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Depression question: there are many like it, but this is mine.
June 19, 2012 1:41 AM   Subscribe

Dealing with feeling lousy, and possibly capital-D depressed, when swamped with school demands and most of all, terribly uncomfortable with seeing doctors. How?

I could go on and on and on about how I've felt pretty much 'meh' for a few years now, and how school is this warped, alien place I rather forgot how to handle, and how I can't even do math (my favourite subject) because it's hard to think. Et cetera, ad infinitum.

As for taking action, I've written to the Samaritans, and called too - but put down the phone when someone answered, and ignored the reply that came. I've started emails to the school counsellors. I've planned so many trips to the GP that never worked out. I've hesitantly approached my parents, but redirected the conversation straightaway. All this because I am really, really afraid of seeing the doctor (who must be seen for a referral, as per insurance workings here). (And also, in part, because I don't seem to want to tell anyone at all.)

So, is the doctor-therapy-meds if needed route absolutely necessary? If so, how to get past the inertia and anxiety associated with the doctor's? And in the meantime, what can I do to up my studying productivity, if possible? I have the advice in this question running through my head, but with the added constraint that school, and exams, are big projects that I seem to only be able to waggle my arms at.

P.S. I realise the answer will be along the lines of 'just do it'. I don't want to whinge, but I haven't yet found a way to overcome the mental bump. It might also be useful to add that I walk to school, run at least twice a week and eat okay, though I've gained a fair bit of weight in the past few years.
posted by undue influence to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You need an advocate.

When I was in a similar situation, I was fortunate enough to have a friend drag me to the student health centre, and not leave until I had been seen by a social worker, who was now handling my case.

The same friend checked up on me, in a non-nagging way, to make sure I was going to my appointments, and to help me figure out why I didn't want to go.

Do you have a friend, family member or housemate who could play that role for you? Asking is difficult, but once you do that, you'll have shared the load and it will become much, much easier.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:13 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


What makes talking to the Samaritans any different from telling us? You've told us - you can tell them :) Practice talking about your problems with them, if writing is easier than talking start by just saying things out loud when you're alone.

Once you've practiced (or instead of practicing) follow the route of least resistance. If telling one friend or family member is less uncomfortable than going through the more formal routes at this point identify somebody in your circle.

You don't have to give that person a lot of details - you're going through a rough patch and want somebody to lend a kind ear would be a good start. As you get more confortable you can expand on that.

This kind of informal support will help you overcome your inertia and reluctance to seek professional help - your person can help you make the appointment, go to the appointment, follow up on treatment etc.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:51 AM on June 19, 2012


Dealing with feeling lousy, and possibly capital-D depressed, when swamped with school demands and most of all, terribly uncomfortable with seeing doctors. How?

Perhaps the better question is how not?. You recognise a problem, you are keen to sort it out, yet your stopping yourself. Perhaps it's best to break it down into what you can control and what you cannot control in this moment:

• School is relatively out of your control. School is a fixed path and journey and you have to do as best you can in the time you are given.

• Feelings – to some degree we choose how we feel, however, to a large degree we do not. If we could think our way out of depressive states, there would be very little depression. Instead there is heaps, thus your control over the outcome is limited.

• Taking help. You are in complete control of whether you take help or not. In fact, it's the thing that you can control most right now, in this moment. If it helps, reverse the question to "how not". You are in a bit of distress, and you are actively preventing yourself from getting help. You are making the first steps, but then not following through. Would you believe it if I said that it takes more energy not to get help than to get help?

Getting help means letting your guard down and being open. It does not take a lot of energy to let your guard down and be open. It takes a lot more energy to keep your guard up and be closed. Consider that you have a finite amount of energy, and that right now, you are expending some of it on fighting what you think you need to do. If you stop fighting what you need to do, you will have more energy to do other things. Thus, how not.

As for taking action, I've written to the Samaritans, and called too - but put down the phone when someone answered, and ignored the reply that came. I've started emails to the school counsellors. I've planned so many trips to the GP that never worked out. I've hesitantly approached my parents, but redirected the conversation straightaway. All this because I am really, really afraid of seeing the doctor (who must be seen for a referral, as per insurance workings here). (And also, in part, because I don't seem to want to tell anyone at all.)

Two things here I think. The first is that you are reaching out in a variety of ways, to a variety of sources. Thus, you want someone to help, but it doesn't seem like you know who to reach out to. You identify the root of the issue at the bottom, because you don't want to tell anyone.

It's not that you don't want to tell anyone perhaps, could it be that you are afraid of something being wrong? That you don't want to admit that you need help? It sounds like you think there is a binary condition: "people that need help" and "people that don't". You may feel you are in the former yet you are desperately trying to cling to being in the latter.

If you do have that binary position in your mind, let me reassure you that it is not true. There is an entire spectrum there, and help is good. Some of the highest performing people in every field both 1) take mental health help regularly, and 2) are in their positions because they have taken mental health help. There's nothing wrong with asking for help.

So, is the doctor-therapy-meds if needed route absolutely necessary?

There is no prescribed route. It sounds like your concern is that once you enter into the doctor's office, you are Entering The Dragon, so to speak. I'm not sure where you picked that up, perhaps it's what you've seen around you. Sadness = Depression = GP = Pills = Pills Forever. For some people, it is that way and they derive tremendous help from it. But that's not the process. The process is GP = ?. When you sit down and chat with a professional, you will have a variety of solutions, ranging from short-term medication, designed to provide you enough relief for your body's natural healing systems to take over, to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, to talk therapy. There's a huge portfolio of options, and you can dictate where you start.

A friend of mine went to the GP a few years ago, begrudgingly admitting finally he needed help. He didn't want to take pills, but there was something wrong and he needed help. When he arrived, the GP offered him many solutions – a referral to group therapy, an online CBT programme, exercise and wellness recommendations... but no pills. Ha! He even asked for them at that point – "No, I really just want the pills." "You said you didn't want the pills." "I don't want the pills. Will you just give me the pills?" (he tells it much better). Point being that 1) it's not automatic, and 2) it may well not be the right answer for you.

If so, how to get past the inertia and anxiety associated with the doctor's?

Chunk it down. You're seeing the doctor or any other outreach for help as the start of an uncomfortable journey outside of your control. You may have yourself at the end of the journey being institutionalised; locked up forever! It's a bit dramatic. That would be like meeting a girl in the street, running through your life together and imaging yourself as a widower at her wake. Is it possible? Yes, sure. Anything is possible. Is it probable? Probably not.

Segment the steps.

Step 1: Call the doctor and make and appointment
Step 2: Go to the doctor's office
Step 3: Sit in the waiting room
Step 4: Sit down with the doctor
Step 5: "Hello Doctor, how are you..."
Step 6: "Hello Undue Influence, how are you..."
Step 7: "Doctor, two things. The first is that I'm feeling a bit down, and the second is that I am afraid you are going to put me on meds forever and lock me in a tiny room."
Step 8: "I am sorry to hear that. A lot of people think that when they first need help. It's pretty funny actually. Let talk about your options, and then you'll go home. No meds, no straightjacket. How's that?"

You're current process is:
Step 1: Admit I am feeling down
Step 2: My life is changed forever

See the difference? It's also a feature of depression, overly-generalised thoughts and emotions.

But don't worry about it. Lots of people go through this. The vast majority of them are fine. It's a bump as you say. Let it be a bump.

No matter how terrifying that visit to the GP is, after you have it, I bet you'll instantly feel a bit better because you stopped fighting yourself. Admitting you have a problem is 50% of the way toward fixing. You may just need to admit this to yourself. The sooner you do, the better you'll feel.
posted by nickrussell at 3:38 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just woke up so this might sound a little cranky, but I was in a situation similar to yours and I am tempted to slap you silly to get your attention.

You realize there is a link between weight gain and depression. You realize when they ask you "how long have you been feeling this way?" and your answer is months or years, that is way too fucking long to be depressed. Get your ass to a doctor or psychiatrist. A medical professional. You are not a medical professional.

The most disgusting part of depression is, you might actually think there is no better way to live. That life really merits a suicidal, stay-in-bed negative disposition. This is totally false.

I can hear in your "So, is the doctor-therapy-meds if needed route absolutely necessary?" question your conceited attempt to continue to manage this problem on your own, and let me tell you, it's obvious you're doing a fucking horrible job at it. Your depression will whittle your life down to a simple question of living or dying. I urge you to get help. I'm only tough because I care. And I care because I think everyone deserves at least a shot at happiness. You'd be amazed what a life with a little bit of self-love feels like.
posted by phaedon at 5:36 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have to treat depression like appendicitis. Would you sit there for years and years with an aching belly? Would you be doubled over in pain, afraid to discuss it with anyone?

Just go. Go to your doctor ASAP and tell them everything you've said here. If you have to go to Emergency, then do that. It IS an emergency.

Too much of you life has already slipped away, living like this for even one more day is not acceptable.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:12 AM on June 19, 2012


Is what you're doing now working for you? No, it sounds like. So you need to try something else. An intervention that doesn't involve seeing health care professionals is lifestyle change--changing how you eat, adding more exercise, and maybe meditation as well. You could try that first; it does help tremendously for some people, but for many people it isn't enough.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:09 AM on June 19, 2012


Don't get me wrong, I think that from what you say you would probably be best served by seeing professionals. But significant lifestyle change is the other possible intervention. There isn't really another option except for continuing to feel how you are feeling.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:12 AM on June 19, 2012


There was a period for me between realising I was blue and doing something about it. It's the official-ness of admitting it publicly that can freak one out. At a certain point, I just couldn't stand it anymore and that's what got me to a doc. But oh the denial!

Vocalising where you are now to the green means you're probably almost there. If you can write it down to us, I suggest writing or sending this to a friend/advocate such as the one third word had, and asking for help in getting you dragged to an appointment.

You're almost there! You can do something about this.

Good luck.
posted by mooza at 2:26 PM on June 19, 2012


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