Firstly, I must caveat the shit out of an article like this. While I do not want to discredit any of the information below, it is of vital importance to seek professional help if you feel that you are in too deep.
Consult your medical professional and mental health professional before taking any decisions.
Secondly, while I am not a big advocate of the ill-considered way modern medicine is prescribed or used, anti-depressants do save lives. They are often the first port of call for psychiatrists or doctors who feel their patients are at risk, and in the age of instant gratification (although these are not always instantly effective), this can provide a numbing of the thoughts and ideation a causing despair.
The intention is to provide an opportunity for the patient to explore what it is that they are struggling to integrate, yet many people resign themselves to a lifetime of this medication.
It can become a dependency in the way that ‘addictive’ drugs are used to find a place of solitude where the mind is no longer in the driving seat. Addiction is a place of comfort which we revert to when we cannot face a part of ourselves. It ranges from taking heroine, to over eating, drinking coffee and even over socialising. It can be anything.
In the case of anti-depressants, they become a place of reprieve from our dangerous thoughts and associated feelings, and for many, we dare never to venture away from this place of comfort. As any recovering addict will attest, it is a lifelong journey to fill that void.
That being said, there are a scary number of psychiatrists that liberally prescribe these to patients over and over without due consideration, or providing alternative options. Frankly, these are some of the most unworldly and underqualified people to be privileged to help those in their most desperate and vulnerable time.
While psychotherapy can be one of the most powerful processes to deal with depression, this space is also fraught with therapists who are not brave enough to make the journey with you. They focus on creating boundaries to protect themselves (rightly so), yet their fear prevents them from holding a space for you to explore your fear. That being said, there are plenty of good psychotherapists, and you may have to kiss a few frogs to find the one which provides the right space for you.
The journey to feeling ‘normal’ again is not easy. It takes courage and a strong support network. It requires time, energy, honesty, and various positive attachments along the way, such as hobbies, mindfulness exercises, retreats, a good therapist and social activities with positive people. This should be the warning on the label of anti-depressants.
What is depression?
There are numerous causes, symptoms and emotions related to depression, but the big one is incongruity. It is a feeling of loneliness caused by your ideas being abnormal on the backdrop of your environment. It can be triggered by friends, family, media, or whatever. It is an interpretation of this cruel world because our soul’s desire is so out of whack with our ego (experiencer). Sorry to get all hocus pocus, but I find that the world of psychiatry is often so devoid of spirituality, it is difficult to engage with patients on any level other than how the binary manual of the DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)dictates.
Finding Your Way
It is a long journey in finding your passion, finding your people and understanding how your thoughts are being misrepresented and ultimately facing your demons.
So, if you truly feel helpless then take the pills, because they could save you. But whether you do or do not, find a damn good therapist to help you understand your soul’s desire and build your ego strength, because magic potions wear off and you will need a bright torch and a big sword for this journey.
The way back is not about finding your way back to a previous iteration of your world view, it is to equip yourself with the resources to defeat the big boss at the end of this level, so that you can begin a new chapter.
We have practical ways of doing this, which are not limited to talk therapy and medication, but developing a stronger somatic connection with oneself. To feel how this issue is affecting us and to use the body to to release it. When we talk about it, we feel all sorts of sensations whether they are tightness and pain from holding it in or release through sharing this truth with another. When we dance, do sport, yoga, receive massages we learn how to release these psychological knots and thus develop resources to face these issues in future.
It is excruciatingly difficult to take that first step because it means leaving a place of comfort, but you are here to face that challenge and take that step. It is your hero’s journey.