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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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