I left the house today to go to a psychiatrist for the first time in many years. I've been consistent with talk therapy, but like many, I got tired of doing the med shuffle, so I quit doing it. My family doctor recommended it, so I said, sure. I didn't go in with high expectations, really. And then I realized I had seen this same doctor before.
I love that doctors have started to digitize most of their new patient questionnaires. Instead of trying to get myself to an appointment fifteen minutes early (a laughable proposition, really) , I was able to do it at home over the weekend, a little buzzed, tiny kitty in my lap, husband on the other side of the room, smoking a cigarette in the solarium.
"Are you depressed?" the quiz asked me.
"Not right now, but I mean, most of the other time, absolutely," I thought to myself.
I clicked the circles, the scales between 1 and 10, I thought about my last two weeks, and I clicked "submit".
. . . . . .
"The last time I saw you was six years ago," said the doctor in the shabby office. His desk looked enormous. It felt like I was in the principal's office, only the principal is in a moderately nice suit and tie, asking me about whether I've ever had a drinking problem.
"It feels like a different lifetime," I replied. I tugged at the sleeve of my sweater.
I have never been a person who is comfortable asking others for help. No matter how dark things get. I've always just kept trudging through life, like one does, fitting in therapy or other self care in between whatever job pays for the things to make you temporarily "happy". So, for me, it was weird to finally be able to open up to a doctor and say, hey, help me, ok?
I walked him through my life as he asked me the questions I had answered at home. Yes, I'm depressed. I lack motivation. My entire body aches. Yes, some days I stay in bed or on the couch all day. Yes, I've been through multiple traumas, where would you like me to begin? No, I've never been hospitalized. I've never had that kind of time to take care of myself until recently, doc
I was completely honest with him. 100%. Even the shit I've been conditioned over time to hide. All of the bad shit that happened. The physical and emotional abuse. All of these heavy bags, I just set down in front of his feet. No, I don't have many close friends. Yes, I'm worried about money. Yes, I graduated college. No, my parents aren't still together. Yes, my childhood was terrible. Self esteem, what's that? I quit getting my hair and eyebrows done months ago. I wish I were more spiritual. I've been married for a year and some months, and it's still my best decision.
The doctor recommended one medication. I had taken it in the past, and remembered that it made me feel disoriented. Like I would drive to work, and forget driving there. I said no, he recommended another that I had never tried but had heard of. That felt like the safer bet, so I agreed to it.
While he wrote my prescription, the doctor told me about how he had been in the same office since graduating from college and finishing his residency over 30 years ago.
"My first office was only 350 square feet for the whole thing! My classmates asked me how I could even try to go into practice on my own, but i did it and I'm still here."
I smiled. I love stories like that. And I love that people share stories like that with me.
I start the medication tomorrow. I also get to spend time with two of my friends, one in the morning, one in the evening. I need time with the friends I do have now. I'm still learning how to ask my friends for help, though. But I'll get there. Slowly.