the myriad of stories about the ease with which GPs in the UK put patients on prescription drugs for ‘depression’. In a 10 minute appointment, with no physiological validation, supportive counselling, strong suggestions of sunshine, exercise, sleep, or complementary lifestyle change… anti-depressants are dished out with little follow-up, clinical observation or real therapy. I shld know. I am what used to be called a Manic Depressive.
People around me, feeling low, blue, sad, tired, lazy, or just experiencing what we call life, instantly given pharmaceuticals instead of being allowed to cry or not cope, really scares me. Those tiny daily little white pills have kept me alive. Literally kept me alive at times in my life when the chemistry was so fucked up I didn’t want to be here. I know my triggers, my patterns and I know how to ask for help. Many people who suffer crippling Depression do not. But to just hand the drugs out like candy… this, this continues to perpetuate so many assumptions and ideals about our society, conceals and misrepresents, promotes such dangerous messages. And this makes me sad.
You are lucky if alternatives work for you – finding a peace however you attain it is precious. In some people, Depression is not curable. It is a permanent state, managed carefully. There are pathways that do not function properly. There are incredibly important chemical imbalances that sniffing ginseng wont help.
I am in no way advocating that pharmaceuticals are not a solution. Far from it, sometimes they are the ONLY fix. However, I do believe that as a society, expectations, pressures, shitty days, crappy periods in our lives, sleep deprivation and lacking basic serotonin should be managed first, with real thought, support and holistic care (not alternative but holistic in the 360 management sense).
Critical or acute Depression is dangerous and requires instant response – these are not the people I am talking about. There are some incredible drugs available that keep people suffering from the most severe manifestations of the disease alive. Every day.
It’s been a condition I have lived with since my early teens; possibly linked to hormonal changes back then… very likely a predisposition (genetic). It manifested itself in my ‘unnatural’ desire not to “be here any more”. My triggers? Seeing the grotesqueness of humanity, the cruelty and the destruction… I remember crying inconsolably watching Hillsborough on tv. And never recovering. I’ve had a few serious infrequent periods of Depression since then, not many… but they have included hallucinations and attempts to take my own life. Luckily I have the wonderful, productive, soaring ups sometimes too. My Depression feels very different from the shitty, heartbreaking, frustrating, bits of life that we all feel, process, work through, heal, and learn from…
And that numbness? The nothing that accompanies ingesting anti-depressants on a daily basis? Horrible. I’d rather my heart ripped out and feel all of every second of it and know I will live through it than that creeping invasive numbness. I would rather feel the pain and the gut-wrench falling, and the loss than loose myself in the stupefied zombie existence of the drugs. If I have a choice.
My recent experience has been incredibly difficult… I went from lots of shitty days to days that scared the shit out of me, and I had to ask for help. The exhaustion of not letting other people know my struggle was a learning I shall remember.
And yes, there is definitely a piece about society allowing people to ‘not cope’, to ask for help, to not always be at their best… to want to ask the world to stop for a bit. All of us know someone who needs to just be given permission to breakdown and it be ok. Perhaps it is the loss of the extended family, or the pressure for us all to function ‘high’ 24/7. Whatever it is, we need to make it ok for people to not be ok. It’s a crappy world. Love sometimes isn’t enough, sunshine, exercise… may not be the answer. But the pharmaceutical response shld always be the last resort.