Monday, March 21, 2016

A Visit to the Doctor

Last week, I did something that I probably should've done a long time ago but didn't feel like I really needed to do until this year: I went to my doctor to talk about depression.

It may have been one of most difficult things I've ever done.

I'm pretty open about my depression here on my blog or on Facebook or in text conversations with friends, but I hadn't considered until this visit how much all that is under my control. I'm able to refine the words, to speak clearly and articulately about my feelings. That is a far cry from the weeping, incoherent mess I was the day I went in.

As soon as the nurse asked me the reason for my visit, I started tearing up. When she told me my blood pressure was a little high, tears starting falling. (We checked it a few minutes later and it had gone back down.) When the doctor came in and asked me gently, "How are you doing?" I started genuinely sobbing and could barely get the words out to explain I was pretty sure I was depressed.

It didn't get better. I knew I needed to be there -- after all, the fact that I was so depressed and anxious about seeing a doctor for depression and anxiety was probably a clue I was doing the right thing -- but as she began asking me how things had been, if there were any emotional triggers I was aware of, how long this had been going on, I could feel myself mentally curling up into a ball, answering the questions as briefly as I could and longing for this awful, uncontrollable vulnerability to just go away so I could go back to feeling like a semi-competent human being.

I knew she'd probably suggest medication, and I knew what I wanted to talk about with her: that I wasn't against depression meds on principle or anything but the thought of having even more meds to keep track of and schedule and worry about side effects for was really overwhelming to me, and I wanted to know if there was any way we could hold off on it until I got fully back on my arthritis medication. Then the moment came, she asked me if I was OK going on medication, and all I could think was I want to be out of here, I want to go home, and saying yes will send me home more quickly, so I said OK and walked out of there with a prescription for Prozac, a referral for a psychiatrist, and a strong sense of self-loathing for being unable to speak up and share my concerns.

(Incidentally, I debated emailing her back and saying, "I couldn't bring myself to talk about it then, but I was wondering..." but ultimately couldn't make myself do that either, at which point I decided maybe that meant I needed the medication pretty badly after all. So we'll be giving that a shot.)

One of the things that makes depression so crappy is how it saps your motivation so the steps you might need to take to feel better seem impossibly difficult. I know that going to see movies by myself is a temporary mood lift that can help refuel me a bit after an especially anxiety-ridden week... but the thought of having to get up and drive to the theater feels somehow worse than the thought of sitting around feeling depressed all day. It's significantly more difficult when your step forward is not "have a beautiful day alone at the movies," but instead "cry in front of people in the hopes they can help you."

That being said... this is a good thing. It is incredibly difficult, and admitting to strangers through tears that I'm depressed makes me feel more genuinely broken than I have in a long time, but I'm doing something about stuff, which has not been my strong suit this year. And so I will take it and claim it as a victory... even if nothing's actually happened yet.

1 comment:

  1. That is absolutely a victory, Hannah! You are a brave person for recognizing your need, for making the appointment, and for showing up. It's so hard to talk to doctors - they are in such a place of authority that it is intimidating and stressful and can make you feel so inadequate. I would have also chickened out about discussing a non-medicated option with my doctor, and would have second-guessed myself later and tried to write an email and then second-guessed myself about sending it. In fact, I've done that very thing in the last month, just for a different health issue! Being a person is hard, and you are doing the right thing by trying to be the best person you can be, regardless of if you decide to try the medication or not. Whichever option YOU choose is the right option for you. Rooting for you and praying for you today.