I would suggest you look into cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT. I am amazed at how successful the drug industry has been in creating the illusion or delusion that only drugs or chemicals can help a person with depression or anxiety. I thought the same thing for over 30 years because that's all I had experienced which had worked for me. Thats' what my psychiatrist had put me on initially over 35 years ago, so that must be all there is to help, I reasoned. In 2000, at the age of 50, I changed doctors in order to try different meds to see if I could find something to help me become functional again. I had lost my job due to my illness in 1997 and wasn't working at this time. Life just always seemed to be harder than it should be for me and I had struggled with depression most of my adult life. After a year and a half of trying 7 different meds I was emotionally exhausted and needed a rest. I had found one med which worked about as good as the ones I had been on for a number of years, but none really was anymore effective than the old ones, so I went back on the familiar old ones. None of the meds got me anywhere near fully functional and feeling good. I was very desperate for an answer.
In late 2000 I had come across a CBT home study course and had begun to work with it. This was new to me. I had always known that my thinking had something to do with my problem, but didn't realize how much and didn't know how to change it. Over the next three years I gradually began to improve thanks to learning about myself and how I thought with the help of the CBT course. I learned how to change how and what I thought. Exercise also became a critical component to my recovery. I began jogging/walking 3 miles a day 3 to 4 days a week. I finally reached the point where I wanted to try to re-enter the work force after 7 years of not working. MY sleep cycle had been messed up big time and I didn't know how to solve that problem. In January 2004, I went to work the first day, not having slept the night before. But over the next couple of weeks my sleep cycle gradually kicked in. I did stay up all night a couple of more times before it started working for me however. The job was seasonal so after a couple of months I was out of a job again and didn't find another until returning to the same work in late December 2004. At the same time I picked up a job through a temp agency and began working part time for both businesses. I had to work through the sleep problem again the same way, by staying up all night again or most of the night due to not being able to go to sleep, but my cycle kicked in again as it had before. This was the perfect time for me to become fully employed. I was feeling great and working 55 hours or more a week was good for my self esteem. I'm still working full time.
All of this happening was simply by trying. I didn't know if I could do it or not. I simply tried each day to do what I needed to do. I'm not completely free of problems. My old thinking habits try and resurrect themselves at times and I have to go through the same process I did initially to get past them. But, CBT has worked better than meds for me and I guess I am as surprised as anyone. I'm still on a low does of anti-depressants. But, 22 months ago I was able to go completely off of anti-anxiety meds I had taken for 27 years and in the same time frame my anti-depressants have been reduced 70%. I owe my recovery to CBT and to exercise along with the help of meds.
What I have learned is that our thinking creates emotions. Healthy thinking creates healthy emotions and unhealthy thinking can make us emotionally sick. I also believe that thinking can create and change brain chemistry. I haven't read a lot to support this, but Dr. David Burns believes this also. He's authored several books on CBT which have become widely used by therapists to help their patients. They are available for very little cost at your local bookstore.
Post Edited (Bryce) : 8/13/2005 8:53:58 PM (GMT-6)
I want to thank you for taking the time in getting back to me, and sharing your story. I am happy to hear you have beat this! I am 43, and have gone through many years of extensive counseling: Humanistic, Behaviorial, 30-40 self help books, Talk therapy, and CBT which I am all for as I have touted this kind of therapy to several acquaintances and friends. My Mother also had depression and I feel I inherited it from her.
Like you I am all for CBT. It helped me greatly - for example, I used to think of myself and describe myself as "a loser", "worthless" "unable to keep a job" "unable to keep a relationship" etc..etc. Dr. David Burns CBT workbook that a counseler suggested helped me a great deal, and I no longer refer to myself in those terms. However, no matter how much therapy, self help books, etc - unfortunately, it has not removed the depression. This is..unfortunately..where the meds come in. I don't like them either, and I am saddened that the SAM-e I have been on for so long, is no longer working. However, I need to be on something, because it is the only thing that takes the horrible pain and despair of depression away, so that I can function. Thanks again for writing. I am very grateful.