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“I wanted to get into my car and just leave my life behind”

  • Ana was diagnosed with an anxiety-depressive disorder and was off work for five months

A year and a half ago, Ana collapsed. There was no apparent cause for her tiredness, apathy and crying. She didn't even realise what was happening to her. It was her family - her father is a doctor - who realised. “It was an accumulation of things,” she says. At the age of 40, she was in an insecure, stressful job which was paying less than previously, she had no time to herself and cared for her two children most of the time because her husband worked until 9pm. “Sometimes I used to fantasise about getting into my car and leaving my life behind without a backward glance. Other times I just wanted my husband to be at home with us,” she explains.

She was diagnosed with an anxiety-depressive disorder and was off work for five months. She was prescribed an antidepressant, to be taken in the morning, and an anxiolytic before going to bed. She also saw two psychologists. The first wanted to organise her diary so she could have time for herself, but didn't look at the cause of her problems. The second was better, but after a few sessions just recommended books for her to read. “So I was paying her instead of going to the library,” she says. Her appointments with a health service psychiatrist barelylasted five minutes.

Ana is feeling better now. “Nothing has changed. My problems are the same, but I have learned to look at them differently,” she says. She has removed some of the stress fromher life: she used to be obsessive about making sure the evening meal, which was the only one the family ate together, was perfectly nutritious and tasty. “Nothing complicated now. I stick to simple things,” she says. She has also changed her job and has more time to herself. “At first you don't want to go out, but you force yourself to do small things,” she says.

Two months ago she tried to gradually reduce her medication, but the insomnia and bouts of crying returned.

“I want to stop taking the pills. They make me slower, like a zombie, but I get panicky about stopping them,” she says. “I've always hated taking anything, even if I was in great pain, and with these you can't control your mind. Well, I suppose you never do, really. That's just how it is,” she says.