Today, I saw the doctor.
There aren’t many things I get anxious about any more. As a child I believe I suffered with anxiety quite badly, but as I’ve grown up I’ve sort of… grown away from it. But the one thing that never fails to make me want to run screaming and have a full-blown panic attack is the bloody doctor’s office. However today, I did it. And that’s cool, I guess.
I’ve obviously been to the GP before, with physical issues and ailments like weird boob lumps and injections but the idea of going to my doctor (a nice and polite Indian man who looks like he knows what he’s doing) about my mental health has always, always terrified me. Even though I’ve been told by family and friends and even a counselor at one point that this was something I needed to do, I still refused for a long time. Not because I didn’t want to get better, or want help. But because there were so many other reasons not to.
I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously. I was afraid I’d be put on pills and that would be that. I was afraid that I was just overreacting. That I wasn’t really depressed, I just needed someone to talk to. I was wrong. Everyone else was right.
I went to the doctor because, for a very long time, my mental health has suffered.
For a few years, it’s been a goddamn roller-coaster. And I don’t want to say that I ‘have depression’ or have this or have that because in truth, I’ve never been diagnosed. So that would be a lie. But what I will say is that all the symptoms were there. I’ve had low moods and horrific mood swings since 2013. My motivation and excitement and enjoyment of things dwindled. I stopped writing, I lost ambition. I’m never “great!” or “good!” but just “okay” “yeah, fine” or even “shit”. It feels like I’m just kind of existing and getting on. At some points, not even doing that.
I went to a college counselor, who mentioned the word ‘depression’ like an emotion (which it is), but not like a diagnosis. I spoke to friends, but refrained from using the D word in case I was wrong. I was just down. I was just moody. Maybe I am. But at least now I’m getting help. The counselor I saw was a lovely South African lady who was very helpful, but just not the right person for me. So after that I gave up for a while. I thought I was hopeless and useless and just needed to get over myself.
But today, I saw the doctor.
He suggested quickly (he was in a rush with a million appointments and already half an hour behind on them, not that I’m bitter or anything) that I could take anti-depressants, if I so wanted. I had to break the news that I didn’t think it was for me. So he moved on. He suggested more counselling. And that was it. I got the number, I called, and I have an appointment in a month’s time. That was that. My worst fear hadn’t come true, I wasn’t forced onto meds that I couldn’t take. I wasn’t called crazy or moody or “just a teenager” like I’d feared. He’d taken me seriously. He’d offered help. He’d been understanding. And all in a five minute window between the toddler getting her first injection, and the girl who I saw giving back a urine sample (ew). That was – to repeat the phrase – it.
My struggle is far from over, and I know that. It’s been three and a half years since my moods sunk and I hurt myself for the first time. I’ve come a long way, but there are things which are out of my control to fix myself, and I needed help. So I’m trying.
I still have to face the counselling call. I still have to breach the subject of my Trichotillomania to a doctor. I still have to fix whatever broke those many years ago. But I’m trying. Something I didn’t do for a long time, because I was scared. And I’m proud of myself for that.
I guess what I want people to take away from this is that… it’s never too late to get help. If it’s been a week, a month, a year or even five, there’s still time. I want you to know that if you’re sad or scared or you feel like you’re about to crack under the pressure, there’s always something you can do. I was afraid to talk to a doctor in case they wrote me off as a hormonal teenager. But with depression and anxiety having so much more recognition these days, they’ll know not to push you aside. You will be listened to. And there is help waiting for you. I promise.