By Alison August 12, 2019 8 Comments 5 Min Read

The house is booming with anxiety. Booming I tell you. Finley is about to jet off to Paris and he is having absolute horrors about the entire matter. There is much to worry about. His first trip on an aeroplane after a lifetime of panic attacks at the very idea. The fright of the noise at take-off. His Dad’s imaginary lack of organisational skills (though Mark has the entire trip planned with military detail: even down to the number of pairs socks I am to insist Finn pack and NOT A SOCK MORE!), French trains, French policeman with guns, French food secretly stuffed with gluten. The possibility that the plane will crash, that his Dad will be too excitable (he is a very excitable man) and display his ludicrousity to the French public, and that worst of all, French McDonalds might be too French altogether!

On and on it goes. Worry alternating with the kind of rage that screeches “I don’t even want to go!” when in reality he knows that this is destined to be the loveliest of adventures he alone will share with his Dad. That it is the very stuff that memories will be made of. That together we have done all that we can to make it as calm and as wonderful as can be. But that we have to keep inviting him to expand his horizons even when we know how terribly scared he is, or else we would be failing him as his parents.

And then there is Ste. Tunnelling his way through withdrawal from all medication with a sharp, occasionally biting tongue and stoic determination. A decision supported by his doctor and therapists because a combination of injected testosterone and ever higher doses of Fluoxetine have only brought him to his knees. While the benefits of anti-depressants are so endlessly debated, for Ste they have been nothing more than a mask that slips away too soon and leaves in its wake, debilitating aches, anhedonia more destructive than any tantrum could be, and a kind of exhausted vitality that could send even the strongest of us, totally off our heads.

Of course, we have definitely thought about going down a more natural approach to treating his pain too. A friend of ours has recommended that we should try products infused with CBD. CBD infused products are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and can even have a mood-boosting impact. Our friend also sent us a discount code here so that we could save some money if we do decide to go ahead with any alternative methods. We will certainly have to do some research into CBD and then speak to our doctors to see what they think.

Life within the walls of Chez Brocante, then has become an endless round of managing moods and worries. An endurance test in the kind of swampy territory stretching out into the middle distance. While the drama of a teenager spooked by the new, will be quickly soothed by the wonder that is Paris, (just as we have over the years soothed similar anxiety with proof that worry that rarely comes to pass, and creates instead, memories to be treasured), managing the peaks and troughs of mental illness is more exhausting than it has the right to be.

So I have built walls made of hope and truths. I have stacked books up in front of drama and turned my attention away from the examination of poor mental health’s ever more convoluted beliefs and outrageous lies. Not in itself the withdrawal of support, but a refusal now to allow it to consume us the way it had done. A shift towards normality that insists on routine and the kind of commitment to holistic well-being that encourages depression to loosen her spiky nailed grip on him, and fills the bloody puncture holes she leaves behind not with synthetic hormones, nor the dubious replacement of chemicals we cannot be sure any of us are actually missing, but with the truth of what is. Not what was, or what might be. A reality check of sorts that says endless discussion about what has been lost or whether we will be what we want to be tomorrow is about as helpful as a needle in the flesh of a heroin addict.

Because if I don’t I too will drown. Because if I don’t Ste will believe more in the depression than he does in his own strength to learn to live in spite of it. I have no illusions that tomorrow he will wake up healed: that all the supplements or therapists in the world will mend childhood trauma, low testosterone AND PTSD. Neither of us do. As much as medication such as wellbutrin xl can make a difference to his wellbeing, there is no miracle cure for his ailments. But I do believe that we better stack the odds up against allowing it to destroy us, if we view it not as a wall between us, nor a monster looming over us, but simply as a companion on our journey we neither welcome nor resent. A fact. A truth. A reality.

Today then: the panic of a lost pair of jeans my almost sixteen year old baby cannot leave the country without. A new commitment to a simple diet and supplement protocol designed to support better mental health. Four days ahead of us while both children are on holiday to remember who we are and why we are together. A cinema date. The finishing of a book that describes too closely one of my own experiences and has the tears tripping me with its truths. The worry of my boy being out of the country for the very first time! Spring onion omelettes, eucalyptus showers and early nights reading by the pink light of the salt lamp.

This then is life. Raw and real and broken and lovely. No more time to waste talking ourselves into corners, but time to put a leash of the black dog and walk these green hills regardless.


  1. Alison says:

    Fin will LOVE Paris! His dad will have to drag him back across the Channel, tell him from me. Ste isn’t the first person I know of who has found that the medication meant to help with their mental health issues, is either doing no good or making things worse. I’m so glad to know he has support for what will not be an easy journey. But from what you have written in the past (and what Ste has blogged about himself), I don’t think that journey scares either of you. Having looked the Devil in the face, as it were.
    The brain is such a delicate organ and we still don’t understand nearly enough about how it works, or doesn’t work. I hope there is a clear way ahead for you both.

  2. Kelly Gabriel Guida says:

    Ahhhh…your writing of life. You do it so well. ? Thank you Alison. ?

  3. Linda says:

    Living without therapists and medication takes a brave leap, but I know from experience of a family member it can be done, and after some real struggles with withdrawal from medication, the light began to peak through. My family member and her family went from strength to strength, there were days that were not so good, but overall life has become so much calmer and peaceful for them. They started living a simpler less exhaustive life and as you say lived in a more holistic way. Therapists and medicines are not the only answers, be brave, be strong, and that mountain can be climbed.

  4. Laura says:

    Well done, Alison my dear. It takes enormous courage, imo and ime, to draw those lines and say, “enough! Our lives are controlled by us; we are not controlled by our lives” and to insist that, despite the depression and accompanying demons, despite those things, we can still get up, get dressed, keep clean, eat properly, walk outdoors, live our lives…
    It took me many, many years… and still sometimes it tries to overwhelm me once more… but I know that if I swing the routines into place, if I impose order onto chaos, then it won’t magically remove the chaos but I will get through, fed and alive…

  5. Debbie says:

    Have you heard of the Lightning Process? It might be helpful for Ste. It isn’t cheap – £650 or so when I did the course in 2015, but it changed my life as I recovered from chronic Illness (M.E.). I know people have also overcome other conditions including anxiety and depression, using the Lightning Process.
    (I’m not affiliated with it in anyway, just passing on the information).
    There is a video on this link that explains how it can help with depression.

    1. Alison says:

      I haven’t Debbie, but I’m going to look into it now. Thank you so much: it is so helpful to receive recommendations like this…x

  6. Pamela Reece says:

    Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
    I have a mental illness which medicene cannot cure but only manages (with all the unpleasant side effects). I came to Jesus and found rest, just like He said I would. May you and Ste and Finely find rest too. Good luck to you. LUCK=Living Under Christ’s Kindness

  7. says:

    We should be aware of this important points about domestic depression. This would be a huge help. Thanks for sharing this great article.

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