|150 Pills A Day "Cure" of Depression||
In 1997-1998 I had a severe episode of depression. At that time, after a long delay, I came to my psychiatrist. I was put on anti-depressants and, after several weeks, was feeling very well. During my time of therapy, I encountered a compassionate physician. He was available to help; gave wise counsel; explained in detail the nature of my illness. He sought above all to restore my confidence and independence. As my health returned, at the appropriate time I left therapy, feeling well and confident. Four years went by and I did not feel depressed at all. Then, unexpectedly, the darkness started to recur. At first, just a few episodes appeared but then, gradually, the “black monster” made itself known. My sleep started to be interrupted and I say 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Fear began to grip me and then, worst of all, the suicidal thoughts began to haunt me.
The obvious route for me would have been to return to my psychiatrist. But I did not do so. Why? I was in denial. I did not want to be depressed and tried to convince myself that I was not. For about four months I was able to hold on, trying to cure myself with diet and exercise. Then, on a fateful day, I met a couple who strongly urged me to go to a natural practitioner with whom they had had great success. This man was not a naturopath but a self-educated “healer”. Since he emphasized natural methods, I agreed to see him. What I realize now is that my judgment was negatively affected by the depression. I was not capable of making the right choice in this matter. My friends consistently urged me to go to see a regular medical practitioner. Instead, I agreed to a three-month treatment by someone whom I now regard as a “quack.”
What was his treatment? He promised that I would be well in three months. I was to take about 150 different vitamin supplements spread over three meals a day. I was to receive or to give myself injections of B-vitamins. I was to pay for this complete cure of depression, which was never to recur: $25,000. Foolish as I was, I gave away my life savings and began to follow this regime. Over the three months I got worse and worse. I was told that this was expected as my body became detoxified. What I was especially being cleansed of were the anti-depressants that I had taken four years before. As I became more and more depressed, I was in a quandary. Others were telling me to take anti-depressants; this “quack” was telling me that I was being cleansed of them. Was I to put into my body what I was supposed to be freed from? Did the antidepressants really stay in the body for such a length of time? Were they able to cause this terrible depression? I was told that the drugs were coming out and that I was experiencing their side effects. How I wanted this to be so! How much rubbish this explanation was! The drugs had clearly left my system years before. What I was enduring was a full-scale return of depression, which was going untreated.
I faithfully followed the treatment, never feeling better and growing ever more depressed. But when the three months came to a close I decided to cease from this useless and damaging treatment. What was this “quack” like during these three months? He had found me in a very vulnerable state. His method was to make me entirely dependent upon him. When I was depressed, he would berate and criticize me. He bullied me in many ways. He destroyed all my self-confidence. Yet, in my depressed state, I could not break free. I kept waiting to feel well again but it never happened. This “quack” took my money but he also cruelly tried to break my spirit. When I told him I was leaving treatment, he threatened me loudly, saying I would never get well. He said that I would need three more months of treatment (at $20,000!) and that, if I did not receive it, I would be sick for the rest of my life. I was told I would also have to stay on injections for the rest of my life. I would probably have to pay $1000.00 a month from then on for these injections and for supplements. Fortunately for me I found the courage to leave.
For months after these vitamins and injections, my body reacted in strange ways. I felt sick all the time. I found that I could not take any vitamins without a severe reaction. Any simple medication, such as Tylenol, would bring on a strong reaction. I became afraid to take any kind of medication and feared to do the obvious thing and return to my psychiatrist.
At last I came to my senses and phoned my psychiatrist. To my delight I was given a very early appointment and received with sympathy and understanding. Obviously my behavior had been very foolish. Obviously it seemed strange that I would not simply come back to where I had been cured before. My behavior was perplexing even to myself. How could I have been so stupid? I had to accept that part of the cause was the depression itself. I simply showed poor judgment again and again and paid dearly for it, both in terms of money and in terms of months of suffering.
Once again I went on anti-depressants and began to feel better in a few weeks. The difference in approach of a regular medical practitioner and this “quack” was enormous. With my psychiatrist, great encouragement was given so that I could resume my life. My self-confidence was boosted. In many ways aspects of a healthy lifestyle were described and emphasized. I was urged to be independent. I was encouraged to take up challenges in my career and not to fear a recurrence of the disease. I was assured that, if the depression did come back, help would always be available.
I share this experience in order to warn others. My suggestions would be:
I was fortunate to break free from a road to destruction. With my return to my psychiatrist, my life gained hope again.
Internet Mental Health (www.mentalhealth.com) copyright © 2005 by Phillip W. Long, M.D.