Guest Post: A Journey With Depression

This guest post is written by Anita and how she made her own way through depression and medication.

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I was diagnosed with a clinical depression when I was 18 years old. Before it came to this, I had struggled with several physical complaints, like an ulcer, migraines, nausea, insomnia, basically any signs that my body, or even better, my brain was trying to tell me something. Because I wasn’t educated enough, I was put on medication in combination with psycho therapy, thinking this could fix me. Twice a week I went in to talk about whether the medication was working, whether I felt better. After a few sessions, the psychiatrist felt like I wasn’t making any progress, so he increased the dose of the medication.

This went on for another couple of weeks and according to him (I can’t remember whether I felt different or better, or worse) I still wasn’t making any progress nor had any improvement, so he put me on a different anti depressant. As I later on learnt, with the development of the internet and forums, the first one was an MOA inhibitor, the second one an SSRI. The same cycle repeated itself, no improvement after a few weeks, dosage was increased, still no affect, increase dose and see therapist.

By then my doctor got really crafty, he prescribed me a TeCA, a tetracyclic anti depressant. Yes, even I had to look this one up, since I can only remember the brand names or generic names of the pills. This procedure went on for I think more than a year. By that time I had stopped seeing the therapist, because my health insurance only allowed me for 20 sessions. Instead I went to see my GP once a month for repeat prescriptions. By that time I don’t think I had made any progress. Okay, I didn’t feel suicidal any more; I didn’t sleep for days any more. I had kept the same job and house, in other words I was functional in society.

During this phase, I was also diagnosed with ADHD, which meant more medication. The (in)famous Ritalin. But the internet and my access to information grew. I started asking questions online and talking to people who were in the same boat, so to speak, as me. And like Edward Norton in the Fight Club, I went to support groups for people with depression and people with ADHD and people with a combination of these two. I kept my mouth shut and just listened, and asked questions; lots of them. And I learnt a lot. I learnt that the pharmacy that I carried around with me wasn’t helping me at all, especially the anti depressants. After coming home from a 5 week holiday, I decided to quit the 120 mgs of Citalopram (Celesta, Cipramil) a day. Cold turkey. In hindsight I hadn’t researched that part very well, because you are supposed to taper these things. Anyway, after maybe three or four months of mood swings, terrible mood swings, anger fits (I killed 2 vacuum cleaners, drove the car into a tree, not on purpose, I see how this coming from a depressed person may sound like a suicide attempt, but it wasn’t and smashed a bathroom window with my bare hands) and more horrendous things I started to feel “normal” again. With normal, I mean, I could feel the rain on my skin again when walking outside. And normal like being a tad bit more excited about something that just the flat, careless uttering of the word “meh”. All in all it took me at least a year to balance things out. Next step was quitting Ritalin. The only reason I used this was to increase my attention span from 3 seconds to 35 minutes because I had a demanded (mentally) job and I needed to money to pay for my immigration to New Zealand.

Once in New Zealand, I quit Ritalin as well. Any immigrant can agree, my first job in New Zealand could be done by a retarded hamster, so no major mental effort needed, which meant no Ritalin needed. I was up to 90 mgs a day and quitting that was easier.

Years after my first diagnose with depression I figured out medication is not for me. I’m not saying they don’t work, I’m saying they don’t work for me. I have a friend who’s been on Prozac for 5 years now and every time he tries to lower the dose, he feels like harming himself. He and I both know that these pills do work for him.

I am a balanced and happy person now. I took a long and sometimes very painful journey to get there, but I am here now.

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I (Fae) asked Anita to explain further how she now manages her depression.

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It sounds very simple, but I basically turned my life around. I changed everything, especially my way of thinking. I used to be locked into that negative spiral of thinking, you know, Oh they won’t return my call = they hate me. Now I think “They probably are busy” and they often are 😉

Podcasts are essential. I have a few I swear by. Honest people that tell me things my parents should have told me. I’m catching up and learning every day.

2010 and 2011 were really bad years for me and the events that happened forced me to change my outlook and priorities on life.

I got divorced, lost my house, lost my job, lost my sister. But I gained so much more. Every time I was about to give up, something little happened, a friend rang, someone visited my house, anything small which made me carry on and appreciate the things I had.

I met my current beautiful partner. I found a new job. I found a new house. I learned to live in a destroyed house without water and electricity.

I learned how to survive.

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If you’re reading this anywhere but That Girl, Fae or a feed reader without attribution, it has been STOLEN! Who knew that my stuff was that good? ~ Fae

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That Girl, Fae by R Simpson-Large aka Fae Teardrop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Guest Post: Spirituality and the Sex-Positive Community

Following on from this post, my good friend Alexis has written this post on how people in the sex-positive and spiritual/religious communities perceive each other:

I’ve been following sex-positive politics for many years now; and something that i still see too frequently is open and unmitigated hostility towards all religion and spirituality.

There’s no doubt in my mind that religion and spirituality has, historically speaking, promoted sex-negativity and contributed to sexual repression and unhappiness. And mainstream, widely-socially-acceptable religions and spiritualities generally continue to do; the ongoing debates around homosexuality are but one example.

However, it’s also true that many people are finding ways of integrating sex-positive attitudes with their religious and spiritual beliefs and practices. There are reinterpretations of key texts; there are approaches which seek to extract still-relevant ideas whilst leaving behind sex-negative ones; there are beliefs being created out of whole cloth, based on people’s lived experiences. I know sex-positive, queer-friendly Christians, Jews and Wiccans, who are well aware of the sex-negative, heteronormative aspects of their traditions, and who have more than a passing familiarity with their traditions’ text and beliefs, but who have used that knowledge to continue living within a belief system that resonates strongly with them.

And I think this is wonderful!

I don’t, however, see a great deal of support for these people within the sex-positive community. On the contrary: what I frequently encounter is blanket condemnations of religion and spirituality, or, worse, of religious and spiritual people.

It feels to me that there’s a certain amount of born-again atheism involved: for people who have been raised in repressive religious atmospheres, for example, becoming a conscious atheist can be a liberating experience. It seems to me there’s often an earnest and well-meaning desire to ensure that other people don’t suffer or miss out on a variety of enjoyable life experiences due to religious or spiritual repression, whether internal or external. This is something I can certainly identify with: I myself was an atheist for many years, primarily driven by the sex-negativity I observed in various religions. And even though I’m now a panentheist, I still get irked by anti-atheism FUD (for example, that atheism necessarily results in a complete lack of morality) – I believe that misrepresentation of people’s attitudes and beliefs is not only unethical but doesn’t, in the end, benefit anyone.

Nonetheless, I feel that there’s a choice for sex-positive atheists to make here: to decide which is more important for them to promote, atheism or sex-positivity. I believe either choice is valid. But I also believe promoting sex-positivity means not making totalising statements about religion and spirituality or about religious and spirituality people; it means acknowledging the possibility that atheism is not the only possible framework in which sex-positivity can exist; it means recognising that there are people creating sex-positive religious and spiritual perspectives which provide concrete alternatives to sex-negative beliefs for those who are not ready or willing to give up their overall religious or spiritual paths.

Many years ago I was part of a group organising a protest. Our organising group had several members of the Young Christian Workers. One member raised an objection to the possibility of socialist groups being able to sell their newspapers at the protest, saying something along the lines of “After all, how would you feel if we were to hand out Bibles?” My personal response was: “That sounds great! So much reactionary stuff is done in the name of Christianity; it would be good for people, including Christians, to know that it’s not a given that Christians must take reactionary positions.”

If people in the sex-positive movement promote or support the notion that sex-positivity necessarily implies atheism, it puts people who – rightly or wrongly, whether supported by evidence or not – have strong religious or spiritual beliefs in the position of feeling like they must choose between sex-positivity and religion/spirituality. Though many might choose sex-positivity, it’s also likely that, given religion and spirituality often address a greater variety of issues than simply those around sexuality, many might feel that sex-positivity is the thing that needs to take a back seat. And that, for me, wouldn’t represent progress.