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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dave shares about Anti-Depressants

When I was in hospital, I heard the uncontrolled weeping from 'a solid citizen,' who had an extremely well-paid job, in a profession I can't recall.
Anyway he looked the type of man who had his act totally together.
But his sobs echoed around the slumbering ward eerily.
It was 3 o'clock in the morning!
When he got up, I nodded his way. He returned my greeting-with a wordless nod.
He knew I kew he had been crying.
I wouldn't say we became friends during his stay - but we talked.
He told me he had been on scientific expeditions to the polar regions.
In fact, he had done much of the organising.
The man was in his mid to late 40s.
I could see he was used to control.
As I got to know him better ( we were both in-patients at a private psychiatric hospital ) he puzzled how he had suddenly lost control of his life, felt depressed,very depressed...and,finally, his shrink admitted him to hospital.
As well as being a semi-retired journo, I have studied mental health at TAFE.
The mind has always fascinated me since I was a kid...and when I started having 'mental' problems,I wanted to "brief" myself on what was going on.
My TAFE lecturers were very good and I came away with a clutch of certificates and a fairly good understanding of why people get depressed, suffer from schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD-my own mental groove), alcoholism (I've been there,too), substance abuse and the list goes on.
The bloke got better, his wife looked less anxious, and he left the hospital before I did.
He was on anti-depressants and they had obviously kicked in.
But,I will never forget his utter puzzlement why he had suddenly got depressed.
As I said, he had been in the driver's seat all his life.
Then,something snapped.
It shouldn't have happened-well,not to a man like him.
But,at the end of the day, he's human:not God.
We are all hard-wired to experience a plethora of emotions,so the experts tell us.
Darwinians even say getting depressed is a mode of survival.
It pulls you up, makes you rest your tired mind and body (the two can be interrelated) - so you can continue the "good fight."
In a perfect world, I guess there would be no need to take pills.
No need to raise serotonin levels in the brain.
No need, in fact, to mess around with brain functioning - at all.
But, science has discovered that the brain gets 'unwell'-just like the body.
Anti-depressants are a fix-albeit relatively primitive.
But, taking them is better than going crazy... suffering an affliction that can be worse than physical pain.
Some people come to rely on anti-depressants far beyond their 'by-use' date.
That's not good.
But, at best, they can be life-saving at a particular moment in a person's life.
Hopefully, the depression won't come back after a course of anti-depressants.
For some people it won't.
But,others aren't so lucky.
And then there's the stigma.
You've got depressed and are taking medication - instead of having a few beers to chase away what some mates may just consider having "a bad day."
That's also the worst...the stigma.
We become secretive, scared of letting the boss know-even our wives,closest mates.
We attempt to bottle it up.
But something always gives...
Thankfully,as a nation, we are waking up to what is an illness (usually not terminal).
Politicians like Jeff Kennett are "outing" themselves now.
Maybe it's because Australia only has a small population - but being a Pommy migrant, I have noticed that Australians are a lot maturer than other western countries in "owning" up to problems and doing something about them.
I got treatment for booze & depression quite early in my adult life-in Australia.
I know it would not have happened in the UK and not be subsidised by my the age of my treatment.


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