I went to the doctor yesterday, the psychiatrist. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now. I’ve been taking two natural remedies that have been proven to help with depression (Sam-e and St. John’s Wort) but I still struggle with the symptoms of mild chronic depression. On Monday, I looked up some providers on my healthcare website and called a few until I found someone who had an appointment the next day and was not too far away.
I decided that I would be completely honest and see what the doctor had to say. I had a couple of key questions to ask her if she did think that taking prescribed medication was what I should do. Usually I try to wrap everything up nicely when I go to the doctor, tell the truth but not the ugly truth, just get a good bill of health and be on my way to handle the gritty stuff on my own. My plan was to focus more on anxiety so as not to have to take an anti-depressant every day and just be able to have a prescription that I could take as needed, situationally. After she did an intake interview she asked me to describe why I was there.
I said, “My symptoms of depression are that I have a lack of motivation, procrastination, hopeless thinking and often can’t see the forest because there are too many trees. My symptoms of anxiety are that I often can’t get started because I feel overwhelmed. Then I’ll do something easier rather than working on more important tasks. I sometimes feel worried but mostly I think about too much at once then I get overwhelmed and want to avoid it.” Then I stopped talking and let her do her job. She asked some clarifying questions and I answered them simply and directly. At one point I felt a little overwhelmed and wanted to leave, “Oh, I’m fine really, I’ve just realized I don’t need to be here.” But I took a deep breath and watched her as she typed up information so that my thoughts would not get the best of me. She asked if I drink and I said, “Yes, I drink alot especially over the last couple of years. I did not drink at all in August and I’ve been on and off this month. I’d like to quit completely because I know it’s not good for me.” She said something like, “Well, you can have 1 drink and sometimes you can have 2. But not 3, then you cross the line and for many people it is hard to stop. And maybe not even the 1.” I just nodded along. Yes, I completely understand.
Then she did something that blew me away and affirmed me all at once. She kind of repeated back what I had explained to her, but much more clearly. She also seemed to be able to explain my symptoms in a hierarchy as well as the relationship they have to each other and the pattern of their occurrence. I don’t remember at all what she said, but when she finished I felt so validated and heard. I sighed, smiled a little and said, “Yes, that’s exactly how it happens.” She explained that the depression is the most important thing to treat and recommended a medication to take daily. I asked my questions, “Why will that be good for me? What can I expect to happen? How does this medication work with the chemicals in my body? I want the simplest, most gentle medication there is, is this one like that?” She told me in a nice way, that since I had an especially stressful year, I have to break the cycle or it could get worse and more severe. That clicked for me because I have felt pretty hopeless this past year and I think my brain has gotten used to me being this way.
She also prescribed a very low dose anti-anxiety and explained how important it is to only take it when needed. We talked about some times that I might choose to take it. It makes sense. For me the anti-depressant is the long-term solution and the anti-anxiety is a band aid. I’m willing to take it for a year and then re-evaluate. It’s gentle enough that if I ran out or had to miss a day I should not experience withdrawal symptoms. My highest hope for taking this medication is that it will clear up my thinking and my perspective which might make not-drinking more clear to me. Taking care of this depression could help me to see that I don’t need alcohol and see the future without alcohol more clearly because it’s still pretty muddy for me.