Tomorrow will be my two-year anniversary of being on an anti-depressant. Not even six months into this course, it was upped from 50mg to 100mg. I was diagnosed and prescribed medication 12 weeks before I started my actual dosage -- I didn't want to be 'that guy' whose mind was in such a place it needed medicating.
I returned to my doctor and told her that the pills I'd been prescribed were making me nauseous. A lie. I lied because I was embarrassed about how I thought. I lied because the doctor was right; my mind was unwell and I did need this medication.
Six months into the prescription I returned again because there had only been a small nudge in how I was feeling. This, too, made me sad. It made me sad to think that I was that unwell that I needed more medication. The only time, prior to this, I have told anyone was when I told my psychologist. She helped me be honest with myself.
I can now be honest with you.
"Why does it make you sad?" she asked.
With furrowed brow, I replied, "What do you mean?"
"Well," she said, "how does taking extra medication make you sad? Is it an effect of the medication or is it something that you feel?"
It was something that I felt. It wasn't the medication. I just didn't want to be 'that guy'. It was in that moment I realised that my own perception of depression was negative. I had let the stigma in.
She said to me: "Dameyon, big deal you have to take a double dosage. What does that actually do to your everyday life?" She was right because the answer was nothing. Huge realisation. Massive. It was also my first on the road to wellness.
Getting well takes time. Patience has been a very powerful virtue for me. Having depression meant that I had to let it exist in my day-to-day life. So, rather than fight it, I talk to it. But don't listen to it. Plus, seeing a psychologist helped a lot. I was also diagnosed with having anxiety. She gave me tools for both.
What triggers my anxiety is a lack of self worth; a feeling that I am not good enough or a belief that I am of limited value. One of the tools she gave me was, when I am feeling this way, to imagine eight people I look up to and who are positive people in my life. I am to picture them in my mind, standing in a circle, surrounding me. Good people equals good vibes. It worked -- in the short term and now in the long term. I no longer take meds for it on a regular basis, but I still have some on-hand to take the edge off in some circumstances; crowds, large meetings or meeting lots of new people at once. But that now rarely happens.
One of the other tools I have added to my toolkit of wellness is that, before every meeting, I stand with my feet shoulder width apart with both arms out above my head. I raise them in the shape of a 'V' for 30 seconds and let the endorphins rush though my body. You should try it.
You should also try getting a deep-tissue massage. Regularly. Feels wonderful. I also have a list of things that I make me happy. This includes walking my dogs, going for a swim, doing nothing, couching it, and going see a movie.
My masseuse and her husband are also owners of a CrossFit gym. In the second half of 2015, I visited her every two weeks for about three months and during that time, I guess from the chatter, I had gained so much knowledge from her about eating well. She doesn't eat processed foods. Regularly seeing her made me feel very comfortable about actually going into a gym and then sitting down with a personal trainer; her husband. We do some one-on-one personal training time. He's also now my nutritionist coach.
On January 3 this year, I too stopped eating processed foods. How did I know which food to eat? I simply Googled them. Within a month I felt better, I'd lost weight and the skin on my face felt clean. It is shocking to think how much junk gets pushed out through your pores because of eating processed food.
The personal training isn't arduous, nor time consuming. One-on-one, 45 minutes at a time, two or three days a week. We haven't touched the weights yet, it has been all about movement and heart rate. Oh, and maintaining that non-processed-food living.
I'm now okay with having depression. But it took a while and I have a few tools that help me live with it. These ways may not work for everyone, but I hope that by reading this it gives you hope that you can get better. I remember when I thought it never could.
Three days ago, I renewed my prescription. In a month, I am going to ask to reduce the dosage. I feel great, and so does my mind.