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Friday, October 1, 2010

Review of My Book Depression is a Choice

Posted by: Jonathan  in My Journal
I stumbled A. B. Curtiss’ sbook  DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE over the weekend. While I merely read through what was available on Google’s book thingymabobber (that is sweet!), I think I was able to pick up some powerful thoughts. At first it threw me off kilter as the author really views a lot of modern day treatments, especially medication, as being unnecessary (for most) and perhaps the easy way out. There is a lot in her book that I can relate to. She explains how depression is still very much alive and present in her life. 

Each day she wakes with the haunting feeling that depression has the potential to overcome her. However, she fights back. She claims that by taking action, and especially by having an emergency action plan in times of stress, you can do the work vs. do the medication. I have to agree with her. Even as much as I’ve “allowed” depression to control my life, to make me feel like a victim, to have so much of my life be consumed by depression, I realize in weird yet liberating way that it has all been a choice. Perhaps a defense mechanism? 

Maybe “depression” was a retreat from the pain resulting from life experiences and events of which I didn’t have the tools to deal with. I allude to this thinking in a book that I’m (unofficially) working on. I can trace a lot of the early stages of my depression to times in my life that I was faced with adversity and didn’t have basic life skills to process it. Nor did I unfortunately, “think” I had a network of family, friends to help me understand how to process it.

Curtiss never denies the reality of depression. And I’m not saying that medication doesn’t work and may in fact be required for some folks to function. I’ve experienced the good times on medication myself. I’ve also experienced the horrors of meds. The times I felt like my skin was crawling as I lay wide awake, jittery, anxious in the middle of the night. 

That’s what SSRI’s always did during the first few weeks anyway. Then there were the times when I was (actually) banging my head against the wall because I was overly medicated and most likely suffering from serotonin syndrome.Then there’s the flat line episodes where it seems like all my feelings are just dead. Seems like, and this is from inconsistent and short-lived commitments as I’ve admitted in my early posts, the best times on medication come after the first few weeks and during the few days during which I ween myself off.

The interesting thing about Curtiss’ book is that she doesn’t deny the reality of a chemical imbalance in a lot of depressed people. However, she claims most of us have the power to balance our chemicals, our neurotransmitters, by taking corrective, healing action and thus fighting back. She even goes so far as to claim that even in my darkest moments of depression, the times when I was flat on my back in bed for days, if someone would’ve forced me outside, would’ve forced some type of action into my existence, that could only lead to a positive impact on my “chemical imbalance”. 

I agree with her on this point as well. And this is coming from someone that understands the horrors of having to get back home after dropping your child off at school so you could lock the door behind you because the world outside was just too damn overwhelming. I’ve experienced panic attacks from anxiety and the extreme lows of depression. So I have room to comment.

I can’t even tell you how I found Curtiss’ book. Just from taking action. From fighting back I guess. But I’m grateful I did. It’s helped me feel less helpless, less victimized. It’s forced me to take ownership of the darkness and find ways to bring Light into my self. While I admitted it was jolting at first to think that a lot of my own despair over the last few decades has been a choice, I can see the truth in it and it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t all very real, and very gripping. What “was” has “been”. Now it’s time to learn from it and become a stronger person from all my experiences.

Maybe I’m able to ascertain and accept a lot of this thinking as I’ve actually been committing to SAM-e for what is nearing a month. That thinking oddly enough sort of goes against what Curtiss claims. That our mind alone can heal itself, can balance the chemicals, put Humpty Dumpty back together again I guess. For now, for me, I’m sold on a natural, long-term, comprehensive plan to help heal my self. Right now that means sticking to SAM-e, exercising every day for 30 minutes (currently walking on the treadmill and it feels great…exercise has proven to be THE single most powerful healer for depression!!), reading/researching (books on depression), writing, talking (with my spouse, with family, friends…

I’ve made my depression official on my facebook page!), eating healthy (low to no sugar, complex carbohydrates, proteins in every meal, almonds for a snack, legumes…I’m a VERY picky, very health-conscious eater), sticking to a sleep schedule (up with the sun, to bed by 10pm), and the list is getting longer (I’m looking into light therapy(pun intended) and maybe infrared sauna!).

Yes. I know what you’re thinking. I’m high maintenance. And, well, I can’t deny that thought. Part of me wonders if it just wouldn’t be easier (and less expensive) to treat all this the conventional, Western way – pop an antidepressant a day and make the depression go away. Maybe? Maybe I’m too damn stubborn to admit that I may be one of the few that need to be medication…and forever at that? 

Then I think back to what A. B. Curtiss proclaims and I’m calmed enough to know that I have a choice. It’s my choice to take a course of action. And I’m confident that if I commit to the more “natural” choices (medication free), I can find balance, harmony, peace and joy in my life again!

Today I pray for acceptance of all the parts of my self. That others will always learn to know, understand and embrace the good, bad and ugly parts in life. I pray for direction, for wisdom and clarity.

1 comment:

nike said...

Thank you for writing what you did. I am too ready to read more posts to take the time to articulate exactly what I got out of your post but I think I felt hope, commonality and "Yeah" to us who are fighting depression naturally!