10-27-2003, 12:05 PM
On a Sunday afternoon, my parents informed me that it was time for our family to leave the beach and head for home. I remember a profound sadness, a hopelessness, the knowledge that, even though there were good times in life (like going to the beach), those times, for me, were always in opposition to the way I usually felt: hopeless, tomorrow would be worse than today, and that good times will always be overshadowed by the bad.
I was six years old.
That was my earliest reccolection of being depressed, and I lived with that my whole life, but I didn't know that the way I felt wasn't "normal" until I was 32 years old. When I grew up I tried everything to make the hopelessness go away: drugs, alcohol, religion, cults, psychotherapy, self-improvement programs. None of them worked. I never believed I would kill myself, but I also never believed that life would ever be worth living.
During a therapy session in 1993, my therapist suggested I try a new drug called Prozac. Within a week or two my life changed profoundly. I believe that what this drug allowed me to do was realize that I could choose to feel however I wanted to feel about a given situation. It was no longer an unavoidable fact that tomorrow would be worse than today. I could choose, rationally to decide how I wanted to feel about something.
It has been ten years. I still sometimes get down. And, I've tried a few times to not take the meds, but I wind up where I was ten years ago. It took me a long time to realize that this illness is not a character defect, but a biochemical problem, one that I will deal with forever.
Don't be afraid to take your medicine. And once you've realized you have a problem, that life isn't supposed to be that way, work on it forever. It is worth it.