:: this post is part of the ‘hope’ series. it includes bits + pieces of my journey with depression, anxiety + insomnia with the hope that it will illuminate, expose, + help ::
Before you read: Everyone’s experience is slightly different, but this is my story. The reason I decided to write about this is because no-one talks about it. And I know of many girls (+ guys) afraid to go to the doctor because they don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope this illuminates the process a little for you + eases your mind. Don’t let your fear of the unknown stop you from becoming who you were created to be.
:: Seeing the: Doctor ::
Going to the doctor is no different than if you were going to get relief from an earache, broken leg, etc etc.
Like usual, when you sit in the doctor’s room, you’ll be asked: “What can I do for you?” Simply tell them your symptoms. For me, my next step was having a stack of blood tests done to simply rule out anything that may be physically triggering the symptoms.
Once I received those results back – all clear – he then spoke to me about depression + asked me some questions about my current life situation. From there, I filled out a depression quiz (which I won’t say what one it was or link to it because you should really take it in the presence of your doctor. Self-diagnosing can do more harm than good sometimes).
My results actually surprised me – it put me in the ‘severe depression’ range.
How? Because I answered “all the time” to questions like: “how often do you feel overwhelmed?” At the time I didn’t recognise my sense of being overwhelmed as a symptom of depression, but it is.
From there, my doctor put me on a mental health care plan. He gave me a sample pack of anti-depressants, a prescription for sleeping pills, + a referral to see a psychologist.
After seeing my psychologist for just over a month, I had to go back to the doctor for a review + he (after the suggestion from my psychologist), put me on anti-depressants (read about that experience here). I’m still on them + have regular check-ups with my doctor so he can make it’s okay / renew the prescription.
Never overlook or underestimate the power of seeing your doctor. Depending what they say, it’s a process enabling you to see clearer, think wiser, become healthier, + is a step in the right direction to help you live the life you were created for.
:: Seeing a: Psychologist ::
When I first went to see the psychologist, I was super nervous. I had no idea what to expect, what we were going to talk about, what this ‘treatment’ entailed, who this person was who was going to help me, + the list of thought continue on. But when my name was called in the doctor”s waiting room + I was greeted by a warm smile from my psych, I knew it was going to be okay.
Some things I had to do:
— remember the quiz you had to at the doctor’s? Well, you have to take it again. Why? To make sure they have the most up to date assessment of your mental health (you could have gotten better/worse between your doctor’s + psych’s appointment)
— fill out some paper work for Medicare
— they ask you a lot of questions about yourself – family life, working, studying, relationships, what been happening in your world to make you feel this way, etc etc etc; it’s to simply get to know you + your situation
— through those questions (sneaky sneaky) he gave me some reading materials on depression, ways to sleep better, breathing exercises, + social anxiety. To be honest, when he gave me the information on social anxiety, I thought: “pfft, how funny!” But as I began to read it at home I realised I totally had most of the symptoms – and the psychologist had picked up those things after talking to me for not even an hour. Hilarious!
— thought diary: they may ask you to start a ‘thought diary’ (this is a good exercise whether you’re depressed or not. Totally keeps your thoughts in check). This is a simple way to track your thoughts, the situations, behaviour, + consequences. It’s very eye-opening + practical when you see a pattern begin to appear.
— worry list: You write down everything (no matter how little or big) that worries you.
— healthy eating.
— walking / exercising four times per week for an hour.
My treatment was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), hence the thought diary + worry list. The ‘homework’ + reading was a way for me to participate + be actively involved in my recovery… + it’s proving successful.
After six sessions I took the same quiz from beginning of your journey, again. This is to gauge the progress + what improvements need to be made (if any). Mine had dropped slightly, but not a considerable amount. It was at this point that my psychologist suggested I take anti-depressants.
I had six (or seven?) weekly one-hour sessions with my psychologist. It then went to one session every six weeks, to now every eight weeks. I still see him + he’ll request with my doctor to have more sessions with me next year (especially when I begin coming off the anti-depressants to ensure I’m still tracking along well).
Some sessions take up the full hour. Some sessions are only 15-20 minutes. It all depends on where you’re at, what you want to talk about, etc etc.
The psychologist works with you. They push + challenge your thoughts + your behaviour. It’s not something to be hesitant about – if it’s helping create a new, healthy, + beautiful pattern in your life – why not take it?
The key to any form of progress is being open + real with yourself. Sure, you’ll discover a lot about yourself, at times it may be difficult to comprehend + take in, but if all you have is a little spark of hope, of ‘wanting’ to pull yourself up out of the hole, + someone helping you along the way – that’s all you’ll need to keep going
This is simply my journey. I hope it opens your eyes a little + makes you feel as though someone’s holding your hand along the way… Much love, Bethany, x