When I was 18 years old (around 2001) I decided to get help for depression, I had felt it building up since my mid-teens and I reached a point where I was growing concerned for myself. I felt that I had possibly the symptoms of some form of clinical depression, I was finding life very hard and I found very little joy in almost everything. I was very worried that I would find it impossible to navigate my life with this crushing feeling.
I saw my local GP and he immediately wrote me a prescription for Fluoxetine. I had really no knowledge of mental health and medicine at this age but I had heard of PROZAC before. It was a medicine that had permeated through to popular culture and was a house-hold name.
I had good faith at the time this medication would positively impact on my life, the doctor seemed quite assured that the medication would meet my level of depression and provide efficacy to ensure a sense of well-being.
The internet was not as wide-spread or as detailed as it is today but I looked up how this would affect me. The science was understandable and clear. The way this medication would work was that it would keep serotonin inside the synaptic clef and eventually promote an over-all feeling of well-being that would lift moods. It was the first time I’d ever been introduced to the way serotonin works. It all seemed logical and fine, I felt a sense of optimism that there may be a solution that works for myself.
About three weeks in to taking Fluoxetine I disclosed to some friends that I was taking anti-depressives. I wasn’t quite prepared for how taboo this was. People were shocked! Remember my peers of this time were all 18 years old, they had probably only heard this drug being used in reference to people who couldn’t take it anymore or more mature burn-outs. Some friends immediately advised me to cease taking the drug and urged me that I didn’t need it. I was a bit angry at this reaction, I was fairly closed at this point in my life, I didn’t really want to disclose openly that I quite frequently felt acute moments of absolute despair that almost seemed sporadic.
After about two months I noticed my moods hadn’t changed. Some friends disclosed that I seemed worst if anything. I had been feeling a lot more tired since taking the medication, almost everyday I overslept and often didn’t feel like getting out of bed on my days off. So I decided to go back to my doctor to have a chat about whether or not this was right for me.
The doctor detailed to me that it didn’t seem to “work for every for everyone” and he recommended that I go see a counsellor about my ongoing negative moods and depression. This really began a process of frequent disappointment.
I had the belief that there was going to be some outcome at seeing local mental health services. That I needed treatment and simply treatment would be provided, same way when you have a broken leg or another illness – however this was not the case. It was an ongoing gauntlet of frequent disappointment, huge gaps between almost meaningless interviews. It didn’t begin the process of any well-being. If anything it promoted the idea that I was in someway helpless or my efforts to want to get better were futile and I would have face the future feeling constantly morbid and upset.
It was a real struggle.
I had no awareness at the time that mental-health services were known back then as the “Cinderella service” (meaning poor-sister). They were over-burdened and simply didn’t have the time and resources to provide any form of treatment to those who were experiencing mental anguish or anxiety.
This was 16 years ago now.
Things have changed.
It’s gotten MUCH WORSE.
Suicide rates are soaring https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/19/number-of-suicides-uk-increases-2013-male-rate-highest-2001 in the UK.
Funding has been cut dramatically
Drug deaths are increasing:
Services are being axed:
The question one has to ask:
“Am I really going to get treatment from the government?”
The answer is:
“Almost certainly NOT”
It’s a bitter pill to swallow but I urge serious caution to those with faith that a service they are trying to access because they’ve paid tax is still there or provided at all.
A mother and her daughter petitioned the local services over 100 times to get help in dealing with mental health issues, however they were willfully ignored and even ridiculed. This reaction resulted in her daughter taking her own life:
I personally believe that treatment services in the UK should be transparent and admit they simply cannot provide effective services anymore to everyone who needs them. People sit endlessly on waiting lists waiting for some resolve or treatment to their problem they feel like they may get through this method but they won’t get it. It fails countless amounts of people. Everyday I work with huge volumes of people who lost years of their lives in agony, anxiety and doubt trying to access decent treatment they wrongly assumed was provided by the national insurance tax contributions they have made.
So you may be wondering, “Okay, what do I do with this? Where can I get help?”
- I’d advise anyone with the resources or money to get help immediately through private means, such as rehabs or personal 1:1 counseling.
- If you are struggling with substances, then you must see an addictions or drug and alcohol counselor/coach. Addiction is a primary issue, without that being arrested your benefits from therapy will be marginal.
- Make sure your therapist is goals driven, you need to ask about where the therapy is going and what you hope to achieve.
- Seek help through the internet. Often these groups can be free to attend. Check for local support groups such as NA/AA/OA/GA, SMART recovery and for depression the Depression Alliance http://www.dbsalliance.org
- Books! There are loads of self-help books out there, they can be a great way to start and refresh your perspective on life. Try the self-help section of your library, bookstore or look on amazon.
- Youtube – There are some really great youtube videos online, these can be incredibly simple but can really start to help you refocus.
I’d urge caution around self-reliance. If you could rely on yourself maybe you wouldn’t be struggling. Self-help books are different because they guide you and give you instruction on how to address your life.
To note, I overcame my own personal depression through vigorous amounts of CBT and reading loads of self-help books.
-Written by Dylan Kerr.