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I had episodic major depressions since I was 17. The depressions reoccurred about every 8 years on average. They were epic struggles for survival.

I would go down for 6 months, lose my ability to sleep, lose 15% of my body weight, be unable to bathe or care for myself. I felt profound hopelessness

and was suicidal. At the bottom, I was probably too sick to kill myself. After hitting bottom and having a mental meltdown, I would claw my way back up over a period of 18 months. So, in 40 years of my adult

life, I spent about 20% of my time actively battling a serious mental illness. If I had known my illness was cyclical, I might have killed myself at age 17 and

not regretted it. But, I saw myself as an innocent kid who didn't deserve what was happening. I didn't understand what had happened to me. I had a lot of life to live. I hadn't even had sex by then. I battled

my anxiety and insomnia without medical help, and my youth carried the day. Successive episodes would see me hospitalized twice, I suffered 4 more episodes

very similar to the first. Long story short, I solved the riddle of the trauma that initiated my depressive illness. I was suffering from a rare epileptic syndrome which

was said to be difficult to diagnose. My illness began with a powerful temporal lobe seizure. A British Neurological Journal said this: "The worst case scenario is when "the post ictal psychosis segues into an affective disorder of major depression or bipolar disorder."".

I was a worse case scenario. With that information, I had a neurologist administer and evaluate my MRI and EEG. My self diagnosis was confirmed. My EEG indicated I had a history of epileptic seizure. My "panic attacks" were actually focal temporal lobe seizures.

From there, I was able to research all of my symptoms and put my life in focus. It was very empowering after having lived in survival mode for so long.

I had ECT in 2014 and it caused a fundamental shift in my brain function. I was able to discontinue SSRiS and other adjunct psych meds I had taken for 25 years.

My success was a long shot, but I earned it. I don't know how I might convince you that I know where the bottom of the pit is. I've been there more than once. If I had taken my own life, I could forgive myself

for doing so. But, I didn't and my life improved significantly due to my own self advocacy and research. I have another 12.5 years of life expectancy. Probably less since I have had 5X bypasses and the wear and tear

on my mind and body due to those depressive episodes. No matter. I'll live it to the best of my ability and deal with death when it gets here. I could also say that everything I achieved in life, I owe to my illness.

I never intended to work as hard in life as I had to, in order to conceal my illness and lead a relatively normal (in outward appearance) life. Good luck.
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