Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I have beaten Depression.

Mental illness is one of those subjects that people don’t talk about or even admit to in polite company. It is time people’s attitude to mental illness changed, especially given the large percentage of us who will suffer from depression at some point in our lives. The brain is just another organ and if the chemical levels within it are disturbed then it stops functioning properly.

My Story of Mental Illness

For the past year and a half I have been taking SSRI medication for depression. Today is my first day totally off the tablets, though I have been weaning myself off them for the past three months.

The past year has been a tough one, especially with my brain less than fully functional. This is the first time I have actually wanted to write in two years.

If you are suffering from Depression I hope this will help you.

January 2011

I was totally down after Christmas, worried about losing my house and with no idea how I was going to make it to the end of the year. The doctor prescribed an SSRI drug called Lexapro, which helped me to cope.

I could not bear the thought of meeting people, even family. I was unable to concentrate was plagued by what I call “short thoughts”. Short thoughts are horrendous. My mind would skip from topic to topic and I was unable to formulate any meaningful thoughts about anything.

I was stressed by doing newspaper crossword puzzles because my mind would not work for me and come up with the answers.

I was told to exercise, though this has now been discounted as a treatment for depression. I could not work up any enthusiasm even for gardening and life was very difficult because we had a daughter and her family living with us for three months over the summer

Late 2011

As the year progressed I became used to the tablets and regained a lot of functionality, though I still avoided social situations like the plague. I was able to think again. I started doing Sudoku puzzles for brain exercise, gradually progressing to harder ones. I started working online seriously again, though as an editor rather than a writer.

By Christmas I thought I was cured, but stayed on the tablets, just in case. I can see now that I was still a long way from normal at that time. I thought my brain was working again, but in retrospect I was only about 70% functional.

Coming Off the Tablets

I went across the water to England to see my parents a few months ago and forgot my tablets. I was concerned at first, but as it turned out it was the best thing ever. I took no Lexapro for three days and felt better for it, though I was irritable at the end of it.

This gave me the courage to reduce my daily dosage and, now, to come off them completely.

I can multi-task again. I have “long thoughts” again and my concentration is much better.

The tablets were a necessary evil. I could not have survived the past year without them; but I am really glad to be off them now.

Now

I am buzzing again. I need a 25 hour clock, even though I am working three times more efficiently than when I was ill. I can now do six hours of solid creative work, followed by another eight of more mundane tasks.

I want to exercise again, walking local country lanes, mostly, though with gardening thrown into the mix.

Tomorrow

I only plan one day at a time and no longer stress over anything. Being laid back is a very healthy way to approach life.

I do have long-term plans, both to write at InfoBarrel and to work on my own sites, but I just do what I feel like doing as each day comes around. As long as I am doing something productive I am happy.