Fought My Way Out..
Tamed 25 Years Old
Cruel Bipolar Depression!
Fought My Way Out..
Tamed 25 Years Old
Cruel Bipolar Depression!
The Final Victory:
A Quick Summary
Freedom from Depression
Well, let me start with the happy ending. A foolish relationship decision that I took on Christmas day of 2015, pushed me into a catastrophe and resulted in a complete mental breakdown within a few months. The breakdown was severe. I became completely incapacitated, was bedridden for 5 months, lost 30 kg and became suicidal.
I needed immediate help. So, I visited a Psychiatrist on 19 July, 2016. This visit would ultimately change my life for good. The psychiatrist immediately got me started on Lexapro 10 mg and Etizolam 5 mg to treat my mental breakdown. I responded well and was able to function normally within 3 months.
Seeing such a wonderful result so quickly, I continued the treatment and further discussed my mental health, in general, with the psychiatrist. I also discussed my previous mental breakdowns and other painful incidents I experienced in the past including my father’s untimely death in 1992.
Papa’s death had a destabilising impact on my mental health. I was brought up by him and he never let me feel the mother’s absence. We had an extremely strong bonding; far beyond and much stronger than the conventional father-son bonding. He was everything to me : nanny, father, mother, friend, confidant …. it was difficult for me to imagine a life without him. He was just 58 when he passed away. I was shattered. Though I was already 28; I was emotionally dependant upon him like a baby. I didn’t even have a partner that time. No shoulder to put my head on. That may sound quite feminine. But I never fit the conventional definition of masculinity when it comes to emotions.
Later, I would come to know that it was my unconscious denial to accept Papa’s death and the related untreated PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) combined with my possible genetic link with depression that were the main culprit of my prolonged chronic depression.
Blessing in Disguise
OK, coming back to the foolish decision of 2015 Christmas:- the resulting mental breakdown, however, proved to be a blessing in disguise in the end.The series of horrific incidents, that were direct results of the foolish relationship decision I took on Christmas day, shook me to the core and I almost lost my trust in humanity. More than the main incident itself, its aftereffects were life-changing. Everything was extremely shocking for my sensitive emotional system. It incapacitated my brain and had a devastating effect on my physical health, too.
The nature and description of the decision or the incidents are immaterial — what matters to me is the action they made me take that changed my life. For ever! These incidents helped me see the true colours of many of the people around me including my siblings.
I had hit the bottom. I had lost so much trust in humanity that I felt there was no point in continuing to live and the thought of suicide came to my mind. But, instead I thought of giving one final push. I isolated myself and tried to analyse the incidents, its aftereffects in particular. I also tried to analyse my life after Papa’s death in 1992. But, I found my mind to be completely fogged and I was not capable of thinking. I realised that if I did not immediately take professional psychiatric help; I would lose my life.
At the time of this incident, I was in a small town in North India.I took an appointment with a local psychiatrist and met him on 19 July, 2016. He prescribed Escitalopram (Lexapro) 10 mg. Sun Pharma manufactures it as “Nexito” in India, mainly to be exported to the states and other countries where it is sold as generic Lexapro. He also prescribed Etizolam for 5 days to reduce anxiety. I promptly started taking the medication the same evening.
India’s mental health system is still in its infancy. So, next day, I consulted an online doctor from the states, too, who agreed with the line of treatment. The dosage went up to 30 mg per day within a month.
Meanwhile, I started doing intensive research and studies on functioning of neurotransmitters and how different classes of antidepressants affect them. I also started researching on ancient herbs, how they were prescribed in ancient systems of medicine like Ayurveda, and if and how modern researches have validated their effectiveness.
The Liberation Day: Sep 05, 2016
It was 5 Sep, 2016. I woke up at my regular time. I follow London time zone while living in India to keep myself synced with the business activities of my UK company. So, when I wake up at 7.00 AM London time, it’s 11.30 AM / 12.30 PM in India and my bedroom is usually filled with filtered, dim sunlight coming through the curtains. But, that morning room looked very bright, as if the curtains were drawn back and the sunlight was coming directly through the glass panes. I looked towards the curtains, and found them fully drawn as usual. And, the curtains colours looked much more vibrant and the patterns were more vivid.
I was a bit shocked for a moment; but immediately I realised, “Lexapro has kicked in!” Yes; “Kicked in!” That is what they call it, on all the online depression forums, when Lexapro starts working. This happens when the regular intake of the medication slowly elevates the level of Serotonin neurotransmitter to an optimum level in the patient’s brain. The medication effects start suddenly as soon the Serotonin reaches this optimum level. Different patients require different time span and different daily dosage to reach this optimum level. 38% of patients never reach this optimum level and so, do not respond to Lexapro at all. I was one of those lucky patients who respond very well to Lexapro.
I simply jumped from my bed in ecstasy! Wow! it happened. When I went to the washroom, there was another surprise in store. I looked at my face in the mirror and it had a broad bright smile which became broader when I saw my reflection. And gradually, the broad smile broadened into a laughter! I was laughing like a crazy. I was never able to visualise “Kick in” when I read about it on forums. Now, I was realising that it’s really impossible to truly visualise it until you experience it yourself.
As the day progressed, I started experiencing the other changes. It felt as if all my original traits had moved up to their original levels. I felt very confident and extremely positive. Thought process was very rational and balanced. I felt the same old burst of energy that I used to feel earlier.
Reviewing Past 25 years | New Life Roadmap
The astonishing effect of Lexapro prompted me to continue the treatment. As I continued the treatment, I noticed positive improvements every week.
With a regained mental clarity and positiveness; I spent the next 2 months in analysing my life after Papa’s sudden death in 1992. It seemed as if I was travelling back in time. Or, a movie reel was rewinding. I could freeze any frame, zoom it in and examine it closely. Could examine every face in the frame. Could repeal the upper layer on each face to reveal the true face hiding behind. I reviewed every major decisions I had taken during the last 25 years and analysed my mistakes.
In Oct 2016; Wellbutrin and Strattera were also added to the regimen to counter the side-effects of Lexapro and to increase concentration. They optimise the level of Dopamine and Norepinephrine neurotransmitters in the brain.
By the end of 2016, I had gained complete insight of my life between 1992 & 2016. The three medications had apparently brought Serotonin, Dopamine and Norepinephrine to their optimum level in my brain. I was ready to change the life direction. To re-invent myself. Rebrand myself. I was ready to take tough decisions!
Fully empowered, I sat down to draw a new Life Roadmap for myself.
2017: New Me | Action | Satisfaction
A fully reinvented ‘Me’; bursting with energy, ambitious to win the world, propelled by the new Life Roadmap; welcomed 2017. It was dawn of a new era for me. I started a new fulfilling journey, accomplishing the new goals.
Today, in Nov 2017, when I review my post recovery life (after Sep 2016) and compare it with my troubled period ( 1992 – 2015), I find myself completely transformed, fully in peace with myself and the world. I have fully accepted Papa’s death, my past flawed decisions & their aftereffects. Life is full of happiness, hope and action and I’m extremely satisfied with my achievements and progress in 2017
As for anti depressants, I have also started taking herbs that Ayurveda had been prescribing for thousands of years. The goal is to naturally increase the production of neurotransmitters and their levels in mind through the regular use of relevant herbs in the purest forms possible. Meanwhile, taper down the medications slowly. I started tapering down process about 6 months ago and continue doing it with great success results.
Currently, I’m taking:
- Lexapro: 10mg
- Wellbutrin XL: 300 mg
- Strattera: 80 mg
- Kapikacchu (Mucuna pruriens)
Also, now my diet includes many food items that help increase the neurotransmitters. some of them are: Flax seeds, Amaranth seeds, Ancient grains like Bajra ( pearl Millet), Ragi ( Finger Millet)etc.
25 Years of Painful Struggle:
Freedom from Depression
Having narrated the happy ending and complete recovery; let me explore the history, background and the events behind my prolonged depression that affected my life so badly between 1992 & 2015.
I was born in 1963 on 12 August on a stormy night, perhaps an indication of the storms I would face in my later years. I was brought up by my father, who never let me feel the mother’s absense. We had an extremely strong bonding; far beyond and much stronger than the conventional father-son bonding. Being a motherless child* himself; perhaps Papa had a better understanding of my psychology during my early formative years.
I was also extremely close to my male nanny, Bauna, who loved me. Though he lived with me only till I was about 8 years old; we remained in touch until his death in 1980. His death was the first emotional blow I faced.
I completed my Engineering degree course in 1989 and have been working & living in different parts of the world ever since, mainly in the IT industry.
* My father’s mom died when he was just 2 years old and, like me, he was also brought up by his father (my Grandpa) with the help of a nanny and domestic helps. As for me, I did have a biological mother but she didn’t have any relationships with me. I don’t have any childhood memories of her that I could recall and cherish. Practically, I grew up motherless and was brought up by father who gave me the love of both father & mother.
Black Day: 16 Nov, 1992
It was on Nov 16, 1992 that Papa passed away. He was just 58. I was shattered. Though I was already 28; I was emotionally dependant upon him like a baby.I didn’t even have a partner that time. No shoulder to put my head on. That may sound quite feminine. But I never fit the conventional definition of masculinity when it comes to emotions.
Robert Burns’ Rescue
A few days after Papa’s death, I flew back to Dubai where I was working for an IT company that time. Tried to accept the truth and live a normal life. But, it was very painful.It was then that Robert Burns came to my rescue with his two lines:
Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Well, I had lost my friend but I definitely had a bottle. ‘What wad ye wish for mair, man? And, the bottle became my honest friend.
Slowly ‘water for life’ became an indispensable part of my life. I always enjoyed single malt on the rocks. But basking in the aroma, wafting out from the golden liquid, in a misty glass on a breezy evening is one thing; and reaching office, fully plastered, to attend an 11 AM corporate meeting is totally another! 🙂
1995: Search for Love: Papa in a Feminine Body?
Soon I realised that the bottle was not as friendly to me as it was to Robert Burns. I must find another solution.
A lost love can be compensated by another love only. Human love. So I thought. And then I started my search for a true love that would fill the vacuum created by Papa’s untimely departure. But I had set the bar very high for myself and my potential future partner. Competing with Papa’s selfless love was just not humanly possible.This near impossible search and the resulting disastrous relationships would keep me occupied for the next two decade, handling a life that was full of ups and downs.
1995 introduced me to my first partner, a nice East European lady, whom I met through a common friend in the aviation industry. We would live together for the next 12 years and have two kids.
2001: First Diagnosis. Genetic Monster
Having a partner did help a bit, but I still felt the emptiness in my life. By then, I had given up regular heavy drinking and drank only on weekends & during holidays like other regular guys.
Early morning of 2001’s Boxing Day saw me being carried to hospital after my almost non-stop drinking since Christmas evening.It was in the hospital that I was first diagnosed as having clinical depression. However, the psychiatrist was of the opinion that it was actually triggered and started in 1992 after the death of my father, and gradually worsened because of prolonged stress, lack of proper support network and treatment.
By the way, I have depression in my genes.So, basically this monster had been hiding inside me, waiting for the right moment to strike.
I was told that that my depression was bi-polar in nature, and accompanied by COD ( Compulsive Obsessive Disorder ) I was prescribed some MOAI antidepressant. I believe this class of antidepressants were popular at that time; in part of the world I was diagnosed. It was an ex-USSR. However, it didn’t work and the side effects were intolerable. so, I had to stop it after 2 or 3 weeks.
Herbal Treatment & Healthy Lifestyle
After that, I started herbal & natural treatment. Restarted going to gym and living a very healthy lifestyle. Actually, I’ve been going to gym regularly since my uni days, but had stopped after Papa’s death. This helped a lot in having more & longer “highs” and less & shorter “lows”. (Bipolar low & high periods).
2012: Another Breakdown. Another Anti Depressant
By the end of 2007, I had separated with my first partner and had moved back to India, hoping to get peace. I termed my moving back to India as “Moving Back to Den”. However, my “Back to Den” experience in India was just opposite of what I had hoped. I found myself in a new society; surrounded by strange people whose lifestyle, values, principles and thought process were totally different from those of mine. I found it difficult to adjust myself in the new environment.
During this difficult adjustment period, I got myself involved in a new relationship with an Indian woman in 2008. Despite being an Indian, I had never dated any Indian women till that time. This relationship gave me some emotional stability and relief that I desperately needed. The relationship also helped me understand the Indian social system and the way it functions at different levels of social ladder.
However, this relationship also failed miserably and I again found myself in a Psychiatrist office in 2012. This time I was given SSRI. But, I had to again stop it because of intolerable side-effects. It also started affected my kidney badly.
After stopping SSRI, I restarted my herbal treatment and increased my physical activities including weight training. All this had profound effect and within 1 year, I was again kicking. Got into one more relationship, again with an Indian woman, that also failed. But, this time I got back on track pretty soon.
Things were going very smooth until the horrific incident of 2015 – 2016. As I mentioned earlier, this incident proved to be a blessing in disguise in the end and changed my life forever, for better!
Nov 2017: 1 Year achievements.
Freedom from Depression
Nov 2017: Achievements in One Year
Positive outlook and regained traits helped me improve every front of my life. On both personal and professional fronts; I completed many pending projects that I could not even start in the last 5 years.
On the professional front, I consider the following accomplishments significant:
- Successfully launched Venture/Startup Builder, CyberMust Ltd, that I had been planning for the last 3 years but was unable to.
- Successfully soft-launched the first Startup,eBrandifyMe, through CyberMust
- Got MVPs built for the next 2 startups that are going to be soft-launched soon
- Closed down loss making ventures including TeleBoost
- Reorganised my technical team in Pune(India)
- Increased social networking activities
- Revised business roadmap for the next 5 years
Having reclaimed my old self, I’m bursting with energy and desire to accomplish many things, in every area of life, at a very fast pace. Some of them are new and some of them are old ones that I have been procrastinating upon.
Here are a few of them:
Humanitarian & Social Causes
I’ll be spending a significant part of my time in humanitarian and social works. Some of the priorities in this area are:
Setting up a non-profit online “Depression Help Centre”
Having experienced this demon first hand, I fully understand how destructive & painful depression is and how less awareness we have in our society about it. Levereging my experience and understanding of this monster, I am going to set up an online “Depression Help Centre” Some of the services/features I want this help centre to offer are:
- Free generic medication supply to those patients who cannot afford to pay for the expensive anti-depressants
- In many parts of the world, there’s almost no awareness of mental health issues. It’s very important as support network plays a vital role in the treatment. If people around the patient are not well aware; they cannot offer proper support. Help Centre would run awareness campaigns on social media to reach those unaware masses in developing countries.
- Researching and making available the latest development in the field of psychiatry.
- Researching ancient herbs, especially the Indian & Chinese, that had been traditionally used for 1000s of years to treat mental issues. I strongly believe that these ancient herbs have the ultimate cure; we need to do more scientific research on them
Online Incubator, Accelerator & Seed Fund for Underprivileged:
I strongly believe that a combination of technology, entrepreneurship & atheism (secular values) can be leveraged to economically uplift the underprivileged and ultimately help create a society and a world where equality prevails. In my opinion, one of the main reasons of global unrest is the economic disparity.
- Online Incubator & Accelerator: A full featured online incubator & accelerator with experienced, like-minded volunteer mentors to help underprivileged youngsters launch viable micro startups. Online infrastructure will help the organisation reach the remotest parts of the world.
- Seed Fund: Providing the pre-seed & seed funds to these micro startups to develop MVP & soft launch etc.
Professional & Business
Six Startups per Year:
Making CyberMust achieve its target of building and launching 6 startups in 2018.
I’ll be launching a music startup in London in Jan, 2018. I’ll gift it to my son on his 20th birthday. He’s a musician.
Re-evaluating Personal Relationships & Re-inventing Myself:
I’m legally ending relationships with my biological mother and her two children (i) Kashu & (ii) Pinku ; whose values, ethics and principles are completely different from those of mine. Ending relationship with them forever is important for my mental peace. I’ve already started the process and it will be completed soon.
I’m also going to re-invent & re-brand myself. This includes legalising my pet name by which Papa always called me and which is also my popular nick name. This will symbolise the change in my life and strengthen the feeling inside that I’ve started a totally new life.
Thanks & Apologies
I’d like to thank everybody who directly or indirectly helped me in my struggle. Also, I offer my sincerest apologies to everybody who, in any ways and ever, got affected by my depression.