Beating the Beast

 

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I cannot exactly remember when the first feelings of depression settled on me. I do know that when I was 16 I was actively suicidal and had planned my first exit from the world. It was a Friday night, I had smuggled into my room my motherís sharpest kitchen knife and all the medicines from the house and had hidden them under my mattress.

It is a fairly long story but I was saved that night through a strange set of circumstances. I was fuelled by anger and I resolved to not give-in to the black depression. I also resolved that night to never ever talk to anyone about the feelings inside of me and to never trust anyone ever again.

There were many things that happened in my life after that night and depression became a very familiar enemy, my thoughts constantly plagued with thoughts of suicide. Depressionís claws coiled tightly around me and I spent the next 15 years battling the beast.

My life became fairly chaotic as I tried many things to distract me from my own inner pain and turmoil. I kept running, too afraid to face myself or the demons that were chasing close behind me.

In addition to the depression that had gripped me I fought a battle of self acceptance as I tried to come to terms with my own sexual identity. My biggest breaking point was when my mother disowned me and declared that she no longer had a daughter. Life lost all sense of value and meaning and I was overwhelmed by strong feelings of rejection and self hatred.

In an attempt to start to face my own demons and find myself, I packed up my life and relocated to a new town far away from my family, friends and the person I loved. I started to slowly try to analyse the path my life was on but the method of introspection I did, was done alone as I still would not allow anyone close to me. Looking into the mirror of who I was as a person, I was filled with a deep self hatred. I lost all hope that I could ever be free from the deep despair that overwhelmed me and slowly gave up on all of my unspoken dreams. One by one as they tumbled, I quietly broke inside until there was nothing left of me. I gave up.

Suicide became the most logical answer.

I attempted suicide twice in the space of 6 months. Both attempts were serious, one left me in ICU for a week. I remember the intense devastation of waking up, knowing that I had failed and had to continue living.

I was not referred to anyone for professional help after either of these attempts but out of sheer desperation, I sought help from professionals. The assistance I received was limited to monthly check-ups and I was told to go onto medication. I was highly sensitive to medication and couldnít tolerate the side effects. After consulting with various professionals I eventually gave up seeking help and became convinced that no one could help me. I became convinced that depression was my lot in life and I continued to live a very hollow existence.

I was lucky I had a friend who slowly won my trust and continually challenged me not to settle in the place I was in. About 6 years had passed since my last suicide attempt and she begged me to once again look for professional help. She knew my darkest moments were beginning to take their toll once again and knew that if I didnít get help I would not be able to live through the depression.

For a long time her pleas fell on deaf ears until one day I decided to give it one last try. I told her that this would be the last time I would ever try to seek help from a professional. However the difference this time to all the other times I had sought out help was that I was desperate and completely broken. My friend found my therapist for me and I committed myself to weekly sessions. The first few weeks were not very productive as it took me a long time to establish a sense of trust with this new therapist. I observed her closely and remained withdrawn. I seldom offered any information unless asked and frequently the session would pass in silence.

My therapist recognised the depths of my despair and requested that I consider going onto medication to help stabilise my mood. For a year I refused. Due to my previous bad experiences, I was insistent that medication did not work.  She eventually became quite firm with me and told me either I went onto medication or she would have to cease all of my sessions. My depression was too dark for her to be able to work productively with me. She referred me to a psychiatrist.

It took 2 months for me to get an appointment with the psychiatrist. I will never forget that first appointment. She refused to allow me to go home and admitted me straight in to hospital. She was concerned that starting medication would trigger my suicidal feelings.

For 3 weeks I was in hospital and subjected to several medications. The side-effects I experienced were violent and unpleasant. Eventually, after much trial and error, a drug was found that I could tolerate. The drug worked for about 4 months and then, it stopped working. It was during the 4 months that this drug was effective that I found Beating the Beast. It became a safe haven for me, somewhere I could safely be who I was without fear of judgement or retribution.

But the grips of depression began to defeat me again as the medication ceased to be effective. I couldnít deal with the depression that consumed me and began to withdraw from the world again. My therapist immediately knew something was wrong because I started to cancel our appointments. The Psychiatrist also knew that there was something wrong because I had not returned to get a repeat script. I became a danger to myself and was readmitted to hospital.

Once again I was on the road to find medication. I was very sceptical and did not believe that my depression would ever be controlled with medication. I merely followed the road because I was committed to the process that my therapist and I were following and did not want to risk her cancelling our sessions. She had made it clear that she could not work with me unless I was stabilised with medication. Again, several meds were tried until finally they found one I could tolerate. By the time the right medication was found, my medical insurance had run out and I was left unmonitored. For the first time in my life I had a medication that worked effectively and lifted my energy levels. Unfortunately, my energy levels were lifted before my mood changed which resulted in me becoming actively suicidal again. This time was more dangerous than all the preceding events and I planned my suicide for over a month.

I took an overdose of a large quantity of medication that I had stocked up over several months. I was found by my neighbours, delirious in my house. I do not remember much of that evening. I remember someone shouting ĎWe are loosing herí. Apparently I nearly lost my life that night. Medically no one can explain why I am still alive.

That was 9 months ago. I am now on a different medication and was closely monitored during the initial 4 months. The medication has definitely helped stabilise my mood and for the first time in over 15 years I am not plagued by daily suicidal thoughts although there have been many times that I could have given up in the last 9 months. Many times the road became too difficult to walk but I had a very faithful and loyal therapist who really stood by me through those very difficult times.

I have also slowly learnt how to trust again and am learning how to face the challenges that I once used to run away from. I am learning how to accept myself and dealing with the deep issues of self hatred. I remain in therapy and have made several lifestyle changes which include following a healthier diet and exercising. I am prepared to remain on medication for as long as required. My fragmented relationship with my mother is also slowly starting to heal.

One of the biggest things that have helped on my road to healing is the support I have received from this internet community. I stumbled upon the site in a night of desperation and slowly began to reach out to people whose names I did not know or faces I had not seen. In some of my darkest hours, there was always someone else willing to offer support and able to understand. It is through this community that I have once again learnt to trust and open up. I have learnt that I am not alone and as much as I am supported, I am able to offer support. Many of the people that were once strangers have become very valued friends and being here has helped me to start to heal my damaged perceptions of the world.


 
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Revised: 01/26/07.

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