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One for the men out there. Friday March 7, 2014

I'm pretty sure I’m announcing nothing new when I say that many of us men are often foolish enough to want to tough out, ignore or play down pain, whether it’s physical or mental.

Now I’ve been blessed with a certain amount of intelligence, but clearly not enough to recognise the degree to which I was falling out of sync with ‘normal’ life and stop the downward spiral of depression that’s gripped me in recent years.

I’ve done everything I can to avoid anti-depressants for no other reason than I saw it as failing.

In place of taking a little pill I did a lot of things to try and make me feel better – therapy, mindfulness (good) drink, smoke, gamble (not good).

It really hit me in early January, kayaking in the breathtaking Waikato river, with the woman I loved and had not seen for over a year. The beauty, passion, humour and excitement of being together was ebbing away. What was obvious to others suddenly became crystal clear to me, I was desperately unhappy.

I was barely recognisable from the person I vaguely remembered as me. In not wanting others to worry, I’d stopped caring for myself. And in not caring for myself, I’d made others worry.

All because I was too stubborn to ask for help.

It’s now March and what a difference. The misery, self-pity and introspection is fast receding. I am on a low dose of anti-depressant and with the good habits and Moodscope, of course, slowly but surely I’m returning to me.

From sleep-walking through life it’s as if someone has opened all the windows and let in the sights, sounds and smells of spring. My humour is returning as is a calm confidence. Relationships all round are on the up. I see more and more of me in me. And I like it.

So if you’re reading this, and recognise the part of you that doesn’t want to rely on others for help please do yourself a huge favour, swallow that pride and let them. There’s no better time of year.

A Moodscope member.

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The Entertrainer Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 7:19am

Beautifully articulated, Mark. Thank you!

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 7:26am

Dear Mark,

thank you for sharing this story. I have been taking pills for 8 years and I do believe there are times when you just must take a pill to go on. So I am happy to know that you feel better now. I wish you to keep this spirit and well being as long as possible!

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 7:40am

I have tried various ones and I find they all have side effects on one's sex drive even though they have some benefits [except 1 that seemed to make the depression worse]

Julia Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 8:24am

I often think Moodscope is fairly female biased, not by choice or design but it appears that women do more of the commenting on the blogs than men. However as so many are Anon, it's difficult for me to be sure about this. But when the men do write, they come across as just as afflicted, I mean in much the same way as the women who write. I do think it's harder for men who work for example, to show vulnerability on a site like this. The workplace can be cruel for both men and women as the macho culture still exists amazingly (it's so antediluvian, prehistoric..are these the same meanings?! they are meant to be) which is so harmful for both sexes. I do hope men do not feel neglected on this blog page. Mark's blog is interesting and were it not of the title, I probably would not be commenting thus.

Rupert Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 8:37am

Anti - depressants arent failing - they can be life savers in much the same way as many other forms of medication.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 9:12am

I like the way Julia uses a very old and unfashionable word not being 100 % sure of its meaning and makes me go to the dictionary.I do not even dare show my name and baring my insecurities thus would be unimaginable.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 9:25am

This needs saying! A simple post, Mark, but brought a tear to my eye for your openness. Thankyou!

Julia Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 9:41am

Maybe sex was one of the few things that made you happy when you were depressed? I agree it is awful that you have to trade in something which I guess is and always has been so important to men (and women..who knows) for the chance to feel happy in other ways. But it's your choice and only you can choose. But thinking about this the ability to have sex or a sex drive your raison d'etre? I do wish you well though and think you should discuss all this with your Dr. I really hope I haven't overstepped the mark (sic) here but you have raised an issue which surely must be discussed and addressed at some point. It got me wondering if some people say anti depressants don't work for them because they do sadly affect ones sex drive. But as Rupert said, anti depressants do work for many many people are are life savers.

Julia Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 9:46am

I write like this because actually I don't always know the meanings of words but like to experiment with language. I also do it to encourage others who are worried about their words. It really does not matter how one writes on this page just as long as you write a little about how you are feeling . It's not a lesson in the English or any language or grammar.It is very kind of you to say this Anon! It cheered me up no end.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 10:07am

Mark, your feeling down and flat despite being in the beautiful Waikato valley with the woman you love took me immediately to being in beautiful Snowdonia with the wife I love but feeling so low I would weep quietly from time to time as I walked the beautiful hills. The depression of my late teens seemed to have returned in my fifties with a grey, unrelenting pain of nebulous, ill-defined regret that had lasted for months. This was despite trying to live more healthily; for one thing I had given up on my habit of five mugs of strong coffee per day, cutting it out completely (it was fairly easy - two days of headache and then ok). After months of 'coffee abstinence,' and as we drove to the Alps for a climbing holiday, my wife urged me to stop and have a coffee; I think she was weary of sitting next to such a tired, tense man. And here's the bizarre thing - I've no recollection of the all-pervasive depression from that day on and have had a single mug of coffee a day ever since. Was it the coffee, or the sheer joy of alpine climbing and walking, or just a gift? I don't know, but I've wondered ever since if coffee may be my 'pill'. I feel daft mentioning this as I've never met anyone else who has had a similar experience.

Kirsty Frame Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 11:21am

That struck a chord! It took me 20 years to {previously} "admit defeat"; {presently} "wake up!". Finally hauling my bum to the doctors in November 2013, and completely underplay the extent of the darkness, was the best thing I ever did! Now, also on a low dose, I'm thankful to finally be rediscovering who I am again and watching those around me slowly relax and, hopefully, trust that I'm in this for the long haul. It's an ongoing journey but whereas once my key initiative was avoidance, now it's to be open to what comes along.

Mark, mindfulness is also helping me along. I'm on week 5 of a course and so far, it's been great. Although sometimes I have to be mindful and seriously I'm taking the mindfulness!

Julia, I like your style! I've just realised a word I was using because I liked the sound of it had nothing to do with the context I was relating it to...I don't even know if that makes sense I just like the sound of it! :D No wonder I get funny looks.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 12:19pm

Thank you for your post Mark, it's always good to know that anti-depressants work for some people. There are some of us who do not respond to the meds. I recognise that I have been depressed - in varying degrees - since I was four and experienced a traumatic life event. I received my first prescription for anti-depressants when I was sixteen and have been on and off them ever since, always trying the new ones when they are marketed. Tricyclics, MAOIs, SSRIs - no effect apart from some unpleasant side-effects. I have learnt to live with being a depressive, therapy has helped but I now accept that it will probably be my companion for the rest of my life. My main emotion is of annoyance at the effects upon my physical and mental energy levels but one has to accommodate these things and get on with life as best one can.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 12:40pm

Beautifully written blog Mark, I am not a man but it was still relevant to me as I am always considering reducing my pills because I want to manage life pill-free and see if I am cured I suppose - why? I guess I also see it as failing somehow but recently I did try and come off my antidepressants and had a noticable dip in mood which meant an initial increase to get back to where I was which is very low dose. I am pleased to say I am happy again and enjoying life with all it's sparkles (as well as able to accept the less sparkly bits!). I think I am now done with messing about with my meds, if I had diabetes I wouldn't consider taking meds as failure so now I don't consider ADs as failure, I thank god for their existence and that I am one of the lucky ones that responds to them. For those that don't respond to ADs, my life changed massively when I was offered pregabalin, which I still take twice daily for anxiety - just a thought. Keep on keeping on folks and thanks for the blogs which I read every day and look forward to receiving. They are incredibly supportive.

Julia Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 1:30pm

I have just looked up Pregabalin and it is used mainly for people with epilepsy but also to treat anxiety. It isn't a Benzodiapine as far as I know? Like Valium or Xanax? Which is good as Drs think we all have addictive personalities and they are reluctant to prescribe even the smallest dose of a Benzodiapine nowadays. Even though the odd Valium can be an enormous help with anxiety. So thank you very much Anon for telling us about your experience with anti depressants and Pregabalin.I hadn't heard of it before and will ask my Dr about it. Lovely Frankie on this site suggested I take a small dose of Amitryptilene (spell?) each night and this has helped me so much; however some days I do get anxious, very anxious and it's not nice.

Mary Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 1:51pm

Fabulous to see another blog by you, Mark. Fantastic to have you back. I look forward very much to seeing more of your blogs. Oh, I think many of us tough it out for years and years because we don't want to do the meds: very silly as we all take aspirin and antibiotics!

Julia Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 6:19pm

!!!! x

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 6:42pm

Thank-you Julia! and thank-you Mark; like Anon 12.40pm I go through phases of wanting to cut down on the meds; your blog is very timely as I lie here unable to get on with planned evening activity ... coming to terms with the fact that I tried cutting down this week and I am now paying the price ... On the plus side I am more accepting on the whole and do not expend so much negative energy fighting against what would appear to be the inevitable need for medication. To misquote Shakespeare "If you shake me, do I not rattle?"
Just keep taking the tablets everyone, and thank-you for all your posts; like Anon 12.40pm (hi there!) I find them really helpful. Frankie

Anonymous Sat, Mar 8th 2014 @ 1:50am

The key: first my self

Anonymous Sat, Mar 8th 2014 @ 9:38am

Thank you Mark.
Good to hear you are back from the dark places. However, they have also clearly given you the understanding that helps you to reach out to others. They may be a curse but they are also a gift from life...

Anonymous Sun, Mar 23rd 2014 @ 3:28pm

Thanks Anon - very interesting. Like you I tend to go OTT on coffee intake, but can be quite fragile if I have none. Food for thought... Thanks for posting

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