Sunday, January 18, 2009

Manic Suppression

I would like to begin by thanking everyone who commented on my last post, the one where I gave the vague impression that I might be one whiskey away from cutting my head off with the jagged edge from a tuna can.

Not only was I very touched by your thoughts, I was also intrigued that some of you recommended I go see a doctor. It was then that I remembered; I did, once upon a time.

It was about 10 years ago, when I felt as devoid of spirit as I do now. I had felt useless, aimless, and somewhat desperate. I was working at the BBC back then, had a couple of panic attacks while I was there, and knew there was something very wrong with me. Then, as today, it wasn't particularly evident, certainly not in the real, living, walking me (unlike the wrist-slitting impression I give here), but my unhappiness was genuine; a profound disappointment with myself and everything I'd achieved.

So on my Mum's suggestion, I sheepishly booked an appointment to see my doctor.

I walked into the doctor's room. The usual doctor was away and in her place was a young and attractive locum. I remember thinking that I was pleased to be wearing my sexiest shirt, which boosted my confidence when I saw her. I greeted her with an awkward little smile.

The locum, cute though she was, also seemed fed up. She almost certainly had a raft of other patients to see, and didn't hide her exasperation very well.
'So you're not feeling so great,' she stated.

I sighed, and shifted in my seat. I'd never met someone I fancied before only to freely admit how shit I felt. 'Yeah, it's a bit embarrassing,' I began, trying to scan beyond her cool exterior to see if she actually give a hoot. 'I feel pretty bad, like I'm cracking up or something.' She looked back at me pokerfaced, then turned to the notes on her desk. I continued.

'I wouldn't normally waste your time with something like this, but I - I just feel a bit empty and lost.'

I felt stupid saying it. That was all that was wrong with me and there was nothing more I could add. As much as these thoughts consumed my every waking moment, it now seemed a woefully inadequate reason to be there.

'Do you think you've got depression?'

'Yeah,' I said. 'I guess so.'

'Well you don't,' she replied, not bothering to look up from her notes. 'If you were genuinely depressed, you wouldn't be able to look me in the eye.'

That was the moment - that bit right there - when I felt really fraudulent. Not only did she piss on my depression chips, but she made it clear that I can't be flirty and miserable at the same time, not to mention that I clearly wasn't her type. I wanted to leave immediately.

'You've got the blues,' she said. 'We all get it from time to time. We do have group evenings with a psychiatrist. I can add your name to the list, if you want.'

'Yeah,' I mumbled as I stared at my shoes, now appearing properly depressed.

'We'll send a letter out to you.'

'Ok,' I replied. I left the surgery as quickly as I could. The letter never arrived, and I managed to get on with my life anyway.

Ever since that humiliation, I'd been careful to consider just how depressed I actually am whenever I feel down. Managing to force myself out of the funk helps, doing anything positive. At the moment it's January, and I'm probably a candidate for SADs. I normally baulk at self-diagnosis as well as dodgy modern syndromes, but this one strikes a chord with me.

Best, I think, to be stoic and British about this; shut up, go for a walk, right all my wrongs (somewhat an understatement), and - oh yeah - never, ever, ever bother with professional help again.


Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Bahahhha. Form a help group with your fellow addicted, snivelling comrades. Type "addicted to spider solitaire" into google.

Dandelion said...

Dear fweng.

GPs can be very insensitive as regards emotional woe. Yours sounds about as sympathetic as mine.

A GP is like an input-output device. You've got to say the correct input to get the correct output.

So work out what you think would benefit you, and then say what you've got to say in order to make them give it to you. It's all about DSM-IV with them. It also helps to specify what you want them to do for you. That way you make it easy for them, and also you circumstep the "what do you expect me to do about it?" response (which I personally have had, in response to a confession of mild suicidality).

Apart from that, keeep on blogging. We're all here for you. Oh, and a cup of tea can work wonders, just let me know when.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Holy shit! She ought to be ashamed of herself! It’s not easy to ask for help and that’s the LAST thing you should encounter when you finally get the nerve to do so. No doubt she took the opportunity to project her own self-loathing onto you.

Anonymous said...

that was what, 10 years ago? granted, i'd never consider going back after some shit like that...

SAD can be helped by plant lights and that sort of thing... i'm thinking that "blues" don't hang on quite so long. not an expert, but you might think about a second opinion.

or just track that arrogant little douchette, thank her for her 'diagnosis', and recommend she get her own television show since she seemed to be able to phone it in...

Z said...

Oh hell, now I want to hug you.

Don't worry, I'm very self-restrained, also I'm just being motherly. You're right and it'll feel better in the spring. xx

McTodd said...

Pull yourself together, you whinging c**t. At least you haven't just had to have a new kidney plumbed in, unlike someone we both know, so count your blessings.

Homer said...

Goog god - imagine if you'd had to show the harridan something really embarrassing, like rampant piles.

Tactless execution but probably the correct diagnosis at the time - depressed people can't get interested in anything, even hot locums.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, flirty and miserable only works on the desperate at 2 in the morning, when the glass is empty and the hormones are on throttle.

O, I've done studies, I have.

Funny post. I added you to my roll.


heybartender said...

Have you considered a house plant? As long as you're getting the light, a little oxygen might not hurt either.

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but I've lived and worked all over the world, and British GPs are some of the worst I've come across. I've lots of my own stories about being mistreated and completely blown off, but i also have a story very similar to your own. I knew a girl who was very, very depressed, and one cold winter's night we found her lying in the garden in only her PJs in an attempt to kill herself. When she went to see her GP after this incident, he told her that she *wasn't* depressed and that everybody goes through down periods. Unbelievable. Perhaps they're hoping a few suicides will lighten their workload.

Anyway, my advice: go back and keep going back until you find a GP that will listen.

sue said...

I think a lot of how you're feeling may stem from the job you're in. I speak from experience that that type of job can be the worst as it's both stressful yet also unfulfilling. As you (seem to be) intelligent and creative have you thought about retraining to do something like teaching? You may find it more rewarding, and you can use the long holidays to work on your novel. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I think this blog is moribund.

McTodd said...

Your mum's moribund.

Anonymous twat.

Homer said...

Disregard Sue's advice unless you want to spend 6 hours a day feeling like you're on stage before a hostile and unresponsive audience, followed by several hours admin, and holidays that may indeed be long but overall are about as relaxing as an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease, during which it costs 3 times as much to go away and you have to share every destination with yet more fucking kids.


You probably just need to get your leg over.

fwengebola said...

PDE ~ Erm, 41,500 results. I feel so alive!!!! I think that deserves a quick game.
Dand ~ Firstly, what's DSM-IV? Secondly, mild suicidality? WTF??? I'm determinded now to avoid fucking doctors (if only that was literal.) Plus I've had two girlfriends who were on Prozac, and what's the point of legally prescribed drugs? I'm writing again, so that helps. And what is it with you and tea?
UB ~ I think that's the downside to free healthcare; doctor's are more inclined to be ruthless to reduce their ever-expanding workload. Plus we're not the most tactful and sensitive of people. Stiff upper lip, and all that.
df ~ Plants? Surely it's easier to hunt down and kill that doctor than be male with a fucking plant in my room.
Z ~ Aw, that's nice. I think you're a great mother.
McFuck ~ Hello mate. Yeah, I chose to keep that quiet for the time being. Yes, I am indeed missing the broader picture.
You cunt.
Homer ~ I think you're right. I still wish she showed a bit more compassion at my lowest ebb. What if I was unstable with a penchant for razors and my wrist?
SA ~ Hello Sonny, welcome. And you have the longest posts of any human. For some reason, flirty and miserable doesn't work for me at 2am.
HB ~ Jaysus, what is it with you people and plants? You think a pot full of thistles will help?
Anon ~ That's disgraceful, and that was after an event. I don't think doctors are happy until someone tops themselves. I don't know why any GP would dare say someone's got the blues when they do something like that. What a bastard.
Sue ~ Hi Sue. You're quite right, except this is a job I'm actually thanked for doing, such as today. Trust me when I say I've had jobs where I've been yelled at where I'm fucking useless.
I think I need to finish my book before I commit to something else. That's priority one for now.
Anon ~ Alright Luke. How's life?
McTodd ~ Oh, very un-anonymous, I reckon.
Homer ~ Yep. My mate Monkey Dave's a teacher. He whinges to buggery about it.

i am not your freud said...

as someone who has a batchelor's degree in psychology, did several internships in clinics and is about to start doing a masters program in clinical psychology in freud's city, i'd like to ask: WHERE THE HELL DO YOU FIND THESE SHITTY PSYCHOLOGISTS/PSYCHIATRISTS!?!?! i mean COME ON! "you don't have depression cause you looked me in the eye"?!?! that's one of the stupidest things i have heard in my entire life. did she get her degree from a supermarket?!?! not making eye contact is an indicator when it comes to prognosing autism, but making it can never mean you don't have depression. that's like saying "oh you just sneezed, that means you don't have OCD". besides, you can never come to a conclusion about what psychological problems someone has or doesn't have by regarding just one thing they did. from what i've been reading, i get the impression that you have depression and i think you should see a PROFFESSIONAL and not someone who pretends to be one. a good therapist is supposed to listen to you, understand you, accept you, give you trust and encourage you to talk about your problems.

as for you thinking that she thought you wouldn't be able to flirt and be sad at the same time or that she meant you are not her type, i'm positive that this wasn't the case. see, i don't think she would think you were flirting with her when you looked her in the eye (well then again, she is stupid so who knows what she thought, but go with me here)and she didn't do or say anything that would mean you are not her type. it's also stricktly against the rules to flirt with the patients, i mean it can't even be considered for a psychologist/psychiatrist to mean something like "yeah you're not my type", not only because it would be so unethical and unprofessional to look down on a patient, but also because it would mean that something would happen if you were her type. i can tell that she's very bad at what she's doing but i'm guessing she is aware of some stuff about her profession, so please don't feel humiliated about what happened. what i see here is just a shitty so called professional who failed to properly treat a patient.

and if dandelion's therapist asked "what do you want me to do about it?" as in "so? what do you want ME to do?" right after she told him/her about her suicidal tendencies, i think their treatment skills are questionable too, but i don't know the whole deal there, so i can't say something solid about it.

Huw said...

The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently in its fourth incarnation, hence DSM-IV. It's lists criteria for all the recognised mental illnesses - including, in its early days, homosexuality - so is a essentially a check list that doctors look for you to meet (because people are simplistic like that), or, as Dandelion suggested, for you to make a doctor think you meet.

Anonymous said...

Dunno if this would be your thing, but I'm currently reading "The Happiness Hypothesis" and "The Mindful Way through Depression." I'm sick of being unhappy so regularly, and I'm finding them to be helpful.

Dom said...

Forget about professional help, all you need is this ( oh, and $35 to buy it :)

Trixie said...

You might be right about the SADs thing...but then, you seem to be unhappy all year round. Maybe moving to a sunnier country may help? ;p

Dandelion said...

Yeah, I reckon SADs is made up. Load of bollox. Stands for Stupid And Dumb, in my book (no disrespect to anyone that has it...).

Daisy said...

Frankly I think it's up to you to decide whether you're depressed or not rather than the Dr. But don't give up on them - some are good, some are rubbish. I once had a dr ask me whether I was suicidal and before I could answer, asked me to leave the room so he could answer a call on his mobile. Professional.

Anonymous said...

Fucken cold today.

Ann Anon

McTodd said...

He's not depressed, he's just a miserable bastard. Always has been, always will be.

Sarsparilla said...

(Can you get degrees at the supermarket, and are they more or less expensive than tesco's lettuce?)

i am not your freud said...

well if you can, looks like it's quite cheap and easy to get

fwengebola said...

Freudypants ~ That was fucking enormous. Congratulations. You win Largest Comment Ever on this blog. I don't think I've even seen a bigger comment on someone else's blog. I feel quite proud.
You're right, of course. I had bad luck there, and as UB commented, I had to force myself to speak to someone just to hear that.
As for your diagnosis, I don't know if I do have proper, full-blown depression. I tend to muse a lot, and I'm never *really* happy. But I can still find time to laugh in the evenings now and then.
I think, much as I hate admitting that I'd conformed to a pattern, I'd just so happened to feel awful during the so-called Worst day of the year.
I am slooooowly trying to Do The Right Things.
- And I hope you're on the mend too.
Huw ~ That's interesting. Dumb though it may be to draw up a series of 'illnesses' allied to a list of symptons when dealing with the glut of humanity, I can't personally think of a better way to start outlining, erm, stuff.
But then I'm not a doctor.
Anon ~ Thanks for that. I'll add that to my commentator's selection of books for miserable bastards, such as this, and this.
Dom ~ Erm, the Cheers to you CD? If there's anything sadder than listening to impersonal cheering and generic exhaltations in the privacy of your own home, it's the realisation that you're sat listening to impersonal cheering and generic exhaltations in the privacy of your own home.
Trixie ~ You're right. I am a miserable cantankerous bastard. Perhaps I'd fit in down under?
Dand ~ I don't think it's made up per se, but it's perhaps a leap to assume it's a specific illness suffered by many at a given period of the year.
Dunno. Jury's out on that one.
Daisy ~ Woah. That's brilliant comedy. But a bit hard for you to experience.
Anon ~ Yes, thank you.
McMotherfucker ~ Now you come to mention it...
Sasparilla ~ I have no idea what that means, or why it's in brackets.
IANYF ~ Don't you start.

i am not your freud said...

yaaay i win :P

snowqueen said...

I suffer from SAD - I'm essentially a positive and forward-looking person who finds myself behaving like a miserable bastard during the winter - getting worse through January February and March until the sun starts shining on my way back from work. It's irritating. Anyway I swear by high strength Omega 3 fish oils and exercise (I have to FORCE myself to do it cursing and grumbling all the way but it works) The last 3 winters have been almost normal since I started doing this. I do it through the year btw

fwengebola said...

Fish oil? That's intriguing. Of course, I could always go on a diet and get some excercise, but it's raining.

Sod it, I'm off to the shops.

luna said...

PLEASE PLEASE I beg you on my knees go to the shrink's group therapy!!!It's comedy/tragedy gold! No,platinum!(never mind it's useless)

Apart from that i'd agree with the person who advised booking a session with a specialist,privately if necessary.GP's reason to live is to fob off as many patients as poss and save the NHS money.And they do let people die.

Once my teacher smelled gas of an evening and rescued her downstairs neighbour from oven suicide.She took him to A&E and went home to bed.
Following morning,gas smell again.
This time she was too late.
Apparently,they chatted with the guy for an hour and made him "promise" (!) not to do it again,cross your heart (and hope to die).Unreal but totally true.

Lots of savings for the NHS there,well done!

fwengebola said...

I can't go back to group therapy as a) the offer was several years ago and b) I don't want to.

Awful about their neighbour. I have a feeling a lot of people with suicidal thoughts are convinced no-one gives a shit about them. If they're that delicate and they want that reinforced, they can do no better than pop down to the NHS. If I worked there, the suicide rate would treble.