Back in the Saddle

Back in March, when I took a break from writing this blog, I was at a low ebb.  Today I am glad to report that I am feeling a whole lot better.  So, what has happened that has meant that I have felt absolutely fine for weeks now?  First, I must give credit to a change in medication.  Around the time I took a break from writing the blog my psychiatrist suggested I try a different tablet.  By the end of April – after a month off work – I emerged from the depressive fog that had engulfed me once more – and I haven’t looked back since.

But it’s not just down to the tablets.  What’s so striking about my emergence from the depression this time is the time of year that it has happened.  When my mind started to crumble I felt a strong sense of resignation that my symptoms had returned right on cue.  Since I first started to suffer from depression back in the spring of 2001, the summer has been the time of year that I feel at my worst.  Recently I have come to realise that to a great extent this was learned behaviour.  Once the clocks go forward that was my cue for fraying at the edges and skidding off the road and into a ditch.

Not any more.

One of my regular rides in the Sussex countryside includes a fork in the road.  At this point I have  a choice to make:  do I go left to the coffee shop in Henfield, or right to the tea shop in Hurstpierpoint?  Basically, it’s a win-win situation since both  are good places for a breather.  A tthe beginning of May I came to a fork in the road of a different order altogether.  Do I continue to hang on to my diagnosis, or do I let it go?  For the first time since I embarked on my journey in depression country, and more recently into the bi-polar kingdom, I recognised that I have a choice.  Six weeks ago I was challenged to ditch my diagnoses.  My first impulse was to feel affronted.  What?  You aren’t interested in hearing my story?  How can you really know me if you discard the illnesses that have largely defined who I am for over a decade?  This feeling soon gave way to an intense sense of what I can only describe as liberation.  A real sense that I could choose not to be defined by a diagnosis.  Instead I am free to decide to view it merely as a group of symptoms that I need to mange.  I wouldn’t define myself as some one who has headaches – I just take pill to make it go away, after all.  Why shouldn’t I view my mood disorder in the same way- knock it off its perch?  I know that I have to keep concentrating the whole time when I’m on my bike – managing the risks on the road; likewise I have to remain vigilant to make sure that I maintain my recovery.   In her book Breaking the Bonds: Understanding Depression, Finding Freedom, the psychologist Dorothy Rowe describes the malady in the following way: ‘It is the most terrible sense of being trapped and alone in some horror-filled prison’.  In the 1978 film Midnight Express the hero, Billy Hayes, escapes from the Turkish prison he has been incaerated in by disguising himself as a prison guard and escaping by walking out of the prison entrance.

It feels as though I have made a similar audacious escape after years of, albeit self-imposed, incarceration.

I Shall be Released

They say ev’rything can be replaced,
Yet ev’ry distance is not near.
So I remember ev’ry face
Of ev’ry man who put me here.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

They say ev’ry man needs protection,
They say ev’ry man must fall.
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Some place so high above this wall.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,
Is a man who swears he’s not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released.

Bob Dylan (1941 – )

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2 Responses to Back in the Saddle

  1. Roll on Bob Dylon! Great post. Happy to hear your new meds are having the desired affect. Looking forward to seeing you again soon. Lynda 🙂


  2. Caroline says:

    It’s great to see you back Nicolas and I’m so pleased that you are feeling so much better. I love the film Midnight Express and saw an interview with Billy hayes once. What an incredible story and I understand how you must feel. Well done you and keep up the good work. I look forward to your posts 🙂


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