A decade ago, after my open-heart surgery, I was feeling depressed. This happens a lot to people who’ve had their hearts cracked open, fixed and sewn back up.
But why depression?
As one eminent cardiologist said: “Your heart has endured a gross insult.”
Of course I denied it. I remember standing outside the supermarket at Pape and Danforth and screaming at my wife, the doctor, who had gently suggested I may be a bit depressed: “I’m not depressed. I’m just sad!”
I was depressed.
My doctor prescribed me an anti-depressant and I went to pick it up at the pharmacy the next morning. A lot of friends had warned me that anti-depressants don’t work, and that you have to go through months of trying one, then another, to find one that sticks.
I was not 30 seconds out of the drugstore when I opened the cap and swallowed my first pill of Remeron. Five minutes later, my wife called to make sure I’d picked up the pills. When she learned I’d already popped my first one, and I told her “I feel great!”, she said: “Well, darling, you have a huge need to feel great. Maybe it’s not the drug, but the placebo.”
I was lucky. Once the drug effect did kick in, it turned out Remeron was the anti-depressant for me. After a couple of months, I felt a lot better. I can describe it as “before”, there was no distance between me and my fears, as if they were clamped and tightly screwed to my body and brain. “After,” there was a little distance. They hovered just outside my skin, but they were no longer under my skin. I could breathe.