Life from an outsider's perspective…

Doc Brown suffers from “the disease of the 21st Century”.

For me, moving here definitely made this horrible latent condition [depression] rise to the surface. I just want to say I really struggled in the first 6 months. I fell into a terrible state: a huge, long-lasting rut of terrible guilt & self pity, seemingly with no escape. Living in Australia, I was the typical ignorant person who could never hope to truly “understand” depression itself, always relying on 100% positive thinking no matter what the circumstances. And boy have I changed now. Depression is not something you can just spontaneously pull yourself out of. It takes time to become sick in the first place, but it also takes time to recover.

Within 3 months of moving to Tenerife this is what happened to me:

I’d cry all the time, and not know why. I mean I’d cry silently every few days. And normally I hadn’t cried in maybe 5 YEARS. I felt completely useless. I didn’t even feel like making any telephone calls. I was totally reliant on other people. I felt guilty about that too… I basically felt that I was worthless to society.

I’d eat oranges (vitamin C) and take vitamin B, and eventually it felt like I was peeling oranges just to try to stave off this terrible & almost permanent low feeling. It’s like I had this CONSTANT internal struggle, always fighting for my happiness, but not exactly realising what was happening to me. I just now I wasn’t happy, the outlook was bleak, and I wanted to feel “normal” again.

Anway, after daily telephone calls back to OZ, my girlfriend agreed to take me to see this female doctor in La Orotava to present my symptoms. I was in reality crying out for help. She put me on this medication [seropram] and told me not to stop taking it. “The world is waiting for you!” she said as she banged her fist emphatically on the desk. All of the conversation was in Spanish by the way… Well, after 3 days I felt too nauseous to continue… and I felt super anxious all the time and had a few of these new “panic attacks”… so I just stopped taking the pills.

Anway, I planned to see this female doctor again who was only there once a week (I thought that I’d be more comfortable speaking about my problems to a woman than a man), but it turns out no female doctors were available. At that point, I just didn’t know what to do or where to turn. The pills weren’t working I thought. Absolutely nothing seemed to be working. I didn’t know where to turn. It was too late to call OZ.

I still remember the worst moment about this time last year:
I went completely dismayed outside the clinic and basically just retired to these nearby steps, dwelling on the whole situation for what seemed like ages… what was my next move going to be I had no idea… I didn’t have the energy to walk home. I didn’t know who to call or what to do.
I sat incapacitated in this way for perhaps 40 minutes until I realised that sort of reaction is just not normal (not one iota!), and I literally had to pick myself up, and drag myself back inside and I said to them I wanted to see any Doctor, I don’t care who… and he asked me how I felt & then at the end of the session he handed over this, the most recent prescription: when I read “prozac” written on it, I tell you, well it totally shook me to the core. I thought: “I must be much worse than I thought; how did I let myself get this bad?”

These pills do help, but you have to find the right ones. They only give you a little hope. That’s it. The rest you have to do yourself. Other people can only do so much for you. For me, the most important thing was recognition & acceptance of the condition. You have to realise that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain, hence you are sick. Then, knowing that, you can help yourself begin to heal. But I think in order to recover you have to solve the underlying issues and problems going on in your life; to overcome those problems that give you that eternal feeling of conflict, the ones that made you feel trapped and worried in the first place.

Here’s a very interesting read:…re_balance.pdf

UPDATE: 09/08/06. After a visit with my psychiatrist, she prescribed trankimazen (1g daily) to help with my anxiety problem, and I’m continuing with a 40mg prozac treatment. She also referred me to a psychologist (to figure out why I’m so nervous & to help devise new relaxation methods). All I can say in hindsight, is that looking back… major life changes can really knock you down hard. I’m well on the road to a full recovery now. I feel have a useful life here in Tenerife hiring bicycles, and I intend to continue with it.

UPDATE: 16/08/06. The psychiatrist boosted my prozac dose to 50mg daily. The maximum reccommended daily allowance is 80mg.


7 Responses to “Doc Brown suffers from “the disease of the 21st Century”.”

  1. UPDATE:
    I stopped taking all trankimazen & prozac in January of February of 2008. I can’t remember the exact date. All I know is that I was supposed to go on a lower dose, and then I lost my prescription, so I decided to go cold chicken (think cold turkey, but smaller). It wasn’t easy.

    For about 6 months I felt more normal, and I appeared to be overcoming it. No dizzy spells. No guilt for taking medication. No feeling of “I’m still not 100% happy despite taking this shite”.

    The last few weeks haven’t been that good I’m afraid to say. It’s now the 1st of September and I feel I need another visit to the psych. :-(

  2. Hi Leslie,

    First off, thank you for creating this site. It has been a huge help reading through your blog entries, especially the ones that relate to your struggles with depression and fitting into a new culture. I too have recently moved to Tenerife – from Vancouver, Canada to be exact. To make a long story short, I’m in need of seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist myself but have had a difficult time tracking one down here on the island. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks so much for your time.

  3. Thanks very much! I hope to create a few more articles for the inspiration category in future; of course the mental anguish section will never be forgotten… I am reluctant to post too much HEAVY stuff lately, although I do have a few pre-written posts which should appear within a few days… I try and intersperse them & meld them into the whole blog.
    The psychiatrist that I saw was/is located in “Centro Medico Vida” in Las Arenas, Puerto de la Cruz. You can’t miss it, it’s on the main road, on the right hand side as you go down into El Puerto. Her name is Silvia. The thing is, we spoke in Spanish 98% of the time… I imagine that if you have less than 1 year of Spanish practise, it might be difficult to relay your feelings adequately. I’m not sure how much English she knows really. She gave me a much needed boost during each visit. I always felt good about myself after her consultations… even if she was increasing or decreasing my dosis of medication. These days, I feel I don’t need ANY medication although I do sometimes still feel quite ‘down’. I put that down to the fact that business is slow & I haven’t seen my family, hence the trip I have planned in May/June. Anyway, if you live in the South, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an English-speaking psychologist or pyschiatrist. Good luck & it’d be nice to hear how things go in future! Les.

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