Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter


Life without ginseng

I suffer from mild depression. It may not appear mild to me or those around me, but, compared to those millions suffering severe depression, it is mild. Trust me. I also suffer from any number of physical problems, which are either signs of me ageing, or a sign that I was born imperfect.

To counteract these imperfections, and in an attempt to stave off what are perceived as my mood swings, I started taking ginseng a long while ago. Naturally, there was a lot of jollity from friends when I revealed this to them, as ginseng, for some reason, also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac. Not that I noticed any such effects. What I did notice was that I was fairly energetic most of the time, and that my moods didn’t actually much deviate from their usual patterns. But the energy I needed, because I don’t like particularly to sit still for a along time (literally and figuratively).

There have been times when I do go very hyper, and that’s not just a question of mind speed. When it happens, I can feel my heart beating more quickly, and my body executing even its normal motions in a jagged and frenzied way, like a whirlwind in my head and in my limbs. I have to consciously slow down everything, take one hand to control the other, try to think in slow motion, try to move in slow motion. It’s not particularly fun. It’s like everything is over-revving.

This summer has been interesting, because, for the first time in a long time, I spent prolonged periods away from home, away from my vitamin medicine case (actually a basket), and not for work, but actually to do things wihth my children they enjoyed (and wanted me to do with them), like Latitude, concerts in other places, cricket, being real instead of office-at-home dad. A lot of it was actually fun.

The thing is, about a month ago, when I got home, and the next morning popped my first ginseng pill for a few days, the world went manic around and inside me again that evening. So I didn’t take any the next day. And felt crap. So, the next day I was back on it. And everything speeded up again, and I didn’t like it.

It’s October now, and I’ve been a month, at least, without ginseng. I do feel slower, I do have trouble sometimes putting my thoughts together at the speed at which I think I should be. Yet I seem to be, and I’m open for correction on this from the people I live with (if they ever read this), more patient, more kind to myself and those around me. Like all men, of course, I worry that placidness equates to lack of competitiveness in all areas, but I guess I’ll cross that bridge if it ever comes across my path. My hope is, of course, that I will not suffer from my usual blackness during the winter. That is the next test.

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  1. Anonymous

    15th October 2014 at 16:04

    Richard, have you tried Kratom as an alternative? It is an alkaloid, herbal, legal capsule that can help with mood swings. I get mine from and they deliver free. It has no comedown effect and it is v mild. I take it for painkilling effect for neuropathy. I think it's a good balancer.

  2. richard pierce

    15th October 2014 at 20:05

    Dear Frances,

    Thanks for this. Will have a look out for it. Thanks, too, for reading.


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