Wouldn’t that be great if we could just drink it out of a glass, like lemonade? I envision an alternative new world in the treatment of mood disorders: little “neurotransmitter cafes” on every corner (instead of Starbucks!). They’d have rainbows painted on the walls, pictures of cute, cuddly kittens and puppies, vases overflowing with fragrant flowers, and a tonic menu from which you could place a personalized order: “I’ll take two ounces of serotonin please, with a dopamine chaser.” Then we’d pay our tab and walk out the door with our brain chemistries perfectly balanced, feeling happy, stable, and anxiety-free. NOT drugged.
Over the last five years, I have held in my hand two different prescriptions for antidepressants. Both got thrown in the garbage. My reasons for that break down into equal thirds of the following: spite, lofty principle, and vanity. The first is just an immature act of defiance, a rebellious reaction to all the people who have dismissively told me to “get on meds” just to shut me up. The second relates to ethical issues I have with the pharmaceutical industry (No, I’m not a Scientologist). The third has to do with fears I have of certain side effects, specifically weight gain and loss of sex drive (No thank you to both).
Let me be clear that I am no way asserting that my approach is the correct one. The truth is I have doubts all the time, and I feel nothing but respect and empathy for those who take whatever they need to feel better and stop the pain. Everyone’s condition is different, and depression exists in varying degrees of severity. So to my fellow sufferers I say, do what’s right for you.
However, my recent ten month stretch of all-natural, depression-free living shouldn’t be discounted either. I was doing something right. Then an external life trigger came along. I became vulnerable, took my eye off the ball, and the beast saw his opening. He pounced on me like a predator on its prey.
Now I just have to get back in the groove and reconstitute my formula. Supplements, yoga, meditation, blasting music on my stereo, planting flowers in my garden, watching my cats swat playfully at bumblebees, blogging, writing, bike riding, walking, poking around in the attic, taking pictures, and art modeling of course 🙂 I search for positive stimuli anywhere I can find it. Anything to push the beast down, even if it’s just temporary. Mere distractions? Perhaps. Does my strategy always work? I wish! But I’ll take it over the alternative, which is not getting out of bed, staying under the covers curled up in the fetal position, crying, crying, and more crying. Staring out windows. Crouching in corners. Hopelessness. Despair. Apathy. Looking out at your life and seeing something that resembles a blighted, desolate, bombed-out battlefield. Think Dresden, 1945. Not good times.
But laughter is a splendid stimuli – the best, because it increases serotonin levels in the brain. I love to laugh as most of you probably know, and not even the beast will silence my laughter. I could use a laugh right now, and British comedy works brilliantly for me. Some of the hardest laughing I ever experienced was while watching the HBO series “Extras”. I miss that show! This clip is only 1:15, but that’s still one full minute out of the beast’s clutches. Here’s Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in the famous “timezone argument” scene: “In the MORNING!!!!”