“You take Tylenol when your head hurts. You take those pills to stop your tummy from hurting when you eat ice cream. How is it different to take medication to make you feel better when you’re down?” My boyfriend said this to me today after I told him about the conversation that I had with a school psychiatrist.
I am lucky enough to have access to mental health services through my university and I’m happy I have been keeping up with my appointments and following through with getting more help. I talked to my therapist a couple of weeks ago and told her that I think I feel fine about asking for medication to help my mental health. Today when I spoke with the psychiatrist, I started feeling a little worse about medication once it was more of a possibility than an amorphous idea. As a nursing student, I know that there are many non-pharmacological methods to deal with pain and anxiety. I really enjoy talking about my experiences and struggles with my therapist, and I think that she has provided valuable insight into how I can manage obstacles in my day to day life. However, I don’t always feel like myself, and I want to get back to feeling more happy than sad. I think that medication can help.
It was disconcerting to have the psychiatrist take the information he gathered through our conversation and condense my life experiences down into a diagnosis and a brief description. Mild clinical depression. It seems silly, almost. Sometimes it feels like I cannot handle the weight of the world and it is too much for me to bear. Mild. He said I am Type A, which I wholeheartedly agree with, and that I can push away my stressors and function well enough. When I don’t have immediate stressors, the things I have pushed away show up. This is compounded by life changes (impending graduation, worries about student loans, jobs) which magnifies stressors. Add in some seasonal affective disorder that manifested during my years dealing with East coast winters. Additionally, my anxiety and panic attacks were likely triggered by depression.
Phew. It simultaneously seems like not that bad compared to how bad it could be, and also that it is the entirety of what I have been experiencing lately that is paralyzing and overwhelming. I feel a bit numb after that. I meet again with the psychiatrist and my therapist next week, and I will likely start medication soon after that. Bupropion. Funny how I will be taking the things I learn about in school and experiencing them for myself. I hope to feel more like myself. I am a little scared to get on medication, and a little ashamed. A little sad that I used to be different, that I feel less like “me” nowadays. Ultimately, I allow myself a little hope that I might return to being the happier person who can enjoy the flowers at the side of the road without expectation of sadness to overwhelm me at the end of the day.
What has your experience with diagnosis and subsequent treatment been like? How can you take these important steps without getting lost in them?