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.