As I mentioned previously, I have a new doctor now, since I moved. And so far, even though I’ve only met him twice, I am really happy with him.
My previous doctor
I did actually like my old doctor. He was funny and always had good answers for things. Physical things, anyway.
I found that when I met with him the first time, about my mental health, he wasn’t giving me the full attention I needed. He was running almost an hour behind that day, but I was in a really rough place and I really needed help, and I didn’t feel like I got 100% of what I needed.
He said that was I was describing was “classic anxiety disorder” which, when you Google it, isn’t even a thing. Could be that it was renamed (I’ve done a fair amount of research into this area and have found that the DSM has renamed several conditions over the years) to generalized anxiety disorder, however, it would have been easier for me to understand if he had told me what it was. I had to research it myself because I did not understand at all what an anxiety disorder was to begin with.
In our discussion, he did clearly try to assess whether or not I was depressed, but I don’t think he went deep enough with it, because it took me coming back a second time, a couple months later with very little improvement in symptoms for him to now say that I have “depressive tendencies”. Whatever that means.
During that first appointment, he asked me if I had ever self-harmed, but that was something I wasn’t really prepared to talk about at the time.
Because I was sort of caught off guard, even though I wasn’t actually surprised that he asked (weird, I know) I tried to avoid answering while also answering at the same time. It wasn’t a conscious thing, its just how it came out.
Verbally, I tried to say that I tend to pick at scabs and stuff really bad, while physically, I found myself pulling my sleeve up as I said it (wasn’t even thinking about it, just did it), like I was trying to show him, but not say it.
Here’s the thing….. I’ve never done any like really bad stuff to myself. I used to try to punch or hit walls and things, hoping to injure my hand or arm or kicking things to injure my foot or leg but was always too scared of causing damage to what I was hitting and having to explain that. An injury is easy enough to explain away than a hole in the wall of my parents’ house.
I did actually kick a hole in my bedroom door once, but it was more out of anger than an attempt at self harm. Probably like 20% self harm, 50% anger at my parents (don’t remember why, now) and 30% anger at the fact that the door wouldn’t slam hard enough to my satisfaction.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I started, sort of, cutting. I didn’t really have anything handy that was sharp enough to really cut with, so it was more like scratching with whatever sharp-ish object was nearby, like scissors.
It started out small. Later it became a way to distract myself from whatever was going on, because I could focus on that tiny little thing, and I had full control over it. Except for the fact that it wasn’t cutting deep enough. I went over each scratch many times until I was distracted enough from the thing that was bothering me that I could go to bed or do something else.
So I do have some scars, but they aren’t completely obvious, unless you’re looking.
I’ll talk a bit more on something semi-related to this in a later post, because it isn’t entirely relevant right now.
Anyway, I think I was hoping he would see the scars, even though they really don’t stand out, so I wouldn’t need to say it. But all I could get out was picking obsessively at scabs and scratches and stuff and he cut me off saying, “that’s not self-harm” and moved on to something else.
In addition to that, I feel like he was just throwing meds at the problem without really trying to help me. He did mention cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and said it would be a good idea, but didn’t really make it easy. In addition to the three doctors that were based out of that office, they had a councillor two days a week (she worked at different offices in town on other days) and he suggested that I meet with her.
I met with her a few days later, and we had a good conversation, and she did say that it sounded like I was a worrier. She gave me a ton of papers with information and ideas for things to manage my anxiety, but she didn’t tell me that I should come back to see her again.
I kind of felt like I was left to fend for myself, which wasn’t much better than it was before I went to see my doctor in the first place. That’s partly why I ended up doing so much research on my own. I mean, getting a diagnosis (sort of) did kind of lift a huge weight off my shoulders, but after the first week or so, it all came crashing back down again.
My new doctor
My new doctor, is in an office that is basically a whole health centre. They have about 10 doctors, several nurse practitioners, a mental health team, and they run several different programs for various things. It is actually kind of cool.
Although we haven’t talked about the whole self harm thing, we have talked in detail about my anxiety and depression, and he gave me a referral to see one of their mental health workers.
My doctor has seemed genuinely invested in making sure that I get better. I’ve met with him twice now. He asks me lots of questions and has really seems like he’s trying to help me find the right solution.
One big thing he said, that I really hadn’t thought about or realized for myself, is that my depression and suicidal thoughts aren’t so much feeling hopeless and alone, its more that I feel overwhelmed. Figuring that out, he said he actually feels better about me getting better, because of that.
He did still feel that he should give me the local crisis number, just in case I needed it. That’s something neither my previous doctor or that councillor did.
But I realized, this is why I get stressed so easily and why my suicidal thoughts tend to come more when I’m stressed than anything else. They tend to be more along the lines of, it would be so much easier if I could just die, then I wouldn’t have to deal with all this shit anymore.
When we were talking about my past suicidal thoughts, he asked if I had ever attempted suicide or had a plan for it. It has never gotten that far because I always over think it (or at least that’s how I used to describe it, but I now know this was anxiety related) and end up thinking about if it doesn’t work, then people will find out and I have to explain it to them, and that scared the shit out of me. His response was, “you anxioused yourself out of it.” I laughed, because it is kind of funny, but it is totally accurate!
I also think that’s why I’ve always felt like people would say I wasn’t actually depressed, because I didn’t fit into the typical hopelessness type of depression. I also still, usually, feel joy and happiness in many things. Its just when there’s too many things going on I get very overwhelmed and that causes me to get super stressed out.
I’ve started CBT with someone on the mental health team at my new doctor’s office. The first appointment was just for him to get to know me and see what’s going on. Then we had a second appointment where we had our my first CBT session. I’m still a bit nervous about the whole thing. We joked a couple times about how it would be so much nicer if they made an “easy button” (like the old Staples ads) but its not. Its more like school. I always hated school. I have to work at it all the time, until it becomes second nature.
Light at the end of the tunnel
I feel like having these resources readily available to me now has given me a new perspective on things. I have a doctor who actually cares about what I’m going through and wants to help me get better. And the resources are available to me through my doctor’s office to help me work at getting better. That is so important, and I think everyone should have that!
I am still struggling. I’m not afraid to admit that.
I have good days and bad days.
I have good hours and bad hours.
Good minutes and bad minutes.
But I actually finally feel like I have a chance.
It’s Mental Health Week! #GETLOUD
Find out more here: mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca
And also, here: getloud.mentalhealthweek.ca