Give Me an Inch, and I’ll Really Go Off on A Blogging Tangent

patient-doctors-office-waiting-story-topGiving me free rein to write what I want isn’t always a good idea. I’m likely to be a little too … uh … self-revelatory. What’s the blog-o-sphere term? “Confessional.”

Oh well. Here’s today’s term: “mental health.” Uh-huh. I’m going there.

This morning I had a doctor’s appointment. My doctor’s name is Dr. Darling. She’s a great doctor, don’t get me wrong, but “darling” is a misnomer. She’s not fluffy in the least, and, in fact, I avoid appointments because we argue. At least, she calls me argumentative.

This morning we talked about my mental health. I suffer from depression. Off and on my whole life. It’s debilitating at times and at other times it’s just enough of a downer that I can’t perform at the level I’d consider normal. It causes me great suffering that no amount of “buck up, little lady” pep talks can remedy. And this, my friends, is a huge reason why it took me over a decade to get my first novel published. It’s a miracle I’m published — and I’m grateful for that.

So, anyhow, La Darling Doctor and I talked about how I’m feeling, and I made the mistake of mentioning the word “bipolar” — because sometimes I feel that way. And she pounced. I mean, she was ALL. OVER. IT.

I’m thinking, Yikes, I could truly be effed up. But wouldn’t that explain so much about me? Maybe my whole life it hasn’t been about crazy hormones but about crazy neurotransmitters.

Huh.

La Darling gives me the name of a psychiatric nurse practitioner (first I’ve heard of these). She says she’s concerned because if I’m bipolar, the antidepressant she recently put me on could cause me to flip into mania (not that I’ve ever been that manic) and, this is the funny part, she says:

“… and then you with your big brain will start arguing with me because you’ll be feeling so good you won’t want to go off the medication.”

“Why would I need to go off the medication if I’m feeling good?” (See, I’m already arguing, and it hasn’t happened yet — and probably won’t.)

“Because you’ll fry your brain, that’s why. You’ll end up falling harder, you’ll see it coming, and that’s just when people commit suicide …”

HUH? How did we land on suicide?

So I say, “OK, I’ll monitor myself then.”

She laughs. “You can’t monitor yourself — that’s the whole point. If manic people could monitor themselves they wouldn’t become manic.”

Hmm. All I can do is shrug at this point. Really, I’d like to feel good — a little mania might do me well. I decide not to reveal my not-so-secret hankering to be a bad patient. Instead, I bring up my constant tiredness. It’s been eons since I’ve woken well-rested. She asks me if I snore. Nope.

“How do you know you don’t snore?” she says.

“From rooming with fellow writers at conferences and workshops.”

“You could have sleep apnea. That would explain so many of your symptoms, including depression … ”

Really?

So, now I’ve got the names of a couple of sleep clinics too.

But I’m not done yet. Oh no. If I’m going to get my ass into La Darling’s office, I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. Now I’m just messing with her: “What’s the deal with testosterone? Does it have anything to do with energy levels?”

“It could.”

“Maybe I have too little testosterone. Maybe I should get that tested.”

“If you take testosterone, you’ll grow hair on your face and body.” (YUCK) “Besides, we don’t want to start you on anything else new right now. We need to see how the Celexa performs.”

Fine. And then, another thought:

“Gluten! Do you think I could be gluten intolerant?”

By now, she’s edging out of the room, she’s cocking her head at me with a little smile — there goes my “big brain” again. She likes that term when it comes to me. I used to think it was a compliment, but nowadays I wonder if she’s trying to say (in the nicest, non-fluffy, kind-of-brusque way possible) that I’m my own worst enemy.

Or, maybe she just doesn’t have any other patients who argue with her. Frankly, I thought I did well with her today. Maybe the Celexa has started to kick in. Maybe by our next appointment (next month), I’ll really have my argumentative groove on! Then we’ll both know I’m on the mend.

Who’s got a funny doctor story? Or an any-professional story? Do you suffer from depression — how do you cope?

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Lisa Alber is the author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (March 2014). Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging at Lisa Alber's Words at Play round out her distractions. Visit her at www.lisaalber.com.

This article has 23 Comments

  1. What about hypochondria? Do you think you could have hypochondria?

    Just kidding, dear. I loved this post. For what my non-MD, “internet friend” opinion is worth, I don’t think you’re bipolar. But this made me realize something…. do you not see a psychiatrist? Is Dr. Darling (great name) just your general care practitioner?

    Guuurrrrrl, skip the NP and find a psychiatrist–with an MD behind the name—preferably a woman, preferably with specialization in anxiety depression in women. News flash: we’re not the same as men! With your big brain, you need someone who reads the latest research and can discuss it with you. Not just someone who will give you an Rx and code a diagnosis into the computer program.

    1. Hah! I’m so desperate to feel good energy, that maybe I have become a hypochondriac. πŸ™‚

      I’ve never considered going to an actual psychiatrist — is it possible to find one who listens and talks, and doesn’t just prescribe right away? There must be. That’s a great suggestion.

  2. Dr. Darling sounds like a great name for a character πŸ™‚ I, for one, hope you are feeling perky, happy and not at all sleep deprived very soon! That is a pretty hilarious doctor’s appointment! Gave me a good laugh this morning!

  3. Lisa,

    I agree with your friend Susan. I would do what she suggested.

    Here is a story. I had an audiology exam in the same building where the “mental hospital” was. Because of the county budget cuts, instead of a mental hospital. they put the mentally ill patients on one floor of the hospital. I had the strangest audiologist and I wonder if he was an escapee from that floor ;-/ I had migraines for the first time in my life after that audiology exam.

    1. Hi Diana! Thanks for visiting. Somehow, housing the mentally ill in a hospital does not seem like a good idea. That’s a scenario ripe for a horror flick.

      I’m sorry to hear about your migraines–you’re not supposed to come away from an appointment worse than your arrived. Boo. πŸ™

  4. I agree with Susan. And I’m not sure I’m liking Dr. Darling too much. The whole Big Brain thing kinda turns me off (is she talking down to you? Because that’s not the kind of relationship I’d want to have with my doctor). Sorry to get all defensive, but I totally will get defensive to defend my friends πŸ™‚

    My funny doctor story involves my gyno who’d always try to make small talk during his examinations. Try answering, “so, what do you write about?” when you’re in that most uncomfortable position, simply trying to focus on the ceiling…

    1. You’re so sweet, Natalia. πŸ™‚ She’s not talking down to me, that much I can say for sure. Over the years, I’ve gotten used to her bedside manner — took awhile. She’s super smart.

      Small talk during gyn appointment — ugh! I’ve never had a male gyn — that weirds me out. Always gotta be female. I can’t talk anyhow because I’m too busy taking deep breaths.

  5. I hate the dentist. Thanks, Heather, for that little nightmare… πŸ™‚

    Seriously, though…I life with depression myself–I think a lot of writers do–and I’m glad to hear you’re being proactive in terms of addressing it. The studies seem to show a higher percentage of depression in the writing community, which suggests a link to or with creativity. I’ve always thought that was interesting.

    1. Hi Susan! A correlation between creativity and depression wouldn’t surprise me. Crossing fingers on my proactivity — I’d like to move faster on getting my second novel complete! But, no pressure, no pressure…

  6. Lisa, wonderful blog, way to get that elephant in the room dancing. As a woman who suffers from depression as well, I’m with Susan. I’ve often been angered when hearing a female friend talk about the musical chair syndrome of doctors prescribing one anti-depressant/anti-anxiety pill after another and don’t get me started on doctors who prescribe them to kids. Talk about those neurotransmitters not knowing which way is up! I’ve taken antidepressants (while seeing a psychiatrist–I personally think it should be–no drugs unless in conjunction with therapy) once and while I didn’t have the lows I didn’t have any highs either :-(. So my husband and I jointly decided having a flat-lined Cheryl was not worth it. I exercise, I meditate, I try, try, try to count my blessings, but some days I just let the gray blanket cover me and I snuggle in knowing full well what I’m doing. When those days happen I just don’t allow myself to go too far down the rabbit hole and I write, oh boy do I write, dark oozing stuff to get rid of the blanket and start over again. Thanks for letting me rant brave lady. Oh, and let me tell you again how much I LOVED your book.

    1. You’re an inspiration, Cheryl! I love that you let the blanket enshroud you and then write it away. That works to a certain extent for me, but has never been a surefire solution. Mostly, when I’m greyed-out, my creativity goes grey too.

  7. I have a Dr. Darling, too. She’s a dentist, though — so I’m pretty sure they’re not the same person. πŸ™‚

    The best treatment I’ve found for depression is regular exercise. I learned that from a book by Andrew Weil (the guy with the beard), and I’ve found it very effective.

  8. Oh, and Natalia’s story just reminded me of a dentist I used to have, years ago. When he found out that I was a writer, and I unwisely made a less-than-reverent comment about Charles Dickens, he proceeded to turn our appointments into lectures about the greatness of Dickens. And, of course, I couldn’t argue against any of his points because my mouth was numb and full of equipment.

    That may be when I stopped telling people I was a writer.

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