Mar 13, 2018
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression in my early thirties and went through the usual trials and tribulations of trying different types of anti-depressant medications for many years and have been taking 30 mg of Mirtazapine daily for the past ten years.
Since my teenage years I have struggled with addiction to painkillers. I started taking Tylenol with codeine when I was about 16 years old to take the edge off and help me deal with things. This addiction grew steadily over the years and when I felt it spiraling out of control, I always thought I could quit anytime because in my mind I was bigger than the addiction. I was wrong. It wasn’t the addiction controlling me, it was the mental illness behind it.
My life was on track to anyone who had a view from the bleachers.
By the time I hit my thirties, I was married and had a small child and managed to climb the corporate ladder. My life was on track to anyone who had a view from the bleachers. I wore a mask at work and at home and in any type of social surrounding. I only took off the mask when I was alone. Now that I look back in hindsight maybe that’s why as a young boy I so desperately wanted to be an NHL goalie when I grew up. Goalies wore masks.
As life’s stresses increased so did my addiction. I systematically took doses of Tylenol with codeine, cough syrup with codeine, and Gravol medication always after 4 p.m. so that it didn’t affect my work performance. I did not want anyone at work to know I had a problem. Once 4 p.m. hit, I would feed my desire for escape by systematically taking hourly doses.
I would digest a total of 40 Tylenol with codeine, one half bottle of cough syrup and 24 Gravol pills every evening. Every. Single. Evening. Anytime I went out, I would carry a stash of pills in my pocket for easy access. I used to put the pills in vitamin bottles in my house so that anyone looking in the cupboard would not be suspicious.
“That was a close, close, close call.”
To get my supply I would drive to pharmacies in outlying towns so that the pharmacists in my city would not see a pattern. I guess you can only digest so many amounts of pills and cough syrup before your body says “ENOUGH.” One night I wound up in the local hospital emergency room. I can still vividly remember the feeling of falling into a long dark bottomless hole before I lost consciousness. When I awoke in the hospital in the morning, my family doctor greeted me with the words of “that was a close, close, close call” and I will never forget the look of concern that was expressed in his eyes.
After my hospital encounter, I managed to get things back on track or, so I thought and continued the fight to keep the balance of family and career in check. I walked the tightrope and was quite proud of myself for being able to pull it off without anyone suspecting a thing. My marriage broke up, my job slipped away and I lost my balance and fell. Unlike a circus tightrope act, there was no safety net to break my fall and I crashed.
With the help of close family, I stopped taking all the pain medications and have been ‘clean’ ever since. The immediate period after I ceased taking painkillers saw me experiencing the darkest days of my life. I spent time living out of my car in the middle of winter, spent some nights in a homeless shelter and spent many days wondering where or how I was going to get my next meal. I was completely lost for my place in in the world.
Depression isn’t a life choice.
Now that I look back at my life to this point it helps me realize that no matter what happens or how tough things seem to be, I will always come out okay on the other side. Once you experience H E double hockey sticks the small victories in life seem to have more value. I also realize that mental illness fuels addictive behavior and not vice versa. Depression isn’t a life choice. When you go to sleep every night, you can’t turn depression off like you do your phone. That option is not an option. I have finally discovered what makes me able to function each day. For me it is daily exercise and some form of interaction with other human beings. The exercise helps me hit the ‘reset’ button each day.
Interaction with other people helps me feel part of the world. I have finally learned that I don’t need to take 10,000 steps to climb the mountain, I only need to take one step. I will worry about the next step after I take the first step.
Now when I look in a mirror, I see my face and not someone wearing a goalie mask.