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pic(James S. Nagel, M.D.)

Late winter of 2002, I was looking for a physician to manage my prescriptions. I was new in town so I asked one of my clients if they could refer me to a physician, and that's how I met Dr. James Nagel.  My client told me if I followed Dr. Nagel's recommendations, I would feel terrific. In all the referrals to physicians I received over the years, this was the first time someone mentioned feeling good or better by going to a doctor.

I have been to about 50+ providers over the years to "manage" my depression.  I've been on every anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication on the market.  I maxed out on doses for every medication doctors could think of to prescribe but not one of them could tell me "why" I was depressed.  To be honest, at that time I didn't think about "why", I just knew I was and always would be.  That was depressing to me, and over the years the depression grew worse.  I felt doomed; like I was stuck with this condition, disease, or disorder.  I didn't really know what it was and no one gave me a straight answer, all I knew was  it controlled me, the life-changing decisions I made, and daily choices throughout my adult life.  It was not a very good life, to be blunt about it.  It was outright miserable and a daily struggle for survival.

Going to Dr. Nagel's office was like no other experience I ever had with any other providers, including specialists.  Everyone was telling me the same thing, starting with the first physician I went to when I was 17—"You are severely, clinically depressed.  You will be depressed for the rest of your life, and you will need to be on medication for the remainder of your life".  When I naïvely asked the doctor how he knew I'd be depressed for the rest of my life he responded, "Because your mother is a patient of mine and she has been severely, clinically depressed all her life and she said her mother had always been depressed and crazy".

Part of me was relieved someone gave a name to the emptiness and despair I was feeling but I went from feeling empty to feeling nothing at all on Prozac.  For a while I was okay with that.  I was okay with feeling nothing.  I began living my life around my depression.  That was how I identified myself to other people.  I thought having depression, or at least the official diagnosis gave me the right to check out and require less of myself, because that's what I thought of myself and was worthy of.  This was easy to do on medication.  I checked out and went through the motions.  I was content to not feel and participate.  I grew up in a painful environment so this was a welcomed mental vacation.  

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