I have spent months trying to pull myself out of this black hole, fighting the urge to hurt myself, trying all sorts of weird and wonderful new things in order to try and silence the demons, faking the smile for so long that I feel like I’ve forgotten what it’s like to smile naturally. I kept telling myself that things would get better but they haven’t and after barely making it through the last week, I realised if I was to survive this, the only way was to get myself to a GP.
In the past when I have been to see a Doctor about my depression, I have been a sobbing mess in their room, snot and tears flying everywhere while I try and find the words to tell them how I’m feeling. Most have reacted in horror, thrusting a box of tissues in my hand and avoiding eye contact as much as possible. One I remember asked permission to give me a hug and told me “we’ll get this sorted”. He was an absolute gem. We’ve recently had to change Doctors surgeries to help my youngest, and this was going to be my first visit to see a new GP to discuss my depression. I expected to feel as I have done before, but instead I was calm, I didn’t feel anxious or upset. To most this might seem like a good thing, but to me it just proves how bad things are. I’ve gone past the crying and emotional stage and reached the “just don’t care” level. It’s more dangerous than I care to admit.
As I sat in the waiting room, I told myself that I was going to be completely honest with the Doctor. I was going to tell him just how bad things are, how close I am to falling over that edge. How I lay in bed at night listening to the traffic on the dual carriageway bridge and thinking it’s only a 15 minute walk to the bridge and then it would all be over in a matter of seconds. How I am so incredibly exhausted that most days the effort to just get out of bed and dressed is too much. In previous visits to GPs, I’ve not felt able to be totally honest, partly because I was too busy making a fool of myself crying my eyes out, and partly because I was so sure they would get social services involved who would come and take the girls away from their psycho Mother. This time was going to be different though, I was ready to be totally honest for the first time in 20 odd years.
So I found myself sat in the tiniest of rooms with a male GP who recognised me through looking after my youngest’s medications. He asked what I was there for. I took a deep, slow breath and calmly replied “my depression has got bad again and I need help”. No tears, no butterflies or feeling sick. He turned to his computer and called up my old records from which he could see a pattern of anti depressants being issued on and off since I was 18. Sometimes I’ve gone months without them, other times years, but there’s still several prescriptions on there.
He started tapping away on his keyboard, asking me the usual questions –
Sleeping? – No, insomnia keeps me awake for hours
Off food? – No, I comfort eat, my depression makes me want food even when I’m not hungry
Feeling low? – An understatement but yep
Any trigger? – No, this is just me, this is just what happens every now and then
There were others about any physical problems (no) and the usual “do you think it is because your daughter is disabled” (NO I DON’T). He typed my answers into his computer, not once looking at me. I answered truthfully and calmly, focusing on a small spider that was crawling its way up the wall in front of me. I wanted to be ready for the question about suicidal thoughts which I knew was coming.
Without taking his eyes off the computer screen, he said “You’re not suicidal are you”. Was that a question?? Because it sounded like a statement to me. I was aware he was waiting for a response but my head was telling me he didn’t want me to be honest, he wanted me to say no. If I said to my ten year old “You’re not going to eat any more of those vegetables are you”, I already know the answer is no. It’s a pointless question and more of a statement of fact because I know she isn’t going to eat anything remotely healthy. Part of my head was screaming at me to say Yes! Forget about the words he’s used, tell him, yes I am suicidal and if you don’t help me I’m not going to win this battle. The other half was saying you’re just a number, a nobody, he’s asking questions that come up on his computer, he doesn’t care about you and he doesn’t want the hassle of you saying yes.
Guess which part of my head won…
I said no. He didn’t look at me, just typed it into the system and moved straight onto the next question which was what medication did I want.
We talked about how much I hate taking pills. Although I feel kind of numb right now, the drug fuelled numbness is so much worse, it’s existing but not living because you just can’t feel anything. To get the drug to a level where I am able to function, I have to put up with side effects which affect my daily life, and I have to accept that walking round in a permanent daze where life just passes me by is normal. I’ve tried all sorts of different medications over the years but only one has had side effects that are vaguely tolerable, the rest have interfered with trying to care for my daughter.
I left with a prescription for the little pills I’ve tried to avoid for so long, but not before one final question trying to link my daughter’s problems with my depression. I have to go back in two weeks to increase the dose. To the GP it was nothing, another statistic for the Government when they want to produce a report about the number of people on anti-depressants, another expense for the Surgery and the NHS to fund more medication. For me though it means so much more. I was ready to be honest about my suicidal thoughts but didn’t feel like I was given the opportunity to. I have to face the fact that I’m not able to fight my own head without drugs. I need to deal with a lifetime of taking a medication that makes me feel permanently numb, sick and dizzy.
It’s going to take a while for me to accept that relying on a little white pill to keep me sane is “ok”.
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