Changes

Hi everyone. Again, sorry about a nearly month-long hiatus. Soon after posting “Waking Up Happy”, I started dealing with some pretty bad depression (the worst I’ve had in a long time), actually skipping work because I felt so bad. Though I have been feeling better for about a week, I’ve been preparing for the so-called next chapter of my life: college.

Other than excuses, I have some pretty significant changes I’ve experienced in the past month or so. After over a year of enduring depression, my parents-well, mostly my mother-caved and agreed to take me to a psychiatrist before I go to college. I was exceedingly anxious prior to visiting the doctor, knowing that I usually cry when discussing this topic. And, of course, I did cry when he asked me to start describing how I had been feeling. We discussed the symptoms of depression, how depression affects the body, and how antidepressants can help.

I was relieved when he told me he certainly believed I had depression; I had been clobbered with self-doubt, wondering if maybe I wasn’t really depressed and was just going through a rough patch in my life. But depression is a real illness, which can be treated just like any other disease. When we started discussing antidepressants, my mom related her worries, and pointed out that, based on the symptoms he had described, most of the people she knew could be depressed.

He then related the most important symptom of depression: the disease affects one’s life and prevents one from functioning as they would without the depression. Though she claimed she did not see it interfering with my life, I reminded-or rather confessed-I had skipped work and school because of how I felt. The psychiatrist also stated I had been trying to solve the issue through other means, particularly therapy. Though I feel therapy helps me tremendously, I seem to have reached an impasse and can no longer progress forward in healing.

Soon after, I was prescribed some antidepressants, and have been taking them ever since. It’s been about a week now. In the past week I’ve had trouble sleeping, but I’ve started to fall back into my pattern, and last night got 7 whole hours of sleep.

I’m also looking forward to college more than I have thus far. Prior to this week, I’ve been terrified to embark on my college adventures, to the point where I was dreading my departure date. For some reason-maybe after talking with my roommate, feeling less depressed, rediscovering my love for biology, or a combination of the three-I’ve become obsessed with going to college. It’s one of the first things I think about when I wake up and the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. I’m done with paint crew, my summer job, and just want to get back to academic work.

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The Doctor’s Visit

***Note: Any dialogue is from memory and therefore is probably not exact wording. Also, order of events might be wrong, but all of this did happen sooo yeah***

If this is your first time reading a post of mine or you just don’t follow me avidly, I wrote my mother a note telling her that I essentially think I might be some kind of depressed. In response, she decided to set up a doctor’s appointment for me with my regular family doctor. It was rescheduled because of soccer to this morning.

So today when my mom picked me up and we went to the doctors, I was so nervous I wanted to just completely skip it. However, I didn’t voice my nerves (though it would have helped, at least then I might have known how much my mom had already told the doctor) and sat patiently dreading the inevitable while watching Rachael Ray in the waiting room.

We got in the examining room and waited for a bit, then she came in, all cheery and such. My doctor has a slight accent (Polish, I believe), and is really nice, as far as I know. She sat down and asked me how it was going, and me being me, I was so close to crying already that I just shrugged awkwardly.

She scanned over some notes in my file and said, “Well, you think you’re depressed, right?”. Pause. Silence. “Can you tell me how you feel?”.

So, in a shaky, about-to-cry voice, I told her that, though it wasn’t every day, I felt unmotivated to do things. In no particular order, she asked me how long this has been happening, and I told her since about April. She asked me some questions, like if I felt like crying sometimes, and I shook my head quite forcefully at that one.

She also asked if something had triggered it, or if it just came on its own. I’m sorry to say that I lied, because something (might) have triggered it, but I couldn’t bring it up. So I just said no. She asked me a few more questions, about if I had been bullied, sexually harassed, or having trouble with my knee, soccer, school, etc, all of which I replied with a firm negative.

Then she inquired, “Do you want to hurt yourself?”

Now, this was a very moving, chilling,  and personal way of putting that question. Not “have you self-harmed, had suicidal thoughts, made plans for suicide, etc” like how any of the other clinical questionnaires would probably put it. It wasn’t clinical feeling at all.

And I couldn’t answer because I knew the answer.

So I shrugged again, and by now I had started gently crying. She told me that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my symptoms and that I needed to tell her so that I could get treated, because this was like any other disease that she needed to know about. I simply shrugged again.

Then she said (more so talking to my mother now, who sat with me the entire time) that she would refer me to both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. My mom had to ask the difference: from what I gathered, the psychologist is someone I would talk to for a decent span of time each week about my emotions and such, while the psychiatrist specializes in dealing with mental health and wellness, though I would see them for a shorter amount of time/longer span between appointments.

My doctor also suggested that I start medication.

And I was like WOAH THERE. What? You’re just gonna throw me on some meds?

My mother was also hesitant. She got that “eh” look on her face and asked if that was necessary and what they would do exactly. My doctor responded that, because I had been feeling this way since April, which is five months, that I might need the medication to make me feel better.

Then my mom started asking about side effects, because of those commercials we all know where the list of side effects for some type of drug takes up about half the ad. My doctor said we can start with just the psychologist/psychiatrist and see  if they suggest medication. She also mentioned that the biggest thing they have to monitor in teenagers is if the medication makes the disorder worse, which is what I am so deathly afraid of.

Because both my mother and I were showing concern of how quickly this seemed to escalate, she had to ask me again to assure her that I’ve been feeling consistently bad, and she asked for the percentage of days when I feel good and when I feel bad. I answered that for a few days I’ll feel fine, but then I’ll feel bad for a few days, so it’s about a 50-50 ratio. This seemed to be enough for her.

My mom then asked if the psychologist and psychiatrist would be covered under our insurance (and I internally laughed). Also, when she first mentioned psychologist, I flash-backed to “The Room” when Johnny goes “But you’re a psychologist” and I started giggling on the inside.

Finally, she did some normal doctor-ey stuff and then she decided we would do some blood work to check if I have any chemical imbalances and such. I made my mommy hold my hand while she took blood.

We left the office with a referral to the aforementioned psychologist/psychiatrist. My doctor said that she has referred patients (especially younger ones) to this particular psychologist before and that she was excellent, which I’m sure any doctor would say but it made me feel better all the same. I’m also scheduled to go back to see my regular doctor in about a month so she can check on my progress.

On the way back to the car, my mom talked about how different people she knew went to see psychologists during their tough times, and that I shouldn’t worry about this.

I was slightly worried, but the real issue in my mind was “wait…that’s how it goes? No diagnostic tests to try to figure out if its chronic or major depression or bipolar disorder or something else? What if I’m wrong and making a big fuss over nothing?”.

I mean, please leave some comments if you can about this type of stuff. How are you diagnosed with depression? Is it all based on what you feel, or do you need solid evidence, such as chemical imbalances, or somewhere in between?

Then I started thinking about what I would tell my friends. I simply told them today that I had blood work done, and only my boyfriend questioned why, and I didn’t give him an answer. I don’t know how much they know, and I’m wondering if there will be a good time to tell them or if I should just bring it up when I get the chance.

Thank you for reading this extra long post, I just wanted to talk about this, even though I guess it’s pretty personal. Again, comments would be greatly appreciated.