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As one who is currently experiencing the darkness of clinical depression, it gave me great hope to read that "We are not in a place to find spiritual enlightenment when we are in the throes of this illness." To keep searching for it only leads to further discouragement.
I had two bouts of major depression in my 20's was "well" for over 20 years and then had another bout after being with my mother through a grueling battle of cancer that ended in her death. I did not use medication in my 20's. I meditated, exercised and ate well. The depressions painfully ran their course, and not without leaving scars.
I decided to try medication this past time and was pleased with the result. After 20 months on Paxil I chose to go off the meds, sure that prayer, meditation, exercise, fish oil and maybe a little St. John's Wort, were all I'd need to stay well. After my best friend died of cancer (another grueling period of grief) the darkness returned with a vengeance. I am now trying to get stabilized on another medication.
My brother, who also has spent time with the black dog, describes depression as teetering on the edge of the Grand Canyon. "I just want to get a little further from the edge," he says. (We lost our sister to substance abuse probably due to self-medicating.) At this point that is what I am looking for in this apparently family disease-- a way to get a little further from the edge.
It does bother me when people imply that medications are not necessary. I spent four months trying the no-med route, convinced that my efforts would tame the monster. I tried everything only to find myself teetering closer and closer to the edge. I finally took a lesson from my diabetic husband. While exercise and a healthy diet are essential ingredients in controlling his diabetes, without insulin he would be dead.
As my brother states, "Some of us have a hole in our bucket and it drips faster than we can fill it." A dear bi-polar friend says, "I look forward to taking my medication. It allows me to live the life I love."
My heart goes out to all those who suffer. Never give up.