The things no one tells you

All things considering, I was lucky when I was depressed. Despite the fact that when I originally reached out for help my shrink was out of town and none of the other resources in town would help me because I wasn’t suicidal, I still got help within about a week of reaching out. I was able to make an appointment with a new therapist relatively quickly. Once my doc was back in town he reached out his first day back and we spent the next six days (playing a bit of phone-tag, I admit) working through things before we ultimately decided on a med change. As much as we both complained that it was taking too long, in reality, the whole process went pretty quickly. When I was in college I fell into a pretty deep depression, and it took two and a half months to get in to see someone and in the meantime, I literally couldn’t get out of bed. I essentially failed a semester of college and was only able to keep my financial aid by the grace of God and a letter from my shrink. This could have been a lot worse than it was, with far worse consequences of having to repeat a few classes.

I was able to go to work during this. It was hard, and exhausting, and took more effort than I can even describe to work a 12-hour shift, but I did it. I’m sure it was fairly obvious that something was up – I didn’t wear make-up or my contacts, I hid in the lab whenever possible to keep from interacting with anyone that I didn’t absolutely have to. But when I was out and about in the building at lunch or dropping paperwork off to someone, the thing I heard the most was “are you feeling ok? You look really tired.” Part of that was definitely the not wearing make-up thing, but I was exhausted. I kept trying to keep in mind that these people really meant well, and they didn’t know what was going on, and they were concerned or at least wanted to put on the appearance of being concerned. But what they didn’t realize was that answering that one simple question, even with a well-prepared lie was absolutely exhausting, and meant that I spent the next two hours in the lab interacting with people as little as possible trying to recover. I’m an introvert by nature, but that surprises most people as I’m very friendly and while at work do my best to friendly and upbeat. Maintaining even a fraction of that personality was almost more tiring than anything else. I’d get in my car at the end of the day and just sag into the seat and try to muster the energy to drive home and collapse into bed. People’s concern made the day worse than they’ll ever realize.

The other thing that I wasn’t used to was that everyone had a suggestion to help my “sleep.” Vitamins, yoga, sunlight, shopping, cuddling my cats, taking a walk, etc. When someone is depressed the last thing that they want to hear is “I’m sure you’ll feel better if you do this or that!” No. That’s not what I needed. I needed a med change. I needed therapy. People were absolutely well-meaning, and maybe because I’ve been there, but the last thing I’d tell someone that I even maybe suspected was depressed that they’d feel better if they just went outside, or cut gluten out of their diet.

But things are much better now. I’m sleeping normally, I’m getting stuff done on my days off, I’m being social and not hiding in my house, laughing and joking again, pretty much back to normal. I get flashes of irritability and anxiety, and I think the dosage of the Zyprexa may need to be slightly increased, but generally speaking, I’m back on my feet.

One thing I learned from this experience is that there are no resources for people who aren’t suicidal or having a total psychotic break. I heard a lot of “you’re under the care of a psychiatrist, even if he’s out of town we’re not going to change your meds” or “you’re not a danger to yourself, so you’re going to have to tough it out until he gets back” or “there’s no room in the hospital so you can’t voluntarily commit yourself unless you’re suicidal.” My therapist and I have talked about this, and he agrees that it’s a problem. Like I said to him, what if my doc wasn’t back for another three weeks? Would I really have had to keep suffering until then? What if by that point I actually was suicidal? What if the mere fact that I had reached out to so many people only to be rebuffed made me not reach out at all in the future? I mean, why should I? No one is going to help me. I don’t know what there is that can be done. I can understand not wanting to screw with meds, but why isn’t there such a thing as emergency therapy appointments? At least in my city you can call in the morning if you hurt your knee and get in with an orthopedic doctor or PA. There are emergency appointments for injuries, but not mental health? Seems kind of dumb and almost counterintuitive.

There’s an idea somewhere in there, we’ll see if it germinates into anything.

Anyway, I’m done rambling.

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