At the age of about eleven I started to notice the fact that I was feeling sad without any reason to be so. I assumed at the time that this would just pass, and that as I got older I would be happier. I didn't really want to get any older - I just knew that I would and may as well abandon myself to the inexorable passage of time. Three years of tears and bullying followed and, by the time I was 14, I had decided that I was depressed. It got steadily worse and worse, until the age of 16 when I was self-harming on an almost daily basis and, at one point, attempted to throttle myself with a large rope Mane had brought to camp.
I went through counselling, saw my psychologist every week and began to work with depression, rather than just assuming it would go away of its own accord or something magical would happen in order to stave it off. Talking to him certainly helped - I was still suffering hours of slightly freaky episodes and trying to find reasons to make it to school without jumping off the bridge I had to cross in order to get there, but at least I had someone to talk to about it.
My GP was very much against putting me on any sort of medication. I saw a neurologist who ran a test on me who suggested it, as did most of the other medical professionals I saw. My psychologist didn't have an opinion on the matter. My counsellor at school suggested alternative therapy. My Christian friends suggested prayer. In the end, of course, I found a way out through sex - having sex with my girlfriend at the time and masturbating at random intervals when not with her. I was, as we all know, dumped shortly after the beginning of university, and at that point I was probably the closest I ever was to ending it all. Perhaps the only reason I didn't do it was that someone else on my campus did it first, and I didn't want to downplay the tragedy of that poor guy by topping myself.
Still, I was miles away from home, didn't have any friends where I was, and had been dumped. I was an absolute mess.
My new GP put me on SSRIs straight away. He had no alternative - said he saw them as a weapon, and he stressed that he was putting me on a low dose - 10mg - so that it wasn't going to be a massive physical change I experienced; I might just even out a little. I'd never had much of an experience with drugs - I took mebeverine for my IBS for a while and it had no effect whatsoever - and had a sneaky suspicion that I was automatically immune to many of their effects - but I took the Citalopram like the good little student I was and...
So he upped the dose to 20mg.
I was still screaming, crying, cutting and throwing myself against walls repeating the word "why?" in increasingly agonised voices. My new counsellor, who liked to say the word "fuck" a lot, suggested all sort of therapies, none of which seemed to work. I was teetering on the brink and the SSRIs weren't helping a damn.
So I stopped taking them. In a snap. This wasn't difficult, or even a bad decision. They weren't doing anything for me so I just stopped. I didn't go cold turkey or lose any sleep or have any randomly psychotic episodes. I was in no way a sadder person. I was the same person in every way except for the fact that I wasn't taking a pill every evening.
It was only at that point that I noticed SSRIs did have an effect on me in that they had killed by sex drive, almost completely. By this point I had stopped kidding myself that I could give up masturbating to soft porn and had started to build up a repository of the things I downloaded - the original files are still on my Disks of Wonder™. I was also ordering it from Amazon and further afield, as I was aware that I could. I just wasn't enjoying it as much when I was on SSRIs - I could get hard pretty easily, I just wasn't arriving at the main event. (47 and a few other people told me they felt the same way - and my little hobbit friend, who lived near the university itself, told me that he couldn't even get an erection using Citalopram!) But, almost from the moment I threw away my SSRIs, I started having the most amazing orgasms - long, protracted, blissful ones of the sort I still have today. The type that make you blank out of existence for a while. Those orgasms.
My orgasms before I started taking SSRIs were probably about the same. I just had no idea how much I appreciated them.
So I threw myself headlong into things which distracted me. I joined a band. I wrote my heart out in my blog, along with more poetry and short stories and even much longer bits of fiction. I went for mile-long walks in and around the campus. I went clubbing. I danced in my own room. Sang. I even went and bought a cowbell, for want of some form of musical instrument to hold while I had James at maximum volume to keep me company. And I masturbated.
A lot. I masturbated like I didn't even care. I appreciated every single orgasm, even if I had to work for it. I wasn't going to beat depression, so I may as well wank my way through university while I could. And so I did.
I'm still feeling sad without any reason to be so. But I also have my own developed sexual identity with a good realisation what works for me and what doesn't. And I developed that and all the associated outlets without having to rely on a drug to help me stay on track. In fact, I did better without it. And I know that I am just one case and may well be an exception here.
But I'm living with depression. And having orgasms along the way.