My three year torment with depression, hope is on the horizon

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I'm nearly 42 years old, and have never bothered with any social networking sites let alone disclosing extremely personal information on a public forum, however as a sufferer of depression I would like to share my experiences for the last 3 years.

I sincerely hope that my story will provide some hope, and understanding to other middle aged men, who like me barricaded themselves in with their depression in fear of expressing weakness as a result of being unable to live with the illness.

I had been employed continously for just over 22 years, when I experienced some life changing social stressors, which ultimately diversely changed my life.

Back in November 2011, I suddenly lost my "job for life" as a result of the recession, and at a time when employers were afraid to employ.

This ultimately led to instant financial ruin, which resulted in my house being repossessed, and me and my family became effectively homeless. Just when I thought that things couldn't get any worse, I lost my mother suddenly at the age of 59.

This was when the depression hit me, and it hit me so hard. I had always been mentally strong and this whole situation was alien to me.

I had never bothered with going to my GP, because I was always too busy, yet I suddenly found myself at my doctors breaking down, and being diagnosed as suffering from depression. At that time I was completely unaware of depression and other mental illnesses, and just thought that I was suffering from sadness.

My doctor kick started me with medication, Citalopram and Mirtazapine and I awaited my recovery.

I found myself falling deeper in to the dark hole of depression and before long I was taking Citalopram 40mg daily and Mirtazapine 45mg, I was also being prescribed Codeine Phosphate 240mg daily for arthritis.

A few months after my mother's funeral I hit rock bottom, and I ended up with my very first suicide attempt. This was totally out of character for me, but I was at the stage where I had just had enough. Every hour of every day was a complete struggle and I just wanted to be with my mother.

This suicide attempt completely shocked my wife and three children, and I will never forget the look on their faces when I woke up in hospital.

Unfortunately my suicidal ideation didn't stop there, and to cut a long story short, I have made 6 serious attempt to end my own life. I wholeheartedly believed that my family would be better off without me.

About 18 months ago, I gave up alcohol completely, although I was never a big drinker, the occasional few drinks would lift my mood, but then as quick as I was lifted, my depression kicked me down even harder making suicidal ideation sound good.

Coming up to recent times, about 6 months ago, I decided enough is enough, it seemed like the antidepressants were only prolonging the illness and even after months of mental health therapy and seeing psychiatrists, I realised that I was not getting better, but worse.

I had never been out of work, however I have desperately tried to get back into employment for this last year, but I have been struggling so much and unable to hold down a basic job. I have had 5 jobs so far and am currently unemployed again. Doctors told me that getting back into work would speed up my recovery but it certainly has not.

If anyone who is suffering from depression, had tried to get back into work whilst maxed out on medication, hopefully you will agree that it is certainly not easy, or good for recovery.

I realised that I needed to take drastic action, I desperately wanted to save my life and my marriage from the destruction of my depression.

About 6 months ago, I felt a sudden urge to return to church, which was surprisingly out of character for me. I am clearly guilty of falling away from the church and only last attended when my wife and I got married 12 years ago, although we have been together for nearly 25 years. My family thought I had lost the plot, but I found comfort for the entire service, and for the 40 minute service I felt a release from the depression. It was somewhere that no-one knew me nor judged me.

Coming up to the present day, based on my determination in an attempt to salvage my life and what is left of my marriage, I made an abrupt decision to go cold turkey on my medication. I had been taking Citalopram 40mg, Mirtazapine 45mg and Codeine Phosphate 240mg, for nearly 3 years and no longer felt human.

I can honestly say that I am starting to feel better every day and definitely feel like I'm on the road to recovery, for the first time in 3 years.

I know that health care professionals will not agree with this, but I am taking back control of my life.

Have I been experiencing withdrawal symptoms? Yes, really bad for the first week, especially the brain zaps.

Is it worth it? Yes, definitely

For the first time in 3 years I'm am starting to feel normal again, I have so much more energy and my memory is getting back to normal. Going cold turkey of your medication is not for everyone, however I think with the right level of determination it can be done.

I didn't want to go through another 18 months of withdrawing gradually, and I am confident if I take the right measures, eating good brain food, exercise etc I will be fully recovered a lot sooner. In addition to abruptly going cold turkey on my medication I also went on a three day fast at the same time to allow my body and brain to adjust to the changes.

I definitely think that stopping the medication and doing a 3 day fast helped me to get over the first few hurdles of withdrawal successfully.

I had tried to stop my medication a couple of time before, but found myself back on them after 3 days because of dependency on the drugs. This time though is the last time, I am completely focused and I am driving forward every day, feeling better.

I think that the only withdrawal side effects that are really bad, are the brain zaps. If I knew how agonisingly painful it is 3 years ago I would never have started taking the antidepressants. One thing I have found that helps with a bad bout of brain zaps, is listening to some music with ear phones.

The other bad side effect, was withdrawal from the mirtazapine, which for those of you who take it, will know that it knocks you out to sleep every night. I found that after the first week of going cold turkey, I was suffering from complete insomnia which left me absolutely exhausted after the first week, however I had read that ZMA is a good supplement, and now I sleep fine.

As sad as it sounds I look forward to the next day, knowing that I am genuinely getting better.

On a separate note my emotions are getting better, and I am now able to watch a sad movie or listen to sad songs without bursting into tears. It wasn't that long ago that I had to drive the car with the radio off, because if even a slightly sad song came on, I would burst into tears and at times uncontrollable.

I hope that my story will be of some inspiration or hope for the many other middle aged men out there, who like me are afraid to speak out.

Speaking from personal experience, men suffering from depression view it as a mental weakness rather than a serious illness, and actively choose to barricade themselves in with their depression, and "pretend" to their close family network that they are "okay".

I wish all sufferer's of depression a speedy recovery, so they can get back to normal life. God bless

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  • Posted

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story so openly and honestly. I think you are so very brave! It's so inspiring reading how far you've come from all that you've been through. I'm sure everyone who's suffering from depression will appreciate you sharing your experiences, not just middle aged men. It's so wonderful hearing that you're getting better! Keep up the great job and thanks again for sharing! xx
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  • Posted

    Hi Darren, Thank you for sharing your story. I am happy for you that you have finally given up on the medication. I do beleive in the long term it can cause many more problems than it solves. Clearly you have had a difficult time with losing your job and for a man who cannot provide for their family it can feel like failure, even thou this was not your fault. Jobs are no longer for life like they used to be. You suffered financially because of this loss. Your other loss revolves around

    losing your mother at such a young age, not what you expected. You also lost your home. I am glad that you didn't suceed in taking your own life as from personal experience it leaves so much pain behind.

    My husband like you a man, had depression and anxiety, he couldn't talk about it and was on lots of different medications. He finally took his life at the age of 28 i was 29 with 2 young daughters. We were left with shattered lives, i lost my home too. We never got over it. ( how can one ) but have learnt to live with it. This is why your story resonated with me. Like you said when you woke in the hospital you saw the shocked faces of your family.

    I also suffer from depression and anxiety but everyday i am thankful to God that i have my 2 daughters and now 2 grand children. They keep me alive. My sadness is that my husband has missed out on seeing his children grow and not having the pleasure of his grand children. It is sad for them to, my children missed out on a dad and my grand children are missing out on a grandad. So no matter how hard life gets i beleive in hope, i have a family that needs me.

    So thank you again for sharing about your feelings and emotions, i hope more men will talk and not be afraid to show how they feel. It's is not a weakness. 

    All the best for your future happiness.

    Elizabeth. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your kind words.

      I can honestly sympathise with you and late husband, and I have a pretty good idea of what his mindset was when he decided that he only had one way out.

      Please continue to be strong, and I have no doubt that you will all be reunited soon in Heaven, where you can all have eternal life, and free from the pain and sorrow of this messed up world.

      I urge anyone who is taking or considering taking antidepressants to do some research on the long term permanent damage that can be done to the brain, as a result of taking ssri medication.

      These drugs are not intended for long term use, and doctors don't care about the side effects, and the extreme levels of suicidal ideation that these drugs create.

      Sadly the majority of people who commit suicide were dependant on antidepressants.

      Take care

      Darren

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    • Posted

      Hi Darren, Thanks for your reply. I became a christian 15 years ago and believe in heaven so yes hopefully one day we will be reunited. I agree anti depressants long term are not the answer. Talking therapies, counselling and relaxation tecniques are better.

      Elizabeth.

      smile

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    • Posted

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Upon reflecting, I really wish I could have spoken openly to someone about my problems, but my gp insisted on putting me on antidepressants, and because of my current state of mind I foolishly agreed.

      Antidepressants have effectively destroyed my life, marriage and family, and I don't know whether I can repair some of the damage that I caused.

      Had your husband been able to speak openly about everything he was feeling, without being judged, he would still be with you.

      I pray for your family to be reunited in heaven

      Goodnight God bless

      Darren

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    • Posted

      I returned to the church too.  I was so emotional though, in tears, and started an Alpha Course which also proved too much emotionally.  When I calm down enough, God will see me again.  He called to me and said he wanted me to go to church, but mentally I am not strong enough.
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    • Posted

      Hi Anne,

      Although you don't feel mentally strong enough to attend church, out of all my progress I would insist on sticking with it.

      When I return to church, it was extremely stressful, I had just moved to a new area, and knew no one but I one day found the strength to go in.

      I started going to the quieter early morning weekly services, which definitely helped.

      I now attend every Saturday evening without fail, and I get a massive release from the depression.

      The start of my progress plan, was to give up alcohol altogether as it just hindered my mental health recovery. Then once I had got past the first four weeks without alcohol, I then focused on my return to church.

      Take care

      Darren

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  • Posted

    Well it is not just men who do the same with depression!   I am glad this all worked for you and I hope it continues.

    We are not all at the stage where we can be proactive and I wish it was as easy as you make it out to be.   

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    • Posted

      Hi, Please don't misinterprete my story as it is not clearly aimed at middle aged men, but everyone.

      I know that any men out there, or sadly widows of men who took their own lives because of depression, will be able to understand.

      It's not about being at a proactive stage, and I'm not saying it is easy. I have considerably shortened my story as I don't think that if I exposed the full extent of my suffering publicly.

      I have taken drastic measures to fight back against depression, to save my life and marriage.

      It is by no means easy, and I know that my pain and suffering from withdrawal will be short term.

      Anyone who has tried coming off their medication will know how agonisingly painful it is at first.

      Good luck with your recovery

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    • Posted

      In addition, I know that a lot of people (mainly men) avoid the subject of how depression and antidepressants can seriously cause sexual dysfunction, something I have never spoken to anyone about.

      I have spent the last 18 months sleeping downstairs on the settee because I have simply lost all ability to function sexually.

      And to make matters worse, people are not aware that this dysfunction could be irreversible.

      I have suffered so much for the past 3 years, and rather than expose everything publicly, I leave it to you fellow sufferer's to fill in the blanks. There are no mild forms of depression or easy ways out unfortunately.

      You either fight back, or let the disease continue to bring devastation in your life.

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    • Posted

      Hi Hypercat, I don't think Darren meant it that just men suffer. He was talking from a mans point of veiw that men can but not always find it difficult to open up and ask for help. Years ago men wouldn't talk about their feelings and emotions, it was seen as weak and a stigma. Fathers used to tell boys men don't cry. People now a days are encouraged to talk more and open up. Darren was talking about his own experiences and about how anti depressants have affected him. We are all here to help and encourage others. Darren didn't make it out to be easy, it took him several years to come off the meds. Don't take what he says personally. I know that you give lots of support to others here and thank you for that. 

      I wish you well in your recovery and hope you continue to receive and give support to others.

      Best wishes .

      Elizabeth. smile

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply Darren.  I worded my reply clumsily and I am sorry. 

      The points I were trying to make were that it is not just men who won't admit to depression because it makes them feel weak but many women are the same.  

      I did the proactive thing in my late 20's/early 30's and it helped a lot at the time.  I think it can be a lot more difficult when you are older (I am 60) because there are more painful things to look back on and more regrets.  

      I have learnt some things cannot be changed and the struggle to live with them and accept them is a large part of my depression.  I take meds to help me live with these and without them I wouldn't be able to function so well.  I have accepted that I will always be depressed and I concentrate on damage limitation.  Proactiveness is not always a full answer to curing depression.   x  

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    • Posted

      There's no need to apologise, what I have learned is that both men and women suffer from different levels of depression.

      You are certainly no old at 60, and as I revealed in my story I lost my mother suddenly at the age of 59, and still feel like I was robbed.

      I thought she was super woman because she suffered from two severe brain haemorrhages, in the space of 5 years and bounced back. Then before she was taken from us, she went on to hospital with a suspected chest infection and within the space of a few hours we were informed that she had pneumonia in her lungs, admitted to high dependency unit, and unfortunately we had to let her go.

      One thing that has always stated clear in my head, are the words "don't dwell on bad things that have happened in the past, and leave the past in the past" which my mother always spoke.

      And do you know what? She is completely right, if we constantly dwell on all the bad things in the past what chance to we ever have of moving forward.

      Life is so very short, therefore please don't admit defeat and accept that you will always be depressed.

      Kind regards

      Darren

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    • Posted

      Oh I lost my mother last year too!   

      Don't get me wrong Darren I don't dwell on the past - I live in the present.  But unfortunately my present is a result of my decisions in the past and limitations which I have to live with daily.  

      I am not accepting defeat but rather the reality of the situation as fighting against it only makes me unhappy.  By accepting and understanding myself as well as I do I can find some if not happiness than contentment.  I can not nor am I willing to put myself through any more counselling - I wish only to survive in a relative state of happiness until my natural end.   I have had too much trauma and pain in my life and I am tired.  Not sure if you or anyone here can understand that.   x

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