Treatment



I'd had a lot of respect for my doctor since our very first visit. I was grateful to be sitting here with someone I felt I could trust.

"From your mental health assessment, I've determined you are moderately to severely depressed," she explained.

Just sitting in that chair in the waiting room and taking that mental health evaluation had brought tremendous comfort.

Are you finding little or no interest in activities you once enjoyed?

Has your sleep been affected?

Are you down, depressed, or hopeless?

Do you feel like a failure?

Do you feel you have let those important to you down?

Do you have thoughts that you would be better off dead?

Have these thoughts and feelings impaired your social relationships?

Have these thoughts and feelings made it difficult to function and complete your responsibilities? To what degree?

I wondered if anyone else in that waiting room had watched the smile spread across my face as I got deeper and deeper into the packet full of questions. It struck me as funny, this should be a sobering experience, it should all be sinking in just how depressed I really am. Actually, it made me feel like I was closer to an answer than I had been in a very long time.

It was such a relief to know THIS IS A THING! It is so easy to become overwhelmed by guilt for having feelings like the ones described in that packet, a process with which I was so terribly familiar.  Just to have my thoughts and emotions described on paper by someone who wasn't me was so comforting. I knew I was doing the right thing by coming in for help.

My doctor handed me 3-4 pamphlets and as I brushed over them, more relief came rushing in. Words like crippling effects, hopelessness, loss of interest, numbness ironically brought me joy. And the most powerful one of all: TREATABLE.

She handed me a number of tissues as she told me she'd seen dozens of women with struggles similar to my own, that I was not dealing with something unheard of, and that she would work with me to find the best course of medical interaction.

I was so grateful for that night sitting by my little boy's side when it had been made clear to me that this was bigger than what I could manage on my own. I had done a tremendous job being brave. But just as those waiting with someone injured would make way for paramedics once the ambulance arrived, it was time to step aside and allow the medical professionals to help.

******

Before he left for work and before I left for the doctor that morning, my husband had given me a priesthood blessing.

He blessed my doctor. He prayed that the discussions we had together would bring about options that would be helpful. He prayed that she might be inspired in the solutions she offered, and if that included medication, to please guide me to an effective one at the proper dosage. 

It was comforting to hear him uttering those words, because I'd prayed very similar ones in the last six days since I had called and gotten an appointment. I'd come to the stunning realization that maybe depression wasn't meant to be dismissed from my life. I had tried to pray depression away hundreds of times. Prayer had felt like a stuck engine in my life for many, many months now as the relief I sought would only come to stay briefly.

One thing was clear. I needed help from medical professionals. And I could pray for them.

******

Sitting in my car in front of that building, I felt that wonderful kind of anxiety where you're scared to venture into the unknown but know it's going to change everything for the better.  

Did the receptionist see me as a frail, broken spirit as I sat in the waiting room? If she did, that was okay. I was so thankful to be here. Selecting a therapist had always seemed like a daunting task, but once my doctor made the firm recommendation that I begin seeing one, I felt hopeful. Knowing again that I couldn't use my prayers to dismiss depression, I instead used them in asking for help in finding  a therapist that could genuinely help me, with whom I could share the inner workings of my mind, even the darkest corners, and not be embarrassed. 

My doctor suggested that every time I meet with my therapist, I bring a list of things I'd like to talk about, the issues that were causing me to struggle the most. The really interesting thing was, my first appointment with my therapist was made about three weeks out, and in the meantime, I began taking the medication. I began making the list of issues to discuss with the therapist just a few days after meeting with my doctor. The list had about 1,000 bullet points. Difficulties were crushing me in multiple facets of my life.

Sitting here, three weeks later, the medication had had its chance to start working its wonders, and the list of things that discouraged me was down to about five or six problems that seemed insurmountable. 

One of the most meaningful things my therapist said to me in our first interaction, and this came after I spilled my whole life story on her lap, was, "You are not crazy. You are dealing with an illness and you're here to get some tools that will help you deal with it more effectively."

Oh that everyone could feel the joy of a therapist, a professional, telling them that they are not crazy, after spending several months being fairly certain you are. 

The other thing I can tell you was that I walked out that day and the many other weeks that followed feeling like I had just been to the gym. I always appreciated the endorphins physical exercise sent through my body, and noticed they made me think and feel a little better. But this was different. I felt like I had taken deliberate steps to strengthen my mental and emotional health by coming here. The contrast to the previous year was beautiful.

******

In the many weeks that followed, I would continue to marvel how intricately medication and therapy worked hand in hand. 

Without the medication, the discussions in my therapists office would not be able to sink in because of my depressed state of mind. The medication caused the dark heavy clouds to not seem so dark and heavy and made me more receptive to help. 

Without the therapy, I would feel okay thanks to the medication, but not make the progress that problem solving in my therapist's office allowed me to make. 

Whoever first suggested using medication and therapy as treatment for depression was a genius. Did everyone know about this? Maybe I should call the news.


Next Chapter: Chronic



1 comment:

  1. Beautiful!! Yes medication makes an enormous difference for me. And I truly believe that Heavenly Father wants us to use all our options and resources to get better!!

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