I recently experienced my worst bout with depression to date.  It was bad enough and lasted long enough (almost 3 months total) that I was seriously considering medication for the first time in my life.  I called all of the (not-so-many) local psychiatrists to make an appointment.  The only office who would see me (and that also took insurance) made an appointment two weeks later.

I wrote that in on my calendar, and I waited.

I had told a few people that I had been feeling down: a friend, my sister, and my boyfriend.  What I hadn’t done was be honest about how far down I was feeling.  I don’t like to cry in front of others.  All this time I cried when I was home alone or in the car alone.  The week before my appointment, I was sitting on my boyfriend’s couch watching TV with him and a neighbor friend of his that wouldn’t leave no matter how hard I wished he would.  And I was struggling to hold it in.  Visibly as they both asked me if I was okay.  That guy finally left.   And as soon as it was just my boyfriend and me, I started crying quietly.  I couldn’t stop. And I told him how bad it was and that I’d made an appointment to see someone.

He sat there by me as I cried and rubbed my leg.  And I felt a little better.

The next morning I felt a lot better.  It was as if that switch I couldn’t find had finally flipped.  I sent my boyfriend a text thanking him for  listening to me.  He told me he’d been thinking that morning, and then sent a list of ideas to do that might help me feel better. I called a long-distance friend and shared with her.

By the end of that day, I was feeling like my old self again.

I decided to keep the appointment if only to establish myself somewhere as a patient, but  I was feeling so good by the time the appointment date came around that it felt silly to go.  At first I felt like an imposter among the others in the waiting room.  But the longer I waited, the more some of those old feelings started to resurface.

It was a rather depressing office for a psychiatrist: ugly building, poor lighting, cramped seating, and sad decor on wooden paneling.  I waited an hour to have my name called.  I finally entered a musty office with out-dated carpet and  an older man sitting behind a large desk.  He asked me if there were many more people waiting.  There were a few.

I told him that I was there to establish myself as a patient.  That I had been feeling depressed and anxious before, but that it was mostly situational and it had already improved.  That I did not want medications at this time.  He then went through a series of questions, typing my answers on the computer with two index fingers.

Once he gathered that I hadn’t had any history of abuse or trauma, he seemed to dismiss the idea that I could have any real major depression.  He said I had some mild depression.  I disagreed as I didn’t think there was anything mild about crying all the time for months now.  He said I had some anxiety after the car accident.  No shit.  I had already told him that I did, but that it had improved as well.

He asked me what he could do for me today.  I repeated my initial statement.  He acted surprised – as if I hadn’t already told him that I was just there to establish myself and was not seeking medicaton at this time.  Oh!  I didn’t want any medications!  Great.  Let him teach me some exercises to get over my anxiety.  Something about reality vs feelings.

Thank you so much.  That really helps me since I already told you how I manage depression/anxiety with self-care (food/exercise/sleep) and talking myself though what is actually happening versus my feelings.

I felt cheated out of my $20 co-pay,but it was nice to know that I could probably get whatever prescription I want out of him in the future.

In the meantime, I’m feeling better.  I’m back at work.  I’ll be able to start running in 2 weeks. I’m doing workout videos and walking for now.

And I now have that experience under my belt.  I can take that with me during any other future depressive episodes.  I can know without a doubt that I can climb out.  I need to make myself talk about it with a few trusted people.  If I think I need to see someone, I will seek  counseling first.

I came across the following quote in the days after I finally started feeling better:

No matter how long you can hold your breath underwater, you will always feel the worst right before you surface. The same is true for most challenges: the most uncomfortable part of the experience usually happens the moment before you feel better. If things are hard now, just remind yourself a long, deep breath will be coming soon. (via Smart Pretty and Awkward)

I’m breathing again.