Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mood Disorder Clinic Appointment

So, regarding this:

I only cancelled one appointment before I actually made myself go, which is a bit of a victory. Matt was away and I was freaking out a little about driving there and parking because of when this happened. Three separate people offered to drive me, and I accepted one offer, but in the end decided to just gird my loins and go for it. The main parking lot was full, but unlike the last time, I saw a sign pointing to parking just before the hospital entrance, so I turned around and went back and there were quite a few spaces.

First hurdle over.

I got a bit lost looking for the place I needed, but I didn't start freaking out again until I was in the waiting room wondering what kind of person I would be dealing with. I had agreed to see a fifth-year psychiatry resident for the first part of the appointment and then be joined by her supervising psychiatrist. I'm all for teaching hospitals and helping medical students learn, but as soon as I'd agreed, I was possessed by the fear that I would end up with some gung-ho type-A overachiever who would think I was totally pathetic and not be seasoned enough to disguise it. Then I remembered that my lovely and delightful sort-of sister-in-law (Matt's brother hasn't officially married her but if they break up we're keeping her, so we consider it official) is also a resident, and she radiates compassion and kindness. So I told her I was going to hope for someone just like her and prayed that she would have curly hair.

She totally had curly hair. And was lovely and kind and understanding. I was afraid that when I said I had trouble using my CPAP all night she would say "so you just don't WANT to feel better?". Instead she said "a lot of people do". I was afraid she would say "don't you think you should be more accomplished at your age?" Instead she said "sounds like you're pretty hard on yourself." It was an exhaustive two-hour questionnaire that was clearly supposed to assess the presence of OCD or bipolar disorder as well as depression and anxiety. After I talked to her, I went back to the waiting room while she talked to the psychiatrist and then went back and talked to the two of them together.

So.... results?

Of course I knew that it wasn't going to be a case of them asking me a bunch of questions, then saying "okay, for cases like yours we do x" and sending me on my merry way, as much as a tiny bit of me hoped it would. I was assessed as dysthymic, which didn't come as a big surprise, and the psychiatrist had a couple of suggestions for combinations of antidepressants that I haven't tried yet (she clearly had a better understanding of possible interactions than my family doctor has), and for sleep aids that I either haven't tried or only tried before I was on the CPAP. She also gave me some resources for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

So. Have I gone back to my doctor yet? No, of course not, it's minus a million out and it takes me six weeks and a strong drink just to book a hair appointment. I actually felt surprisingly good in January, and it helps to know that I have a couple of options in my back pocket for if things go south again.

And there's something else that came out of this, as I was talking at length about the impact depression and anxiety has on my life. When she asked me if depression and anxiety has stopped me from doing things I want to do, I thought that in the past, it definitely has. There were times in high school or university where I didn't go for opportunities I wanted or couldn't bring myself to talk to people that would have been helpful. I was up for an award in university and the professor chairing it called me and asked me to stop by and talk to him in his office to tell him about myself, and I couldn't get myself to go, even though I knew this meant trashing my chances of winning the award. In grad school the mean lesbian professor of my French course had a party at her house and invited all of us - I would have sooner swallowed tacks than enter her house after being traumatized by her all term. One of my former professors was aghast when I said I wasn't going and clearly didn't understand at all what a battle it was for me to even enter her classroom every week.

But now? Well, other than the fact that I might - might - have finished my diploma and gone back to work a little sooner, I really don't think that there's anything I don't do. Did I feel anxious before going to BlogHer in New York by myself, or reading at Blogging Out Loud, or going to meet any of the bloggers in person that I had only known online? Yep. Did I chicken out? Nope. I volunteer at my kids' school extensively. I help run the book fair every year. I go to Blissdom and sometimes I don't even stay stapled to Nicole and Hannah's sides the whole time. Partly this is because I have amazing family and friends who know when I need nudging to do something. Partly it's because I kind of just know how I am now, and I can work around it. My life doesn't look like I thought it would at this point, and there are things I still want to do, but working with what I have, I don't feel like I've done too badly.

So it's good to know I have some resources if things need tweaking. It's also good to realized I'm not actually broken beyond repair. I'm just a little squeaky.


D said...

What helped with the CPAP here was a heated hose and a shepherd's crook to hold it overhead, made turning much more comfortable. I admire your bravery in sharing your story, and send you best wishes for success on your journey.

Julie L said...

way to go Alli! glad to hear it went well and that you have some options if needed. it's always good to know there are options.

Hannah said...

I'm crying now. I'm so so happy for you that you went to the appointment, and that there are options for you, and that you are clearly carrying hope around in your back pocket along with those resources & prescriptions.

Sarah McCormack said...

as someone lucky enough to know you IRL.... I would say you are "squeaky" in the very best way.

Nicole said...


I'm so proud of you for going. I'm so proud of you for everything you do every single day. I think you're one of the strongest people I know, and one of the funniest, and definitely, definitely one of the kindest and most thoughtful.

Re: parking. GODDAMN PARKING. It sends me over the edge every.single.time. I had to go to the hospital for all my cervical stuff, and OF COURSE it's not clear where the parking is, and I'm trying to drive to find the building that I need to be at, and driving past the best parking lots, but I can't turn around and there are people behind me, and I feel like, should I just go home? But eventually I find a spot and I'm okay. But dammit, every single time, I have parking anxiety when I'm going someplace unfamiliar. Well, and also places that are familiar. And I get lost so often...well, you know how it goes.

xoxoxoxo <3 >3

Steph Lovelady said...

I'm very glad to hear you went and it went well. Also the insight about how it doesn't stop you from doing the things you want to do as much as it used to is great.

Sasha said...

YAY YOU!!!! That's awesome that you went, and awesomer that the resident was good. Next time can you ask her what she uses on her hair? Mine starts curly but then just kinda... stops.

Also? I totally Googled "dysthymic" without anyone having to tell me to. But I have every confidence that if I had asked, you would have told me. Probably even politely.

I've found Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to be really helpful. At least, I think that's what my therapist is doing. She works at a clinic with "Cognitive Behavioural Therapy" in the name. Mostly I like her because I usually don't feel like she's "doing" anything. To me. And yet somehow I'm less crazy than I was. Which is setting the bar pretty low, but hell, I'll take it.

Shan said...

So so great! Way to go!!

l said...

Allison, you are truly courageous, and your writing hits home, as always. The line about squeakiness is pure truth, and applies to most people. Even (especially?) doctors, although they sometimes present themselves as all-knowing and super-human. I'm glad yours didn't. And I'm glad to know the curly hair thing helped with the positive association. :)

Amy Boughner said...

If you hadn't gone to Blog Out Loud I wouldn't know who you are, and that would be a tragedy