Through most of my time in high school and university, I didn't view my chronic low-level depression and near-total social isolation as serious problems. I had only two issues, or so I thought; sexual addiction and obesity. I knew that my parents' constant infighting upset me, but I didn't think I needed treatment.
As early as age 12, my Grade 8 teacher recommended I seek professional counselling. I was furious at the notion, and my parents did not press me. Later on, I became convinced that counselling might help, but I didn't want my parents to know. For the same reason, I avoided Twelve Step groups.
When I started university at 18, I headed straight to the campus counselling service for my sex addiction. The therapist saw that that was not my real problem, but I wouldn't listen to him, blocked by my then-dogmatic religious convictions. I broke it off for nearly four years.
Finally as the acute depression levelled me near the end of university, I crawled back into counselling. I saw three campus counsellors that year, a different one each term. The first two were enormously helpful, referring me to two highly influential books that perhaps saved me.
These were "Feeling Good" by David Burns, a cognitivist approach to depression, and "The Courage to Heal" by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, aimed at women survivors of sexual abuse. Even though I was male and had only been abused emotionally, not sexually, both books helped enormously.
This gave me the strength to finally leave home in July, 1996, just after my 22nd birthday. Immediately I went hotfoot to a doctor and was prescribed Surmontil, a tricyclic antidepressant. I also dove into the Twelve Step movement, going to 5-7 meetings a week, usually a mixture of Overeaters Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous.
I settled into my new job as an engineer and before long the depression began to intensify. I left my therapist in the end of July and switched to another, a specialist in treating sex addictions. But my mental state continued to worsen. From Surmontil I changed to Luvox in early August, but that backfired badly enough to place me in hospital for the first time, suicidal. I then went on Paxil, which didn't hurt but didn't seem to help much either.
I kept on this regimen for another two months and the black hole only got deeper and deeper. I was able to stay away from paid sexual encounters, but in every other respect I felt awful. My ability to do my job was compromised; finally I took a month's unpaid leave.
I changed doctors. My new psychiatrist switched me from Paxil to Prozac. I then delved headfirst into searches for any and all cure. I tried over a dozen therapists all over town, before finally settling on one therapist I saw individually and another as a group. I also started homeopathic treatment, and, more radically, quit the ineffective Twelve Step groups.
This regimen worked wonders at first. For the next several months my mood steadily improved. Depression ceased to be a daily torment and became the more occasional stuff of relapses.
I discovered around this time I had social phobia. My early clumsy attempts at dating failed miserably and shattered my confidence in myself. I was left bitter and distrustful of virtually the entire female gender. Progress here continued to stall, nor could I get control of my diet.
My psychiatrist dropped my Prozac from 60 to 40 mg and added Desyrel as a supplement. When that didn't work, he tried Aventyl, another tricyclic. Under that regimen, my progress stalled. I continued to be productive in my career, changing to a new and better job as a consultant, but remained miserable and lonely at home, if no longer suicidal. Sex for pay defined my social life, diet and exercise remained bad.
In October 1997 I stopped the tricyclics and went back to a 60 mg Prozac dose, and my moods slowly but surely began to improve. My diet improved slightly, and I felt more energetic and hopeful, but was as totally isolated socially as always. I still had the occasional relapse into anxiety, but not depression.
About this time I dropped both my individual and group therapists and tried a behavioural therapist for a few session. That didn't seem to work, so I settled on a psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders. For a while this did work, somewhat. I joined Weight Watchers, and lost nine pounds.
I even, in April 1998, had a girlfriend! I met her via a voice-personal ad, but it was not a happy relationship. Desperate to please her, I bent over backwards to accomodate her various caprices. She, still embittered from her own previous bad experiences with men, was never impressed by this and dumped me abruptly after a month. I have had no relationships since.
In July 1998 I quit therapy, sick and tired of years without apparent progress. I switched from Prozac to Nardil, the drug of choice for social phobia. It had no effect at a 15 mg, then 30 mg dose. At 45 mg, the side effect of impotence hit - and for a someone like me who depended on sexual release the experience of impotence was, if anything, worse than depression. So I had to stop.
During this time, I finally completed my university thesis, which had languished uncompleted for two years, and continued to watch my career as a computer consultant blossom. But my social life remained utterly barren, and my sex life remained entirely bought and paid for.
Since then, I've tried other drugs. St. John's Wort had only a mild effect, Zoloft caused insomnia, and Serzone also had only a limited impact. Finally that winter I returned to Prozac, and have remained on it ever since. Ever ambitious, I changed jobs again, this time taking a position as technical lead.
I also returned to therapy, this time trying an experimental technique known as TIR (Traumatic Incident Reduction). It didn't work either, and by the spring of 1999 I was in deep depression and spending a fortune on phonesex and prostitutes. Around that time, I met a girl in a chatroom, and we fell in love, even though she lived in another country. For four months I was blissfully happy. I flew over to meet her and her family, and had a very special weekend. But two months later that relationship ended, too.
One of the guestbook signers of this web site met me shortly after that, and she continued to visit me every few months for the next year. It was not a full-fledged relationship, but when she was with me I felt at peace. When she was not, my old perversions continued.
Finally, in the fall of 2000, I made the decision to leave my country of birth and settle elsewhere with a lucrative senior engineering position. As a bonus, I would no longer be in easy visiting distance of my family. I flew to my new home, and, cut off from nearly all I knew, fell back into depression. This eased up only when I was prescribed 300 mg of Wellbutrin, in addition to the Prozac I am still on.
I went to another therapist who was able to reach me, and eventually my depression eased off, but the anxiety remained. Since then I have switched to another therapist, a social phobia specialist, and slowly am making progress. I have recently become active in some community groups, and attend mixers and socials regularly. I still am too terrified of women to approach them romantically, but no longer suffer the almost-daily anxiety and depression attacks.
And now, I've gone back to school part-time, studying for a graduate degree. Between school and work I don't have much spare time, but have learned to find solace in solitude.