the hike to clarity (pt.3)

Preparing for my psychologist appointment was completely nerve wracking… I can’t even describe the emotions I was feeling as I settled in to the seating area  45 minutes early, waiting for someone to come out and say my name. As I waited, I filled out an extremely detailed sheet that covered all aspects of mental and general health, which in itself was eye opening. I handed it to the woman behind the counter and waited. I noticed that she was watching me, any time I would make a sudden move her attention would fully shift to whatever I was doing. (I later found out that the way you behave in the seating area is recorded on the psychologist’s final report)
Finally, a man comes out of an office, calls my name, introduces himself to me and ushers me in.
There were a lot of personal things discussed in this meeting, some things that I am not comfortable speaking about yet, so to put it down (for now) this was the first time I was truly honest about everything, not just bits and pieces – this was my chance to help myself and to finally let someone else help me, I couldn’t let my fears control how this appointment went.

By the end I had a couple of options:
1. attend group therapy (covered by MSP)
2. go to a private therapist (not covered by MSP)
3. start medication (yikes)

Seeing a private therapist was out at that point in time because I just couldn’t afford it, group therapy was a viable option, but I have a hard enough time talking about my problems to one person never mind a group of people, and then medication. I discussed my fears of taking medication, of becoming addicted and reliant… of turning in to a different person, of forgetting how to feel and transforming in to an empty husk.
He wrote down five (yes five, not one, five) different medications on a notepad, and explained to me that medication is scary, because everybody’s brain is different, and one medication could do wondrous things for one person, and cause complete chaos for another person  – but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t effective.
He ensured me that I would not be leaving with a prescription, that this was something I needed to decide on my own, but he gave me the piece of notepad paper and told me to research and see if anything he wrote sounded like it might help and if none of them interested me, he would write me another list.
This was something that really stood out to me, because this was the first time I was provided a choice – so I did my research and I did happen to find a medication that sounded like it might help with my problems. It took me a couple of weeks to finally get the courage to bring the note to the doctor and get the prescription, but I did – and I do not regret it.

I had to make a lot of life changes when I began medication – I cut out caffeine and alcohol, which were their own challenges – caffeine being the only thing that got me started in the morning and alcohol being a large part of my social life at the time – but I did it, and still live a (mostly) caffeine and alcohol free life.

I was lucky enough to find a medication that worked for me off the get go (I will not name the medication as I am not a doctor and do not want to influence anyone’s decisions when it comes to choosing a medication, as stated before, just because it works for me does not mean it will work the same way for other people), and I didn’t have to muck around with weening on and off multiple brands before finding the right fit… maybe it was intuition, maybe it was dumb luck. The first few months were terrible… I remember, right before I took my first pill, I sat down with my partner and cried and begged him to take care of me and if I became suicidal to take me to a hospital but to not give up on me because it wasn’t how I truly felt, that I wanted to live and I wanted to be happy… luckily, I wasn’t burdened with suicidal thoughts but I did feel sick all of the time, I was plagued with migraines, all I did was sleep and for a while I didn’t think it was going to work. Then one morning I woke up, fed the cats and felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time – relief. I felt like I had taken off a 50 pound vest and left it in the day before… yes the side effects were still there, but they were nothing compared to this sensation of not being worried about where the day was going to take me.

It’s funny for me to think back on how I felt before I started medication, I was so afraid of not feeling anything, what I didn’t realize is that I was already at that point – I have now learned how to be properly happy and sad and excited and angry again, I allow myself to feel more now, because I know those feelings are genuine and valid (at least for the most part). I’m not trying to say that medication cured me of my ailments, because that isn’t the truth. I still suffer from all of the same things I used to, but medication took the edge off and gave me the tools and energy to learn to cope on my own. I didn’t need a pill to fix my problems, and, in my opinion, that pill doesn’t exist. But I did need a pill to show me how my life could be and to give me some hope to work towards.

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