Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sometimes medication is needed for mental or emotional health.

I have written about bipolar disorder on my blog. Look on AUGUST 12, 2010 also 7 and 11 Aug 2011. 10 and 15 Sept 2011 I give some excerpts from my diaries Dec 2010 to Feb 2011. After that you will see fewer posts to my blog. I did keep posting on the troubles in Nigeria but there were several months with no posts at all. This is an indicator of my depression.

What happened was that reaching 65 in 2011 I did not retire but reduced to working only four days a week. I hoped to reduce more each year but my mental health was such that when I reached 66 I retired from pharmacy. I had always thought that in retirement I would stay registered and do some locums but it was not to be. I has found that my cyclothymia was too much and pharmacy no longer had any attraction whatsoever. Autumn 2009 was the start of two continuous long cycles of a year each, depressed in the darker months, better in summer. So in early 2010 I did what I had always resisted, went to my GP, told him the problem and he gave me a prescription for citalopram 20mg, an antidepressant. In the summer my mood was fine. I stopped the tablets with no ill effect. When the dark months came it was worse than ever. Back to the doctor who doubled to dosage and recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT. I knew about this counselling and believed I could apply Christian principles to it. I had a few sessions but felt no better until the summer came when I declined more CBT.

Then on holiday that summer we lunched at the home of an old friend. I knew she was a geriatrician. Now I found out she was a psychiatrist too. I recounted my experiences to her. Straightaway she asked if I had ever seen a psychiatrist or had lithium, the medication for bipolar. I has not but after the holiday I asked my doctor to be referred to a psychiatrist. I found the specialist to be sympathetic. He listened well but gave little counsel. To cut the story short I have finished up on three drugs. First was valproic acid, not lithium as the latter requires regular blood tests which would have been very inconvenient while still in full time work. I found that this drug does indeed smooth out the waves of ups and downs but it removes the higs and the deep, deep downs but it leaves one below par. Over the months, to relive the deprssion I was but on a low dose of quietapine and a high dose of sertraline. I had over a year of psychiatric appointments the he signed me off into the care of the GP. I also had over a year of regular counselling sessions with psychologists. I did not think this was a noticeable lift but the good piece of advice was to get active in the local University of the Third Age (U3A) .

My last winter as a pharmacist was awful. I struggled on despite my doctor offering to write down as too sick to work. I was very depressed so in February 2012 I gave in my notice. My employer did not even bothered to acknowledge it and when my three month's notice period was up I left the job I had been in for 13 years (my longest ever in one place) without even a thank you card from the firm.

As a reaction to this depression and work in a profession I had come to dislike, a profession where one is bound to fixed hours, where if you are away from work you have to find a locum, I did not want to take on commitments with a fixed schedule. But I had my responsibilities are an elder in our church and I soon found opportunity for regular preaching, two or three times a month at the Harmonsworth Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow. The chaplain there enlisted me as a volunteer. Security clearance was demanding but now I minister to any of the Christians among the 600 plus detainees.

This summer, things have been the best since 2011. I have got back on this blog and Facebook. My reading has picked up from an endless diet of fiction. Next I plan to start some regular voluntary work at the Evangelical Library. I have reduced the dose of antidepressant and booked a holiday. Last year I could not be bothered to book.

Many people, especially Christians, will refuse to seek medical help. I did it for years. I now think I was mistaken. It was wrong. So I end wtih the the best words I have come across on this topic.

"... we have to face the fact that there are certain emotional disorders for which it is our responsibility before God to accept medication because these disorders have, if not an organic base, at least an organic dimension. For example, there are forms of depression which If the alternative is misery for those whom we live an incapacity for the work to which God has called us, then it is our responsibility before God to manage our temperaments through these medications. yield very readily to chemical control. It is dishonouring to God and cruel to dependants to refuse to accept such medication on the basis of the arrogant principle, 'I do not take drugs.' "A Faith to Live By, Donald MacLeod, p99.

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