Fighting the Darkness

I don’t struggle with depression. I know many who do, but that’s just not my constitution. (As Rhett Smith writes, male depression is more common than you might think, and it’s often masked by other, harmful lifestyles.)

For a couple years, around my divorce, I took an anti-depressant. I came off of Wellbutrin over two years ago, and I haven’t felt the need for any medication since.

However, there are times when various aspects of my life collide and collude — both personally and professionally — that lead me feel depression-like symptoms. Today is one of those days.

Of course, my life is good. My kids are healthy, and my marriage is better than I could have imagined that marriage could be. But both personal and professional struggles have — at least this week — gotten me down.

Nevertheless — or, better yet, even in the face of this sadness — I want to take a moment to thank you for reading this blog, for engaging with my ideas, and even for being friends through this strange electronic medium called the blogosphere.

Coming off an Anti-Depressant

Almost exactly two years ago, as I felt my personal world falling apart around me, I was having some trouble getting through the day. I met with my physician and told him that I felt like my head was in a fog, and it felt heavy. I couldn’t think straight, and I was having a hard time concentrating. I asked if he thought that I would benefit from an anti-depressant, and he said yes. So he started me on Buproprion (Wellbutrin), and I’ve been on it since.

I can’t say I noticed an immediate change in my outlook on life, but I’m sure it’s helped. I’ve supplemented it with therapy, spiritual direction, and a wonderful web of family and friends.

And now, two years later, I’m weaning myself off of the Bupropion over the next week, starting today to cut down from two pills per day to one.  I do feel some anxiety, of course, because I have no idea about the real chemical differences that the pill has made in me, and how my body (and brain) will react to the absence of the medication.

One thing I am doing this week — along with my spiritual director and another person who is dear to me — is rereading The Chemistry of Joy: A Three-Step Program for Overcoming Depression Through Western Science and Eastern Wisdom by Henry Emmons.  Using new-fangled Western brain chemistry research and old-fashioned Ayurvedic typing, that book gives amazing guidance about what type of body and brain you have and how you can manage your sleep, exercise, and diet patterns to do the same thing that a prescription anti-depressant does.

For instance, if you suffer from a norepinephrine/dopamine excess, you should eat differently than if you have a shortage of those brain chemicals.  And if you happen to be an Ayurvedic “fire type,” like me, there are certain ways you should pattern your sleep and exercise that are more soothing and healthful (since fire types are not prone to slothful depression but anxious or even angry depression).

I imagine that quite a few readers here (many of whom I count as friends) take or have taken an anti-depressant, so I thought I’d share my journey and invite you to share yours…