When I left my doctor’s office the other day, I burst into tears. I cried into my mask as soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk outside her door. I cried as I crossed the small parking lot, and I cried as I opened my car door. I cried into my hands, into my mask-turned-tissue, into my steering wheel, into the void.
The tears were about relief; it feels very good to be addressing my depression after months of increasing intensity. And the tears were about grief; there’s so much loss to be reckoned with when depression is active. But the tears were also about resignation, a level of acceptance I hadn’t fully reached before now: I have depression. Like, for real. There’s no sugar-coating or euphemizing my way through it anymore. I am not in a depressive spell or managing a depressive period. I don’t tend toward depression or have a history of situational depression. Depression doesn’t just run in my family; it runs in me. I simply have it; major depressive disorder to be exact.
My doctor, who’s in family medicine, gave me this diagnosis during our second appointment, which was two weeks after our first and two weeks into trying a new antidepressant that had actually increased suicidality and further destabilized my mood. These side effects aren’t unusual, but they are (obviously) not what the medication is intended to do. My doctor called me in after I’d sent her a message through my client portal over the weekend, telling her I did not think the new meds were working. In our subsequent appointment, she was very kind and very direct: It’s time to work with a psychiatrist.
Fast forward a few days, and I’ve got myself booked with a mental health specialist next month. I’ve stopped taking the medication and already feel much, much better. The newest (and very expensive) prescription my doctor recommends is jumping through some insurance hoops, but it looks like I’ll be able to start it next week. And, I found what I’m hopeful will end up being the right-fit therapist for me. I’ll see her in a few days and am very much looking forward to being taken care of. All good news.
Except: I’ve spent hours on what was supposed to be a work day showing up for said doctor’s appointment, making phone calls, and crying into my mask. My upcoming therapist and doctor’s appointments are all during business hours, aka my work hours. I’m behind in pretty much everything that’s not client-facing; this blog post, for instance, was supposed to have been written yesterday. My inbox is full of unread emails; my business coaches are waiting on progress reports and replies to challenges; my assistant has half a dozen unanswered questions for me. None of it is dire and all of it is important.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because it’s part of the toll mental health challenges take on a person, on a life. Even with all the information and training I have, the great insurance (thank you, military), my incredible support system (thanks again, Mom), and my overall beautiful, stable life – even with all of that, managing my mental health lately has been immensely draining. And I’m one of the lucky ones, probably one of the absolute luckiest. The emotional, mental, and physical energy it takes to ask for, accept, and utilize help when part of you just wants to fall asleep and never wake up… it’s incredible to me what the human spirit can do, the resilience we humans are capable of.
For information on working with Caitlin, look no further.