My entire life, I have been a sad person. It's not really a big deal, I feel like I've successfully presented the image of a happy person, an in control person, even when I feel I'm not.
When I went through my divorce seven years ago, I decided to give therapy a shot. I wasn't expecting anything in terms of medication. I was only saying, "Hey, this is how I've always been and today I feel like a new person, like I have a new shot and I don't want to screw it up."
Six weeks after starting therapy, my counselor told me that, while I could continue to see her if I chose, it was time to visit the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist had a clipboard with paper on it. Presumably, the paper held questions she should ask. And, so she did. She asked questions. I answered them. I had never met this woman before and fifteen minutes after walking into her office, I had prescriptions for four different medications.
Xanax would help me with my anxiety.
Ambien would help me sleep.
Wellbutrin would help me with my depression.
Lamictal would help me with my mood swings.
"LAMICTAL?!" my best friend vehemently questioned over the phone.
"Lamictal is a medication used to treat epilepsy! Don't take it."
Should I ask my doctor about the epilepsy meds? The psychiatrist who had never met me and gave me four prescriptions in fifteen minutes? No, thanks. I don't even remember her name.
So I Googled it.
Lamictal is a medication used to treat epilepsy that, coupled with anti-depressants, has been found to be effective at treating bi-polar mood swings.
Now, so far as I knew, I was just depressed. My fifteen minute psychiatrist never gave me a diagnosis.
I took the meds. Aside from the Ambien and the Xanax, I didn't feel any real changes in my root problems. Six weeks later, I told this to my psychiatrist (whom I hadn't seen in six weeks but, it would seem, is obligated to check up on my meds). She increased the dose of Wellbutrin and kicked me out of her office very politely within five minutes.
I got divorced. I had no insurance. I stopped taking the meds. I stopped treatment. I never noticed a difference anyhow.
Nine months ago, I decided to start counseling again, having recently stumbled upon good insurance. I told her from the beginning that I was looking for organic solutions to my problems and that I was very put off by the previous grand total of twenty minutes I had spent with a psychiatrist who had put me on meds knowing very little about me.
After this nine months, I'm finding that my pesticide-free treatment is bull shit.
I basically go talk to a stranger every couple of weeks who listens compassionately and can't judge me and my decisions the way my friends would if I said the same things to them.
She is so convinced that mantras are the way to change my life that it is everything I can do to talk myself into going to see her. "My insurance pays 100% of counseling. My insurance pays 100% of counseling. My insurance pays 100% of counseling."
But after yapping my problems for 45 minutes every two weeks, attempting some new inspiring mantra, taking my husband to counseling with me, etc., I am still sad.
Larger than life
And I thought about my last experience with the psychiatrist. I thought, please don't let that happen again.
So, instead, I called my PCP. Because I trust him and he has a weird kind of stake in my health.
When he asked me what was wrong, I immediately started to cry. He handed me the tissue box so kindly and I thought, 'my counselor just points at the tissue box.'
I told him that if I could just get something for my anxiety, I could deal with the sadness because I've always dealt with it. I told him I was seeing a counselor and had been trying organic solutions and they didn't work. I told him I'm so scared because it's affecting my relationships.
"Is it affecting your marriage?"
Yes. And, quite frankly, that is why I went. That is why I went to counseling again.
I told him that my husband is an unemotional man and he has never had any kind of experience with people with depression like me. He doesn't think it's real.
My doctor asked me several assessment questions which I answered honestly.
And this is what he told me.
I have bi-polar disorder. He can't treat it because it is very dangerous for someone who doesn't specialize in mood disorders to treat. There are chemical imbalances existing within me that no test can pinpoint. The best thing that can be done is to try different medications until the right combination is discovered for me. And, quite frankly, he'd rather treat schizophrenia than bi-polar disorder.
He had to refer me to a psychiatrist and he promised me that this one would spend more time with me than fifteen minutes. But the trick of the whole thing is that I had to get in as soon as possible because my issues are dangerous. And the other trick is that I have to remember to take my medicine.
As soon as possible turns out to be three months away.
So, for the next three months, I just continue to be who I was before.
But my doctor said something that made me so hopeful.
"Melissa, when you get this right, everything will be so clear. You will have clarity that you didn't know was possible and everything will be right."
Tonight, even though I think drinking is bad for me, I drank to clarity. I always know what I should do, but I can't ever do it. I mean, for real, I CAN'T DO IT. I can't.
Maybe, sometime after the months following October 2, I will. "I can't" won't mean the same thing it does now.
That would really be out of this world, don't you think?