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.