Being diagnosed with depression can be both emotionally and practically challenging. Listening to others who have experienced similar situations is often re-assuring and can be helpful for you, your loved ones or when preparing questions for your doctor or a specialist.
Paul is a divorced former police officer with two sons, aged 10 and 14. Paul first experienced depression triggered by memories of childhood sexual abuse. Despite several suicide attempts, Paul now feels he very much wants to live thanks to the continuous support of family and mental health professionals.
This interview has been sourced from Healthtalk Australia. Healthtalk Australia is the Australian collaborator of healthtalk.org (UK) which conducts award-winning research into patient experiences in conjunction with the Health Experience Research Group at the University of Oxford, UK.
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Paul talked about becoming very fearful about his suicidal thoughts.
I got to a point at - where I was living we had a fantastic garage. Every man would be proud of this garage. You know all the bells and whistles of a big industrial setup. And that was - I lived there. I did. I did a lot of jobs around the house and I really enjoyed it. And I decided that’s it, this is my place. I’m going to take my life. I got some, some rope and ah some things and ah had basically set it all up. When I was doing it I was aware that I was going to use it. But at that, right at that minute there, I wasn’t. I just thought get it ready because I don’t want to have to muck around. I just want to do it.
And it stayed like that for a while and I sort of left it there. I decided - I knew I was all over the place. I’ve very close family, Mum and I are very close, always have been. I sort of shut down from them and I went into hiding from everyone. And I was, I was starting to get very, very scared. Ah I was at court one day at (name of court) and was watching a court matter that I had an involvement in and as prosecuting. And for the whole time the court matter was on and I was in the witness box as well. The whole time I was being cross examined all I thought about was going, getting, hurrying home to the garage and taking my life.
Paul discussed the importance of staying on antidepressants and coping with the side effects long enough for the medication to take effect.
But the problem is you’ve got to be on it for - unless you’re on it for four weeks or six weeks even. So you’ve got to go through all the side effects and all the reactions and most of them had something. You know it might be a headache, it might be a little bit of nausea, it might have been ah that you’d be very sleepy during the day and not sleepy at night. But whatever it was each one of them had something and that, you know and I was made aware of it. And you know I think at that stage I was seeing (psychiatrist’s name) on a weekly basis and I seen (psychiatrist’s name) predominantly.
Um so ah we continued with the medication for a while months I would say ah when it all first started. And then some would go all right for a little while and then it, the side effects would pick up, so just an absolute lottery. And then ah the - (psychiatrist’s name) prescribed Effexor (venlafaxine) and you know I - when people ask me I always use the term my life went from black and white to colour. Almost overnight you know. Whatever it was the lights went off, the whistles, everything said we’ve done it. And to this day ah I’m still on Effexor (venlafaxine) that I take every morning and now it’s just part of routine.
I’m very oh religious about medication now. I do not mess with it at all. And you know I know exactly what to do if I, for whatever reason, miss a day or whatever. I’ve, I’ve self-medicated in every direction. I’ve not taken them, I’ve taken more, I’ve tried all my own formulas but I figure (psychiatrist’s name) knows what to do, listen to her. Cause I felt every single time I’ve done it I’ve found the pitfall. But anyway I’m not necessarily one who knows best. But yeah so the - when, sometimes what - it’s almost like the, you know, I like, not like the term but the, the term the black dog you know.
Paul described his stay in a high dependency unit and being separated from his children.
I was in there a lot longer this time because well obviously things were a lot more serious. ah it was real hard in there, just mind numbing day, just - but of course that’s what it was all about. It was go there and nothing to think about. No phones, newspaper in the morning, TV during the day. Not a ve