On May 16, 2006, I awoke at 3 a.m., experiencing the horrific outcome of having crashed on one anti-depressant a few days before and now crashing on a second anti-depressant I was prescribed after the first. The cumulative effects were a panic attack so devastating that I did not recognize myself in a mirror and confusion so severe that I didn’t even have the wherewithal to commit suicide. It lasted for four hours. I kept a journal during my five years of depression and still do. Here is the entry for that day.
Today was the day I lived only by the grace of God. Yesterday in Plymouth with Phil I had my worst
attack to date. It even alarmed Phil, a doctor. That attack lasted two hours. But, oh, oh, this morning was the worst attack of all. It lasted almost four hours. It terrified me that it would never end. I grasped the Cross of Jesus and cried out to Him. I walked four times around the block at 3 a.m. because I didn’t know what else to do. My stomach was in excruciating pain; I was under an oppressive malaise. I was afraid for my life – that my system would shut down as happened to a good friend a few years before. I came to understand why people commit suicide, but I was too far gone to even do that. I couldn’t think out how I would do it, my mind was so distorted. Then it lifted at 7 a.m. At 8 a.m. I called the clinic and was prescribed a benzodiazapene and told to stop taking the latest anti-depressant I was on.
How can I ever be the same? I can control nothing. There was nothing I could do or think of say. Only by the grace of God did I survive.
My depression had started in 2005, but I didn’t start taking medication until May of 2006, and so started a season of my life where I was desperate for my depression and anxiety to be managed by medication or anything else, and sometimes wondering how I could go on one more week. A psychiatrist I went to see after the two horrible experiences with the wrong anti-depressants made my life hell with what he called a “witches brew” of different drugs that put me on a roller coaster of emotions and well-being – sometimes being mildly depressed, sometimes in major depression. There was no consistent baseline until I switched psychiatrists and started a road to stability that had me off medication by the spring of 2010. I have now come out the other side of the black box of depression that I was in, and blessed to be a blessing to others through the writing of Too Late in the Afternoon: One Man’s Triumph Over Depression, writing this blog, and coaching those who are depressed and those who care for them. It has been a long road of healing by incorporating the tools I have learned for my body, soul, and spirit. I had doubts that I would ever become better, but I did. And so can you, but it’s hard to do on your own. If you can find a coach to manage your depression and help you learn the tools to become stable, you can come out on the other side as I did.