Update

It’s been nearly a month that I haven’t written in this blog.

 

In part because I’ve been exhausted….but I’m pretty sure that’s related to an increase in medication that I really don’t need….I’ll find out on Sunday.

 

For the most part, my life has taken a huge turn for the better in the last two-ish months.

Yes, medication plays only a SMALL part of mental healthy, but if that small part isn’t in balance….it can be a major part.

 

My doctor has worked hard to get me on the right medication and the right dose. It’s a work in progress….and I don’t feel perfect…. Ok, a lot of days I’m only sort of ok….and I have to work pretty hard to keep things together. I rely a lot on the self-care tools that I’ve learned over the years to get me through the morning, the day, and into the evening…

Although my new psychiatrist is pretty awesome helping me figuring out the medications….he’s not so great in the…speaking area. He often comes up with harsh judgements….and crosses the “psychiatrist” limit…

I’ve spoke to my psychologist about it….and he explained it perfectly. My psychologist is an expert in his area of medicine. He would not prescribe me medication as he could do serious harm. The psychiatrist should follow the same suit. Medication, a bit of analysis to find out what’s going on – but leave the deep stuff to the other shrink, because 50% of the time I leave his office, I’m extremely upset for up to a week…

 

Anyway, he’s still nineteen gazillion percent better than the loser psychiatrist I had, who, by the way, never called me or anything after I missed my appointment with her (I forgot to cancel my appointment)….so things are looking up.

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My bed vs The World

I’m going to have to change the title of this blog.

It’s not a weekly dose of mental health to help end the stigma. Sure, that’s what I wanted to do. Highlight topics to show that people dealing with a mental illness are just like the other people out there and ideas like “we’re all crazy” or “we just have to quit thinking so negatively” would start to go away. But they are not going anywhere in the short term. I’m not sure what it will take.

Recently my boss asked me what my health issues were. Without a beat, I told him. I have treatment resistant depression. I told him some of the battles I’ve been through trying to get help. That I get frustrated because I’m in a very factual profession and that I often think that I can “think” my way out of my illness (I can’t). He told me that he respected me more for telling him. And then I missed another day of work. And I feel awkward.

Let me first clarify, that if I miss a day of work – I make up the time in evenings or weekends. But, now he knows that I’m “crazy” and now he knows that my brain doesn’t work like the other 80% of the average population (if the statistics that 1 in 5 people have a mental illness). And I’m ashamed and embarrassed when I can’t remember a word or I am struggling to properly form a thought. I should be proud that I’ve made it out of bed. In the last three years, I’ve gone through countless medication changes/adjustments/etc….that I should be happy that I am functioning at the level that I am. But I’m not. I’m just embarrassed because I know that there is a smart person inside of me….she’s just doped up on medicine that she’s trying to get used to.

Next let me clarify just WHY I miss a day of work. It’s not because I’m lazy. It’s not because I don’t care (greatly) about my job. It’s not because I don’t want to see my co-workers or because I’m stressed about work.

It’s that in that particular morning, leaving my bed feels like the hardest thing that I could possibly do. I’ve conquered some huge obstacles in my life – and none of that matters.

It also happens to occur near the end of the week when I’m pretty exhausted.

There are some mornings where I’ve made it out of bed and started the shower, and then stopped the shower and went back into bed, because the world is just too painful to experience.

Getting dressed can be a thirty minute process because I don’t like the way that I look and “I have no clothes”. (I have clothes). So I decided to put my clothes out the night before.

All of the tricks – making my lunch the night before, deciding that the following day I’m going to hit up Starbucks on my way to work… sometimes all of the planning in the world….can still mean that I’m crashed in my bed. Hiding from the world, until late morning…noon….some days ALL day….like I change out from one set of pjs to another.

Last Friday –  I couldn’t get out of bed.

Tomorrow is Friday. I’m worried that I won’t be able to get out of bed. I really, really, really want to be able to go to work tomorrow. I want to be able to contribute. I want to be able to live….my escape life. Where everything is fine. No one (but my boss) knows that I’m sick. People just think I’m quirky. Or forgetful. Please let tomorrow be a good morning.

Life 2.0

It’s truly amazing what a difference one month can make.

One month ago, I was barely hanging on. I don’t quite know what I was hanging on to….but I knew I had to just keep my shit together…

The smallest tasks seemingly impossible. A to-do list that kept growing. The dog that didn’t get walked. The drive-thru that was visited more than I’d care to admit. I was simply surviving.

Then, I met Dr. New Psychiatrist. Dr. NP wanted to not only help me with my depression, but help me have a quality of life.

The first week, I was simply overjoyed and relieved that he took me as a patient. The intake process, however, was extremely painful. I had to talk about everything in my life that had ever hurt. Or that ever felt like rejection.

The second week, the medication change he had done was feeling ok, but again, more digging deep with the questions.

I completely understand that this is part of the process that he needs to gain a better understanding of what my treatment requires – but it was intense. Since that time, my brain, my soul, my….being have been in turmoil. Memories that I didn’t know existed come in waves….or floods sometimes. Sleep, while easy for me now, also comes with dreams driven by my unsettled psyche.

I continue to process them as gently as I can, but it is difficult.

However, the medication is making a difference. The dog is getting walked more. My to-do list – some items dating back six months – is getting shorter and shorter. I am able to do more using less energy. I have goals. Meals are getting made in advance. Groceries are in the fridge. The house….is slowly getting cleaner and cleaner. The pile of laundry gets folded.

Life isn’t perfect, but it feels like I’ve been living a slower, duller, life that was much, much harder, and now I’ve been upgraded. Now, life is the lighter, faster, easier version. Still heavy with glitches and requiring an update….that’s currently in process. Release date unknown.

 

 

Ascending a new mountain

The intent of this blog was to bring awareness to mental health topics in an informative way…light (well, considering the topic), neutral, and the very beginnings of something that I see for myself…one day at one time where I start to make a difference, like REALLY make a difference in the field of mental health awareness. Well into the future.

I have a feeling, that this blog, for the time being, is rather going to be about MY journey through mental illness, with the informative post scattered here and there…

If by chance you follow this blog, I need to tell you what happened this weekend. I met my new psychiatrist. Who cares. Who wants to make a difference. Who wants to really examine my disease and figure out what medications I need today. Our appointment was one hour and forty five minutes long…and it was intense. I was nervous (I hadn’t yet received the okay that he was taking me “officially” as a patient), I was putting on a front (I’m really ok, I won’t be too much of a bother, just please take me as your patient), and then we started to talk.

Why was I there? When did I start therapy? What do I remember as a child?

I won’t go into all of the specifics…but from an extremely early age (between 5 and 7), I knew myself to be fat, ugly, stupid, and lazy. As an adult, I can recognize that I’m in the “generally attractive” category – and I was a good looking kid. I remember looking at every single photo and being disgusted. I would do push ups and sit ups in my room at night…and hoping that it would make a difference (this was at a very young age where I didn’t understand the concept of how weight loss actually works). I knew I was stupid because I didn’t achieve very high marks, and I knew I was lazy because I didn’t clean my room or pick up after myself. I knew that I had low self-esteem, because after complaining A LOT about having to attend an art class, I asked my parents WHY DID I HAVE TO GO THIS ART CLASS, and they told me it was because I had low self-esteem and that this would help (I’m sure some general practitioner told them the same thing….).

I need to skip a few chapters, because at the end of our appointment, I left feeling extremely emotional but overwhelmed. For all of the worry, anxiety, panic, and fear that I had that he wouldn’t accept me – I had those feelings – but in the positive sense… I still haven’t totally processed it….

I posted candidly on Facebook, I see my video has over 120 views… I explain my journey (short form) and that I now have a psychiatrist.

I went to bed….thinking that life couldn’t get any better.

And then woke up Monday morning anxious, exhausted, depressed, lethargic, nervous, and scared. I spoke about myself and my fears, my past, my path in this long journey for an hour and forty five minutes…and it opened some doors that I didn’t want to think about. Yes, I’m in therapy and we talk A LOT….but remembering the child-me….wasn’t fun.

I have barely made it through the last two days. My anxiety has sky rocketed, I am unable to focus, and I am….exhausted (partly brought on by a medication change…).

The news of my new psychiatrist is such an incredible blessing. But it’s the start of a new mountain to climb. A mountain that I now have assistance with. And the proper support…but a mountain none the less.

For many reasons, I haven’t been able to be at work for the last two days. This makes my head spin…because:

  1. I need a job
  2. I need the money that comes with a job
  3. I REALLY like this job
  4. I like my boss and coworkers at this job
  5. I’m not sure what I would do if I didn’t have a job.

But I’m not exactly proving that I’m Miss Reliable. Sure, I’m coming in on the weekend….and I hope after a day of rest I’ll be able to function over the weekend to get what needs to be done…but I’m petrified.

I have my *potential* new psychiatrist’s appointment on Sunday at noon. If he accepts me as a patient, I am still in for a long road….but I will have stable help. I will have a doctor that cares about me and my progression, not a doctor that refuses to see me or help me when I’m in need.

I still very so upset when I think how my (hopefully soon to be ex) psychiatrist has treated me, how the medical system has treated me, and all of the people that love me that I make worry every single day.

I haven’t been able to even take care of myself this week. I am pretty functional at work….I even laugh….but at home…there’s no juice in the tank. I can’t cook/eat/prepare anything. One night I ate dry granola.

I still don’t understand the logistics of why this makes me so incredibly tired. But it’s so exhausted that it makes me anxious. Figure that one out. I feel all alone…..even when I’m not. I want to reach out to a friend here, but I know she’ll just disappoint me and bail (like last weekend) and I don’t even know if I want her as a friend anymore.

I don’t know what I’ll do if the doctor doesn’t accept me as a new patient. Send me positive vibes for Sunday.

36 hour long ride to Starbucks

It took me from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon around 3pm before I could leave the house.

I was tired from a long week at work (while dealing with my depression monster), and I just couldn’t get up. I was supposed to get my hair done in the Saturday morning….but I just couldn’t get out of bed.

I thought I’d recover during the day on Saturday….and be ok for Saturday night. I was supposed to go to a concert, but when my friend totally bailed on me (which was predictable), I used that as an excuse.

I had a scheduled yoga event on Sunday at noon…I even got showered, then went back to bed, cried, and slept. I woke up, cried some more, eventually called a friend…. While talking to her, I decided at least I could run an errand that I needed to do.

I knew the entire time if I just did ONE thing, it would make me feel better and that I’d probably do the next thing and so forth. But I couldn’t do the one thing. I couldn’t even walk the dog.

After I ran the errand on Sunday…I decided I would rent a bike and go to Starbucks with the dog. I wasn’t 100 m from my starting point when a cyclist, on the other side of the road, at an intersection on the cycling path, with a hidden corner, smashed into me. By some miracle I had chosen thick-ish leggings (mainly because I’m so self-conscience these days of my weight gain that’s been there….for a good 2 years now…), otherwise my legs would have been destroyed.

He didn’t apologize once. People stopped and helped us….at one point I thought it was my fault and apologized…I was pretty shaken up. I didn’t feel any real pain….I turned around and started to walk the bike back….and then decided that no matter what, I was getting to Starbucks. Fall down, dust yourself off, get back up, and go. This is what I’ve been doing for the last three years.

I continued to ride, slowly, and then the tears came.

Tears for the fun that I miss because of the depression.
Tears for the friendships that I stress because of the depression.
Tears for the loneliness that I feel deep within me….even if I was with a hundred people. Tears for…the person that I once was….
Tears for the people that love me….that don’t know what to do around me or feel helpless.

Tears for the physical pain that I was really starting to feel in my hand and elbows…I took a look and they were full of dirt, dust, rocks, and blood.

I could have turned around, but instead, I decided to continue to ride my bike, slowly, and cry.

Eventually I stopped crying….and decided that I needed to get to Starbucks no matter what. I needed to accomplish something this weekend.

But I needed to return the bike and take a taxi home….cause there was no way that I could continue biking much longer.

I got a little lost, I turned around a few times, found where I could return the bike, returned it, and continued to walk to a different Starbucks. I limped in, ordered an iced (decaf) coffee, a bar, and of course some water for the dog.

We sat on the patio….the dog put on a bit of a show for me…making me smile…

I sat feeling the sun. Proud of myself, for this baby accomplishment. And then called a taxi.

I’m freshly showered, my wounds clean and less painful, and happy that at least I accomplished one thing this weekend. It was harder than I had imagined. But I fought back. Because I’m brave.

 

Thanks again, doc

Here’s the email chain this week from the private doctor that I paid to see last week. I assume I will be billed for this exchange. I’ve left in all of the typos.

___________________________________________
From: The private doctor
Sent: May 25, 2017 6:27 AM
To: my email address
Subject: The private doctor’s name

Hi
I am writing to ask if you re tolerating the medication and if you feel less anxious
Thank you

______________________________________________________
From: Me
Sent: Yesterday, 8:55 AM
To: The private doctor
Subject: The private doctor’s name

Hello.

While I understand that this medication you gave me for anxiety is completely temporary, it has helped me a lot. The first few days that I took the increased dose, I felt a lot better and was able to address issues at work and ensure that all aspects of my self-care was in place.

However, I noticed that I had 10 days of medication, when I don’t see my new psychiatrist until the 3rd (which is 17 days away, and not 10) 

Once I saw that I didn’t have the prescription until June 3rd. I have tried not to take the full dosage, so I am no longer receiving the benefits of this temporary prescription and am not great. I am trying to decide what to do….if I can see you to fill the prescription for the additional 7 days or if I just have to suffer through those additional 10 days.

 By the way, after you prescribed me the medication to help me, my psychiatrist later called and prescribed Ativan over the telephone, but once I told her (nurse) that I saw another doctor because I wasn’t sure when she would get back to me, she told me that the Ativan prescription would be removed and she would not prescribe me any medication as I had sought care elsewhere and we would discuss this at my next appointment (in July). I’m totally confused as I was asking for help….this was not a situation that I am playing with lightly.

 So I pray and am hopeful that the new psychiatrist will accept me as a patient, and once I have secured him as my doctor, I will request for all of my files to be transferred.

 I am maintaining my support network with check-ins and working out and meditating (using an guided meditation app) as often as possible.

If you are comfortable in prescribing me the additional medication for the 7 days, this would be appreciated. If you are not, please advise because I need to find a solution for that time. 

If you would like to speak to me in person, please let me know and I can arrange a time.

Thank you and please advise,

Me

________________________________________________
From: The private doctor
Sent: May 26, 2017 6:27 AM
To: my email address
Subject: The private doctor’s name

I understand your frustration and confusion
Unfortunately I would have to recommend you to wait until you see the psychiatrist as previously discussed
I gave you additionnal medication to help you in a punctual manner  but for the follow up and
adjustement of the medication I want you to be followed by a psychiatrist as done before

Let me know what happens at your visit with the psychiatrist
Thank you

________________________________________

I admit, I cried when I saw this.

“follow up and adjustment”? um…, I asked for help until my new psychiatrist’s appointment – because….things had gone on too long. She understands my frustration…but prescribing me a low dose anti-anxiety medication for 10 days (she has my *hopefully* new psychiatrist’s name/number and permission to contact)…. instead of 17 days…well, I obviously, I’m not a doctor….but….I thought that was the entire point. To help me bridge the gap. In the email I mention several times that I see her prescription as a temporary solution….I’m not out seeking random prescriptions for anything….but whatever.

It’s seven days. Seven freaking days. After all the conversations with the shitty psych’s nurse and my “suspicious behavior”….honestly, I don’t even know anymore. Maybe I am trying to find some kind of drugs for a magical solution. Maybe I am behaving like an addict. I am so freaking confused.

I’ve had to get through tough weeks before. It was brutal. But I got through them. My employer knows I am having some health issues….so if I look like a bag of shit next week….so be it.

Thanks again, doctors. For looking out for my general health.

Day 4

A great big ol’ thank you to anyone that left me a comment on Facebook, where I shared my previous post link. I was kind of scared to share that I had…THAT much difficulty….but the entire point of the post was to share that I was having THAT much difficulty….because I know there are many people like me.

I’m still a bit discouraged. I realized that I screwed up with my medication a bit – it turns out that the private doctor only gave me my “please help me calm down” for weekdays, since I had said, “Just help me with something to help me at work”. Essentially, she increased a medication I was already taking, but once the shitty psychologist found that out, she removed the original medication as well – until I see her. I’m so confused about everything….

This weekend I went to fill another prescription (remember….I’m on a “cocktail”..) and I found out that it wasn’t to be re-filled. Odd….since I had been taking that medication for…well over two years… The pharmacist told me that she would give me one month’s dose anyway….because she could see that I was taking it.

I started to actually shake at that point. Just a few days earlier I had been accused of “suspcious behaviour” and been reprimanded over the phone….

I asked to speak to the pharmacist privately. Tears were barely held back. I explained to her what had happened and then asked her more than once: Are you sure if you refill this medication that you are not breaking any rules and that I am not engaging in “suspicious behaviour”?

She was shocked at the question….and said it’s standard practice…and that probably the shitty psychiatrist just counted the months to refill the prescription incorrectly… Still….today I was waiting for a phone call from her office chewing me out…

Sometimes I think I’m a complete disaster….a complete failure or a fuckup… I’m starting (very slowly) to realize that I’m a survivor….and far more patient or brave than I could ever imagine.

Hope to have better news next week. ❤

Case Number 428492

In the last week, I have developed an intense anger that I’m having a hard time letting go.

I wanted this blog to be a spot to raise awareness about mental health…but after the events of this week…it seems likely that there are more people that are suffering and being sick that “healthy” and trying to manage their illness.

Let me rewind.

In 2014, I needed to see a psychiatrist. I had been taking anti-anxiety medication for some time, but there was something different going on.  I was unwell…anxious…unable to cope/focus/function.

I was put on an 18 month waiting list, but in the meantime, I was able to see a psychiatric nurse at my local health center, who presented my case to the psychiatrist, who would prescribe me whatever medication she thought I needed. The prescription came with zero follow up. No instructions. No warnings. This was standard practice at the health center.

I began the medication and felt unwell…but thought that was part of the process. 72 hours later, my then husband took me to the hospital because I was scared of everything…to the point that I couldn’t leave the house and was crying in fear…I couldn’t tell you what scared me – I just felt an intense amount of fear.

The ER doctor was furious that I would be given a medication without any follow up. He gave me something to help calm me down and I came back the next morning to meet with the hospital psychiatrist, who prescribed me something else. Again, there was no follow up. This was a one time thing and I would have to come back to the hospital if there was a problem. The different medication seemed to be a bit better, but still life was so incredibly difficult. I was stuck…

Thankfully, through a friend of a friend, I was put in touch with a psychiatrist in the USA that would take me as a patient. Six or seven times, I paid for flights, hotels, meals, treatment, and medication while I was there. I never complained, because he saw me as a real person and spent time with me to figure out what was going on. The diagnosis: Treatment resistant DEPRESSION (not anxiety!!) that presented itself with symptoms of anxiety. He tried a few different medications and doses before he found the exact “cocktail” that I would require until I was a bit more stabilized and balanced. Have I mentioned that all of these medications help me pack on 45lbs in a matter of months? I work out, I don’t eat like a heffer…and when I spoke to any medical professional about it, they said as long as I was healthy, to be grateful that it was “only” 45lbs and not more.

Let me stop here. I’m not trying to cry in my beer here. I’m not trying to tell you my sad story. I consider myself blessed and very grateful for the support network that I have – because without it – I can’t imagine that I would have been able to get this far.

Finally after 18 months, tens of thousands of dollars later (including weekly or bi-weekly sessions with an incredibly wonderful psychologist with a reasonable fee that didn’t treat me like just a number), I got to see the psychiatrist.

This lady was a bitch. She was cold, clinical, and I was unprepared for the short time that she would spend with me….considering all that I had went through. She made a few changes….and then scheduled my next appointment in three or four months.

At my next appointment, I was armed with a list of questions, description of my symptoms and this ended up forcing her to  to spend more time with me. I haven’t really touched on how bad things were….but I felt awful. I wasn’t always able to get out of bed. For anyone that hasn’t experienced depression,….please realize that this isn’t a choice. I’m not staying in bed because I want a holiday. I could not get out of bed. At one point, I asked her if she had ever seen someone as “bad” as me get better. She told me that she had seen people in much worse shape than I make a full recovery. Whatever that means.

At the beginning of the year, I started to feel that I had made tremendous progress in therapy. I had improved my self-care, I had created a toolbox to help me deal with my illness, and I felt stabilized. I asked if I could go off one of the medications in her cocktail that she had prescribed to me. She agreed that I could taper off one of the medications.

During this time, I felt awful. Walking up the stairs took more energy than I could muster sometimes. My perfect toe pushups that took me forever to achieve were no longer… I tried to live my life to the best of my ability….but I was constantly having panic attacks, feeling over-stressed, and picking fights with those closest to me. I didn’t sleep. Some days I didn’t eat much and others I was insatiable.  I somehow blamed everything else in my life…..unaware that clearly I was depressed and that the medication decrease wasn’t working.

I was so convinced that life was going so well because I was able to stop taking a medication…that I ignored all of the signs, until I had an appointment with her, where she clued me in pretty fast.

She hummed and hawed….and somehow decided that she’d like me to try Lithium. I had heard of Lithium….but I thought it was for something else, not depression. She confirmed that yes, it was used to treat bipolar depression….and that no, I did not have that, but maybe a smaller dose might help. MAYBE. She wanted me to research the health effects before I agreed to taking it. And again, see you in four months, don’t let the door hit your ass when you leave.

I was so shocked….I had nothing to say. I didn’t ask her what I should do in the meantime. I mean I was already putting so much effort and time and money into my mental health….but I know that medication makes up part of the solution – at this point.

Once I did some basic research, I found out that there are short term and long term side effects, including liver damage. I called her office a few weeks later to tell her (well, her nurse, as I am never actually allowed to speak to the doctor) that things weren’t going well but I wasn’t ready to take Lithium. If was bipolar – well sign me the FUCK UP, but I’m not, and I wasn’t comfortable with the risks.

Her nurse told me that maybe I had done too much research and that I could either take the Lithium, wait until my appointment, or go to the hospital. Thanks, bitch.

So I carried on. I saw my psychologist every week. I tried to anything and everything just to keep me afloat. I still had another two months before I saw my psychiatrist and I didn’t know how I could hold on for that long….I was barely keeping my head above water….

Tuesday, I called the doctor’s office and asked to speak to the nurse. I said, I just need something to help me get to work. It can be short term. It can be for two weeks. I just need help. She took down my notes, and then asked me if I had tried yoga or acupuncture or something else, because in reality, medication is nothing but a crutch.

A crutch? There is a chemical imbalance in my brain. I have a medical condition. Is insulin a crutch for diabetics?

I kept my composure as I explained that I socialized, I worked out regularly (including yoga), I meditated regularly, I saw a psychologist, and I have tried everything but acupuncture, simply because the funds aren’t there. I spend up to $600/month on co-pays and psychology….I don’t any more money for acupuncture sessions… She told me that she’d tell the doctor that I called.

Wednesday morning, as I called from my bed, because I couldn’t get out of it, and again I told the nurse that I was in rough shape. I needed something to help me get to get to work, concentrate at work, and that I was prepared to suffer every night and every weekend, if she could just help me with something, that could get me through the days at work. She told me that she would pass the message along to the doctor, who would probably let me know if there was something that could be prescribed by tomorrow afternoon. I panicked. I had been suffering since February…it I had let things go to long. waiting until a “maybe tomorrow”…didn’t sound like a great plan.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed something. An ativan. A freaking valium. Whatever. It was at this point that I went online to see if I could buy Valium online. Isn’t that disgusting? I was going to try to buy illegal and dangerous drugs – because I just needed a few days of relief. I’m not being a baby here. I had been suffering since February….the doctor admitted my depression was not in a healthy state….yet….I was just supposed to suffer. I wasn’t suicidal so going to the hospital wasn’t an option.

I considered trying to find someone that sold pot. I hear that everyone that smokes pot is soooo relaxed.

Have you truly read the last two paragraphs? I was going to try to find illegal drugs….and I would for sure get busted because I would probably ask a freaking policeman for directions….I was going to break the law because no one would help me.

I called the private medical clinic and made an appointment. Tearful, exhausted, distressed, I showed up and the doctor told me that she thought I should change anti-depressants. I told her that this is not an option right now. I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist on June 4th (I forgot to mention this but I feel so fucking lucky you can’t even imagine!!! Who knows what will happen….but can it get any worse???). I needed something to help calm me down until that time. She said she wasn’t sure what to give me. I said, I see it all the time on TV, give me a Valium. She said she couldn’t. She needs to protect her medical license and that wasn’t sound medical advice. I said, my dentist gave me an Ativan and that helped me. Give me that. Again, no.

Finally, after me crying, begging for her help, telling her just to give me something for the days of the week and nothing for the weekends, she gave me something milder until June 4th. I took it.

I went to pay the bill and it came to $300. I asked why it was so expensive, and it was explained to me that it was so expensive because the doctor spent extra time with me. AYFKM?? The extra time was me crying. I can cry on my own, for free. I didn’t agree to the extra time…. We had established early on in the appointment that I had ZERO suicidal thoughts or intentions… I told her everything that I did to take care of myself, the support network that I have… anyway…

She asked if she could call my psychiatrist, and I told her not to, because she often gets frustrated when I called her. The doctor then said, “I think your psychiatrist is just trying to set boundaries. I don’t mean to offend you, but perhaps you have an unhealthy behavior and are calling her too often.”

BITCH – I call her one to two times in a four month period. When something is wrong. (I did not say that).

She told told me that she suffers from anxiety, so she knows what I’m going through. OH, I”M SO FREAKING SURE YOU DO. I’M SO SURE THAT YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT HAS BEEN DEPLETED TRYING TO FIND A FUCKING DOCTOR.

I walked across the street (because I had taken an Uber there because I was way too exhausted to drive), and filled the prescription. I took one of the pills and it made a difference! I felt calmer, was able to think clearer.

I was exhausted from the day, but better. I still had to do all of the self-care things that I would have done before, and this was a temporary solution, but it was a solution.

The next afternoon, I received a call from the RECEPTIONIST at my psychiatrist’s office. They had called in a prescription for Ativan. Ok. I thought well, I’ll finish off what the doctor from yesterday prescribed, and then fill the Ativan (again, please keep in mind this is all short term medication…not something that I will take on a regular basis…but that I needed something since I had been suffering since February). The pharmacy near my house called and I told them that I’d pick it up later in the week.

The pharmacy called back and said that they weren’t sure that they could fill the Ativan because of what the doctor prescribed yesterday. I said, ok, well, call the psychiatrist’s office and let me know what the solution is.

And this is where it got ugly. The nurse called, telling me that I had filled various prescriptions and THREE different pharmacies, and that I had seen a doctor yesterday, and that I had filled a prescription for Ativan on May 3.

I said, yes, the pharmacy next to the doctor yesterday, because I had no idea when I would hear from your office, I have a pharmacy at near work for the Ativan that the dentist prescribed me (he gave me FOUR pills for my dental treatments – half of them are still at home waiting for my next appointment), and then the pharmacy near home. I generally just use the two – one near work or one near home. They told me a long time ago that everything was linked to my Health Care Card, so even if I went to any pharmacy in my province, they would all see what I was taking. Meaning – I can’t go to one doctor’s office and say, Jack me on the good stuff, then go to another doctor’s office, and fill both prescriptions. Even if it’s at different pharmacy chains.

Apparently, I should have told the RECEPTIONIST that I saw a doctor yesterday. And that it was highly suspicious that I went to THREE different pharmacies (even though I explained why), and that until my next appointment with the shitty psychiatrist, I would not receive any assistance.

I asked her to clarify again….why was this suspicious? Why was I in trouble???

Apparently, because+ I got a prescription from the private doctor. Again, I explained why, and then suggested, if it’s such a big deal, why don’t I return those pills to the pharmacy and I can then take what you (or your boss) prescribed?

Absolutely not. I asked why not. She said because of how I “hid” everything and that the psychiatrist will be discussing my behavior at our next appointment. Can I just explain that the doctor gave me a low-dose anti-anxiety medication for TEN DAYS?

I lost it. I asked her how a doctor can tell me that I’m sick and then send me away for four months and refuse to treat me. She told me that clearly the doctor thought that was what’s best for me. “And when I call, in distress, asking for some help?”

Then she went into how it again how I’m using medication as a crutch and that I need to do more to help myself. Medication is not the solution and I’m placing too much importance on it. I need to really think about other ways to help myself.

I said thank you and goodbye.

Let me just say again:

  1. I workout (including yoga)
  2. I meditate
  3. I socialize when I can
  4. I read books and try to expand my knowledge for different techniques to help deal with depression
  5. I see a psychologist who has told me that at times – I push myself too much in the sessions – all in an effort to get better.
  6. I have a self-care plan
  7. I reach out to my family/friends when I need to
  8. I try to do something over the weekend that brings me joy – even if it’s just for a few minutes.

If I didn’t have an appointment with a new psychiatrist in 10 days….I don’t know what I’d do. I’m trying desperately to let this go….to not take this personally…but…I’m sick. My sick is not imagined. Yes, I’m placing a lot of importance on medication at the moment, because that’s the piece of the puzzle that isn’t being addressed.

Last winter, I sat down with two amazing parents that lost their daughter to mental illness. When I described my experiences to date, they nodded along… Their daughter…died of her illness….along with a medical system that is failing us. Their daughter passed away more than ten years ago. NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

I have come so fucking far in the last 2.5 years….I can do so much more than I would have ever thought possible and I’ve kept quiet for too long.

I don’t know what I’ll do in the future….But I am going to spread the word….when I’m stronger. I won’t let someone else have to go through all of this.

Most of all, I’m hoping that the new doctor accepts me as one of his patients on the 4th…and that I’m seen as a person, not a number not a paycheque, and not an inconvenience. I’m just trying to get my health back.

 

 

Sunday Night Letter to Myself

I haven’t written a #mentalhealthmonday post for nearly a month. I’ve started drafts…but give up after a few paragraphs.

I’m struggling. If you know me, please don’t get the impression that I cry at home every day, all day and am unable to function.

I struggle to wake up in the mornings, I struggle to have enough energy to get through the day, I struggle to maintain focus at work. I struggle with panic attacks, lots of crying, and my brain sends me signals that I am in danger – when I am not.

I have tools to deal with all of these, but I’m am discouraged to no end….about the level of health care that I’m receiving. There’s been a bit of a miracle….and I might have found a psychiatrist that will see me regularly (ie: not once every three months), until I find the right mix of therapy and medication.

Until then, I’m starting a “Letters to myself” series. To try and put things in perspective, to try to communicate the only way that I can sometimes (in writing), and to have something to look back on….

Here goes:

 

Dearest me,

Times are tough. Managing work, low energy levels, difficulty concentration, the tasks with running a household and all of the day-to-day life things….well, it’s not happening. One day it will be okay to talk to your employer and say, “I have treatment resistant depression. I will work my ass of for you and I love working here, but some days I’m just not ok”. We aren’t there yet.

Mondays are the toughest. I usually bribe myself with a Starbucks iced Americano on the way to work.

 

Realizing that you need to be picky about where you spend your energy, it was smart of you to visit that local store that provides ready-made meals w/o artificial ingredients. Buying enough for lunches and suppers will help you feel better about yourself, feel healthier, and in the end will save money because you’ll be less likely to pick up some kind of sugar/carb fest on the way home because you haven’t eaten properly.

I’m not sure why the importance of having a clean house is so strong….especially since that isn’t your forte…but you aren’t a shitty person because you house isn’t clean. The dishes are mainly done, the fridge is cleaned, the garbage has been taken out, and your bedroom is spic and span. There is laundry to be folded, a few areas to organize, some things to scrub…but this is nothing to feel so ashamed of. You could have done nothing, you could have gone to bed and not have done anything….so be happy that you got some things done, continue to pick up as you go, and spend 10 minutes a day cleaning….and try to figure out the source of negative feelings if you leave for work on a Monday morning with a messy house.

Adding the LMK meditation to your morning commute was such a great idea. Again, you’re finding all kinds of tricks up your sleeve to help yourself feel better and help relieve some of the stress. It may be hard some mornings, either try to keep going that 15 minutes, or shut it off completely and listen to music or an audiobook. Whatever it takes to help you feel comfortable in the car – and remember it took you a few months to feel comfortable taking the bus/subway a couple of years ago – so it might take a a few months to feel comfortable driving to work. Try to remember that what anyone else does or says has nothing to do with you. If your mind starts sending you those signals that you are in danger, you can consider pulling over for a few minutes at the next exit, or start some compassionate self-talk.

I know that tomorrow you’ll feel very overwhelmed and stressed that you haven’t performed at work as well as you would have liked. Write down your goals for the day – and revisit that list multiple times a day. You know your schedule for the week….but just focus on Monday. Nothing before or after. Remember that everything is in flux, and you can just do your best.

Go to bed tonight, think of three things that you are grateful for, and remember that you don’t need to be strong, you don’t need to be patient, you don’t need to feel confident, you just need to be brave. And that you have a tried and true track record of being brave. Sometimes that’s all you know how to do.

Please….try to have kind self-talk and treat yourself extra kind tomorrow. Order that iced Americano….enjoy it and focus on the next 24 hours, and that’s it.

Goodnight.