“The step to going to the doctors was daunting. I told her I was having suicidal thoughts and had depression. I told her I had it before and recognised how I was feeling.
“The GP spent five minutes listening to me and my concerns. After this she sat back and said, ‘you’ve got clean hair, you’re wearing clean clothes, I really don’t think you are depressed.’
“When you’re suicidal you feel nothing will change or get better. To have a doctor confirm that makes it worse.”
I absolutely hate that this ever happens to anyone! What’s worse, I am partially relieved to hear that this hasn’t only happened to me. My experience was quite different, but ultimately, had the same result.
I had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder with depressive features, a little over 8 months earlier. I was seeing a social worker and doing CBT. I was on my second antidepressant and still wasn’t having a complete response.
My new family doctor was handling everything a million time better than my old doctor (I moved about 2 months after being diagnosed) but before he was willing to start trying another medication, he wanted me to see a psychiatrist first.
The weird thing was that I was surprised I hadn’t been referred to one sooner, so I was hopeful that maybe I’d finally get the treatment I needed.
Boy was I wrong.
After a 15 minute conversation, I did get a new diagnosis. He said that I have social anxiety. He then said that my anxiety is more social and less generalized.
Are you kidding?! Ok, I was in denial for the social anxiety for a bit, but my social worker basically confirmed it later that week, mentioning all the things he’d noticed over the past few months of seeing me that were classic social anxiety. I get it now. It makes perfect sense.
But less generalized? That’s a load of crap! Based on the conversation that we had, sure. Had he taken the time to go into more detail with my past, I doubt he would have said that. I definitely have both social and generalized anxiety. Some days, the generalized is worse than the social, but most days, the social is worse.
To top it all off, at the end of that, he added,”you’re definitely not depressed.”
Definitely not depressed?
I don’t remember any of the conversation beyond that. That’s when I stopped taking him seriously.
I had literally just told him, 2 minutes earlier, about my intrusive thoughts about killing myself and had burst into tears before I could even get the words out.
Of all the things we talked about, the mood I happened to be in at that particular moment, and the length of time of the appointment, I can see why maybe he didn’t really see all the signs. But saying that I an definitely not depressed?! Yeah, no.
In that moment, I lost all the respect I’d had for the guy (which having just met him wasn’t that much to begin with). He is apparently a renowned paediatric psychiatrist, has written a lot of papers and been published in medical journals and whatever, but I have no respect for him now.
One other thing on top of that, because I had an incomplete response to a moderate dose of the SSRI I was on, he increased it dose to one that is higher than the normal highest prescribed amount. I didn’t realize how high it was until after I left his office, because I was still stuck on the whole “definitely not depressed” thing. I asked the pharmacist about it and then went back to my doctors office and asked them to check with my regular doctor before I filled the prescription.
After getting the go-ahead, I filled the prescription and the next day began taking the higher dose. By the time I had my follow up with the psychiatrist, I was seeing some results, which was great.
Thankfully, my regular doctor or social worker have even mentioned me seeing him again since my follow up appointment, but if they did, I would refuse to make an appointment.
My family doctor has handled my mental health problems a hell of a lot better than this guy.
To make things worse, once I started working full-time again, I started to realize I wasn’t sleeping well. Not that I was struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, but I was not getting restorative sleep. When I wasn’t working, I didn’t really notice that this was a problem, but when I started having to get up at 6am every day again, I was on the verge of passing out before noon and was barely making it through the afternoons.
I’ve had sleep issues for as long as I can remember, but never like this. It took me a while to figure out that this was the problem. I am still taking the SSRI, but a lower dose, in addition to an atypical antidepressant, but there’s a whole other story there that I’m not getting into right now.
Although, he didn’t say why he didn’t think I was depressed, and I was still relatively early in my mental health journey, I never asked. I started questioning everything after that encounter. I’ve gone through stages of denial with diagnoses, I’ve read about disorders that I thought maybe I had but then after doing more research realized I didn’t and that it was simply an overlap in symptoms with other disorders.
It could have been the fact that my clothes were clean and I’d showered that morning. But that morning, I was expecting to return to work. (Another long story.) Not to mention that my social anxiety forces me to shower before I go anywhere other than simply walking my dog. I have never gone to an appointment with my doctor or social worker without showering, yet they both acknowledge my symptoms.
I have good days and bad days. I’d been diagnosed for several months. And I was trying medication and counselling already, so could that not have explained why he didn’t see my depression on that exact day? Of course! But to flat out tell me that I’m not depressed is just so wrong.
I was sitting there crying, telling him how I thought about killing myself regularly, and he said I was not depressed.
More than 7 months later, and it still pisses me off.
I still have suicidal thoughts on a regular basis. Sometimes is just a quick thing in passing, and it’s over in under 2 seconds, and other times I am so overwhelmingly suffering in extreme emotional pain that I just don’t want to exist anymore. I feel completely hopeless and worthless more days than not. I don’t even know what true happiness feels like. I’ve questioned every single decision and action I have ever done in my entire life, a million times over, even though I can’t change a single part of the past.
But I am definitely not depressed.