Today I had my first appointment with my new psychiatrist. He was very nice.
As I am sure you all know, every time you go to a new doctor you have to fill out forms. This is completely logical and just part of the process.
But when you go to a new mental health professional the forms take on a whole new meaning.
I am somewhat used to this because I have had to fill out 6 kazillion forms on behalf of my son every single time we meet with one of his specialists.
But filling out the forms for myself? That is like an anxiety trigger all on its own.
Today there were about 7 forms all wanting me to self-assess my mental state today, within the last two weeks, and within the last 3 months.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with anxiety / depression self-assessment forms they ask questions ranging from how much you want to harm yourself to whether your eating or sleeping habits have changed to if you are doing illicit drugs or drinking too much.
Here. I will give you a few examples of depression self-assessments:
|this one is used to assess for postpartum depression
|this one is used for seniors entering retirement homes
|this is called the Zung depression scale
None of those were the ones I filled out today but they are the same basic idea... just add on about 100 more questions and you get the general idea.
You would think those forms would be easy to fill out. I mean... how hard can it be to just check off how you are feeling right?
I can't even describe how difficult it can be. Half the time I am not even sure of the answers. I mean, some are simple... no, I don't want to kill myself. Yes, my sleep has been affected. But it can be very hard to decide whether I feel sad "never, rarely, sometimes, often, or all the time" or if I feel more anxious than I did 2 weeks ago, and how exactly to describe the symptoms when I feel panicky etc.
The end result of my appointment today was the psychiatrist taking me off of one of my medications and adding a new one to my current anti-depressant and recommending I continue to see the counsellor and come back and see him in a month to see if the new meds make any difference.
I'm hoping they do.
|Aiden, Olivia & Owen - First Day of School
So you know how I just sort of dropped off the face of the planet for the last year or so? Well... I am attempting to climb back out and join you all in the land of social once more. Maybe.
Depression and Anxiety are not new in my life but for the most part I've had them relatively controlled for the past several years. But then something major happens - like moving across the country - and my mind says NOPE and I enter this sort of spirally decline.
That is what happened to me over the past year.
Oddly enough I was AWARE of what was happening I just didn't know how to fix it.
Over time my anxieties began to pile up and multiply. It started with just events and new people and bigger things causing me to freak out. But then I couldn't handle phone calls anymore. Or answering the door. And then even leaving the house became a huge issue. Driving anywhere other than the exact same road to and from the kids' school was absolutely out of the question. Stopping and getting gas for the van? No way. Going to the grocery store? Nope.
And then it got worse. Things INSIDE my house started triggering my anxiety. All of a sudden the thought of organizing a closet or making supper would cause a complete breakdown. One day I forgot how to make kraft dinner. I stood in the kitchen and could not remember how to make kraft dinner. I had to read the directions 3 times just to make sure I understood.
I couldn't write anything and I began to talk less and less and the couch became the safe spot.
That is not the way I want to live my life.
It is a very frustrating thing to know exactly what is going on and to be powerless to just fix it.
In his recent post Tears in Rain Wil Wheaton
wrote about his own depression and he said this:
“The thing I think we have to remember is that there is no finish line with depression, anxiety, or any other sort of mental illness. We’re on this path, and the path is constantly changing. Sometimes it’s flat and well-marked, and we can see all the way to the horizon.” I realized that I had gone from shaking his hand to holding it. “Other times, it’s so heavily shrouded in fog and mist, we can’t even see past our fingertips and we need someone to show us where the path is. And sometimes, we come to a wall that we don’t think we’ll ever get over. I’ve been staring at the base of that wall for weeks, and just now you helped me remember that there are always handholds to get up and over it.”
So that is what I am working to do now - I am finding the handholds.
After gearing up my mental and emotional energy I went to one doctor and explained the situation and he very unhelpfully told me I should just continue to use the coping skills I learned in counselling and sent me on my way.
In his defense I was probably not forceful enough in telling him what I needed. I very rarely am. Doctors visits are another one of those anxiety inducing events for me and my mind tends to play some lovely tricks on me once I am there and I just start nodding along with whatever they say. It's ridiculous really.
After a couple months I went to a different doctor and asked for a referral to a psychiatrist. He gave me the "are you suicidal" checklist and since I am NOT suicidal he told me I am fine and that all parents of special needs kids are stressed out and sent me on my way.
He's not wrong. All parents of special needs kids are stressed out and I am not suicidal. But that does not negate my need to see a psychiatrist.
After that I decided to go the mental health route and got myself an appointment with a counsellor. Several months ago I went to the initial intake consultation where they assess you and decide what to do with you. I finally met with my new counsellor this week for our first appointment. She seems very nice and I think she knows what she is talking about. She took about 12 pages of notes and told me she plans to give me a diagnosis and refer me to a psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis and deal with the medication part of things.
I am very relieved.
It takes a lot of energy to get help but now that things are moving along I have hope that there will be improvement and a (relatively) normally functioning life isn't too far off in the distance.
I am very thankful that I have an extremely strong support network. My husband just keeps on carrying on throughout it all and that is a true gift. My best friend lives about 3 minutes from me and has taken such good care of me over the past year. I would be lost without her. My kids love me no matter what. And of course I still have a wonderful network of friends online from all over who don't let me disappear into my own pit of despair too deeply.
Don't worry - I said very nice things about all of you when the nice counsellor lady asked about my support network even though I think she questions the legitimacy of "online friends".
I hate that writing is one of the first things to go when my depression hits but I promise to TRY and keep writing along with trying to get better. That's the best I can do at the moment.
Also if YOU are struggling with depression and/or anxiety there are about a zillion of us online here who are already in the club so please don't feel like you are alone. I found the post Strange and beautiful
by the Bloggess
awhile ago and it has some wonderful advice in it. Plus she is amazingly funny and a wonderful example of laughing through your pain.
When my son entered grade 7 I was freaked out ... for all sorts of reasons. Freaked out because he was getting so old, freaked out because the school was way bigger than he was used to and there were so many kids and we were in a new town and he didn't know anyone, freaked out because he would be changing classrooms and teachers several times a day and there was just SO MUCH that he would have to deal with every single day, freaked out because junior high can be so tough - especially for a kid with Autism
But not once did it ever occur to me that my son being in grade 7 would be a trigger for me.
It never even crossed my mind that something as simple as his AGE would cause crap from my past to come rushing back to me - to fill my mind with things I thought I had long since dealt with.
I guess that is the thing about triggers... you just never know when they are going to come up and smack you in the face.
When my son came home in those first few weeks of junior high talking about the graffiti he saw on the bathroom walls or the words he had heard in the hallways and asking what it meant I desperately wanted to turn to him and have a simple discussion about it. But instead my heart would drop and my stomach would burn and my anxiety levels would skyrocket and the tears would threaten and I would have to practice every one of my coping mechanisms just to get the most basic of explanations out. Flashbacks and floods of memories and nightmares would accompany every single one of the conversations for days or weeks afterwards until I could process it all again.
When he tells me about things that happen at school I always have to ask myself if my reaction is based on logic and reality or some emotional response triggered by things that happened to me over 25 years ago.
Some part of me always assumed that it would be more difficult for me when my daughter reached junior high. Maybe I figured I wouldn't have to worry as much about my sons. But I have found that it is almost painfully important to me that my sons don't turn into THOSE boys.
Because I am certain that THOSE boys' mothers didn't think their sons were behaving the way they were towards me.
Peer pressure is a powerful thing. Even boys who have been taught well can turn into complete idiots when surrounded by a group of idiots.
And so I continue to do my very best to teach my boys that no means no, to respect women, the meaning of consent, and how important it is to stand up to peer pressure. I am raising feminists and I am proud of it.
I also remind myself that even though there are some things we really never fully get over it doesn't mean we will sink into the darkness. I have support. I am not alone. There are a lot of really good men in this world - I am married to one of them so I know that for sure and that means my boys have a really great example to follow. There is always hope.
Junior high... I sure didn't love it the first time around and apparently it is just as difficult going through it with your kids. Just think - I only have like... 6.5 more years of junior high to go!(shhh we aren't even going to BEGIN talking about high school yet... baby steps people, baby steps)