Armed & Ready to Fight Depression without Medication

19 days and counting since my final dose of Pristiq…

The idea of depression returning scares the crap out of me and rightfully so. The last time I experienced major depression I couldn’t stop the distorted voice in my head telling me I’m worthless and unintelligent. The incessant anxiety caused agitation and irritability, my sleep was overrun with worry and I lost interest in pleasurable activities I normally enjoy. Combine all of that negativity into a not-so-nice bouquet called “Life sucks and I want to die.”

Could depression be lurking behind the next corner? And if it is, how can I prepare for its attack? I need to bring in the artillery to fight this enemy called depression. I will recognize the twisted thinking because it appears out of nowhere and sounds like no one I’ve ever known telling me things I don’t deserve to hear.  I’ve got to prepare myself for the invasion in the hope of not getting knocked down this time.   Hmmm, where to begin?

I wish it were as straightforward as erasing that one area.  Too bad I can’t push the backspace button or use some white-out correction tape. I could have a gun standing by and shoot the first time I hear my thoughts telling myself you suck and no one likes you. I do feel prepared for an attack, with my finger on the trigger ready to fire. But, what would I shoot? It’s not the kind of tangible object that I can obliterate into non-existence with a gunshot.  If only!

The U.S. National Library of Medicine says the exact cause of depression is not known. Many researchers believe it is caused by chemical changes in the brain. This may be due to a problem with your genes, or triggered by certain stressful events. More likely, it’s a combination of both.

Going with the NLM theory, last time I suffered a major depressive episode (or more aptly put — fell into the depression shit-hole) is presumably from early experiences with childhood sexual abuse and brain chemistry. What went wrong? My parents were hard-working, God-loving, middle-class liberals – they didn’t ever (intentionally) tell me I sucked. I had a couple of brothers who, at times, were annoyed by their little sister but sibling rivalry is normal. What’s not normal is my oldest brother who sexually abused me between ages 8 to 11. 

Healing depression without medication requires me to go back in time and discover the weak links in my brain. I’ve already done a great deal of therapeutic work around the abuse itself (through individual therapy and group incest survivor meetings) but this next step is going to be more expansive and not focused on one event in my life.

 I consider myself a perceptive person and I sense that early trauma caused a reaction during stress that was useful back then but is no longer effective. Here’s where I go deeper, believing my subconscious kicked in and, during the abusive years, blamed it on me so that I could get along within my family and social group. If you’ve ever read psychoanalysis, it’s all about our conscious and unconscious minds. My ego is getting in the way of healing because I’m so careful about keeping up protective shields that had a purpose when I was a child.  Instead of appropriately expressing disappointment, anger and frustration I turn on myself – retreating back to a learned response of self-blame so that others will continue to love and care for me. In childhood this is a survival technique for abused children who live with danger and insecurity. Sadly, we blame ourselves instead of those that wounded us. As adults, this old mental schema is counterproductive and I must understand how those ways are hurting me and then learn to transcend them.

Thank goodness I have a therapy appointment on Saturday. I’m not under any false illusions that I can do this work on my own. I may be good at digging through the ruins but I need a professional to help me re-build. This time, I hope it will be without antidepressants. ♥

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