I've spent the past 20 years of my life battling depression to various degrees of success. This is my story of being overwhelmed by the darkness and finding my way to happiness.

Time to fight

When I first diagnosed with depression, all the way back when I was 18 years old, I implicitly trusted my family doctors advice. He'd been our family doctor for years and I truly believed that he had my best interests at heart with his consultation and prescription. As I later found out, doctors aren't always incentivised to put their patients first due to the huge power of the pharmaceutical companies. I was prescribed the infamous anti-depressant: Prozac.

Prozac is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) which works by maintaining a higher level of serotonin in the brain. Some scientists believe that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin and by boosting the levels in the brain, the effects of depression can be reduced or disappear completely. You can read more about Prozac and SSRI's here.

Being on Prozac did improve my emotional state slightly. It kind of mellows out the peaks and troughs so my lows weren't as low, but my highs weren't as high. It almost feels like a mental sedative. What's far, far worse are the side effects of Prozac. I would regularly have severe headaches, feeling nauseous and the suicidal thoughts didn't go away. It obviously wasn't working for me and wasn't a long term solution to my problem.

I'm an information nerd so I began to do my own research. Before the days where you have almost of the world's information available to you through your phone, I would spend hours in the library reading dry medical journals and self-help books to see if there was a path through depression beyond addiction to pharmaceutical pill popping. It was through this research that I made the decision to get off Prozac, take things into my own hands and fight this battle naturally. So after 3 years taking pills daily, I quietly informed my doctor that I no longer needed his prescription and was going to do it my way. To this day I haven't taken another anti-depressant pill, and I never will.

Over the next few posts I will detail some of the strategies that I employ to fight depression on a daily basis. I don't pretend to live on a marshmallow cloud of eternal enlightened happiness or that I have found the path to nirvana. I still have my dark days when the storm rages in my mind and I can't even get out of bed. But those days have become less and less frequent and I now know that they will pass and that the sun will rise over the horizon again and life will return to normal.

Hopefully some of what I have learned can help others.

A strategy for mindfulness

How does it feel?