Since being diagnosed with burnout I made the decision not to go back to my old job. I worked out that conclusion with my burnout coach. The insurance lady told me that after being on a sick leave for about 8 months now, it was really about time to go out looking for a job. After four days of a feeling happy (I had the feeling I was on a break from mental illness) a dark blanket hugged me so tight that there was no escape possible. My GP referred me to a psychiatrist. I needed to wait a month before the appointment.
During that period I ‘lost’ everything that I worked so hard to gain. All the self-care activities became bleak. I sat in my apartment. I remember looking around. I looked at the barn of yarn. I knew I could pick it up. I knew it brought me happiness. If not happiness knitting distracted my thoughts. The yarn was like my mind. It was a ball that had the ability to become something really warm, cuddly and protective through the process of unraveling, care and dedication. Now, nothing. I started to cry out of the blue. I didn’t paint anymore. I didn’t do the dishes anymore. I had no desire to go outside anymore. I was not hungry anymore. Everything was emptiness.
Noticing all of this was distressing. I panicked. I tried to find things to do, to alleviate this state of non-being or too much being. All or nothing but no balance. Every day became a struggle. To get up in the morning. To think. It took all my energy to sit. The last weekend before the appointment I was desperate, exhausted and emotional. I tend to burst into tears for no reason and I even didn’t feel any sadness. On the other hand, I had a very short temper. That weekend was the first sunny one of spring. We could sit in the garden after a long winter, enjoy a drink, have a snack. I knew I loved to do this and I didn’t feel a darn thing except darkness. I had enough, these doctor needed to help me. Just 3 days, just 3 nights more …
I was scared that he would not be interested in my small troubles. As a psychiatrist he has more serious illnesses to deal with. Maybe he would be ill and I would need to wait even longer. I was most definitely sure he wouldn’t have the time to help me and that my ‘case’ wasn’t severe enough. I just hoped he wouldn’t advise me to go outside and walk more.
He did not. Pierre went with me and we prepared the conversation. I was just empty and emotional. Once I started talking it became easier. I felt that his questions were the right ones. He asked about me and not about work or other things. He asked about my sleep and my feelings during the day. What I felt while doing something.
‘Off course I don’t feel rested when I wake up. Who does?’ He prescribed sleeping medication and explained that we were going to address this step by step. First I needed to rest adequately. He said that the medication would work quite quickly and that very soon my world will look very different. I liked the sound of that! He believed in what he said because he said that statement very firm: ‘Your world will look very much better in a short matter of time’. I believed that too and started dreaming of new beginnings.
On his letter to my GP he wrote about a relapse since the last 6 months in a depressive state. Anhedonia. Tension. Sleeping difficulties. Ruminating. Start medication. Evaluation after 3 weeks.
The next time I saw him, I slept better. That was a big relief and an important first step. I still felt empty, had little energy and my head could not relax. I hold a lot of tension in my body and every blow life threw at me made me suffer. What I thought was going to be said was said but not in those words. He prescribed an antidepressant but called it medication to lessen the overall tension, in my head and in my body. I knew what it was and could ask all my questions surrounding side-effects, addiction, what it could precisely do to me and to my head. That is always a fun question to ask because I believe no one really knows. He answered most of my questions to my satisfaction. It was very clear that I needed the medication and that I was going to take it. If he had he told me to eat some meat or to do two handstands each morning while eating an apple, I would have done that too.
I’m not the person to take medication lightly, I don’t like it. This time I noticed that the doctor was more careful in his wordings. ‘It could help me’ and ‘we needed to see what the effects were going to be’. I started with 5 mg and was told to monitor possible side-effects. They were very obvious. My head felt like it was going to explode. I anticipated to feel some ‘changes’ in my brains. Like some small electric shocks once in a while. I did not expect to have brain zaps, headaches, dizziness and an overall feeling like I was coming down with the flu. The start of my ‘new life’ didn’t live up to the expectations! After 3 or 4 days the side-effects went away and after the 5th day I could up the dose to 10 mg and see the doctor after a month.
In this part you could read about my first encounter with a psychiatrist while being ‘the client’ and my introduction to psychiatric medication. Next Thursday we’re going to look for a therapist. It’s going to be a fun one, I promise!
Photo credits: click here.
I don’t hold any grudge against therapists, doctors, nurses or the mental health field. Sometimes it just isn’t a match and not everybody is a master in his/hers craft. This is a post in my series ‘The winding road of therapy’. _______________________________________ In July I was on medication for about 4 or … Continue reading Winding road of therapy – Terrible Therapist. Part 8.