Hello everyone! Welcome back to TMI theater! When we last left off I had a t-shaped piece of plastic shoved deep into me. This time, however, is thankfully less graphic but still personal. Yesterday I finally went to a psychiatrist to have my medication adjusted. And since I’ve had a few people contact me to ask what it’s like I thought I would write up what happened. Keep in mind that not every psychiatrist is like this, but this should give people an idea about what it’s like.
Let me get this part right out of the way: I suffer from mental illness. Ever since I was a child I have battled against anxiety, depression, and ADHD. I had my first massive depressive episode on my 11th birthday, got worse my last year of high school, and then just full-on got piledrived through a flaming table by my mental illness in college and almost lost the war entirely in my mid-to-late twenties. When I was twenty-eight years old I was finally put on Lexapro, and for the first time since high school I was me again. I lost over ten years to mental illness, which is a burden I will carry for the rest of my life.
Quick side note to all of my loved ones: I’M DOING MUCH BETTER NOW! PLEASE DON’T WORRY OR FEEL BAD! I PROMISE I EAT VEGETABLES AND BRUSH MY TEETH EVERY DAY! PLEASE DON’T MAKE THIS WEIRD I BEG OF YOU! NO HUGS PLEASE I DO NOT DO TOUCHING!
Lexapro was life changing to say the least. I could think again. I wasn’t having panic attacks over the smallest things. I could do things that were once impossible, like call people on the phone or go outside or be able to fall asleep without drinking first. Better, but not perfect. Once the raging inferno was out in my mind my depression seeped in. I would feel nothing for days on end. I would find myself crying randomly, or being crushed by intrusive thoughts I couldn’t shake. I lost the drive to do anything. My writing faltered. Dust covered my knitting. Pictures went unhung and messages unanswered. Unlike my childhood, teens, and twenties, however, I recognized what was happening. I needed help.
Unfortunately for me I also live in America. New Jersey, to be precise. So here is a quick list of steps I took to find a psychiatrist:
1) Check with my insurance provider to see which psychiatrists near me take my insurance.
2) There are no psychiatrists near me that take it.
3) Or in the state of NJ, period.
4) God I hate New Jersey.
5) Okay fine I make a list of psychiatrists near me and spend the next three days calling their offices to see if they have an opening and if they do sliding scale.
6) Spoiler alert: No psychiatrists within an hour’s drive from my house in any direction have openings or sliding scale. The cheapest price I’m quoted is $300 for the first session, $175 for each one after. It just so happens this is the only office that had an opening…in two months. Fine, I take it, and do some quick math to see if I can do a few ramen-centered lunches for a few weeks to see if I can make up the cash difference.
7) Two weeks later the office calls me to say hey we have an opening tonight, do you want in? I control myself so I don’t scream PLEASE OH GOD I WANT TO FEEL OTHER EMOTIONS AGAIN GIVE ME PILLS into the phone and schedule the appointment.
Which is how I found myself standing outside hasn’t-been-updated since the 70’s medical pavilion last night, praying that I wasn’t going to waste three hundred dollars on ‘have you tried doing yoga’ level advice. The office was small but thankfully lacking any of the normal red flags I’ve come across before (flyers for chiropractic serves, stuff related to Freud, Bibles for reading material, the word Reki on anything, etc).
One thing of note is that I think that might have been the most paperwork I ever filled out in my life and that includes my gallbladder surgery. The doctor asked for my full medical history both physical and mental. I actually only got halfway through the paperwork before the doctor came in to get me. He was a chipper man, but not enough to get on my nerves. Friendly but not overly so. I liked him already. He asked if I was okay with dogs because they had therapy dogs at the office. I smile and say yes when on the inside I was screaming HOLY FUCK A DOG LET ME PET THE DOG SIR I WOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU THE MONEY FOR AN HOUR OF DOG HUGS ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
The therapy room was even smaller than the reception area, but cozy. There were pillows, fidget toys, and most importantly the best golden retriever that has ever exist in the history of mankind. We take a seat, me on the dog couch and him in a comfy chair, and between my scritches the doctor asked me questions. Not too many, just enough to poke my stream of thoughts in the right direction. What brings you here? What do you do for a living? Do you like it? What are your hobbies? Social circles? How are you feeling now? What is your family like? He doesn’t mind that I answer questions staring at the spot on the wall in front of me instead of at him. I explain the family history of autism and mental illness. He hands me a tissue when I tear up and laughs when I tell him stories about my last job. I’ve been to rotten doctors and therapists before. This was a good one.
At the end of the hour he agreed that yes, although my anxiety is in check my depression needed help. He prescribed me wellbutrin and mentioned it might help with my ADHD as well. I honestly can’t thank him enough. I’ve been ignored by so many doctors to have one that actually listened and helped was mindblowing. But just when things couldn’t get better he opened the office door and A SECOND GOLDEN RETRIEVER CAME IN
And that’s where I am. I have an appointment in two months and I’m to text the doctor every two weeks with updates on how I’m feeling. I took my first pill last night but it’s going to take some time before it really starts working. I know that it won’t be a magic fix. I will still have my bad days. I will always have my bad days. But being medicated means that those bad days will be less and less. And maybe I’ll actually fold and put away my laundry. Anything’s possible, really.