You may have seen me blog about my struggle with depression this winter, an eye opening post about what I had experienced. I was then referred to a clinic specializing in counseling as well as psychiatry. That was almost six months ago.
Five and a half months later, I made my first appointment. I walked into the doors at EH at 8:45am yesterday. I was shaking from head to toe. I was scared. I was worried. I was half convinced that no one would believe me and tell me I was fine. It was a new environment and I didn’t know what to expect.
I filled out the stack of paperwork I expected and was soon met in the lobby by my new therapist. I’ll call her V. Older, quiet, but very kind and welcoming. Calm and caring – I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Bonus: a woman. I had forgotten to ask on the phone the day before that I’d prefer a woman therapist.
Therapy isn’t new to me. I had gone on and off for years as I grew up, but coming to therapy alone is a new adventure. I have never really been in charge of something like this, planning my own appointments, getting myself there… these are big steps. Big steps I knew I had to take. I knew the first appointment would be more along the lines of getting to know each other, why I’m there, etc.
We talked somewhat about the variety of issues I’m dealing with, why I’m there (depression, things I’m still struggling with that have happened over the years, etc). It had been several years since I had gone to therapy and she openly asked how I had coped and I explained – sometimes I’d keep it all inside, sometimes I’d isolate myself, sometimes I’d rely on my close friends and family.
She gave me a list of coping techniques to try and said we would work on getting pas my experiences and being able to cope/manage when times get rough. After that, we scheduled my next appointment after V told me I could come as often as I want – weekly, once a month, every other month, etc. WOW! That’s awesome.
I go back next Monday afternoon and I am expecting to work hard that session to address some major things I’ve dealt with.
The next thing we did was schedule an appointment with their psychiatry department. Originally scheduled for August, V was walking me out back to the lobby and the receptionist ran to us saying there was an opening for right now and was I willing to go now?
Why not, I said. I have no plans!
Walking into the office of PL as I’ll call her, felt surreal in so many ways. I couldn’t believe that after so many years, I was finally walking into the office a psychiatrist. I was going to get the help I needed. I was shaking again, overwhelmed but I knew this was what I had to do. This is why I was at EH.
I took in a deep breath and sat down in the chair, gripping the arm rests tightly. I was restless, anxious and not really sure what to expect. But I was here. I was doing this. I had already taken the first steps to the rest of my life.
We did the general questions about what brings me here, what meds I’m on, she asked questions about what my depression and anxiety were like, how often I experienced them, how often I had panic attacks or “down” days. We discussed my family history of mental health, how that has affected me, living with chronic illness and how I feel like a burden to others at times and when my own mental health issues began… it was a lot. It was a lot to remember, to discuss, to openly talk about. Overwhelming in so many ways.
As I’m already on Zoloft (prescribed the lowest dose by my primary care doctor), we talked about that and then began the big talk of what other medications could help me and a diagnosis. I was formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s still a lot to take in. It’s hard. It’s incredibly scary to think about, but it makes so much sense. The days where I am full of energy, can’t stop talking or moving… and then the days where just getting out of bed is a challenge.
In a way, I’m mad. I don’t want to be that person with bipolar, but I also know how strong I am. How I’ve struggled with this for so many years without a diagnosis, forcing myself to do what I needed to do to get by. Now that I have a diagnosis, I can get the medication to help keep me stabilized (well, when my insurance decides to sign off on it and cover it).
PL also gave me something for sleeping – something that has been incredibly rocky for me lately. I slept last night. Almost through the night. It’s an amazing feeling (even if I am still groggy today) and I know that getting the sleep I need will also help in my recovery.
I go back to see PL in August and from there, we will discuss what has or hasn’t been working medication wise and likely add in an anxiety medication for me as well. It’s a lot to digest, to think about, to get used to – it’s overwhelming in a numbing way.
These are just the first steps in a new journey, and as scary as it is – I’ll continue to fight, to stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other even on my darkest days.